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.
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.