1) Tension grows between South and North Korea
Spring came, but it gets colder in Korean peninsula. Mad at scrawled threatening slogans of their new leader Kim Jung-un and his father Kim Jong-il in a South Korean army unit, North Korean TV aired footage of soldiers shooting at banners with slogans, “Let’s bet up traitor Lee Myungbak and South Korean military jingoists!” Some 150,000 people gathered in a square in Pyongyang, the largest crowed since the funeral of the late leader Kim Jong-il. The North Korean People’s Army also threatened “a sacred war to bury the traitors in this land.” South Korean minister of defense vowed South Korea would annihilate not only the origin of missiles fired, but also the areas supporting missile firing, meaning Pyongyang itself, if the nation is attacked. Mar 26 is the two year anniversary of a South Korean submarine sunk by North Korean torpedo, and South Korean and the U.S. forces are having a large scale exercise currently.
North Korea just announced it will launch a rocket in April to carry a satellite into orbit to mark the centenary of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un’s grand father. So the remarkable tradition of Kim family’s flirting with fire works continues from 1945. Like grand father, like father, like son.
2) Groundbreaking of controversial naval base
Total of 112 simultaneous explosions ripped through the seashore of Ganjeong Village on Jeju Island, signaling the beginning of full-scale construction of a naval base that has become a flash point between the government and the opposition. The construction of the naval base about 130 acres of land at a cost of $869 million has faced extreme resistance from the opposition parties that say the base threatens the peace of Jeju, Korean Hawaii. The government says the base is needed to boost national defenses in the South Sea, especially in the event of possible sea conflict with China.
Kim Ji-yoon, a member in left wing Unified Progressive Party, is widely criticized after she posted a tweet that described the naval base as a “pirate base.” If she is right, some 10 employees in Metaldyne Korea are former pirates, and some 100 employees from the army are former bandits. Being the leader of bunch of pirates and bandits, I am a Robin Hood.
1) Korea-U.S. FTA takes effect finally
It took 4 years and 10 months before the Korea-U.S. FTA officially goes into effect at midnight on Mar 15. Tariffs will be removed immediately on 9,061 products of 80.5% of U.S. imports to Korea, and 8,628 products of 82.1% of Korean exports to the U.S. Economists estimate Korea’s GDP will increase 5.7% over the next decade due to the FTA, and 350,000 jobs will be created. However, opposition party is still against the FTA. Han Myung-sook, the leader of opposition Democratic United Party, announced that her party will repeal the FTA if they win the general lawmaker election in April, and the presidential election in December. An irony is that Han had said “FTA with the U.S. is the right way to go” when she was the prime minister in 2007 under late president Roh Moo-hyun whose government initiated FTA negotiations. Han was probably not happy that the FTA went into effect by the government ruled by her rival party.
What’s wrong with Korean women these days? A young lady who calls navy of her nation “pirates, an opposition party leader who has two mouths that tell conflicting stories, and my wife who has to stare at her mirror for two hours before one hour church service…….
3. Auto Industry
1) Return of Mitsubishi to Korea
I talked about Hyundai’s 2nd attempt into Japanese market two weeks ago. Now it is Mitsubishi’s turn as it signed a partnership with CXC Motors to sell its models in Korea. Mitsubishi also unveiled its RVR model at the Kintex center, for the first time, as well as Lancer, Outlander, Pajero and L200 pickup. “Korea is a fast-growing market, and I believe it will be a good opportunity for us,” said MMC president Osamu Masuko. Cho Hyun-ho, chairman of CXC, said the company wants to become the most recognized and best-selling foreign brand in Korea, as well as the automaker with the highest customer satisfaction. CXC has opened two dealers in Seoul, and plans to sell 900 units this year.
Though 7 million vehicles a year Hyundai can now laugh at 1.14 million Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi had been a big guru to Hyundai until 90’s. Mitsubishi provided engine and transmission technology, and dispatched a number of engineers to Hyundai. The most known Mitsubishi engineer was Arai san who brainwashed Hyundai engineers with his doctrine on manufacturing engineering, production and quality. For example, when a problem occurs, he put drew a 1m diameter circle and told Hyundai engineers to stay in the circle to watch the manufacturing process until the root causes are found. No toilet trip was allowed as it was part of punishment. Today’s Hyundai would not have been possible without Arai San who was also a play boy. Ask any Hyundai employee if he knows Arai san. If the answer is yes, he must have been in Hyundai for long time as Arai san left Hyundai in the late 80’s and is now flirting with Goddess in the heaven.