Monday, December 9, 2013

L2W - NK #2 Sacked, Kimchi Recognition, CNN Top Ten

1. National
1) No.2 man in North Korea got sacked
Being the son-in-law of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung, brother-in-law of Kim Jong-il, and uncle-in-law of Kim Jong-un, Jang Sung-taik has been known as No.2 man after Kim Jong-un. It seems Jang’s career has ended, however, as he has been stripped of all of his posts and arrested last week, while his two henchmen were publicly executed on charges of damaging the Workers Party. Jang’s another right-hand man is seeking an asylum in South Korean embassy in China. It is reported that Jang’s cronies have put their hands in Kim Jong-un’s slush fund overseas. Jang’s ouster is viewed as Kim Jong-un’s complete consolidation of power in North Korea, or the beginning of Nicolae Ceausescu type process in North Korea.. 
Money may not be the real reason that got Kim Jong-un ticked off. Maybe it was Jang’s fear of losing Kim Jong-un’s confidence as No.2 status to his competitor, and his relentless effort to thwart the entry of Kim Jong-un’s best friend, Dennis Rodman? 

2) Kimchi got recognized by UNESCO
Kimchi, the spicy vegetable dish from Korea, and kimjang, the culture of making and sharing kimchi, have become UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on Dec 7.  Korea’s Cultural heritage Administration said UNESCO recognized kimjang represents Korea’s culture of sharing and networking ahead of winter and gives Koreans a sense of identity and belongingness through bonding and solidarity.  Kimjang takes place between Nov and Dec, and has been a way of preparing and storing nutritious vegetables for use during long winters.
While many foreigners have hard time eating kimchi due to strong smell, ex-Metaldyne employee David Killion was an exception. A great engineer with many patents, Killion fell in love with kimchi from his first visit to Korea in 2000. Korean consumers, however, tend to petition Korean government to block Killion’s entry to Korea as local kimchi price went up 40% each time Killion visited Hyundai R&D center.

2. Economy
1) CNN lists top 10 things Korea is known for
CNN listed 10 things that Korea “pulls off more spectacularly than anywhere else.” Here is the list.  1. Wired culture with 82.7% internet penetration. 2. Whipping out the plastic with 129.7 transactions per person in 2012.  3. Workaholics with 44.6 hours per week. 4. Business boozing 5.Innovative cosmetics 6.Female golfers 7.Starcraft. 8. Flight attendants 9.Blind dates 10.Plastic surgery.  Please click as it would help you learn the reality in Korea.
On the plastic surgery aspect, you must respect Korean plastic surgeons who are better skilled than God. They can turn a Whoopi Goldberg into a Whitney Houston only after a few hours of knife works, just like what they did to 2012 Miss Korea Kim Yumi.

2) Good news with Korean export
President Park Geun-hye attended 50th anniversary of Trade Day event where three good news were announced. Korea became the largest exporter to China with $150 billion, beating out Japan for the first time. Korea reached $1 trillion in trade volume for 3 years in a row. Korea expects to see its largest trade surplus ever with $47 billion, by the end of the year. The Trade Day was started in 1964 by Park’s own father to celebrate the country reaching annual exports of $100 million for the first time. While Korea was the near bottom 90th exporter with products like plywood, wigs and iron ore in 1964, it is 7th exporter this year with semi conductors, mobile phones and cars for $562 billion export. 
Philippine was a dream country for Koreans in 1964 as Korea’s personal income was only about one tenth of Philippine at that time. Long line for  work visa application in front of Korean Embassy in Manila these days, however. Why the other way around in 50 years?  Philippine had a dictator Fernando Marcos whose interest was in the wealth of his family while Korea also had another dictator Park Jung-hee whose interest was in the wealth of his nation.  

3. Auto Industry
1) A Genesis for New Genesis
Hyundai launched New Genesis sedan with a plant to sell 62,000 units, a 35% up from the record 46,000 units sold in 2011. As Hyundai has seen its luxury sedan market severely eroded by imports, mostly by German models, Hyundai’s focus on New Genesis development was to benchmark German competitors. (Hyundai and its sister Kia’ sold only 10,264 Genesis and 4,497 K9(K900 in the U.S.) in the first 10 months this year while the combined sales of the BMW 5 Series, Audi At and Mercedes-Benz E-Class stood at 30,909 units.) The New Genesis will sell for between 46.6 million Won and 69.6 million won, and is thought be a mega hit so far with 8,000 units sold in a week. 
While New Genesis got much better than its predecessor in general, it is not so in fuel efficiency because of added weights with more functions and features. It got 135kg weightier than its old version, and even 200kg more with 4WD option. What should be on the desk of Hyundai engineers working for the next Genesis to launch in 2019? Jane Fonda’s Workout Book.

2) GM Korea under fear with no Chevy in Europe
GM Korea is getting a direct hit from GM’s recent decision to halt sales of Chevrolets in Europe from 2016. GM Korea manufactured 780K vehicles last year, and shipped 186K Chevy models to Europe, meaning 24 percent sales drop for GM Korea that will entail large layoffs.  GM Korea runs thee plants in Korea, and most of the Chevy models to Europe are produced at Gunsan Plant located 300km south of Seoul. Gunsan has a capacity to produce 260K units a year. 
GM is known as the company run by bean counters, and its ‘no Chevy in Europe’ decision was made because the bean counters were not happy.  What should be in the hands of GM Korea union workers and management? My Years with General Motors by Alfred Sloan. “The business of business is business.”


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