Site News: Shifting in Post Style for Today and Tomorrow

In light of news from the peninsula–arrest of Park and announcement of Liberty Party candidate–there will be no Daily Update tonight. Don’t fret, however. Today and tomorrow I am going to write short pieces on each story in order to cover them fully.

Slightly Breaking News: Kim Jong-nam Body to North Korea

Malaysia has come to an agreement which will turn jurisdiction of Kim Jong-nam’s body over to North Korea. Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, after discussions which he called very senesitive, said Malaysia had agreed to turn over his body for the release of 9 Malaysian citizens held in Pyongyang (AP). Malaysia and North Korea also agreed to lift travel bans levied on each other.

The jurisdiction of the body has been a contentious subject since the assassination. Prime Minister Razak said the corner had approved of the move after completeion of autopsy and request by the family that the remains be transported to North Korea (AlJezzera). No details were released about how the development came about.

This signals a slight thaw in relations over the contentious case, solving one of the main issues.

Daily Update–March 29

South Korea

Politics- Today, Ex-president Park Geun-hye attended a hearing about the special prosecutors warrant for her arrest (Korea Herald). Park refused to answer questions from reporters as she entered the hearing. After completing its 70-day probe, the special prosecutor sought a warrant to arrest Park for charges of bribery, coercion and leaking classified documents, citing the possibility of destruction of evidence and graveness of alleged crimes. The bribery charge alone carries a possible sentence of 10 years (Korea Times). Park has denied all allegations brought against her. As of writing, Park remains in the hearing and this Korea Times article has a link to live video analyzing her remarks. The stream is in Korean.

5740(Photo:  Park showing up at Seoul Central District Court to attend the hearing over the arrest warrant against her. Source: Korea Times)

For your information: The Liberty Korea Party will announce its presidential candidate in two days.

Economy- Hyundai is working to create a dedicated platform for electric vehicles. Pushed by the introduction of Tesla Motors into the market, Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors have been pursuing ways to make their electric cars more competitive in the market. Though this platform will not be completed in the near future, Kia and Hyundai are looking to roll out electric powered SUVs with a range of 186 miles per charge. Lee Ki-sang, a president at Hyundai Motors who heads Hyundai-Kia’s green car operations, hopes for the electric powered cars to account for 10% of total car sales by 2025, up from 1% today (NY Times).

Culture- A Russian trio has been arrested and charged with smuggling North Korean drugs into South Korea. The drugs were not illicit substances. The trio bought medications and health substances made by the North’s Pugang Pharmaceutic Co. in North Korea and airmailed them to South Korea through Russia. They sold them without a license, according to local police. The substances had a value of around 9 million won–$8,080 (Korea Herald). The import of North Korean goods without a license is a violation of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act which dictates strategy to deal with cooperation issues between the two Koreas (Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act).

North Korea

North Korean media has unleashed a vicious cycle of press against the United States, reacting to the military drills currently ongoing in South Korea. On March 29, KCNA published an article which threatened the use of a resolute preemptive strike in the face of American attack (KCNA; Yonhap)[1]. Another article argued that sanctions against the reclusive country are immoral (KCNA)[1]. And a final article rebuked an American State Department Official’s remark on a softer stance toward North Korea (KCNA)[2]. Each article contained a common theme: American Key-Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military drills in South Korea are immoral and a preemptive measure against North Korea. This style is not uncommon from North Korea and doesn’t really hint at any upcoming provocative actions from the regime.

In other North Korean news, a South Korean think tank reported that North Korea is estimated to have 1000 drones. Chung Ku-yoon, a research fellow at the Korean Institute for National Unification, said that Pyongyang is developing the drones to enhance spying techniques. Some fear the drones may be used in aerial terror attacks (Yonhap). This comes after South Korean Defense Minister instructed the troops not to hesitate if North Korea attacked (Yonhap).

Notes

[1] These sources are taken from North Korean media and linking to them is difficult. Also, please take any information presented from North Korean media with a grain of salt.

[2] Source is linked from KNCA Watch, a North Korean media aggregator run by NKNews. Again, please do not take any information from North Korean state media at face value.

 

Daily Update–March 27&28: First Candidate is Named

The Barun Party is the first party to name its candidate for the presidential race following the impeach of Park Geun-hye. On March 28, the party named Yoo Seung-min as its presidential candidate. In a vote at the Olympic Park in Seoul, Yoo received 62.9% of the vote. Gyeonggi Governer Nam Kyung-pil received 37.1% of the vote (KBS World Radio). This post will examine the short history of the Barun Party and explore–in as much detail possible–the political stance of Yoo.

A New Conservative Party

The Barun Party has a short history, closely tied to the recent scandal. While questions circulated about Park and Choi Soon-sil’s relationship, the ruling party underwent a period of internal strife. The new Conservative party spawned from this period, as Park opposers faced tough opposition in the ruling party.

On January 9, the new Conservative party branded itself the Barun Party (바른정당) using the Korean word for “proper” as its moniker (Korea Herald). Currently, the party controls around 30 seats in the National Assembly (Korean National Assembly; Barun Party*). The Barun Party has expressed major discontent with the ruling conservative party, calling for its leadership to step down and claiming that several other party members had a role in the scandal (Korea Times). Barun has branded itself as a lifeboat for the conservative movement in Korea.

Yoo Seung-min: Barun Leader

Yoo Seung-min is a member of the national assembly, serving his fourth term in the legislative body. He is the chairman of the National Defense Committee and serves on the Strategy and Finance Committees in the National Assembly. Along with a record of national service, Yoo served in many roles in the Grand National Party and was a Senior Research Fellow at the Korea Development Institute (Korean National Assembly, Yoo Seongmin).

In terms of politics, Yoo’s soured relationship with Park caused the Saenuri Party–now Liberty Korea Party–to shove him away from the nomination. Many saw this move as dogmatic, and Yoo promised to run as an independent candidate (Korea Herald). Yoo is running on a platform which he says “will revive the economy and strengthen national security, and establish a virtuous democratic republic” (Korea Times). Also, he has stressed his economic experience, arguing that he will be able to bring jobs back to Korea. He has also promised to fight corruption throughout the government (Korea Times).

Yoo is brandishing typical conservative lines, pushing economic development and strengthening national security as the main aspects of his platform. However, he stands apart from the ruling party line in calling for the ouster of corruption. While unpopular with conservative political elites, Yoo’s stance on corruption may render him better results with the Korean population at large. However, Yoo, being a conservative, will have a very difficult time wooing the Korean public.

The Election Moving Forward

candidate-timeline-880x1024(Image: South Korean election process moving forward. Source: Korean Economic Institute of America)

South Korean politics will be moving in breakneck speeds moving forward. For the 2017 election, the next party to announce its candidate will be the Liberty Korea Party on March 31. Then the People’s Party and the Democratic Party of Korea will announce their candidates on April 4 and April 8 respectively. The candidate will all have around a month to campaign, as the election will take place on May 9 (Korean Economic Institute of America). Many will be looking forward to these selection dates and I promise to write a briefer on each Korean candidate similar to this one.

Breaking News: Park Arrest Warrant Sought

South Korean prosecutors have sought an arrest warrant for ex-president Park Geun-hye (Yonhap). A week ago, Park endured marathon questioning after the court upheld an impeachment motion against her. The special prosecutor has been mulling pursuing the warrant since (Yonhap). If formally arrested, Park would be the third South Korean president to be arrested on criminal charges, following Roh Tae-woo and Chun Doo-hwan.

Park is charged with letting her long time friend, Choi Soon-sil, meddle in state affairs and abuse of power for manipulating companies to donate money to charities set up by Choi Soon-sil.