Daily Update – September 19

South Korea

Politics – A few days after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the southern South Korean city of Gyeongju, a 4.8 magnitude aftershock rattled through the city.  In light of the recent events, the South Korean government released new guidelines for buildings.  Future developments in Korea which are greater than 1 story must be earthquake resistant, while new buildings which are over 16 stories must be approved.  This is not the first push for earthquake resistant structures in South Korea; according to a statement by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, earthquake resistant buildings were introduced in Korea around 1988.  Currently, buildings three stories and higher are subjected to this measures.  These changes will take effect in January of next year.

South Korean president Park Geun-hae will host a gathering of officials for a workshop to discuss the security and economic issues facing South Korea.  The workshop will be attended by several high-ranking government officials, including Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, and will take place on Saturday.  North Korea’s September 9 nuclear test will take center at the workshop.  This is the first workshop of its kind since 2013.

Economy – Shin Dong-bin, the chief of Lotte, was summoned by state prosecutors to testify on a string of charges being levied against him.  The charges include embezzlement and breach of trust.  Shin apologized for the causing concerns, saying he will cooperate fully with the police investigation into Lotte Group.  Lotte has been embattled over a series of scandals – Shin and his brother were locked in a struggle for managerial powers, earlier this month Shin’s brother Dong-joo was questioned for embezzlement, and Lee In-won was found dead in an apparent suicide while waiting for a summons by prosecutors.  Shin was called as the probe was coming to an end.

Korean air is looking into a new funding strategy for the Hanjin Group.  Korean Air is the parent company of the Hanjin shipping group.  After the Korean air executive board, in an emergency meeting, failed to pass a 60 billion won into the company.  Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho vowed earlier this month to inject 100 billion won into the company, of which 40 million would be from his own estate.  The board did come to agreement on securing 60 million won in loans, but later reversed the decision after reaching the conclusion that the structure of the loan could be subject to breach of trust.  Last week, Cho injected 40 billion won into the company and Hanjin Shipping Chairwoman resented 10 billion won.  Hanjin officially declared bankruptcy on August 31, and a judge has ordered the group to return all its chartered ships to owners.

Culture – Chinese tourists amount to a huge economic and cultural exchange for South Korea.  However, in recent days, Chinese tourists have come under the spotlight for committing violent crimes in South Korea.  The most recent case was Sunday evening when a 61-year-old Korean woman died in a hospital on Jeju Island.  The woman was stabbed 8 times while praying in a chapel the day before, after which she made an emergency call while still conscience.  She died after being rushed to a hospital.  According to the Korea Times, police believe misogyny is the motive for the crime.

South Korea is calling on foreigners and Koreans to report errors on signs written in foreign languages.  Signs in public areas, such as subway stations, historic areas, tourist information centers, are the targets.  Experts will assess the claims received by the office, and will determine which signs are to be fixed.  Following this campaign, Seoul will launch a team of 80 foreigners from Japan, China and English-speaking countries to improve tourism services for foreigners.  These ideas are to assist in developing a more internationally competitive tourism market in Seoul City.  For those interested and in Korea, this Korea Times article has information on how and who to contact to report any errors.

North Korea

North Korea claimed it successfully tested a new rocket engine through official state media on Tuesday.  This comes after various trips to scientific sites by Kim Jung-un, adding to the possibility of a long-range missile test on the anniversary of the Foundation of the Worker’s Party on October 10.  This is the first military trip Kim has made since the September 9 nuclear test.  38North released an article with satilite images showing the preparations for the test dating September 17th.  This year has been highly provocative, with two nuclear tests and the possibility of more tests should raise caution and discussion throughout the world.

Leadership Watch

Today, Kim Jung-un was present at the Sohae testing site when North Korea conducted its ground test of a new missile engine.  After the test, Kim expressed his satisfaction at the result of the test, while also praising the scientists responsible for the test.  Kim also called for more efforts to develop space in the next five years, thus fulfilling the 5-year program for national aerospace development.  Kim’s comments shed a little light on the reasoning for the test, as it may lead to another satellite launch.  However, many are still skeptical and believe the test foreshadows a forthcoming missile test.

Yesterday, September 18, Kim Jung-un visited the Kosan Combined Fruit Farm.  While at the farm, Kim toured the room for revolutionary history teaching, lauded the history of the farm, and watched vehicles and forklifts in action on the farm.  This was Kim’s second visit to a farm last week; he also visited Farm 1116 on September 13.

(Note: Leadership watch source material is from North Korean official media and should be treated as such.  Today’s leadership watch articles were published on KNCA’s english website.)



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