Daily Update – September 23

South Korea

Politics – South Korean special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs at South Korea’s Foreign Ministry Kim Hong-kyun met with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei.  At the meeting, the two acknowledged the need for a swift, punitive new round of UNSC sanctions following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test.  Kim also discussed Chinese trade with North Korea, in particular Chinese importation of North Korean coal, to which Wu said China is working to maintain the tough measures on North Korea and will continue to do so.  The two also favored the possibility of a three-party talk involving the United States, South Korea and China to discuss the issue of North Korea’s continued provocations.  Kim will meet with his Russian counterpart Igor Morgulov in Moscow next Thursday to continue discussing North Korea’s provocative behavior.

This trend continued as South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se called for stronger sanctions in his keynote speech at the United Nations General Assembly currently underway in New York.  Yun took things a step further, however, and said that North Korea was ridiculing the authority of the United Nations, calling into question North Korea’s ability to be a member of the international institution.

Economy – Bankers in Korea staged an industry-wide strike in opposition to the introduction of a performance-based salary system.  The Korean Finical Industry Union gathered at Olympic stadium today to push their opposition to the system.  At first, the KFIC reported that over 100,000 bank employees would participate in the strike, crippling the sector for the day.  However, only around 65,000 in total showed up as of 1pm (Korean time) and there has been no significant slowing of business in the banking sector as a result of the strike.

Culture – The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra appointed two guest conductors to fill in for Chung Myung-whun, who stepped down as the conductor last year.  The two new conductors are Thierry Fischer, a world-renowned conductor from Switzerland, as Principal Guest Conductor and Markus Stenz, a German conductor who has served as the principal conductor of the Gurzenich, Cologne for 11 years, as Conductor-in-Residence.  The two will be on a three-year contract with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

North Korea

30 North Koreans who were caught in China trying to escape are currently being held by State Security Agents in a prison in Shinuiju.  During their imprisonment, they have been subjugated to beatings and forced labor while in horrid conditions; cells have leaky ceilings and meals consist of cornmeal mixed with grass and sand.  Many of the prisoners do not have enough energy to even sit up in their cells.  This situation highlights the human rights violations by North Korea and the international media must not let this be overshadowed by the nuclear weapons pursuit.

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