LTW - Madame Prez, Samsung#1, & NK's Moonie Motors

1. National

1) Park Geun-hye elected as 18th president
Winning 51.6% of the votes, Park Geun-hye of the ruling conservative Saenuri Party won the 18th presidential race, beating Moon Jae-in from liberal Unified Democratic Party. Park became the first female president, and got the honor of being the first child of a former president as she is the daughter of former president Park Jung-hee who ruled South Korea from 1961 to 1979. Park was mostly favored by the voters in the 50s and 60s who were not comfortable with Moon’s left leaning policies. Park’s 5 year term starts on Feb 25 next year. No 2nd term allowed in Korean law.

Park owes a lot to Lee Jung-hee, the female candidate with 1% approval rating from the Unified Progressive Party known for its extreme pro North Korea policies. In a live three way TV debates with Park and Moon, Lee kept making rudely vicious comments against Park, but expressed warm words to Moon. This led many to believe Moon was a good friend of Lee. It was a typical case of “You are helping me a lot if you do not help me at all” to Moon. President elect Park might be serious about hiring Lee Jung-hee as her PR woman.

2) North Korea launches rocket successfully
North Korea unexpectedly fired a long-range rocket on Dec 12, putting a satellite into an orbit successfully. This proved the fear that North Korea has the technology to deliver a nuke bomb 13,000km (8,075 miles) away, or any place of U.S. territory. Though the U.N. denounced the launch as the violation of U.N. resolutions against North Korea, no real sanction is expected to take place due to objection from China. After analysis of debris retrieved from the Yellow Sea, South Korean government said Pyongyang had used red fuming nitric acid to fuel the first stage propellant.  That chemical is mostly used for intercontinental ballistic missiles in other nations like Iran.

The rocket launch was a Korean version of Sputnik shock. South Korea’s two attempts to launch the Naro rocket for a satellite failed in 2009 and 2010, and the third attempt this year has also been a flop so far, with two abortions just minutes before lift-off. What is more embarrassing is that the 1st stage rocket for Naro was made in Russia, meaning Naro is not wholly South Korea’s rocket. South Korea better pay Kim Jong-un only one tenths of what it paid to Vladimir Putin, and beg Kim to launch the damn Naro satellite rocket for South Korea.

2. Economy
1) Samsung stands tall as #1 cell phone maker
According to HIS iSuppli, Samsung has become the world’s #1 mobile phone maker in terms of annual sales, taking 29% of the global market, overtaking Nokia with 24%. Samsung got this goal achieved 24 years after it began making cell phones. Samsung also maintained its top position in the global smartphone market, with 28% market share, beating Apple with 20%. Nokia, HTC and RIM accounted for 5% each. On a separate note, Motorola, the first maker of mobile phones, announced that it will pull out of Korean market by February next year after losing the battle against Samsung and LG in Korea.
Motorola is just another foreign company pulling out of Korea, like Wal-Mart or Carrefour, with no real impact to me personally. The problem is Yahoo as it will end its business as of December 31. I will have to type in all of my e-mail address in my [email protected] account into my Gmail account. The good side of it? I will become #1 in 500 words per minute World Championship after all the e-mail address typing.

3. Auto Industry
1) Unification Church to pass automotive decisions to North Korea
Pyeonghwa Motors’s president Park Sang-kwon said the management control of the joint venture company between South Korea’s Unification Church and North Korea will be taken over by North Korean government, according to Voice of America. “We transfer the right to them to practically run the company,” Park was quoted. Pyeonghwa Motors began operation in 2002, manufacturing about 2,000 vehicles every year with five different Fiat models, but was not making enough money due to lack of economy of scale. The total capital of the company was 43.5 billion won ($40M)) as of 2009.

It is probably a good decision to transfer the right to run the company from South Koreans to North Koreans. North Koreans will soon make Pyeonghwa Motors a bigger company than Hyundai, from what we have seen with the rocket launching.