1) Ultra leftwing party might be disbanded
Cabinet misters approved a motion to disband the Unified Progress Party, which has been criticized for advocating North Korean ideology and attempting to topple the government. The Justice Ministry “found the UPP’s doctrine, its political goals and activities violate the constitutional democratic order.” The ministry has being reviewing the motion since lawmaker Lee Seok-ki of UPP was arrested on charges of plotting to blow up major facilities in the event of war with North Korea. The Constitutional Court will decide within 180 days whether the UPP did violate the constitution. Five law makers in the UPP have shaved off their hairs to show their protest against the “government’s plot to kill democracy.”
The UPP lawmakers can shave their hairs for the show, but it wouldn’t work from my personal experience. Frustrated with two courses flunked at sophomore and a Dear John Letter from a girlfriend, I shaved off my hairs for the change in Feb 1982. It didn’t help much, though. I got another two Fs in the following semester, and had to wait five more years to meet a new girlfriend who later became my boss.
2) Gender issue with a soccer star
The Seoul City women’s soccer team has condemned call for a gender test for striker Park Eun-seon, after the managers of six other teams in the professional league demanded the test and threatened to boycott the league. Park has scored the most goals in the league, leading Seoul City team in the top of the league. The general manager of Seoul City said the call to verify someone’s gender is a serious breach of human rights. Park was selected for the national women’s soccer team since high school, and went through a gender test when she competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Team coach said he would take Park to the hospital for another test.
Park looks like a man, quacks like a man, and plays like a man, then she probably is a man. Right? No. She just has higher testosterone levels than other women. Another proof? She has taken shower with her teammates for many years. No one has complained or filed a lawsuit against Park.
1) Japan’s Keidanren warns on Korean ruling
The Keidanren, or the Japanese Business Federation, issued a statement, saying the issue of compensation for conscripted Korean workers during Japanese colonial rule was already resolved in the 1965 settlement between Japan and Korea that normalized the diplomatic relations. The Korean court decision may become “an obstacle to the future investment in Korea, as well as lead to a freeze to bilateral trade,” said the statement. The statement came after a ruling in Korea that awarded 150 million each for four women who were forced to work at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and another ruling that ordered Nippon Steel to pay four of its former Korean workers with 100 million won. Japan paid total of $300 million, and another $200 million in low interest to Korea to the 1965 agreement to compensate for the damages done to Koreans during the colonial days.
My great uncle was conscripted to Japanese Air Force at the age of 16, becoming a kamikaze stationed in Java, Indonesia. He barely survived the WWII as his final flight was scheduled to take off after Aug 15, 1945. Should the Japanese Air Force pay compensation if his family file and win a lawsuit in Korea? What about my grandfather who had to work under a tough Japanese landlord?
2) Monthly exports set a new record
Korea’s monthly export exceeded $50 billion for the first time in October, reaching $50.51 billion, up 7.3 % from a year ago, thanks to economic recoveries in the U.S. and the E.U. Exports to the U.S. rose 23.2%, thanks to increasing shipment of mobile phones and cars. Korea’s trade surplus from Jan to Aug this year was $42.22 billion, while Japan’s was $41.53 billion. It was the first time Korea’s trade surplus exceeded Japan’s in history. Japan was hit by the collapse of Japanese electronics companies, and rising oil imports to replace nuclear energy after tsunami in 2011
At the front of the trade surplus are Samsung Electronics whose operating profit is two times more than the combined profit of all of 9 Japanese electronics companies, including Sony and Panasonic, and Hyundai which is selling four times more vehicles globally than its former teacher Mitsubishi. It was the achievement as challenging as holding my wife from jumping into a Louis Vuitton store on sale.
3. Auto Industry
1) 80 millionth vehicles produced for Hyundai and Kia
Hyundai-Kia announced that the combined production of vehicles reached 80 million milestone last week. It took 50 years since Kia started K-360 three wheeled truck at its Sohari plant near Seoul in 1962, and 44 years for Hyundai which began to assemble Ford Cortina at its Ulsan plant in 1968. It took 30 years to reach 10 million in 1993, but 6 years to get to 20 million in 1999 and 4 years to see 30 million in 2003. With a new plant to open in China next year, Hyundai and Kia are expected to add 8 million new vehicles each year. The all time best seller was Hyundai Elantra which sold 9.1 million units, followed by Hyundai Sonata with 7.73 million and Accent with 6.63 million. Kia became part of Hyundai when it was bought by Hyundai in 1998 after bankruptcy.
The Korean automotive industry is quite young compared to other major nations. Myunghwa, a chassis and powertrain component supplier, was founded in 1957 and its founder is still busy taking care of production lines. Yusung, a supplier for piston rings and cylinder liners, was established in 1959 and its founder is as active in company affairs as in golf course. It is like Henry Ford’s friends are still running U.S. automotive suppliers in Detroit.