1) Another American held in North Korea
Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old Korean War veteran from California, has been held captive from Oct. 26 just before his plane was about to leave Pyongyang after private tour of North Korea. No reasons for arrest were explained by North Korea, but Newman’s son said there was “terrible misunderstanding.” It is reported Merrill Newman had a “difficult” discussion with North Korean officials about his experience during the Korean War. John Kerry urged North Korea to release the old man in an interview with MSNBC. Kenneth Bae, a Korean U.S. citizen, is currently serving 15 year jail sentence.
There has been at least six U.S. citizens held by North Korea since 2009, and North Korea thinks it fun to hold Americans as hostages. It took such hotshots like Jesse Jackson, Bill Richardson and Bill Clinton to fly to Pyongyang and take the U.S. hostages out. The latest Merrill Newman case must be taken as Kim Jong-un’s official invitation to Barack Obama for a baseball game in Pyongyang with Dennis Rodman.
2) A Catholic group under fire
A leftist Catholic group is facing criticism over comments by a priest who made supportive comments about North Korea’s deadly bombing on Yeonpyeong Island three years ago. Park Chang-shin, a priest of the Catholic Priest’s Association for Justice, delivered a sermon on Nov 22, saying “The Northern Limit Line was temporary drawn by the UN, and is thus not a military demarcation line at all. What should North Korea do if the Korea-U.S. joint military training continues on an island near the NLL? North Korea also should shoot them, and that was the bombing on Yeonpyeong Island.” Public anger raged soon after the sermon, and there was even a bomb threat on a cathedral in Seoul. The Catholic Priest’s Association for Justice has formed an alliance with the opposition party, repudiating the presidential election of Park Geun-hye last December.
Not clear on the impact of Park Chang-shin’s message? Imagine a clergyman in Ku Klux Klan insisting that Japan had every right to attack Pearl Harbor as the U.S. Navy was exercising around the island in the middle of the Pacific between the U.S. and Japan.
1) Final victory goes to Lockheed Martin
The Korean Defense Ministry announced its decision to buy F-35A fighter jets from Lockheed Martin under the F-X project for next generation fighters. The ministry earlier decided to purchase 60 F-15SE from Boeing because of budget limit, but it had to cancel it because of objections from Air Force generals who were concerned about the lack of stealth capability with the F-15SE. The initial purchase would be reduced to 40 jets to stay within the budget of 8.3 trillion won ($7.8 billion), and the first delivery would be made in 2018, a year later than the original time line.
Wonder how Boeing is feeling about Korean government that changed its mind for Lockheed Martin? It is booing.
3. Auto Industry
1) Hyundai to be first to sell hydrogen cars to the public
John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, announced the plan to sell Tuscon hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles from early next year, first in California, at LA Auto Show. Hyundai will offer $499 per month for 36 months including unlimited hydrogen refueling. Hyundai began manufacturing Tuscon, the world’s first hydrogen vehicle for mass-market, at its Ulsan plant last February, and sold a few dozen in Northern Europe where there is demand for zero emission vehicles. It can travel 483km (300 miles) on a single 5 minute charge and can reach speeds of up to 160 kph (100 mph). Hyundai Automotive Group is taking a two –track approach. Hyundai is for hydrogen fuel cell, and its sister is focusing on electric vehicles.
Though Hyundai has been talking about hydrogen fuel cell over 20 years, I had very shallow understanding of how it works. I just thought it dangerous because I kept thinking of hydrogen bomb. I learned lately that it is not so because hydrogen mixes with oxygen to generate electricity that powers electric motor to drive wheels. What’s the use of 27 years of automotive experience when it is not worth just 5 minute dive into hydrogen fuel cell theory?
2) Renault Samsung to make cars for Mitsubishi
RSM (Renault Samsung Motors) will supply two of its passenger car models from its Busan plant to Mitsubishi for U.S. market under the new alliance between Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi to share products, technologies and manufacturing facilities. The first would be SM5 midsize sedan, the best seller of RSM. The 2nd model has yet to be decided, but it is predicted to be smaller model SM3. The Busan plant is busy to prepare for the production of Rogue, 80K a year, to be sold under Nissan brand in the U.S. RSM has begun to take actions to make vehicles for someone else when its sales had fallen under 50 % of its 300K annual capacity last year.
Wonder why Mitsubishi is joining the Renault alliance? Mitsubishi has been going down so badly in the last 20 years, even falling behind Hyundai that it once taught how to make and sell cars, that it lost two of its three diamonds, thus perfectly matching with Renault’s log with one diamond.