We heard earlier today that a North Korean diplomat fled North Korea’s London embassy. For hours after the initial announcement, no one knew where he fled. Well, South Korea’s Unification Ministry confirmed that he showed up here in South Korea.
Why is this a bit bigger news than the mass exodus of North Korean restaurant workers? Well, London’s North Korean embassy is seen as a priority. You know, sort of high profile. Posh even. Look at that nice building. But they flee for the same reason: “disillusionment” with the North Korean Kim Jong-un regime. Whether it’s at a North Korea-themed restaurant overseas or a diplomatic post overseas, you’re still a slave to the state. But aren’t a lot of others even in ‘free states’. Anyhow.
The WSJ’s Jonathan Cheng reports that the diplomat was ‘sick and tired’. That’s not hard to believe.
Yes, there’s been a 15.6% increase in North Korean defectors to South Korea in the first seven months of this year. But that’s still only 815 North Koreans compared to the millions in the population still nestled in North Korea. Nevertheless, if the privileged classes are breaking rank at a faster clip, it may be cause to worry about whether the end is coming sooner rather than later to the Kim Jong-un regime.
And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we get off our complacent behinds and start putting unification scenarios to rigorous stress tests?
When’s the fall? When is the fall?
Read the full wire story below!
First, let’s start off by declaring the superficial. Cho Yoon-sun, Korea’s new culture minister (appointed today as part of President Park’s cabinet reshuffle) DOES NOT LOOK her age. She just turned 50. I thought she was 35. She’s absolutely stunning.
theSeoulite points this out because as the head of a very coveted ministry (or I should say the spot as the minister is what’s highly coveted), Cho will have to navigate the wild terrain of Korean politics where the old have no problem eating their young. That’s why I thought she was in trouble as someone in her 30s. But not to fear! She has more experience than that and her resume already includes being Minister of Gender Equality and Family. She’s had major roles in the Blue House including her role as senior presidential secretary for political affairs. But that job got her into some hot water over last year’s debacle over pension reform. Some suggested it was because of communication errors in the web of protocols. What a headache.
Now it’s comeback time and a source of theSeoulite says this position is something she truly wanted. Somehow I think she will really impart a real passion to improve the ministry and its programs instead of using it as a stepping stone to the next political position. So many well trodden stepping stones. Why do the one’s in real life look so innocent?
Again I bring up her age, because I believe she’s at the sweet spot of Korea’s current talent pool when it comes to leadership. She’s old enough to garner respect, but young enough to have the training, background and energy to bring sharp newness to government. She also studied law at Columbia University. Let’s hope she can clean up shop and dust out the corrupt old fogies while she’s at it!
Best of luck Madam Minister!
Read the wire stories below.
71 years of liberation from Japanese colonialism and the evolution of modern Korea is being celebrated today. President Park took the opportunity to call on North Korea to join the international community. And numerous stage performances brought some cuteness to the traditional repertoire of songs. Read the full wire story below.
How well did I do with my at-home hair color experiment?
I tried out the Mise-en-Scene men’s line. Very excited to be able to have a hair color kit designed for Korean people’s hair. I chose the dark mahogany brown color.
Got hair color in my bag. Swag.
Sweltering hot week. Will you pump up the A/C? Can you afford your electricity bill? People got pissed off about the decades-long policy that charges households higher rates than businesses.
What happens when Sean dyes his hair with at-home hair dye tailor-made for Korean hair? It’s a 10-year-dream finally come true, or is it?
Check it out on YouTube!
1:30 Citizens complain about being charged higher electricity rates vs. businesses
2:30 What are current electricity prices?
6:15 Hear about the electricity solution
10:00 Favorite summer trips this year
10:45 Bali beach side bar in Jeju
11:45 Fancy infinity pool
13:40 Big Bang in Hawaii!!
16:15 Sean talks about dying his hair
20:20 North Korea’s creepy campaign hits again
24:50 Ask Liz: Do you believe in revenge?
Every National Liberation Day on August 15th, Korea celebrates its liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. But it’s also the day that the president of South Korea hands out pardons to people convicted of crimes.
If you’ve ever wondered why ‘suspended sentences’ are so sought after and reviled by a justice-seeking public, it’s because of pardons. Imagine you get convicted of a crime, but instead of going to jail, you get a ‘suspended sentence’. You continue to do you and then, if everything works out, you get a pardon. Then it’s absolutely no jail time!
Of course, there are people who are in the slammer who also get pardoned so it’s not as if everyone does no time. This year about 4,870 people will be pardoned. And most often the public reason is that they have been convicted of non-violent, petty crimes and society needs to forgive and let everyone move on. And in terms of high-profile cases, the oft-cited reason is that we need the businessman back in society to keep the Korean economy running.
This year’s most arguably highest profile recipient of a pardon is the CJ Group chairman Lee Jay-hyun.
Read the full Yonhap wire report below.
President Park Geun-hye granted special pardons to a high-profile businessman and more than 4,870 people, many of who were convicted of non-violent, petty crimes, on Friday, three days ahead of Liberation Day.
The list of the beneficiaries was finalized during an extraordinary Cabinet meeting Park presided over at the presidential office.
Among the beneficiaries is CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun, who has been suffering from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which involves hereditary motor and sensory neuropathies, chronic renal failure and related complications.
“I have been soliciting views from various walks of life (regarding special pardons) to muster up our strength to promote national unity and overcome economic challenges,” Park said during an extraordinary Cabinet meeting.’
“I expect that all of those who are given the pardons can actively join the efforts to revive the economy and contribute to national development.”
The pardons are part of celebrations to mark the 71st anniversary of Korea’s independence from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule. South Korean presidents usually grant special pardons in commemoration of major national holidays.
Regarding the pardon for the ailing CJ chairman, the government said that the decision was made in consideration of views by experts that it would be difficult to carry out his jail sentence due to his deteriorating health.
“(The CJ chairman) was included on the pardon list based on humanitarian considerations and to offer him a chance to contribute to the nation’s economy,” the government said in a press release.
Last year, the business tycoon was given two and a half years in jail, along with a fine of 25.2 billion won ($22.8 million), for embezzlement, breach of trust and tax evasion.
The pardon list did not include other convicted business leaders such as Hanhwa chairman Kim Seung-yeon, SK Group Vice Chairman Chey Jae-won and LIG NEX1 Vice Chairman Koo Bon-sang.
Politicians and civil servants, who were convicted of corruption, were also excluded from the list, the government said, stressing that the pardons this time were carried out in a “restrictive” way that the general populace can agree to.
The president also offered pardons to 1.42 million people who have been given penalty points or had their driving licenses suspended for traffic offenses between July 13 last year and July 12 this year.
Those who were penalized for drunk driving, road rage, hit-and-runs and deadly traffic accidents were excluded from the pardon list.
A day earlier, new ruling Saenuri Party leader Lee Jung-hyun called on Park to offer “large-scale” pardons to those convicted of minor economic crimes so as to give them another chance to contribute to the country’s economic growth.
Oh man. Now you can live out your fantasy of being in the hit K-drama series of 2016 — “Descendants of the Sun”. You know, the one with heart throb Song Joong-ki. He’s been EVERYWHERE on ads from ice cream to jeans to contact lenses!
If you can’t get enough of just watching the film, you can experience a restored set from the popular series.
Find out more from the full Yonhap wire story below.
Yes – people of all ages can get fully into it!
TAEBAEK, South Korea, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) — The film site of South Korean hit television series “Descendants of the Sun” opened to the public in Taebaek on Friday, attracting tourists from home and overseas with the global popularity of the drama.
The film site is a restoration of the Taebaek leg of the military romance-action series. The municipality of Taebaek in Gangwon Province poured some 270 million won (US$245,000) into the project.’
Launched on local terrestrial broadcaster KBS on Feb. 24, the Wednesday-Thursday series tells the love story of doctor Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo) and Army Capt. Yoo Si-jin (Song Joong-ki) in the fictional war-torn country of Uruk.
The Taebaek film site is the location where, in the 16-episode series, the medical camp led by Kang and the Taebaek military troop headed by Yoo were stationed.
At the tourist site located 271 kilometers east of Seoul, visitors can browse the medical camp and military base wearing costumes with the same design as those worn by the cast.
The military camp is equipped with combat uniforms and boots, bullet-proof helmets, military blankets and ammunition belts. Outside the camp are army trucks and a helicopter. The city is considering stationing a replica tank, too.
Next to the Taebaek military camp is the Uruk powerhouse, destroyed by an earthquake.
By 2018, Taebaek city aims to inject 13.1 billion won into building restaurants, storage for fermented food, replica mine facilities and a park there.’
The ruling Saenuri Party has a new leader. His name is Lee Jung-hyun. And for the first time in its history, it selected a party chair from the traditionally liberal South Jeolla Province. This shakes things up and appears to be a smart move to appeal to voters ahead of next year’s presidential election. And did anybody else notice that the traditional ‘red’ color of the Saenuri Party was combined with the ‘blue’ that the rival Minjoo Party has been using? This is more than a turf war. They’re going after colors!
Power struggles that don’t end? Consider it suicide. Remember how the 2012 battle with the liberal party just paved the way for the unified conservative party to power? Well, the conservatives have been fighting tooth and nail with each other and they have the dismal approval ratings to prove it. At the heart is a battle between the pro-Park (as in the president) and the anti-Park faction within the Saenuri Party. Now the new party chair says there’s gonna be no more of that. No more cliques! No more fighting! And they redrafted the rules to give the party chief more power to stomp out castrating battles.
Now mark your calendars for August 27th. How will the Minjoo Party (MPK) form its new leadership? Did most of their factional strife leave when Ahn Cheol-soo’s defected, created the People’s Party and took a portion of the Minjoo Party’s leaders?
Read the full Yonhap wire story below.
SEOUL, Aug. 9 (Yonhap) — The ruling Saenuri Party on Tuesday elected Rep. Lee Jung-hyun as its new leader, marking the first time for a politician from the country’s liberal-leaning southwestern Honam region to take the helm of the conservative party.
The third-term lawmaker, part of a faction closely affiliated with President Park Geun-hye, was elected at the party’s national convention in Seoul that also picked five members of the decision-making Supreme Council.
Lee, who represents Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, garnered 44,421 votes, trailed by Joo Ho-young, a four-term lawmaker, with 31,946 votes.
Reps. Lee Ju-young and Han Sun-kyo also joined the leadership race.
Lee’s resounding victory is expected to bolster the influence of the “pro-Park” faction within the party, observers said, although the party’s new helmsman stressed that there would be no factions under his leadership.
“There will be no such thing as factions from this moment onwards,” the party leader declared, making clear that he wants Saenuri united as it moves forward.
During his acceptance speech, Lee also vowed to focus on enhancing the livelihoods of citizens and reshape Saenuri into a “competent and warm-hearted” conservative party that can win back the love of voters.
“Turning the party into one that serves for the people, Saenuri will strive to once again win the love and trust of the people so it can be victorious in the presidential election slated for next year,” the 57-year-old lawmaker said.’
At the national convention, Reps. Cho Won-jin, Lee Jang-woo, Kang Seok-ho and Choi Yeon-hye were picked as the members of the Supreme Council.
To the additional council slot alloted to a youth party member, Yoo Chang-su was elected.
All of the party grandees elected Tuesday, except for Rep. Kang, are seen as belonging to the pro-Park faction. This turn of events is expected to smooth out the party’s relations with the presidential office that had often been subject to friction in the past.
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae did not issue any official statement regarding Lee’s election as party chief.
Some presidential officials, however, expressed hopes that Lee’s victory will help strengthen cohesion among party members and pave the way for closer cooperation between the party and Cheong Wa Dae.
In Tuesday’s election, the combined ballots by party members and delegates accounted for 70 percent of the election results, while public opinion polls comprised 30 percent.
The new Saenuri leader was first elected to the National Assembly in 2008 as a proportional representation lawmaker of the then-ruling Grand National Party, a precursor to the Saenuri Party.
In a 2012 election, Lee failed to get a parliamentary seat. But he was elected again in a 2014 by-election for a constituency representing Suncheon.
A trusted confidant of the president, Lee served as Park’s chief secretary for political affairs between March and June 2013, and for public affairs between June 2013 and June 2014.
Fresh off an electoral triumph, the new party leader faces the daunting tasks of fostering party unity, overcoming the opposition-led legislature and preparing for next year’s presidential election.
The new party chief will wield greater power in the management of party affairs compared with previous leaders, though he will still be banned from nominating candidates for crucial elections and running for president while in office.
Before the leadership election, the party revised its bylaws to bolster the authority of its chairman in an effort to reduce internal discord in the party’s decision-making process which was rampant under the previous collective leadership system.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties called on Lee to pursue stronger communication and cooperation with the opposition bloc in handling an array of security and economic issues facing the country.
“As voters ordered (the political circles) to pursue the politics of cooperation, (we) ask Lee to actively seek closer cooperation and dialogue with the opposition parties,” Rep. Park Gwang-on, spokesman of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK), said in a statement.
The MPK is set to hold its own leadership election on Aug. 27.’