U.S. military pivoting to East Asia

August 30, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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The U.S. military is pivoting to East Asia as territorial flare-ups spread across the region. The WSJ’s Deborah Kan speaks with defense expert Dr. John Lee about the increasing U.S. presence and its affect on China and its neighbors.

Typhoon Bolaven, Typhoon Tembin Threaten North Korea

August 30, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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A wave breaks along a bridge over the sea off the southern port city of Busan as Typhoon Bolaven brings heavy downpours and winds to South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Kim Sun-ho)

SEOUL, South Korea — Twin typhoons are renewing fears of a humanitarian crisis in North Korea, where poor drainage, widespread deforestation and crumbling infrastructure can turn even a routine rainstorm into a catastrophic flood.

Typhoon Bolaven struck the North on Tuesday and Wednesday, submerging houses and roads, ruining thousands of acres of crops and triggering landslides that buried train tracks – scenes that are all too familiar in this disaster-prone nation. A second major storm, Typhoon Tembin, pounded the Korean Peninsula with more rains Thursday.

The storms come as North Korea is still recovering from earlier floods that killed more than 170 people and destroyed thousands of homes. That in turn followed a springtime drought that was the worst in a century in some areas.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/typhoon-bolaven-tembin-north-korea_n_1842409.html

Second storm looms as Korean Peninsula cleans up after powerful typhoon

August 29, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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August 29, 2012: A cargo ship carrying coal, snapped in two run aground in the sea after Typhoon Bolaven hit the country in Sacheon, South Korea. As a second typhoon, Bolaven churned Wednesday toward the Korean Peninsula, the two countries began cleaning up from a powerful storm that killed at least 11 people in the South and pummeled a North Korea already struggling to rebuild from earlier flooding. (AP/Yonhap)

SEOUL, South Korea –  The Korean Peninsula cleaned up Wednesday after one powerful typhoon and girded itself for another that could be particularly damaging to North Korea, which is still recovering from earlier floods.

The first storm, Typhoon Bolaven, left at least 12 people dead in South Korea, including eight fishermen killed in wrecks off the southern coast. Damage in North Korea, which was hit late Tuesday and early Wednesday, wasn’t completely clear, though state media reported that the storm knocked out power, ruined farm land and cut off power to some people.

Typhoon Tembin, meanwhile, was expected to reach South Korea on Thursday, with its outer bands hitting North Korea later in the day.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/08/29/second-storm-looms-as-korean-peninsula-cleans-up-after-powerful-typhoon/

Typhoon pounds South Korea, smashes ships; 9 dead

August 28, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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A Chinese fisherman wearing an orange life vest, center, is rescued by South Korean coast guard officers from a Chinese ship in Jeju, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. A powerful typhoon pounded South Korea with strong winds and heavy rain Tuesday, while the nation’s coast guard battled rough seas in a race to rescue fishermen on two Chinese ships that slammed into rocks off the southern coast. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Kim Ho-chun) KOREA OUT (Kim Ho-chun)

SEOUL, South Korea — A powerful typhoon pounded South Korea with strong winds and heavy rain Tuesday, killing nine and churning up rough seas that smashed two Chinese fishing ships into rocks and forced the coast guard to perform a daring rescue of survivors.

Rescuers saved 12 fishermen and searched for 10 still missing from the ships that hit rocks off South Korea’s southern Jeju island. Five fishermen were killed, officials said.

Separately, at least four other people died as Typhoon Bolaven knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of South Koreans, canceled flights and temporarily halted joint war games by U.S. and South Korean military forces.

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Moody’s Raises Rating on South Korea

August 27, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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Moody’s Investors Service  Monday raised South Korea’s sovereign credit rating by one notch to Aa3, on par with that of China and Japan, citing the country’s strong fiscal fundamentals and resilience to external shocks amid growing concerns about Europe’s financial crisis and a global slowdown.

“Korea’s strong fiscal fundamentals enable a relatively large degree of policy space to cope with contingent domestic risks and external shocks,” Moody’s said in a statement.

South Korea’s current rating of Aa3 is the highest that Asia’s fourth-largest economy has received from the ratings firm. The company also assigned a stable outlook to its latest rating.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444506004577615171128614332.html

South Korea to pay families of slain activists

August 27, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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The Supreme Court in South Korea has ordered the government to compensate the families of a group of suspected North Korean sympathisers killed during the Korean War.

The court ordered the government to pay up to 40 million won ($35,200, £22,300) to 492 families who filed the lawsuit.

Their families said that security forces executed their relatives without proper trials.

The two Koreas are still technically at war despite their truce in 1953.

Many left-wing activists were targeted in South Korea during the war with North Korea from 1950-1953, as part of its anti-communism campaign.

In 1950, the government detained a group of about 400 people who were thought to be communist sympathisers. Most were killed by security forces.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19388871

One Man’s Tale of Two Koreas, Changed Allegiances, Torture and Fear

August 26, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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Kim Young-hwan, pictured in Seoul, has helped North Koreans build an underground pro-democracy movement, using China as a base of operations.

SEOUL, South Korea — The bizarre twists of fate and intrigue that have shadowed Kim Young-hwan, once one of South Korea’s best-known student activists, read like the plot of a Bond movie.

Tortured by his own government in the 1980s for supporting its archenemy, North Korea, Mr. Kim now lives under the protection of the South, which assigned him a full-time government bodyguard.

The reason: North Korea, which once considered Mr. Kim such an asset that it smuggled him out of South Korea for a meeting with the North’s founder, now wants him dead.

The threat to his life is apparent retribution for a change of heart. He renounced the Communist police state in the 1990s and has worked tirelessly ever since to help North Koreans build an underground pro-democracy movement, using the border between the North and its ally China as his base of operations.

In March, after Mr. Kim spent years dodging North Korean agents and the Chinese police, his luck ran out. Captured by Chinese authorities, he was tortured for the second time in his life, he said, shocked with an electric prod in an attempt to force him to inform on his compatriots.

He said he refused and was expelled from China last month. But his case led to a diplomatic scuffle, with South Korea demanding that China investigate the torture accusations.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/world/asia/korean-activist-kim-young-hwan-ex-supporter-of-north-plots-his-next-move.html?pagewanted=all

North Korean assassins target activists in South

August 26, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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North Korean defector and pro-democracy activist Park Sang Hak, pictured here in downtown Seoul, was the target of a failed assasination plot last year. North Korean agents hired another defector to poison Park at a Seoul restaurant, but the plan was leaked to the National Intelligence Service and stopped. The defector was sentenced to four years in prison, but prosecutors hope to have his sentence lengthened.

SEOUL, South Korea — A former North Korean military officer defects and starts a new life in the South, where he joins pro-democracy groups trying to bring down his homeland’s iron-fisted government.

More than a decade later, short on money and worried about the family he left behind, he accepts an offer from the North to kill three prominent anti-North protesters. His main target: a well-known activist and fellow defector who has angered the North for years.

He plots to use a poisoned needle, but the fellow defector he enlists to help him is an informant for South Korean intelligence and betrays him.

A far-fetched spy novel plot?

No, this is a real-life case of double-agents and intrigue.

The former officer, identified by court records only by his last name of An, was convicted in April of violating South Korea’s National Security Law by trying to murder activist Park Sang Hak. Prosecutors are trying to have An’s four-year sentence extended. A decision is expected in the coming months.

Read more: http://www.stripes.com/news/north-korean-assassins-target-activists-in-south-1.187000

South Korea Court Knocks Down Online Real-Name Rule

August 24, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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SEOUL—The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that a law requiring South Koreans to use their real names on Internet forums was unconstitutional, forcing the government to change the five-year-old regulation created to reduce anonymous criticism of politicians and celebrities.

The court said the requirement amounts to prior censorship. It also said the law violated citizens’ privacy, was technically difficult to enforce and was ineffective at stopping online criticism.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444082904577606794167615620.html

South Korean court rules Samsung didn’t copy iPhone

August 24, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s Samsung won a home court ruling in its global smartphone battle against Apple (AAPL) on Friday when judges in Seoul said the company didn’t copy the look and feel of the U.S. company’s iPhone, and that Apple infringed on Samsung’s wireless technology.

However, in a split decision on patents, the panel also said Samsung violated Apple technology behind the bounce-back feature when scrolling on touch screens, and ordered both sides to pay limited damages.

Read more: http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_21388652/court-bans-some-apple-samsung-products-south-korea

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