Monday, April 1, 2013

LTW - Sex, Bribes, & Video, Flexed Stealth Muscles, and China/Japan FTA,

1. National
1) U.S. flexes muscles while Kim Jongun still opens his big mouth
Cold and warm in Korean peninsula at the same time. Cold because the U.S. flew two B-52 Bombers from Guam, and another B-2 Stealth Bomber from Missouri to South Korea to scare the hell out of Kim Jongun while Pyongyang Central Broadcasting Station said ‘Supreme leader’ Kim Jongun ratified a strike plan against the U.S. mainland (Austin, Texas), American bases in Guam, Hawaii, and  South Korea.  Warm because North Korea still allows free flow of South Koreans in and out of Kaesong Industrial Zone north of DMZ where 123 South Korean companies are hiring 53,000 North Korean workers, and North Korea’s General Bureau of Tourism is telling Chinese tour operators, “Don’t worry. There will be no war in Korean peninsula. Send more tourists” Analysts think Kim’s vicious rhetoric against the U.S. and South Korea is rather toward North Koreans to reinforce his position in North Korea. 
There a couple of reasons Kim Jong-un would not strike Seoul or the U.S. Over 42% of foreigners in Seoul are Chinese, and it would be a slap in the face to Xi Jinping if Kim Jongun fires rockets to Seoul. The U.S. government is holding Kim Jongun’s best friend Dennis Rodman as a hostage to stop Kim from dropping a nuke bomb in the U.S.

2) Scandal over bribery with sex offering
 Police is investigating the sex bribery scandal that involves high ranking government officials and other public figures. A construction contractor surnamed Yoon is suspected of offering sex bribes and drugs to influential people at his luxury villa in Wonju, 132km east of Seoul. The suspected hot shots include Kim Hak-eui, who resigned from his vice minister post on Mar 21 soon after implicated as well as a former head of National Police, a head of big general hospital, a former lawmaker, and a high level prosecutor. The scandal broke out when a woman involved in the sex orgy confessed to the police with a blurred two minute sex video. Journalists are in hunt for the original video. 
It is my 20 minutes plus 3 seconds pleasure vs. life time agony theory that keeps me from doing what the public figures did with the ladies at the villa. Never heard about this theory soon to be recognized by the World Psychiatric Association? Well, you can have fondling fun with a mistress for 20 minutes in bed and then 3 seconds of extreme climax, then there comes guilty feeling on your wife and kids for the rest of your life. It won’t be worth it. 

2) Economy
1) Korean TVs hot in the U.S
According to market researcher NPD, Samsung was No.1 in sales with 27.9% market share of the flat-panel TV for the first two months of the year in the U.S. American brand Vizio was the 2nd with 15.4% and LG came in third with 12.2% , followed by Japanese Sharp (7.7%) and Panasonic(5%), meaning 40.1% for Korean companies. In the 3D TV market, it was more so as Samsung dominated with 44.1%, followed by LG with 26.4%. In LCD TVs 60 inches or larger, traditional market leader Sharp held onto the top position, but its market share took a dive from 49.3% last year to 37%. Next came Vizio and Samsung with 27.4% and 27.2%, respectively.
There has been a big argument over which TV is better, Samsung or LG?  My vote goes to LG. Here is why. I bought a 55 inch LG LED TV in Feb 2011. After three months of use, my wife found a minor issue and turned it back to LG.  She then bought the same size Samsung TV with the refund from LG. When the Samsung TV was delivered, we noticed the picture was not the same quality as we have seen three months with the LG TV. It was probably the first time my wife and I agreed on something in many years. She thus took it back to Samsung, and got another LG TV with the refund from Samsung. This has nothing to do with the fact Samsung kicked my butt 27 years ago when I applied for a month of internship in July, 1986.

2) FTA talks with China and Japan kicked off
Koreans have a saying “Beginning makes it half done.” So it was important that the inaugural talks for FTA between Korea, Japan and China began at a hotel in Gangnam on Mar 26 after 10 years of rough ideas. Once the trilateral pact takes effect, it would create the 3rd largest FTA after NAFTA, and the European Union, with a combined GDP expected over $14.3 trillion. The three nations account for 21.5% of the world population, 20.5% of global GDP and 17.5% of all global trade. The main obstacle to the three-way FTA would be issues over agricultural products
Another obstacle would be the rivalry sentiment between Korea and Japan. Koreans keep demanding Japanese government make an apology over the 36 years of colonial rule and WWII atrocities the same level as Germans did over WWII, but this request is very hard to accept for the Japanese. While Germans could repent and criticize Hitler without major resistance, probably because of Hitler originally from Austria or the indisputable Auschwitz massacre he committed, Japanese emperor Hirohito in WWII was like their own father. How many of you would be willing to disown your own father even if your father committed a crime? 

3. Auto Industry
1) A new business announced at Hyundai holds its 45th annual share holder’s meeting
Hyundai Motor held its 45th annual shareholder’s meeting at its headquarter in Seoul. Hyundai Chairman Chung Mong-koo said “Hyundai will keep leading global automaker status with brand renovation coming from quality upgrade to strengthen profit.” Hyundai plans to sell 4.66 million units this year, 5.7% more from last year’s 4.41 million, and focus on China and Brazil market.  Hyundai also added ‘steelmaking’ as one of its business purposes.
The reason Hyundai added steelmaking in its business purpose was to develop, produce and market base powder metals. Korean auto suppliers are currently importing nearly 100% of base powder metal from overseas makers like Hoeganas from Sweden, QMP from Canada and Kobe from Japan as the total consumption of powder metal in Korea amounts only 50K ton a year. As Hyundai has its own steel mill, Hyundai Steel, in Dangjin, 30 minutes south of Pyeongtaek, it is now venturing into the powder metal business, first to sell to Korean auto suppliers who supply to Hyundai and then to other overseas customers as 50K powder metal production a year would not make any business sense in steel world. This is why the shareholder’s meeting last week is to be taken as a B-2 Stealth Bomber to Hoeganas. 


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