Thursday, October 31, 2013

L2W: Dr. KJU, Elder Divorce, Korean Work Hours

1. National
1) Kim Jong-un gets honorary doctorate
U.S. magazine Foreign Policy reported that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un received an honorary doctorate in economics from HELP University in Malaysia. Paul Chan, the vice chancellor of HELP, said the university conferred the degree to Kim in recognition of his “untiring efforts for the education of the country and the well-being of its people.” HELP University is a private college in Kuala Lumpur founded in 1986. Lots of criticism is falling on HELP University .North Korea’s gross national income per capita, the indicator of standard living, was $1,250 in 2011, compared with $23,400 in South Korea, and chronic food and power shortages as well as human rights violations under Kim Jong-un are well known to the world.
Buoyed at the ‘Thank You’ comments from Kim Jong-un, Paul Chan of HELP University is about to give an honorary doctorate to Paris Hilton in recognition of her “untiring efforts for No Sex Before Marriage campaign.” 

2) Old couples divorce more than younger ones
According to the Supreme Court, out of 114,316 divorces last year, 30,234 or 26.4% were middle-aged or elderly couples, continuing the trend from 23.1% in 2008 and 24.8% in 2011. The number first surpassed 30,000 last year, overtaking the 28,204 divorces (24.8%) among younger couples with less than four years of marriage. Another study by Statistics Korea showed that women aged between 55 and 59 and men between 70 and 74 are the least satisfied with their spouse.  Kim Young-hee at the family court said the conventional wisdom that time strengthens the bond between the husband and wife no longer holds true. “Older people decide to divorce as they hope to spend their remaining years under some peace and tranquility,” said Kim. 
My 25 years of marriage was at risk recently when my wife learned I took a shower, not once, but twice, together with an attractive female colleague from Detroit a month ago. It was no use even if I kept explaining her million times it was the air shower before entering a clean room at a machine builder.

2. Economy
1) Koreans work 2nd most hours
The Korea International Trade Association reported South Korea ranked the 2nd among 150 nations in terms of per capita working hours in 2012, working 2,090 hours a year on average. Mexico was the first with 2,236 hours. The U.S. came in 12th with 1,790 hours and, what is surprising, workaholic Japanese ranked 15th with only 1,725 hours. The growth rate for labor compensation per hour was 9.8% in Korea in 2011, the highest among all countries. Growth in wages in the U.S. was only 2.2%. 
The KITA survey also showed Korea ranked 34th in the quality of life.  Koreans are so much used to long working hours that many feel uncomfortable about working less hours, and most of the foreign companies operating in Korea have hard time to force its employees to use up their annual leaves. Korean quality of life wouldn’t improve unless Koreans learn American idiom of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

2) First nude beach planned for 2017
The Gangwon Province in upper eastern portion of South Korea said it plans to set up a nude beach by 2017 to boost tourism in the province. The province will select the site from recommendations or in competition next year, and will benchmark other popular nude beaches abroad.  The idea came from a successful annual mud festival in Daecheon beach in western coast that attracts millions of internal and foreign tourists every year. There was a similar attempt for nude beach in 2009, but the proposal failed due to concern on obscenity and perverts. Gangwon officials plan to avoid that issue this time, by opening the beach exclusively to foreign tourists. 
Gangwon should not worry about Koreans coming to the nude beach. I had taken showers with American soldiers while in the army (1982-1984), and doubt any Korean man would dare to visit the nude beach filled with Americans from what I have observed in the shower, which was not air shower.

3. Auto Industry
1) Korean auto suppliers supply to European car makers
Kumho Tire, Korea’s 2nd largest tiremaker and sister company of Asiana Airlines, announced its ‘Solus KL21’ tires will be fitted on Mercedes Benz luxury SUVs sold in Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan and the U.S. Kumho is the first Korean tire maker to work with Mercedes-Benz after supplying OE tires to it’s a-Class models in 2007. Samkee, a local diecasting and machining company, also announced that it will supply valve body for 7 speed Double Clutch Transmission (DCT) to Audi in China, which will generate 33 billion won in sales each year from 2016. The Audi deal was the 2nd business with VW Group after the contract with VW in March this year to supply 55 billion won worth valve body to VW China. 
Located in Pyeongtaek, Samkee also supplies machined aluminum housings to Metaldyne Korea for R engine BSM.  I often have dinners and fun time together with Mr.SH Kim, the CEO & owner of Samkee, at Hyundai suppliers association. It was very fortunate Mr. Kim decided to become a businessman, not a dancer.


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