Monday, May 27, 2019

LTW: Palme d'Or in the 72nd Cannes goes to Korean movie maker

History was made in Korean film industry as Joonho Bong won top Palme d'Or  in the Cannes Film Festival on May 26 for his latest film 'Parasite.' It was the first time a Korean movie director won this award, more meaningful as it is 100th year since movie first came to Korea, then Japanese colony, in 1919.  The Grand Prix, the 2nd  prize, went to Mati Diop for  her debut film "Atlantics," who became the fist black female to receive a prize.  Bong's first film was released  in 2000, and the Parasite  which explores working class struggles, was his 9th movie.  South Korean Moon Jae-in sent a congratulatory letter to Bong, commenting he was anxious to watch Parasite.




President Moon tends to get much into movies. One of his top policies is to move away from nuclear power dependency for solar and wind energy. Moon deactivated a few nuke power plants earlier than planned, and scrapped plans to build more. Moon's expensive  No Nuclear  policy was formed after he watched Pandora which was about Chernobyl type nuclear disaster movie.   Better buy Pfizer or Roche stocks now as Moon might force every Korean to take antiparasitic pills everyday after watching the Palme d'Or movie.

 Regards,
 H.S.

Friday, March 1, 2019

LTW: Friendly handshakes turn into slap in the face in Hanoi

It's been a while. With Donald Trump under Mike Cohen's  deep stab in the back and Kim Jong-un's desperate need for sanctions off, both Trump and Kim had good reasons to land a deal,whether small or big, at their 2nd encounter in Vietnam, on Feb 28.  It didn't  go well as Trump literally walked away from lunch table because Kim demanded all sanctions be lifted while Trump insisted more than the dismantlement of Yongbyon nuclear complex. "Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted, in their entirety, and we couldn't do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn't give up sanctions for that. So we continue, but we had to walk away from that particular suggestion," said Trump. Kim now has to take another 66 hours train ride back to Pyongyang with empty hands to his North Koreans.While  South Korean government expressed regrets over the summit result, many cheer Trump's decision as they also think no deal better than bad deal.

Adding injury to insult, poor Kim Jong-un is facing another headache. A secret dissident group called Cheollima Civil Defense declared the birth of provisional North Korean government in exile called Free Joseon on March 1 via the group's website to topple Kim's regime. 
(https://www.cheollimacivildefense.org/ ).


  Joseon was the dynasty before Korea got merged by Japan in 1910, and March 1 is meaningful because of the 100th anniversary of Independence Movement in 1919.  Currently safe guarding Kim Han-sol , the only son of Kim Jong-nam poisoned to death in Malaysia in Feb, 2017 by agents sent by his half brother Kim Jong-un, CCD runs its organization from unknown location.  Blood is important in North Korea leadership. The great-grandson of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, and the grandson of Kim Jongil, Kim Han-sol is thus considered the biggest threat to his uncle Kim Jong-un. ABC to send Steve Harvey  to Pyongyang shortly for his Family Feud Part 2 show.



Regards,
H.S.

Monday, November 5, 2018

LTW: Military dodgers now O.K. if conscientious

S.Korean Supreme Court ruled moral scruples and religious beliefs are valid reasons to refuse compulsory military service in a verdict on a Johovah's Witness defendant charged for refusing to join the military. S.Korean law required all able bodied men between 18 and 35 to serve two years in the military, or face maximum 3 years in prison. More than 19,000 conscientious objectors have been criminally punished since 1950, and majority of them were Johovah's Witness who cite Isaiah 1:4 that says, "Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." Conservatives criticized the verdict, saying it will bring sense of loss to Korean men who fought in the military to defend the nation from Kim dynasty in the north.




Korean men join military only because it is their sacred duty, evidenced by 3,000 Korean Won ($5) a month pay, no typo, when I joined the army in 1982. My father served in the Air Force in the 50's. My brother was stationed near DMZ for 30 months. Though they don't have to because of their Canadian citizenship, my first son volunteered the army to be sent to South Sudan to fight off insurgents and so did my 2nd son to serve in the Air Force. The term "conscientious objectors" better change to different words my proud family suddenly turned into "unconscientious" SOBs with the Supreme Court decision on Nov 1.





Friday, October 26, 2018

LTW: Chicken franchise under fire over violence against employees


Korea's No.1 chicken franchise Kyochon became a target of public anger after CCTV footage of a senior executive attempting to smash employees was released on Oct 25. In the footage recorded at a Kyochon restaurant in Daegu in Mar, 2015, the executive is seen poised to punch an employee in the face, raising his fist in a threatening gesture, but was stopped by other employee. He was also seen lifting his hands against other employees who were trying to calm him down as he irately threw over food ingredients.






More criticism arose as the executive was a relative of Kyochon's founder & CEO who let go his relative right after the incident, but  reinstated him one year later.  As the public outrage escalates, the CEO fired his relative again a day after video release, not to face the same fate as Korean Air which had been through  6 months  of all sorts of gruelling prosecutor investigations when it was reported the chairman's daughter threw water to her staffs and suppliers in a meeting in March this year.

I was also angry at Kyochon, but read the news article closely to learn why the executive lost his temper. As shown in red below, he was upset because the "employees were not paying attention to food quality." I suspect the release of the video was for either Kyochon's deliberate ploy to promote its quality reputation or the executive's secret resume to Colonel Sanders for KFC's head of quality position.

Monday, October 1, 2018

LTW: Revised FTA with the U.S.

Pretty hectic two months in Korean peninsula. A few hundred separated families in S.Korea and N.Korea had a three day reunion in August while South Korean president Moon Jae-in took part time job to deliver N.Korean leader Kim Jong-un's love letter to Donald Trump after his car parade with Kim in Pyongyang in mid September. In a meeting with Donald Trump in New York on Sep 24, President Moon also signed a revised Free Trade Agreement in which the U.S. will extend 20 more years to impose 25% tax on Korean trucks until 2041, virtually barring Hyundai's entry into U.S. pick-up truck market, and US car makers can double their sales in Korea from 25K to 50K a year per manufacturer. It was a revision lopsided in favor of the U.S. in general. " The new agreement includes significant improvements to reduce our trade deficit and to expand opportunities to export American products to South Korea," said Donal Trump. Moon Jae-in responded by saying "With the swift conclusion of the revision, uncertainty surrounding our FTA has been eliminated." South Koreans have been worried the unpredictable Trump may scrap the whole FTA with South Korea. The U.S. is S.Korea's 2nd largest export market with 12.5% share, followed by China's 25%.


It is a good thing that Pres. Moon signed the revised deal, but a bit irony that Moon was an active opponent of FTA with the U.S. when original pact went effect six years ago in 2012. Moon was at the center of his opposition party that had waged massive protests in the streets in Seoul while his crazy fellow lawmaker detonated a tear gas canister at the National Assembly to thwart the voting process on the FTA bill, claiming the Korea-US FTA is a monster that will ultimately kill Korean economy. Uhm... "If you flirt with a woman, you are in sinful adultery. If I do, I am in beautiful romance. "

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

LTW: BMW cars in Korea on fire (literally)


Much respected BMW is currently facing a big image problem as its 520d models keep catching fire in Korea. In 2018 alone until Aug 4, total of 32 BMW cars got fire on the road. More frustrating is that these engine fires take place only in Korea, not in other nations. After reports of some parking lots banning 520d models and an internet mockery of BMW as Burn My Wagon, BMW Korea finally made an apology on Aug 6, explaining that a leakage of coolant from the EGR cooler is the root cause of the problem, and that this is not a unique problem in Korea. Korean version of NHTSA is not buying BMW's root cause analysis, and urged BMW to come up with more detailed reports. It is estimated that 8.5% of the 106,317 BMW cars ordered for recall have potential to burst into flames. While BMW owners are lining up to file a lawsuit, BMW sales in Korea has dropped 43.9% in 4 months from 7,052 units in March to 3,959 vehicles in July.



I was at BMW headquarter in Munich, Germany, last week. With over 30 years in Korean auto industry, I thought about dashing into the head office for a meeting with high level engineering team to address the urgent issues from Korean consumers, especially on why fire in Korea only. My wife stopped me as she has more urgent issue to address at a Louis Vuitton store in downtown Munich.


Friday, June 29, 2018

LTW: - S.Korea clashes against Germany in World Cup and in automotive quality battle

South Koreans were exhilarating at 1:00am on June 28 when South Korean soccer team beat defending champion and world #1 Germany in World Cup match in Russia. It was the first time Asian country ever defeated Germany in World Cup history, and the first time Germany got eliminated in the World Cup preliminary league since 1938. Another news with South Korea over Germany came as Hyundai Genesis ranked highest in the recent influential J.D Power 2018 U.S. Initial Quality Survey(IQS) which measures the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles during the fist 90 days of ownership.The lower the score, the better. Its sister Kia took the 2nd with 72, followed by Hyundai with 74. Impressed with Korean Hyundai and Kia in top 3, Forbes magazine compared it "man biting dog." Premium German car maker Porsche ranked 4th with 79 while BMW and Mercedes-Benz found themselves at 11th and 15th, respectively. My German friends won't call me for a while..


Though Hyundai has become a major player with over 8 million vehicles a year, its start was meager. Hyundai's first model, Ford Cortina, went into production in Ulsan plant in Nov 1968, assembling Cortina components from Ford U.K. Its production was less than 6,000 a year. Many of Hyundai engineers who worked on Cortina in 1968 are still active in Korean auto industry. Imagine those engineers who built Model T with Henry Ford are still pounding table at operation reviews in Detroit suppliers.



Regards,
H.S.