Monday, January 30, 2012

Last Two Weeks in Korea - January 30, 2012

1. National
1) Students in Seoul got liberation?
   Seoul Education Superintendent Kwak No-hyun proclaimed the controversial students’ human rights ordinance that bans any kind of corporal punishment, continuing his clash with the central government and many parents and teachers nationwide. It took effect immediately in all elementary, middle and high schools in Seoul. It prohibits discrimination against students based on gender, religion, age, race, whether they are pregnant or because of their sexual identity. The ordinance allows students to stage rallies and loosens dress and hair codes in schools. The most controversial part of the ordinance is the banning of corporal and verbal punishments, which many parents and teachers say will lessen teachers’ authority and lead to students getting out of control. Critics say that Kwak does not understand the realities in the class rooms. 
The leftist Mr.Kwak was released from four months in jail last week after being fined 30 million won for election bribery last year, and he is the head of education in Seoul. Paris Hilton preaching teenagers to keep virginity until marriage ……  
2) Europeans image on Korea
Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency(KOTRA) asked 1,208 young people from 18 to 30 in five major cities in Europe what would come up as the first image when they think of Korea. North Korea was the first image with 9.1%, followed by K-Pop(6.9%) and Seoul (6.5%). Korean War was the fourth with 5.4% followed by Samsung(5.1%), Kimchi(2.7%), 2002 World Cup (2.4%), Taekwaondo (2.0%), science & technology (1.4%) and automobiles (1.4%).
What if the same question was asked to Americans who have not been to Korea?  Not sure, but M*A*S*H would be one of the top 3 answers.
2. Economy
1) Chaebol criticized over penetration into corner store business
It is like GE selling pan cakes and GM running coffee shops. While anti-corporate sentiment is brewing also in Korea due to widening wealth gap, President Lee Myungbak lashed out at third-generation scions of Chaebol owners for driving small business owners out of business, criticizing them for lacking business ethics. Lee added “If conglomerates keep invading into mom-and-pop stores, the public will harbor hatred against them.”  Big companies need act wisely.  Probably scared, Hotel Shilla announced it will walk away from its bakery and cafe brand Artisee just a day after Lee’s tough warning. Hotel Shilla is owned by Samsung Chairman’s first daughter.
While Korean conglomerates were the locomotive of Korean economy for over half a century, they have not been well respected as much by the public. An irony is that, while people accuse Samsung or Hyundai for being greedy and unethical, they want their kids get a job with Samsung or Hyundai.
3. Auto Industry
1) Chaebol criticized over penetration into corner store business
   HMC announced that its sister company Hyundai Powertech will supply its 6-speed transmission to Chrysler for its new Dodge Dart from 2012, with total volume of 770K to 2018. This will be 1.2 trillion won in sales. Hyundai worked together with Chrysler for the development of its World Engine produced in GEMA plant based on Hyundai’s Theta engine in 2005, so this will be the expansion of their cooperation in powertrain business.
  Hyundai Powertech was established in 2001 as the auto transmission company to supply to Hyundai and Kia. Located in Seosan city, one hour drive south west of Metaldyne Korea, Powertech celebrated its 10 million-th transmission on Dec 5 in 2011. Chung Myungcheol, the plant manager in Kia Slovakia plant until last month, is the new head of Hyundai Powertech. Mr.Chung, no relation to Chairman Chung Mongkoo, has spent most of his career in purchasing ever since he joined Hyundai 36 years ago. He has made the Slovakia plant a huge success, and Chairman Chung expects Mr.Chung repeat in Powertech what he did in Slovakia.

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