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  • LTW: Korean Economy in Good Shape?

    While the global economy has been tanking from the Corona crisis, S.Korean economy has been relatively hit softer. The latest OECD survey showed Korea's GDP will drop only 0.8% in 2020, the best among the 37 OECD nations with average forecasted to be negative 7.5%. The second best was Turkey with minus 4.8%. Hyundai also did fairly, making 590 billion Won($494M) operating profit in Q2 this year, while all other major car makers are bleeding red, thanks to strong sales of luxury brand Genesis models and no shutdown of Hyundai plants in Korea. Korean stock market was O.K too, climbing from a low of 1,439 at the time of Corona peak in March to 2,400 in the KOSPI index, the highest in the past 24 months. Economists contribute all of this to the proactive containment of Corona pandemic with no lockdown and expansionary fiscal policy to minimize damage to the economy.

  • LTW: A Mayor's Suicide and Memorial Expenses

     

    PARK Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul and the 2nd most influential person after President Moon Jae-in, took his own life on July 9 after a sexual harassment complaint by his ex-secretary was filed a day earlier. First elected mayor of Korea's capital in 2011 in a by-election, Park was reelected in 2014 and 2016, with two years left in his term. Park was also expected to run for presidency in 2022 for the current ruling Democratic Party of Korea.


  • LTW: Corona-19 virus hits South Korea hard

     

    S.Korea suddenly turned into "Land of Morning Virus'. Since the first Corona 19 case on Jan 20, it took nearly a month to reach 51 cases until Feb 18. The cases then doubled in one day to 104, with the first death on Feb 19, and have been increasing exponentially with 3,150 cases and 17 fatalities as of Feb 29. Nearly 85% of the cases centered around Daegu, 323km(201mi) Southeast of Seoul, that have 5.4 million people with high concentration of large auto suppliers. No auto suppliers have been shutdown yet because of the virus, but Hyundai had to stop its No.2 plant in Ulsan that produce Santafe, Pallisade and Genesis G80 SUV because of one paint shop employee with virus. Over 71 countries have placed either total ban or some control of Koreans entering their countries.


  • LTW: Korea a Punching Bag?

    Bad week for South Korea. Russian A-50 AWACS plane broke into S.Korean airspace in East Sea (Sea of Japan) on July 23 during joint Russia-China military exercise, testing the tattered S Korea-U.S.-Japan triangle alliance after recent sentimental trade war between S.Korea and Japan. Total of 18 South Korean F-15 fighters had to scramble, firing 360 warning shots to force the Russian plane out. It was the first time Korean airspace was violated since the end of Korean War in 1953. When asked for apology, Russia snapped that it was Korean pilots who went crazy enough to fire shots. Angered by South Korea's recent deployment of F-35 stealth fighters, N.Korea's Kim Jong-un fired two short range ballistic missiles again on July 25, which Donald Trump said was O.K.

  • LTW: South Korea - Japan Conflct & The Kot Keun Theory


    South Korea and Japan are into diplomatic/economic war never seen since liberation in 1945. Japan announced export restrictions to S.Korea on key materials like hydrogen fluoride used in semiconductors effective July 4, saying "trust" between the two nations was broken after the Korean Supreme court's decision to order Japanese companies like Nippon Steel to compensate Korean workers forced to provide labor during Japanese colonial rule. Japanese government has been arguing that the Korean Supreme Court decision is against the 1965 diplomacy normalization agreement in which Japan provide $500 million, then 25% of Japanese foreign currency reserve, as a overall compensation for the Japanese rule of Korea in return for no further demand whatsoever.

  • LTW: Palme d'Or in the 72nd Cannes goes to Korean movie maker

    History was made in Korean film industry as Joonho Bong won top Palme d'Or  in the Cannes Film Festival on May 26 for his latest film 'Parasite.' It was the first time a Korean movie director won this award, more meaningful as it is 100th year since movie first came to Korea, then Japanese colony, in 1919.  The Grand Prix, the 2nd  prize, went to Mati Diop for  her debut film "Atlantics," who became the fist black female to receive a prize.  Bong's first film was released  in 2000, and the Parasite  which explores working class struggles, was his 9th movie.  South Korean Moon Jae-in sent a congratulatory letter to Bong, commenting he was anxious to watch Parasite.


  • LTW: Friendly handshakes turn into slap in the face in Hanoi


     

     


  • LTW: Military dodgers now O.K. if conscientious

    S.Korean Supreme Court ruled moral scruples and religious beliefs are valid reasons to refuse compulsory military service in a verdict on a Johovah's Witness defendant charged for refusing to join the military. S.Korean law required all able bodied men between 18 and 35 to serve two years in the military, or face maximum 3 years in prison.

  • LTW: Chicken franchise under fire over violence against employees

     

    Korea's No.1 chicken franchise Kyochon became a target of public anger after CCTV footage of a senior executive attempting to smash employees was released on Oct 25. In the footage recorded at a Kyochon restaurant in Daegu in Mar, 2015, the executive is seen poised to punch an employee in the face, raising his fist in a threatening gesture, but was stopped by other employee. He was also seen lifting his hands against other employees who were trying to calm him down as he irately threw over food ingredients.


  • LTW: Revised FTA with the U.S.

    Pretty hectic two months in Korean peninsula. A few hundred separated families in S.Korea and N.Korea had a three day reunion in August while South Korean president Moon Jae-in took part time job to deliver N.Korean leader Kim Jong-un's love letter to Donald Trump after his car parade with Kim in Pyongyang in mid September. In a meeting with Donald Trump in New York on Sep 24, President Moon also signed a revised Free Trade Agreement in which the U.S. will extend 20 more years to impose 25% tax on Korean trucks until 2041, virtually barring Hyundai's entry into U.S. pick-up truck market, and US car makers can double their sales in Korea from 25K to 50K a year per manufacturer. It was a revision lopsided in favor of the U.S. in general. " The new agreement includes significant improvements to reduce our trade deficit and to expand opportunities to export American products to South Korea," said Donal Trump.

 

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