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Lotte founder dismissed by second son
Updated : 2015-07-28 20:51 loading
By Lee Hyo-sik
Lotte Holdings, a holding company of Lotte Group in Japan, has dismissed group founder and General Chairman Shin Kyuk-ho, sending shockwaves through business circles both in Japan and Korea.
Lotte Holdings held a board of directors' meeting Tuesday and decided to strip Shin of his board seat and chairmanship, according to Lotte Group.
His second son Dong-bin will be in charge of Lotte's operations in Japan, the group said. On July 15, Dong-bin, 60, was named as CEO of Lotte Holdings.
The senior Shin was named honorary chairman of Lotte Holdings and will remain as general chairman of Lotte Group in Korea, the group said.
The unexpected move came after a failed attempt by Dong-bin's elder brother, Dong-joo, who had tried to oust his younger brother and other board members from Lotte Holdings.
The senior Shin founded Lotte in Japan in 1948 as a snack maker. Over the years, the group expanded into the manufacturing and services sectors. The group entered Korea in 1967 and has grown into the country's fifth-largest conglomerate, operating units in the retail, hotel and petrochemical industries, among others.
The group as a whole posted sales of about 90 trillion won in 2014, and aims to boost that to 200 trillion won by 2018.
Lotte Korea reported 83 trillion won in sales for 2013, with its Japanese sister achieving less than 6 trillion won.
In contrast to Lotte Group's rapid growth in Korea, its Japanese operations have largely stagnated. The group's Korean business is 15 times larger by revenue than the Japanese unit.
Syngman Rhee's legacy still disputed
Visitors pay their respects at a memorial altar for former President Syngman Rhee at the Seoul National Cemetery on July 17. / Yonhap
By Do Je-hae
The legacy of former President Syngman Rhee is at the center of a new controversy after a recent KBS report showed that he attempted to go into exile in Japan at the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War.
On June 24, a KBS news program featured documents evidencing the Rhee administration's pursuit of attaining refugee status in Japan when the war erupted. The controversial report has prompted a backlash from right-wing civic groups and commemorative organizations that seek to protect the legacy of the nation's first president.
Under strong pressure from these groups, KBS offered a retraction a week later. Journalists involved in the report were hit with disciplinary measures from the broadcaster.
[Syngman Rhee] [Censorship] [Japan SK]
Air Force to provide NK weather information
By Jun Ji-hye
The Air Force said Monday that it will provide information on weather conditions in North Korea for military purposes to better prepare against missile threats from the reclusive nation.
The Air Force Weather Wing established a specialized forecast system using radar and satellite on July 1 to monitor meteorological changes in the North. Then, it produces highly accurate information by analyzing the data with a super computer, the Air Force said.
Until now, Korea has relied on the information from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). But, according to the Air Force, this information was limited, and forecasts were impossible when Pyongyang refused to send the organization its meteorological data.
"The Weather Wing began forecasting weather changes in North Korea because of the demands of military operations," the Air Force said in a release.
"The information will be useful in evaluating the possibility of a missile launch by the North."
The Air Force noted that weather information carries extra significance because the military now uses highly advanced weapons, adding that the Army and Navy also could make good use of such information.
The wing is also planning to set up a system by 2020 to observe and forecast weather in space.
"Advanced research is ongoing for this 8 billion won project," the Air Force said.
The wing, the only weather-specialized unit of the military, announced its plans during an event to celebrate the 65th anniversary of its foundation.
The wing was established in July 27, 1950, in the heat of the Korean War.
Its weather forecast mission includes observation, analysis, production and distribution. The information is utilized in such military operations as artillery operations, biological and chemical operations, and naval gunfire operations.
[ROK military] [Intelligence] [cbw]
N.Korea Puts Big Artillery on Island Off Yeonpyeong
North Korea has deployed 122-mm multiple rocket launchers on an uninhabited island just 4.5 km from South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, the military here believes.
"We have intelligence reports that the North has recently brought four 122-mm MRLs to Galdo, where it has mobilized personnel and equipment since March to build an encampment," a senior military officer here said Tuesday. "We've confirmed that about 100 troops are now permanently stationed there."
Over the past months, the North has built five MRL positions, a command post facility and barracks on the island.
"The North transported the MRLs by train but they suddenly disappeared from view, so we believe they were taken to Galdo," the officer said.
But they have not been sighted there.
"Some people think it was a bad idea to build an artillery battery on a small, uninhabited, exposed island instead of on the mainland coast, which is easy to defend," the officer added. "But 122-mm MRLs are a new threat because they have a short range but are highly accurate."
The MRLs would be capable of striking up to 16 km south of Yeonpyeong Island.
[Military balance] [NLL]
‘Defense mafia’ creates corruption in all three branches of the military
Posted on : Jul.22,2015 17:22 KST
Modified on : Jul.22,2015 17:22 KST
The Tongyeong surface rescue ship, with hull-mounted sonar (HMS) docked in Busan on Nov. 26, 2014. A Board of Audit and Inspection investigation found that the Navy paid 4.1 billion won for the sonar, which was only worth 200 million won. The case provided momentum to further investigate corruption in the military. (Hankyoreh file photo)
Analysts say the military’s insular and hierarchical culture lends itself to corruption
Numerous cases of defense industry corruption have come to light since the November launch of a joint investigative team on the issue. With the team planning to continue its investigations through the end of 2015, it is still too early to determine how many more cases will be uncovered. But the ones that have emerged to date are already drawing major criticism from the public.
An interim announcement of findings by the team, which is made up of all the administration’s investigative bodies, on July 15, implicated projects totaling 980.9 billion won (US$851 million) in scale. Sixty-three people have been indicted to date, including two former Naval Chiefs of Staff, a onetime Minister of Patriots’ and Veterans’ Affairs, and ten generals or admirals on active duty or in the reserves. The bulk of the projects - totaling 840.2 billion won (US$729 million) - involved the Navy, from the supply of sonar for its Tongyeong and Sohae surface rescue ships to the purchasing of naval helicopters. In the Army’s case, possible corruption is being discussed in connection with supplies of special forces body armor and the K-11 rifle, while the Air Force is under investigation for electronic warfare training system (EWTS) supply irregularities. Evidence of defense industry corruption, which first surfaced after revelations that the Tongyeong could not be deployed for rescue operations due to sonar issues during the April 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry, has now spread throughout all three branches of the armed forces.
[ROK military] [Corruption]
[Editorial] The full travesty of Lee Myung-bak’s ‘resource diplomacy’ money pit
Posted on : Jul.15,2015 16:15 KST
Performance of overseas resource development investments since 2003
The Board of Audit and Inspection (BIA) released results on July 14 from its investigation into a performance assessment for overseas resource development projects. The overall picture is something we’ve known for some time from multiple revelations, but it’s still utterly disheartening to see confirmation of just what an embarrassment the Lee Myung-bak administration’s much-touted “resource diplomacy” has been.
The BAI calculated a total of 35.8 trillion won (US$31.4 billion) in investments in 169 overseas resource development projects by South Korea since 1984. Twenty-eight trillion won (US$24.6 billion) of that was invested during the Lee administration years of 2008 to 2013. The results of that massive investment have been paltry to say the least. In the case of petroleum, the amount actually imported was 2.2 million barrels, or just 0.4% of South Korea’s share. Even that was mostly brought in through three pilot efforts. The bigger problem, though, is that overseas resource development projects aren’t something we can just put a stop to once when they‘re no longer feasible and start generating losses. The BAI concluded that an additional 46.6 trillion won (US$40.9 billion) will need to be investment in 46 projects going ahead. That’s over 12 trillion won more than the 34.3 trillion won (US$30.1 billion) in additional investments predicted back in April. More than 22 trillion won (US$19.3 billion) will need to be invested through 2019. The term “bottomless money pit” never seemed more appropriate.
[ODI] [Lee Myung-bak]
A Roundtable Review of Suk-young Kim’s DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border
By Sino-NK | July 20, 2015 | No Comments
The amount of critical and emotional energy expended outside of North Korea on the media event known as “Women Crossing DMZ 2015? should indicate that the barrier between the two Koreas remains as controversial and galvanizing as ever. In approaching the boundary with a scholarly eye, Suk-Young Kim, an associate professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, provides much food for thought. Responses from three scholars follow. — Adam Cathcart, Editor-in-Chief.
A Roundtable Review of Dr. Suk-young Kim’s DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border
DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border by Suk-young Kim (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 224 pp., ISBN 9780231164825.
Defense Ministry Invites N.Korean Official to Seoul Event
The Defense Ministry has officially invited the North Korean vice armed forces minister to the Seoul Security Dialogue in September.
The ministry sent a telephone message to the North on Friday morning. "We said we're going to discuss global issues, including a wide range of agendas for peace and security," a spokesman said.
The forum brings together vice defense ministers and government and civilian security experts from Asian countries. This is the first time since it started in 2012 that a senior North Korean military leader has been invited.
The invitation comes at a time when cross-border relations are tense and more joint South Korea-U.S. military drills loom.
[Joint US military] [Ploy]
FM Comments on Defection of N.Korean Officials
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's reign of terror is having a considerable impact on North Korean officials stationed overseas, several of whom have defected to South Korea, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said Thursday.
Yun was speaking to a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club, a fraternity of veteran journalists, in Seoul.
Yun Byung-se Yun Byung-se
"Over the three-and-a-half years since Kim took power, about 70 officials have been executed," Yun said. "That’s a sevenfold increase from the same period during the Kim Jong-il regime."
"It's self-evident what will happen if the reign of terror intensifies, the economy worsens, and human rights are violated further," he added.
Turning to President Park Geun-hye's visit to Washington later this year, Yun said, "I think there'll be an important bilateral agreement about the North."
He said Park will decide soon whether to attend celebrations in China of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, but Kim Jong-un “doesn't seem interested in attending."
Yun said UNESCO's decision to add historic Japanese industrial sites to the World Heritage list where Koreans were forced to toil "is a promise to the international community that each country has the responsibility to comply with."
Japan initially admitted to the committee that forced labor was used at the sites but has since been backpedaling on a point of semantics.
He said "the door is always open" to a Seoul-Tokyo summit, but "it'll be possible only if there's some progress on various issues, including imperial Japan's mobilization of sex slaves," which Tokyo is also trying to whitewash.
2 Koreas Have Little in Common After 70 Years
North and South Koreans have grown so far apart during 70 years of separation that they share few common cultural traits and even look noticeably different.
Narrowing the wide sociocultural gap will be a prerequisite to reunification, because such sharp differences in thinking and lifestyles would make it virtually impossible for the two people to live under one government. The cost of bringing them together is likely to skyrocket.
One NGO worker aiding North Korea said, "North and South Korea have been separated for 70 years and things are now completely different in the North and South."
Even laughter is different. Kim Chol-jin (35), who defected to South Korea two years ago, said, "I still don't get the jokes when I watch [a famous TV comedy program]. I've shown North Korean comedy to my friends at work and they just looked puzzled."
People from the two sides also look different. According to a study by Mitsuhiko Kimura at Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan, the average height of a North Korean male in his 20s in 1940 was 163.4 cm, taller than his South Korean counterpart who stood 162.3 cm tall. But in 2010, the average height of the South Korean male was 174.2 cm compared to 165.4 cm in the North.
South Koreans also live longer, with the average life span 13-20 years longer than that of North Koreans.
An even bigger problem is ways of thinking and values are changing. For instance, North Koreans are brainwashed since kindergarten to worship nation founder Kim Il-sung and his heirs.
'Northern Limit Line' Set to Exceed 4 Million Viewer Mark
"Northern Limit Line" is soon expected to hit the 4 million mark in cinema attendance. The film, which depicts a cross-border naval skirmish with North Korea in June 2002, sold some 177,000 tickets on Wednesday alone to attract a total of 3.69 million viewers.
It has taken the top spot at the local box office for two consecutive days, beating the Hollywood blockbuster "Terminator Genisys."
The film will likely attract more than 4 million viewers in total on Friday afternoon, according to distributor NEW on Thursday, competing with domestic horror "The Piper" and Pixar's animated film "Inside Out," both of which opened Thursday.
"Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island," which was released for the Lunar New Year holiday in February, holds the record for the most viewers among Korean films so far this year at 3.87 million.
Although "Northern Limit Line" was released in June, which is a slow season for the movie industry, it has already sold 2.6 million tickets to pass the break-even point. Many predict it is only a matter of time before it takes this year's top spot.
[Editorial] Yoo Seong-min’s purge takes South Korea back to dictatorship
Posted on : Jul.9,2015 14:32 KST
Modified on : Jul.9,2015 14:32 KST
On July 8, Yoo Seong-min stepped down from his position as floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP). Two weeks had passed since President Park Geun-hye lashed out at Yoo as “a traitor who only takes care of himself” as she vetoed a bill that would have amended the National Assembly Act. While on the surface Yoo’s resignation was voluntary, practically speaking the floor leader of the ruling party was purged by President Park.
Thus it is that South Korean politics have regressed to the period of dictatorial rule in the 1970s and 1980s when the president served as the head of the party and dominated party affairs. Even though we are living in an age when backward and reactionary behavior is a daily occurrence in various areas of society, it is stunning to think that the country’s party democracy, which has been gradually developing for several decades, could revert to the period of the military dictatorship all at once.
This is what Yoo said during the press conference in which he announced his resignation. “At any other time, I would have stepped down as floor leader right away. The reason that I waited so long was because there were values that I wanted to protect - the values of law, principle, and justice. I wanted to stake my political career on protecting the solemn value of the first clause in our Constitution, which states that South Korea is a democratic republic. I thought that, despite the confusion and inconvenience, someone needed to cling to and defend that value for South Korea to move forward.”
Former first lady to visit North on Aug. 5
By Jun Ji-hye
Former first lady Lee Hee-ho will visit North Korea on Aug. 5, officials of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center said Monday.
The planned visit is raising hopes that tension on the peninsula will ease.
During a four-day trip, Lee is scheduled to visit children's and women's hospitals, and a child-care center in Pyongyang.
The decision was made during a meeting held between officials from the center and the North's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee in the North's city of Gaeseong.
They also met on June 30 to discuss logistics and other details of Lee's trip.
Lee, 93, was married to the late President Kim Dae-jung, and has sought to visit the repressive state for humanitarian purposes.
Last week, she voiced the hope that "the move could pave the way for alleviating tension in Seoul-Pyongyang relations."
Her late husband actively pushed his "sunshine" policy that called for cross-border exchanges and reconciliation. He held the first inter-Korean summit with then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2000.
Lee's plan to visit the North comes at a time when Pyongyang has intensified its verbal attacks against the South after the United Nations opened an office in Seoul dedicated to investigating Pyongyang's state-perpetrated violations of human rights.
The North has threatened that the establishment of the office amounts to interference in its domestic affairs, and that it will take "merciless" measures.
Lee initially expressed her wish to visit the North last October, saying that she wanted to deliver knitted hats, scarves and clothes to North Korean children. But the plan was postponed due to the cold winter weather and problems with her health.
In December, she sent a wreath to the North to mark the third anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il.
In response, his son and current leader Kim Jong-un sent a letter to Lee, saying that he will make every effort to realize unification between the two Koreas and that he was looking forward to hosting Lee in Pyongyang during 2015 once the weather became warmer.
Korean Reunification in the Eyes of Seoul and Pyongyang Today
This “sacred” topic for North and South Koreans is in the epicenter of international attention again.
There was a time when the northerners were more initiative on this issue, and the southerners were apprehensive about “communization” from the North. Now, in a radical shift of the economic power factor in favor of South Korea, according to many experts, North Korea is concerned more about self-preservation than about global projects of reunification.
However, in recent years this problem has sounded very loudly again. This time Seoul is playing a leading part.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/07/05/korean-reunification-in-the-eyes-of-seoul-and-pyongyang-today/
Koreans Worry About Aftermath of Reunification
Most South Koreans believe reunification with North Korea would benefit both sides but are nervous about the changes that could happen, a survey suggests. The Chosun Ilbo and the Korean Political Science Association, Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs asked Hankook Research to gauge public attitudes toward reunification to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
A majority of the respondents, though in favor, voiced fears over the financial cost and ensuing social upheavals. Some 68 percent said reunification would benefit both Koreas, while only 15.7 percent feel the process would help only the North and 14.1 percent that it would hurt both sides.
Respondents in their 20s are the least enthusiastic, with 41 percent saying only the North would benefit from reunification or both sides would suffer. Some 56.2 percent said reunification would help both sides. Among respondents in their 60s or older, 70.5 percent said reunification would help both sides.
Some 32.3 percent fear that ideological differences would lead to social conflict, while 31.8 percent feared the economy would suffer as the South foots the bill for rebuilding the North. A government official said, "The public feel considerable stress over the potential political, social and economic cost of reunification."
But some 73.5 percent of respondents said they are willing to shoulder the cost, with 33.7 percent saying they can pay about W100,000 per year toward preparing for reunification (US$1=W1,125). Some 26.5 percent said they do not want to pay a penny.
Asked when reunification is likely to happen, 21.9 percent said within the next 20 years, 18.4 percent within the next 10 years and 6.1 percent said within five years. Only 11.2 percent predicted it will take longer than 20 years and 17.8 percent more than 30 years. A substantial 24.6 percent said never.
Asked about the main reason for the prolonged division of the Korean peninsula, 53.7 percent of South Koreans blamed North Korea's belligerence, while 38.4 percent blamed the U.S., China and Japan, and 7.9 percent pointed the finger at South Korea. Excluding people in their 40s, most blamed North Korea, but 47.9 percent of 40-somethings pointed the finger at the big powers for prolonging the rift.
Asked whether South Korea should continue aiding North Korea despite its nuclear weapons program, 45.3 percent said yes and 54.7 percent no. The results show growing disapproval of aid for North Korea as it steps up developing weapons of mass destruction.
The survey was conducted among 1,000 adults nationwide.
[Unification] [Public opinion] [Unification cost]
'Northern Limit Line' Hits 2 Million Viewer Mark
More than 2 million people had watched the film "Northern Limit Line" by Kim Hak-soon as of Wednesday. The movie was released on June 24.
That makes the partly crowdfunded film, which dramatizes a cross-border naval skirmish, the fastest domestic box-office success this year.
"During the first week of its release, people were drawn to the tragic sacrifice of the sailors and to the way the film was made possible," a spokesman for distributor NEW said. "Now the word of mouth is that it's both entertaining and inspiring, so it's attracting attention from all age groups."
About half of all moviegoers last week and early this week saw the film. If the trend continues it is likely to break the 3 million mark this weekend.
Tanker acquisition means extended operational range for jet fighters
Posted on : Jul.1,2015 17:23 KST
Modified on : Jul.1,2015 17:23 KST
South Korea chooses to buy from a European instead of US manufacturer, hinting at weapons diversification
The A-330 MRTT, a multi-role tanker transport manufactured by European firm Airbus Defense and Space, has been selected by the South Korean government to drastically extend the operational range of its jet fighters.
On June 30, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Procurement Agency (DAPA) announced that the decision was made during a meeting of the Defense Project Promotion Committee presided over by Defense Minister Han Min-koo.
Three different models were considered for the project, which is worth a total of 1.49 trillion won (US$1.33 billion) - Israel Aerospace Industries’ KC-767 MTT and US Boeing’s KC-46A, which is currently being developed, along with the A-330MRT, which is already developed and in use.
It is unusual for a European model to beat out an American one in a large defense project, hinting that the South Korean military is moving to diversify its weapons acquisition.
“The A-330 MRTT had the best features of the three aircraft. It can hold up to 111 tons of fuel, 300 personnel, and 45,000 kg of cargo at the same time,” a DAPA official said. The fuel capacity of the Boeing KC-46A is 96 tons.
The A-330 MRTT also reportedly had a more competitive price. “Airbus’s bid was more than 10% below the total project price, and the fact that the euro has decreased in value recently because of events in Greece also worked in its favor,” the source said.
The dollar to euro exchange rate reportedly fell from 1:1.3 at the time the bid was announced to 1:1 at the time of assessment.
It was also concluded that there will be no problems with compatibility and interoperability between the A-330 MRTT and South Korean jet fighters manufactured in the US.
“The A-330 MRTT is currently being used by American allies such as the UK and Australia. We didn’t find any problems in our survey,” the official said.
A total of 46 A-330 MRTTs have been sold to the UK (14), France (12), and Australia (5), while India and Qatar are currently in contract negotiations.
Outfitted with Rolls-Royce engines, the A330 MRTT is capable of refueling 21 F-15Ks and 41 KF-16s and can fly for a maximum of 14,800km.
The South Korean military expects that deploying the aerial tanker will greatly expand the operational range of air force fighters.
“Fielding an aerial tanker will increase the operational range of our jet fighters to Dokdo [to the east], Ieodo [to the south], and areas north of the Pyongyang-Wonsan line. It will also increase their weapons load capacity, which will improve their battle efficiency,” DAPA Spokesperson Kim Shi-cheol said.
[Military balance] [Territorial disputes] [Airpower] [Arms sales]
Park calls for military readiness against NK provocations
By Kang Seung-woo
President Park Geun-hye ordered the military Tuesday to maintain a tight readiness posture amid growing threats from North Korea.
Park attended a luncheon with some 70 military leaders at Cheong Wa Dae, including Defense Minister Han Min-koo, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Choi Yun-hee and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti.
"Currently, North Korea has ratcheted up tensions (on the Korean Peninsula) and it is strengthening the reign of terror internally, so its provocations are unpredictable," Park said in the meeting.
"I hope that the military will remain vigilant against a possible provocation."
Mass Wedding for N.Korean Defectors Held in Seoul
A mass wedding for North Korean defectors was held at a gymnasium in Seoul on Tuesday.
The government organized the event in collaboration with the non-profit organization Happy World to help defectors who couldn't have a wedding ceremony due to financial difficulties.
Couples bow to each other during a group wedding ceremony for North Korean defectors at a gymnasium in Seoul on Tuesday. Couples bow to each other during a group wedding ceremony for North Korean defectors at a gymnasium in Seoul on Tuesday.
Some 130 couples signed up for the free wedding event. Among them, 100 couples in their 20s to 60s were selected although 10 couples couldn't make the wedding due to scheduling conflicts.
All 90 brides came from North Korea while 60 percent of the grooms did too. The rest were Chinese and South Korean.
The newlyweds were presented with 14K gold rings.
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