LTW - SK-NK Warmth, Betrayed Housewives, & Abe Ire

1. National
1) Signs of warmth in Korean peninsula

It seems South Korean president Park Geun-hye is winning the chicken game against Kim Jong-un. North Korea has invited a South Korean civic group to organize a ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of a landmark inter-Koran declaration signed by Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung on June 15, 2000. Kim Jong-un sent an envoy to China who met with Xi Jinping with a promise to return to six party talks. North Korea TV even featured South Korean flag for 30 minutes in its ping pong match against South Korea held in Paris. This was the first time South Korean flag was shown on North Korean TV, and could not have been possible without the nod from Kim Jong-un.

If the latest crisis in Korean peninsula was a baby pee, the Aug 18 Ax Atrocity in 1976 was a Niagara Falls. Two American soldiers, 1Lt. Barret and Cpt.Bonifas, were axed to death by North Korean guards while cutting a big tree obstructing a view to the North in DMZ. President Park Jung-hee, Park Geun-hye’s father, and Gerald Ford demanded apology from Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, but got only a raised middle finger from Kim Il-sung. Felt insulted, Park and Ford sent a bunch of U.S. and South Korean soldiers into the DMZ on Aug 21 to cut the ‘damn’ tree. There were 20 F-111 fighters , 3 B-52 bombers, and 24 F-4 Phantoms flying over DMZ, and Midway aircraft carrier in the sea, and 12,000 additional forces from Okinawa on the ground while the tree was cutting down. Any slight reaction against the tree cutting from the North would have triggered all those forces jumping into North Korean territory, but chicken Kim Ilsung did nothing, finally expressing his regrets over the killing. Like father, like daughter!

2) Abe and his friend keep pouring out controversial comments
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and his friend are determined to steal the spot light from Kim Jong-un. Mr. Abe sat in the cockpit of a fighter jet that has the number 731, which evokes notorious Unit 731that performed experiments on live humans in China. Abe also caused controversy by comparing Yasukuni Shrine to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. Not to be outdone, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, co-leader of Japan Restoration Party, said that comfort women “were necessary at the time of war” and recommended U.S. Army officials to “take advantage of legal facilities to release sexual energy.” Comments from Abe and Hashimoto are being criticized by former Japanese PM Tomiichi Murayama, who had made a sincere apology to its neighbors in 1995.

Mr.Hashimoto was in Korea in 2010, touring and praising prestigious high schools in Korea like Seoul Science High School and Daewon Foreign Language High School. No one knew at that time Hashimoto might have visited other places in Seoul to ‘take advantage of legal facilities to release his sexual energy.’

2. Economy
1) When do house wives feel betrayed most?

May 21 is celebrated as “Husband and wife’s Day” as 21 can mean “two people met to make one.” A survey by Korea Working Mom Research at the event of May 21 Day showed that Korean wives felt most betrayed when their husbands “took care of others first” with 41%. Forgetting key days like birthday or marriage day came 2nd with 23%, followed by hiding debts (20%) and flirting with other women (12%). The house wives thanked most when their husbands had shown trust in them with 33%, followed by being nice to wife’s own family(27%) and “trying to keep promises with wife”(26%). Lee Soo-yeon, the head of the research center, said that all women, regardless of age, desire to be acknowledged and loved by their husbands.

I think my wife was not surveyed as a gift would be her prime reason for thanking her husband. Whenever I go out with my wife, I hold my wife hands firmly. People call me a romantic. They never know that’s my last attempt to stop her from jumping into a Louis Vuitton store in Gangnam.

2) Wage definition stirs up confusion
The controversy began in Mar 2012 when Supreme Court ruled that regular bonuses should be counted as part of the worker’s ordinary wage, favoring the union of a local bus company. The problem is that the definition of ordinary wage in the ruling was different from that of the Ministry of Employment and Labor. The ministry states that additional allowances that are not related to working hours, such as regular bonuses, are not calculated as part of the ordinary wage. This is important as the ordinary wage is used as a basis to calculate overtime, severance and retirement payments. While the unions in Korea hailed the ruling, the business community is protesting, saying the companies just followed the government definition for the past 30 years, and the ruling will cause additional 38 trillion Korean won impact. The government plans to hold grand conference from June involving the representatives from the union, business, and the government to reach a consensus.
GM CEO Dan Akerson asked President Park to solve this issue fast or no 8 billion dollar investment in GM Korea. Mr. Akerson also said it would relocate the production from GM Korea to somewhere else at the peak of North Korea crisis a month ago. GM Korea employees are praying Korean LPGA golfers no longer make fun of American players, and Inbee Park give up her No.1 status to Stacey Lewis fast.

3. Auto Industry
1) Renault Samsung might get a strike

There has been no strike since Renault Samsung Motors began operation in 1998, but there might be one, though specific dates have not been identified. The union said that 94% of its 2,650 members favored industrial action. The union is angry because the company proposed wage freeze, and forced employees to use their annual leaves during period when the plant was shut down. RSM is insisting that “the company is under difficult times as all employees know well and there should be not strike.” To resolve the differences, the two sides asked for arbitration by the Busan National Labor Relations Commission earlier this year. However, that also failed to resolve the issues.

RSM may learn a lesson from Ssangyong. The two hardcore union leaders in Ssangyong Motors in Pyeongtaek protesting 30m high on an electric structure for 171 days from Nov 20 last year finally came down on May 9 on their own. Ssangyong didn’t do anything with the two union leaders other than encouraging them to protest there 50 more years.

2) Hyundai’s Czech plant marks 1 millionth vehicle
Hyundai’s Nosovice plant in Czech Republic reached the 1 million mark last week, after three years since its SOP in September 2009. Built on 494 acres of land with $1.44 billion investment, the Nosovice plant has an annual capacity of 330K units, rolling out i30 sedans and Tuscon ix SUV. It has been operating on a three shift system since Nov 2011. Hyundai had only 1.8% of market share in Europe in 2008, but it is now enjoying 3.5% at the moment, thanks to production from Nosovice.

The Nosovice plant is being run by Mr.Joon-ha Kim, who had worked in Hyundai’s Bromont plant in Quebec, Turkey plant, Alabama plant before Nosovice. Mr. Kim was a legend in Hyundai Bromont plant in 1988 when he and his two friends consumed 20 bowls of ramen together. Nothing legendary if this ramen consumption did not happen an hour after a full buffet dinner. The first on the left in the first row is the legend.