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Posts Tagged ‘Korean’

Korean, US forces lower alert status: report

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:10 am

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea has lowered its military alert status, prompting similar moves by Seoul and US forces as tensions on the Korean peninsula showed signs of easing, a report said Friday.

The apparent moves came as South Korea held its latest war games to simulate an infiltration by North Korean troops across the disputed Yellow Sea border, officials said.

Tensions have been high since the North shelled South Korea’s frontline Yeonpyeong island on November 23.

Yonhap news agency quoted unidentified South Korean government sources as saying that the North recently lifted a special alert it issued on November 21 for its military forces on the coast near the tense sea border.

“The North Korean military recently withdrew an order for special military readiness it had issued in connection with our Hoguk military drills (in November),” a source was quoted as saying.

The South Korean military and US forces in South Korea had consequently reduced their own alert status by one notch to a normal level, the source said.

A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report.

But he told AFP the computerised military exercise involving the South Korean navy and marines “began as planned”, declining to give details.

Navy officials said Friday’s manoeuvres were designed to enhance the South’s capability to repel a surprise landing on islands.

Command posts were involved in the simulated war games but it was unclear whether troops were involved in any physical manoeuvres.

Besides the shelling in November, the North also raised security fears that month by disclosing a uranium enrichment plant to visiting US experts.

But after a difficult year on the Korean peninsula, 2011 started on a more peaceful note.

The North began the year calling for improved relations with Seoul, while South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak Monday also reached out, saying he was open to talks and offering closer economic ties.

Efforts to resume long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks with the North also gained momentum as Beijing urged dialogue and Pyongyang signalled it was willing to return to the negotiating table.

In an unusually cordial statement, carried by its KCNA agency, North Korea said Wednesday the communist nation “courteously proposes having wide-ranging dialogue and negotiations”.

But South Korean officials were dismissive of the comments.

Vice Unification Minister Um Jong-Sik said on KBS radio that the North should show seriousness of purpose by acting on its obligations under a 2005 agreement on denuclearisation and apologising for the November shelling and the sinking of a South Korean warship last year.

Amid the more positive tone, Japan’s foreign minister called for renewed dialogue on the divided Korean peninsula in Washington on Thursday, but said the North should first take “concrete actions” to lower tensions.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. AFP

“The nuclear and missile development issue of DPRK (North Korea) is a cause for major concern,” Seiji Maehara said in a speech to a Washington think tank before meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“What is most important is that a North Korea-South Korea dialogue be opened up,” Maehara said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Source: SGGP

U.S. aircraft carrier heads for Korean waters

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:50 am

A U.S. aircraft carrier headed toward the Korean peninsula on Wednesday, a day after North Korea launched dozens of artillery shells on a South Korean island.

The nuclear-powered USS George Washington, which carries 75 warplanes and has a crew of over 6,000, left a naval base south of Tokyo on Wednesday morning and would join exercises with South Korea from Sunday to the following Wednesday, U.S. officials in Seoul said.

“This exercise is defensive in nature,” U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement. “While planned well before yesterday’s unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the ROK (South Korea)-U.S. alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence.”

China came under heavy pressure to rein in North Korea after its reclusive ally fired dozens of artillery shells at the South Korean island, killing two South Korean soldiers and setting houses ablaze in the heaviest attack on its neighbor since the Korean War ended in 1953.

President Barack Obama, woken up in the early hours to be told of the artillery strike, said he was outraged but declined to speculate on possible U.S. military action.

However, in a telephone call with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Obama pressed the North to stop its provocative actions.

The U.S.-led U.N. Command said it had asked North Korea for talks to try to reduce tension on the divided peninsula.

“We’re in a semi state of war,” South Korean coastguard Kim Dong-jin told Reuters in the port city of Incheon where many residents of Yeonpyeong island fled in panic as the bombardment triggered a fire storm.

The bombardment nagged at global markets, already unsettled by worries over Ireland’s debt problem and looking to invest in less risky markets.

But South Korea’s markets, after sharp falls, later started to rebound.

“If you look back at the last five years when we’ve had scares, they were all seen as buying opportunities. The rule among hedge funds and long-only funds is that you let the market sell off and watch for your entry point to get involved,” Todd Martin, Asia equity strategist with Society Generale in Hong Kong, said.

Despite the rhetoric, regional powers made clear they were looking for a diplomatic way to calm things down.

South Korea, its armed forces technically superior though about half the size of the North’s one-million-plus army, warned of “massive retaliation” if its neighbor attacked again.

But it was careful to avoid any immediate threat of retaliation which might spark an escalation of fighting across the Cold War’s last frontier.

“My house was burned to the ground,” said Cho Soon-ae, 47, who was among 170 or so evacuated from the island of Yeonpyeong on Thursday.

“We’ve lost everything. I don’t even have extra underwear,” she said weeping, holding on to her sixth-grade daughter, as she landed at the port of Incheon.

South Korea was conducting military drills in the area at the time but said it had not been firing at the North. It later said it would resume those drills once the situation stabilized.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called on China, the impoverished North’s only powerful ally, to help rein in the hermit state.

China has long propped up the Pyongyang leadership, worried that a collapse of the North could bring instability to its own borders and also wary of a unified Korea that would be dominated by the United States, the key ally of the South.

In a clear prod to Beijing during a visit to the Chinese capital, U.S. North Korea envoy Stephen Bosworth said: “We call on all members of the international community to condemn the DPRK’s (North Korea’s) acts and to make clear that they expect the DPRK to cease all provocations and implement its denuclearization commitments.”

On Tuesday, Obama said he would urge China to tell Pyongyang “there are a set of international rules they must abide by.”

Beijing said it had agreed with the United States to try to restart talks among regional powers over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

A number of analysts suspect that Tuesday’s attack may have been an attempt by North Korean leader Kim jong-il to raise his bargaining position ahead of disarmament talks which he has used in the past to win concessions and aid from the outside world, in particular the United States.

“It’s Mr Kim’s old game to get some attention and some economic goodies,” said Lin Chong-pin, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taipei.

Several analysts believe the attacks may also have been driven by domestic politics, with the ailing Kim desperate to give a lift to his youngest son, named as heir apparent to the family dynasty in September but who has little clear support in the military.

Source: SGGP

Asian stock markets lower amid Korean hostilities

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:50 am

 Asian stock markets mostly fell Wednesday as investors exited riskier assets amid a tense military standoff between North and South Korea and grew more worried there may be no immediate end in sight to Europe’s debt crisis.

Oil prices rose slightly to near $82 a barrel in Asia as a report showing an unexpected jump in crude inventories provided mixed signals on demand. In currencies, the dollar rose against the yen but was lower against the euro.

South Korea’s financial markets opened sharply lower Wednesday the day after an artillery clash between North and South Korea sent tensions on their divided peninsula soaring. The Kospi index fell 3.3 percent in the opening minutes, though quickly pared losses and was 0.4 percent lower in early afternoon trading at 1,921.29.

A man walks in front of the electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average fell 0.7 percent to 10,044.52, after briefly falling below the 10,000 mark earlier in the session.

The South Korean won, meanwhile, dropped 2.6 percent against the dollar in early trading, but also recovered to trade 1 percent lower.

Rommel Lee, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp. in Seoul, said that China’s call for a peaceful solution to the tension on the Korean peninsula helped calm nerves among investors Wednesday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Tuesday called on both sides, without naming them, “to do more to contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula.”

“China saying to North Korea, ‘find a peaceful solution to this incident’ caused a positive reaction in the market, and overall it limited the negative effect,” said Lee.

As market jitters over the Korean peninsula eased, investors began to worry anew that the much ballyhooed bailout of Ireland’s banking sector may not be enough to contain Europe’s debt crisis. Stock traders panicked and dumped European shares Tuesday, sending Portugal’s benchmark stock index down 2.2 percent by the close. The euro slid below $1.34 for the first time in two months as investors sought the relatively safety of the dollar.

Spooked by the scale of Greece’s bailout requirements in May and Ireland’s banking failures, international investors are looking much closer at the public finances of eurozone countries and they don’t like what they’re seeing, particularly in Portugal.

“For a while now, investors were pretty complacent over the European credit woes. So I think investors have underestimated how long the Irish problem may drag out,” said Sean Darby, chief Asia Strategist at Nomura Global Equity Research in Hong Kong.

Shares in Australia, Taiwan, and New Zealand were lower, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent to 23,054.61. Benchmarks in Singapore and Shanghai also rose.

The Korean incident had less of an effect on U.S. markets, but investors there still dumped shares heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. Sentiment was also hurt as the Federal Reserve lowered its growth forecast for next year.

In a report releasing minutes from its last meeting Nov. 3, the Fed predicted that the economy will grow only 2.4 percent to 2.5 percent this year. That’s down sharply from a previous projection of 3 percent to 3.5 percent. Next year, the economy will expand by 3 percent to 3.6 percent, the Fed said, also much lower than its June forecast.

Wednesday will bring an unusually large amount of economic data since several reports that normally come out Thursday are being moved up because of the holiday. Reports are due out on weekly claims for unemployment benefits, durable goods and personal income.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.3 percent to 11,036.37, while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 1.4 percent to 1,180.73.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was up 37 cents to $81.62 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 49 cents to settle at $81.25 on Tuesday.

In currencies, the dollar rose slightly to 83.24 yen from 83.16 late Tuesday in New York. The euro rose to $1.3397 from $1.3363.

Source: SGGP

Korean group presents scholarship to Vietnamese students

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Korean businesses raise money for charity

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Dragon fruits to be exported to South Korean market

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2010 at 1:49 am

Vietnamese school, choice of Korean students

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:52 am

Another Vietnamese woman killed by Korean husband

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm

A 20-year-old Vietnamese woman was killed by her Korean husband, who had a history of mental instability, last week, just few days after arriving in Korea for marriage. Her body was found at home on July 7, said the Busan Saha Police Station.

Vietnamese bride Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc and her Korean husband.

The husband, Jang, 47, was arrested and accused of beating and stabbing his wife to death.

The mentally unstable husband told police that he heard the voice of a ghost instruct him to kill his wife.

The couple was introduced through a marriage agency on February 7 and the woman accepted the marriage with Jang the next day despite their age difference.

The marriage took place in Vietnam last February; the woman embarked on a “Korean dream” earlier this month.

The Vietnamese woman arrived in Korea on July 1 at which point her Korean fiancé forbid her from having contact with other people. The woman was unaware his history of mental problems.

Jang turned himself into the police after killing his wife.

Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc, the unlucky woman, was the fourth daughter of a poor family in the Co Do District of Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta.

She came to Ho Chi Minh City as a teenager to do housework to support her parents.

Ngoc suddenly told her family of her plans to marry a Korean man in February. Her wedding was held at a restaurant in HCM City on February 18 with attendance of some relatives who hoped the marriage would provide her with a happy life.

The Korean son-in-law gave the parents-in-law VND3.5 million (US$175) before the weeding ceremony.

The victim’s parents, Thach Sang and Truong Thi Ut, became numb upon hearing news of their daughter’s murder. They sat mute beside a table with incense smoke spiraling up from a thurible.

“We don’t know what to do. We have called her husband’s family in Korea but nobody has answered the phone,” the father said.

Head of Department for Family & Society of Can Tho City, Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, said that the department sent a proposal to the Women Union of Vietnam to help Ngoc’s family go to Korea soon to receive their daughter’s remains.

The Entry and Exit Management Department of the Can Tho Foreign Affairs Office gave Thach Sang and his wife a letter of introduction to the Department of Internal Affairs and the Immigration Department of Ministry of Public Security in Ho Chi Minh City to carry out procedures for traveling to Korea.

“The number of Vietnamese women in Co Do District arranged to marry Korean men through matchmaking services is huge. They usually came from poor rural families who hoped to better their lives. I hope the unjust death of Ngoc will disillusion such women from marrying foreign people whom they know nothing about,” said Mr. Kim Dong, a public relation officer of Co Do District.

Source: SGGP

Exhibition of Uncle Ho’s poems in Korean script

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

An exhibition displaying 50 works of calligraphy in Korean script based on President Ho Chi Minh’s prison diary opened in the central province of Nghe An on June 29.

The week-long event, which has been organised by the Republic of Korea’s Calligraphy Association (RoKCA) and the Nghe An provincial Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, is to mark the Vietnamese national hero’s 120 birthday, the 1,000 th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi and the 18 th anniversary of the establishment of Vietnam-RoK diplomatic relations.

At the opening of the exhibition, the Chairman of the Nghe An People’s Committee presented a certificate of merit to RoKCA President Choi Chang Joon and association member Kim Hye Kaeong for their contributions during the hosting of the Lotus Village Festival in 2010.

Since December 2009, the works, created by 25 eminent calligraphers from the Republic of Korea, have been on display in seven major cities in the Rok and four cities in Vietnam, Hanoi, HCM City, Nghe An and Hue.

The collection will be presented as a gift to the Ho Chi Minh Museum after the exhibition closes.

Source: SGGP

South Korean ruling party upset in vote

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 10:10 am

South Korea’s ruling party won the key Seoul mayoral poll but suffered upsets in several other local elections held amid tensions over North Korea’s alleged torpedoing of a navy ship, officials said Thursday.

Before Wednesday’s vote, opinion polls and analysts said outrage over the ship’s sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors in March, would give a boost to the conservative ruling Grand National Party, which favors a tough North Korea policy.

Pre-election public surveys had suggested Lee’s party would win nine of the 16 key races.

But with 99 percent of votes counted early Thursday, President Lee Myung-bak’s party won only six of the 16 key mayoral and gubernatorial posts. Its chief rival, the liberal Democratic Party, obtained seven. The remaining three posts were shared by a small opposition party and two independent candidates.

Chung Mong-joon, chairman of the ruling Grand National Party, attends a meeting of the party leaders at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, June 3, 2010.

An analysis piece in Thursday’s mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo newspaper said the sinking of the Cheonan had whipped up anti-North Korea sentiment, but many conservative voters didn’t bother to vote. The Dong-a Ilbo, another major newspaper, said the resulting crisis appeared to have calmed down in the days before the election.

In the Seoul race, the ruling party incumbent and a potential presidential aspirant, Oh Se-hoon, narrowly defeated the Democratic Party’s Han Myung-sook, the nation’s first female prime minister under the government of former President Roh Moo-hyun. The race had been too close to call and Oh was declared the winner more than 10 hours after ballot counting started.

“I’ll accept today’s victory with a humble position that I had almost lost,” Oh said, according to Yonhap news agency.

Ruling party chief Chung Mong-joon and his top deputies offered to resign Thursday to take the responsibility for defeats in many of the local elections, according to his office.

Voter Hwang Jong-hwan, 28, a barber, said domestic issues influenced his vote more than the ship incident.

“Just like what the Americans always say,” he said, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

Source: SGGP