Monday, August 5, 2013

LTW - War Anniversary, A Bite out of Samsung, Forced Labor Payments

1. National
1) 60th anniversary of end to Korean War

South Korea, North Korea, and the U.S. had ceremonies, different, of course, to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War (1950-1953) on July 27. South Korean president Park Geun-hye reiterated her will to build a global peace park in DMZ as a stepping stone towards reunification at the ceremony. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un had more show for the occasion by holding a large scare parade of soldiers and military weapons in Kim Il-Sung Square, with many foreign journalists invited covering the event. Kim Jong-un didn’t make a speech, but waved to the crowed with Chinese vice president Li Yuanchao who was invited to demonstrate North Korea’s strong tie with China. President Obama visited Korean War Memorials, declaring “That war was no tie. Korea was a victory.”
Kim Jong-un would have marked the 60th Anniversary in Seoul had it not been for the 16 nations that sent military forces to South Korea at the break of Korean War. They were U.S.A, U.K, Philippines, Thailand, Canada, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Greece, France, Colombia, Belgium, South Africa, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Thank you! 

2) An anti-feminist perishes in a stunt to raise fund
Sung Jae-gi, a well known anti-feminist, died after he jumped off a bridge in Hangang River in Seoul. Sung made a stunt to raise money for the men’s right group he founded, Man of Korea, and had planned to swim ashore, which he could not. Sung, 45, has been calling for the revival of a system that rewards men who have completed their military service, and was demanding the government scrap an impending special law on prostitution that would make men legally responsible if caught buying sex while giving immunity to the prostitutes. He also called for the abolishment of the Ministry of Women and Family, insisting there are hundreds of NGOs and government agencies in Korea for women’s rights, but none for men’s rights except for Man of Korea. Sung’s Man of Korea was in financial trouble, receiving 19.5 million won ($17,511) in donations from Mar 2011 to May this year, but spending 246.7 million won over the same period.
Here is some irony. Korean females are exempted from mandatory two year military service that pays some $80 a month, because women are supposed to be not strong enough. However, women are allowed to join the military as officers and sergeants for their occupation. Watch out when you come across Korean females in military uniforms. They must be former Olympic weight lifters or disc throwers.

2. Economy
1) Obama takes a bite out of Samsung

Obama overruled U.S. International Trade Commission’s June decision to block imports of Chinese made Apple phones that violated Samsung’s patents. If Obama had endorsed the decision, older smartphones like iPhone 4 and iPad 2 assembled in China would have been banned from entering the U.S. from this week. Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative, said the decision was made after the review of effect on competitive conditions in the U.S. economy and consumers. It was the first time ITC import ban has been overturned by the U.S. government since 1987 in a case that involved Samsung. Samsung said it was “disappointed” while Apple spokeswoman said the company “applauds” the administration’s decision.”

The Obama’s decision to protect Apple from Samsung clearly shows how much South Korean economy has grown for the past 60 years since the truce signed on July 27, 1953.  A nation whose average personal income was less than $80 a year at that time now has companies like Samsung that competes head on against Apple. This could not have been possible without the 16 countries that came to rescue South Korea from the communism, and the ‘good’ dictator Park Jung-hee, Park Geun-hye’s father, whose motto was ‘My life is for my country and my people.’

2) Nippon Steel ordered to pay forced laborers
Seoul High Court ordered Nippon Steel to pay 100 million won( $87,950) each to Yeo Woon-taik (90) and three other Koreans taken to Japan to work for Nippon Steel in 1941, in unpaid salaries and compensation for mental suffering. “Nippon Steel committed crimes against humanity by mobilizing forced labor for the war of aggression by the Japanese government. Such invasion not only goes against international law but also against the Japanese Constitution,” said a judge. The plaintiffs are not to get the compensation soon, though, as Nippon Steel has appealed the order, insisting Japan had already adequately compensated Korean victims under the 1965 treaty that normalized relations between the two nations, when Japan paid a lump sum in the form of aid.
 Japan paid $300 million free and another $200 million in low interest loans to South Korea to the treaty in 1965 which Park Jung-hee signed. That was a lot of money for Japanese economy at that time, and this entire amount was used as seed money to build infrastructures like Seoul-Busan Highway and Pohang Steel Company(POSCO). Park’s decision to sign the treaty despite huge protest was the starting point South Korea began building its economy from the ashes of Korean War. North Korea’s Kim Ilsung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, refused to sign the treaty out of national pride, and thus no compensation money yet, thus still in economic limbo.

3. Auto Industry
1) Hyundai Kia keeps adding global market percent

The combined global market share of Hyundai and Kia reached 8.8% in the first half of this year, selling 3.68 million units out of 42.05 million global totals. Hyundai had a 5.5% with 2.30 million units while Kia took 3.3% with 1.38 million. Hyundai and Kia’s global share has been increasing from 6.4% in 2008, 7.8% in 2009, 8.1% in 2010, and 8.6% in 2011. While sales in North America and Europe dipped a little bit, Hyundai and Kia have been strong in BRIC’s nations. Experts expect the market share can reach 9% this year if the overseas sales momentum continues in the second half.

 Global sales was good news. Here is a bad news. Hyundai and Kia are still the only car makers that do not have wage negotiation completed yet. Hyundai employees are reportedly earning about 100 million won a year in salary in average, and they will get another 100 million won more if Hyundai accepts all the demands the union has put on this year’s negotiation table. I am praying to God these days this never happens. Otherwise my wife would turn into Inbee Park and I into a Srixon golf ball at British Open for the ‘crime’ I committed 14 years ago in May, 1999.


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