Daily Update – October 18

South Korea

Politics – Hotels are starting to see the effect of the Kim Young-ran Law – an anticorruption law which limits the value of gifts a public servant, educator or journalist can receive to 30,000 won for food, 50,000 won for gifts, and 100,000 won for condolence money – took effect.  Many restaurants are seeing the popularity of items shift to those which cost under 30,000 won, even amongst regular customers.  The number of people who eat lunch at Seoul Garden Hotel’s buffet restaurant rose 50%.  (Other details are in the article.)

South Korea’s ruling Saenuri Party and the United States have agreed to expedite the completion of a three-legged defense system as a response to North Korea’s continually changing threat.  The system was slated to be completed by mid-2020s, but has been expedited to early-2020s, most likely around 2023.  This change would add between 200 and 300 billion won ($176 million-$264 million) per year increase to South Korea’s defense budget.  The Saenuri party is also calling for nuclear-powered submarines.  However, it is unknown if the opposition parties will approve of the advancement.

Economy – In support of those, like myself, who are putting out applications for jobs, here is an image of South Koreans at a presentation for foreign investment firms in COEX Mall.  Source: The Hankyoreh

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Despite the low interest rate in South Korea, the four major banks in South Korea – Woori, KB Finacial Group, Shinhan Finacial Group, Hana Finacial Group – have rosy expectations for third quarter projections.  The four combined for around 1.75 trillion won of net profit.  Of the four, Hana Banks profits showed the sharpest rise to 332.8 billion won, up 30.61% on year.  Shinhan Finacial Group, however, will record a profit of 607.7 billion won net profit, down 10.7% from a year earlier.

Culture – Samsung may not experience lasting damage from the fallout of the Galaxy Note 7.  The phone is known to explode, which to a full recall, followed by Samsung pulling the phone from stores.  An article in the Korea Times stresses that the recall of the product shows Samsung’s commitment to the consumer and safety.  The article details a report on the direction the leadership of Samsung is taking to ensure that the Galaxy curfuffle is a time in which the company showed its devotion to the safety of the people.

North Korea

A North Korean expert released a report showing that North Korea may be able to create nearly 80 nuclear weapons by 2020.  Lee Sang-hyun, vice president at the planning division of the Sejong Institute, wrote the assessment based on North Korea currently possessing no more than 50 nuclear weapons.  Lee argued that the regime will stick to its current byeongjin line – promoting economic and nuclear growth – while also arguing the need to pursue strategic persuasion in trying to combat the continued pursuit.  The report was presented to a forum.

38North reports activity occurring at the Sohae Launch facility in North Korea.  Satellite imagery shows small vehicles, trailers or equipment near the standing launch site.  North Korea is also working on building new housing and new support buildings around the site.  Imagery also revealed an environmental shelter which is used in the final stages of preparing an engine for testing.  However, the VIP facility in which Kim Jung-un viewed the last test has been untouched throughout the process.  Developments such as these show that North Korea is working to expand the role and permeate stature of the Sohae launch facility, possibly working to shorten the time required for preparations between launches at the facility.

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