Daily Update – September 21

South Korea

Politics – South Koreans are growing more concerned over the structural integrity of the nuclear power plants after several aftershocks rocked the Gyeongju area throughout the week.  Citizens are starting to ask why the plants were built in the region, while the government argues the plants are rated to withstand up to a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and that the aftershocks will have no effect on the structural integrity of the reactors.  Currently, scientists from several major universities are on site monitoring the effect of the major quake and aftershocks on the nuclear reactors and the rest of the region.

A B-1B Lancer bomber landed at Osan base in South Korea as a response to North Korea’s provocations.  A second bomber also flew over South Korea, though it returned to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.  Lieutenant General Thomas W. Bergeson was quoted as saying that the B-1B is just a tool in the arsenal which could be used to defend the Korean peninsula.  He also highlighted the strength of the U.S.-Korea alliance in the wake of North Korea’s continued provocations.  There is speculation that North Korea may continue its provocative behavior this year, with a couple of the tunnels at Pyungye-ri showing signs of North Korea hiding its behavior.

Economy – South Korean firms’ saw sales decreases during the second quarter, but profitability rose from a year earlier.  Firms with over 12 billion won ($10 million) in assets fell 1.9 percent in the April to June period.  Conglomerates saw sales fall 2.3% this quarter, which, though noteworthy, is a slower rate of decline from last year – 5.3% second quarter.  Despite this drop, the average profit margin of companies rose to 6.3%, up from 5.8% last year.  Companies’ financial health also grew by 0.6%.

Culture – South Korean pop giant YG Entertainment is seeking a lawsuit against the alleged hacker of Big Bang leader/rapper G-Dragon’s personal Instagram account.  G-Dragon had opened the account on a private setting, letting his friends see pictures of his personal life.  The account was hacked and made public and a third party also edited photos and tried to pass them off as real photos, adding to the damage and scandals which started to spread from the incident.

North Korea

North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho had a handshake with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday at the UN General Assembly Meeting.  Picture from Yonhap News:aen20160922000300315_01_i

Radio Free Asia reports that North Korea is developing a plan to punish the farmers if another typhoon causes damage in North Korea.  Sources contributing to the article said that North Korean farmers are asking for advice on how to prevent damage from a future typhoon.  This report comes after Typhoon Lionrock dropped several feet of rain on North Korea, killing between 130-200 people and displacing around 100,000.  Many farmers are critical of the threat, citing that North Korean central government is more focused on detonating a nuclear device than assisting its farmers.  Threat or not, another typhoon would cause irreparable damage in North Korea’s farming sector.

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