UN Chief Considering North Korea Visit

October 30, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: History, Info, North Korea, U.S. Policy, Unification 

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon holds the trophy of Seoul Peace Prize during the award ceremony in Seoul, South Korea, October 29, 2012.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he would consider a trip to North Korea as part of his efforts toward peace on the Korean peninsula.

Ban, a South Korean, made his comments Tuesday as he received the 2012 Seoul Peace Prize.

“I will spare no effort to help both the South and the North move toward eventual reunification and a Korean peninsula that is peaceful and free of nuclear weapons,” Ban said.”As secretary-general, I am committed to doing my utmost to play any role in helping to advance peace on the Korean peninsula. That includes visiting North Korea, under the right conditions.”

Read more: http://www.voanews.com/content/un-chief-considering-a-visit-to-north-korea/1535807.html

Balloons for Pyongyang – South Korea

October 29, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Culture, History, Info, North Korea, U.S. Policy 

North Korean defectors are spearheading efforts to promote democracy by launching balloons carrying propaganda and aid packages across the border. But is it really making an impact on the citizens in the North?

In the decades since the Korean war thousands of North Koreans have made their way to the South. And now they’re causing a storm, trying to steer the North towards democracy by sending large balloons carrying leaflets, socks, CDs and money across the border. Park Sang-hak, a defector and former propaganda ministry employee, claims his messages have landed right in central Pyongyang. “When North Korean people know the truth they will realize how it is not free to be living under a supreme commander.” But those promoting democracy in their homeland face tremendous risks and people inhabiting regions near the launching site believe the activity is painting their homes with a bulls-eye, with North Korea threatening to respond militarily and attempting to assassinate the main perpetrators. Yet they refuse to be deterred. “If we do it constantly, someday a Jasmine revolution will happen in North Korea, just like Libya and Tunisia.”

–Frank Smith

Korea’s Manufacturer Confidence Falls for Second Month

October 29, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Culture, Economy, Info, U.S. Policy 

South Korean manufacturers’ confidence fell for the second straight month as slowing economic growth weighed on sentiment.

An index measuring expectations for November fell to 70 from 72 in October, the Bank of Korea said in a statement in Seoul today. A measure of expectations at non-manufacturing companies was unchanged from October at 67, with any number below 100 indicating that pessimists outnumber optimists.

Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-28/south-korea-s-manufacturer-confidence-falls-for-second-month

South Korea pensions funding crunch

October 29, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Culture, Economy, Info, Trade, Travel 

Let’s just cut the BS! Comments in RED are by ajosshi.com.

Seoul: The first payouts from South Korea’s state pension fund only started in 2008, but faced with the fastest ageing population among developed nations and one of the lowest birthrates, the country needs to deal with a looming funding crunch. Already going broke.

The world’s third-largest state fund by assets is generating more than $2 billion (Dh7.3 billion) a month in new net funding as contributions outpace payments, but by 2034 that will end as South Koreans retire and the working age population falls.

By 2050, there will only be 1.5 people in work to support each pensioner, down from seven now, as birth rates have plunged from six babies per woman in the 1960s to just over one.

That means politicians, promising more “cradle to grave” welfare ahead of December’s presidential elections will have to implement a potentially unpopular hike in contribution rates, National Pension Service Chairman Jun Kwang-woo said in an interview with Reuters.

“The sooner the better to address this issue to protect the interest of future generations,” said Jun, who projected the fund’s net value would peak at $2 trillion over the next three decades from around $340 billion as of August.

Jun refused to be drawn on the timing or size of any hike in the nine per cent contribution rate that employers and workers equally make, one of the lowest in the developed world. Studies from the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development suggest rates would need to double to 18 per cent by 2030 to stabilise the fund. You’ll be paying more.

At the same time as hiking contributions, the NPS needs to dramatically reduce the proportion of money it invests in the domestic fixed income market — more than 60 per cent of its portfolio in July — and push more money into overseas equity markets and increase ownership of physical assets, Jun said. Expect anti-Korean sentiments to increase. Violence against Koreans will be increasing.

The NPS has started a tentative move into real physical assets, buying into the Colonial Pipeline carrying fuel in the United States, Britain’s Gatwick Airport, HSBC’s Canary Wharf headquarters and an Australian toll road.

“What we need to do in this of course is to move actively into alternative investments… other than traditional fixed income or even equities whose performance has not been that impressive,” said Jun.

In the three years since Jun took office, he said the proportion of international assets had doubled to about 16 per cent of the fund’s portfolio from 8 per cent and would grow to 20 per cent over the medium term.

The fund targets returns of 6.6 per cent annually on average from 2013 to 2017. Although its return in 2011 was just 2.3 per cent it picked up to 6.3 per cent from January to August 2012 and averaged 7.3 per cent from 2009-2011. If the fund were a person, this person made less than what was anticipated and spent more than had planned.

The push into real estate and physical assets has so far been confined to developed markets with good regulation and transparent legal structures, Jun said, but that could change with the shift in economic power to emerging economies. The fund has made less and lost more, so the fund will now start gambling to hit it big.

“We talked about the role the World Bank can play in facilitating our infrastructure investment into emerging markets,” Jun said of recent talks with the new head of the World Bank, South Korea-born Jim Yong Kim.

“There I mentioned the importance of insurance coverage for political risk or regulatory or legal [risks].” The fund has ghetto insurance.

The fund is also considering putting some money with hedge funds, a move that will require discussions inside the fund and with Korea’s ministries in a country where memories of the 1998 Asian financial crisis means foreign funds are still viewed with suspicion. The fund will now be funding loan sharks.

Although it could be considered as a very useful liquid alternative investment… there is continued perception that hedge funds are very risky,” said Jun. Honest statement.

We have to create an environment within ourselves and with the stakeholders that it [risk] is certainly manageable.” We’ll now start gambling with your money.

Talks within the fund will start soon and develop a clearer view by early next year, Jun said, although an actual decision on investing with hedge funds will not come until later. We have no idea what will happen.

http://gulfnews.com/business/economy/south-korea-pensions-funding-crunch-1.1095352

Coming to America: South Korea’s top directors on hitting Hollywood with English language films

October 29, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Culture, Economy, Film, History, Info, Trade 

There’s a scene in South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s 2003 revenge classic Oldboy, currently being remade by Spike Lee, in which the film’s wild-haired, wild-eyed lead Min-sik Choi plops down at a restaurant and slurps on a huge fidgety live octopus, its long tentacles squirming out of his mouth. To American audiences, the moment may seem totally strange. But Park says the scene is less disgusting to Korean audiences. “They would be able to sympathize with the protagonist at that stage, who was incarcerated for 14 years,” he told EW. “He wants to eat something that is alive and moving. By chewing on this living thing, he’s venting his anger to an unknown protagonist.”

What is really gained, or lost, in translation?

Read more: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/10/29/south-korea-top-directors-park-chan-wook-kim-jee-woon-bong-joon-ho/

S. Korea renames peaks of Dokdo to symbolize sovereignty

October 28, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Dokdo, Education, History, Info, Soft Power, U.S. Policy, War Crimes 

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — South Korea said Sunday that it has selected new official names for peaks on Dokdo, a group of its easternmost islets in the East Sea, in an apparent bid to better symbolize its sovereignty over the territory frequently claimed by its neighbor Japan.

Dokdo, which lies closer to South Korea in the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, has long been a thorn in relations between the two countries. South Korea keeps a small police detachment on the islets — consisting mainly of Dongdo and Seodo — effectively controlling them.

According to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, the government has decided to rename Dongdo “Usanbong” and Seodo “Daehanbong,” and use the new names starting Monday in the country’s official maps, textbooks and Internet portals.

Read more: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2012/10/28/91/0301000000AEN20121028000700320F.HTML

Korea Asks Google to Correct Dokdo Blunder

October 28, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Dokdo, History, Info, U.S. Policy, War Crimes 

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday asked web search giant Google to restore the Korean name and address of the Dokdo islets on its map service. They were apparently deleted and replaced with an old nautical name.

“We made it clear that we can’t accept Google’s new policy because Dokdo is clearly Korean territory,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tae-young told reporters. Seoul told Google that the change is “unacceptable and requested that it show the name of Dokdo on Google Maps,” he added.

Read more: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/10/26/2012102601282.html

South Korea’s economic growth slowed to 3-year low last quarter

October 26, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Economy, Info, Trade, U.S. Policy 

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s economic growth slowed to a three-year low last quarter as private investment fell sharply, outweighing an increase in spending by the government and households.

The Bank of Korea said Friday that Asia’s fourth-largest economy expanded 1.6 percent over a year earlier in the three months ended Sept. 30. The economy inched up 0.2 percent from the previous quarter.

The growth was  the lowest since a 1 percent expansion in the third quarter of 2009 when South Korea started to recover from the global financial crisis.

Export-reliant South Korea is pinning its hopes for improved growth on demand from emerging markets as the U.S. economy remains sluggish and Europe is mired in a debt crisis.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/south-koreas-economic-growth-slowed-to-3-year-low-last-quarter/2012/10/26/30dc4cc4-1f2f-11e2-8817-41b9a7aaabc7_story.html

US, China to to hold joint drill

October 25, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Culture, Economy, Info, Soft Power, Technology, Trade, U.S. Policy, Uncategorized 

Beijing, Oct 25 (IANS) The armed forces of China and the US will soon hold a joint drill on humanitarian rescue and disaster relief in southwest Sichuan province, an official said here Thursday, as both the nations step up efforts to develop healthy defence ties.

“The military relationship between China and the US maintain a smooth development this year. We are ready to work with the United States to push forward a sound and stable development of bilateral military ties,” defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a press briefing.

Read more: http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/us-china-to-to-hold-joint-drill-503196.html?utm_source=storypage&utm_source=article_fwire

NK’s vice minister of the army executed

October 24, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Asia, Culture, Info, Murder, North Korea, Prison Camp 

Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, was taken into custody earlier this year on the orders of Kim Jong-un, who assumed the leadership after the death of his father in December.

On the orders of Kim Jong-un to leave “no trace of him behind, down to his hair,” according to South Korean media, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and “obliterated.”

“. . .  [it] appears that Mr Kim ordered his loyal officials to use the excuse of misbehaviour during the mourning period for his father to remove any potential opponents.”

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/9630509/North-Korean-army-minister-executed-with-mortar-round.html

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