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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 23rd, 2014 at at 1:26 pm

Picture of the Day: How To Lift A Sunken Ship

Via Yonhap comes this graphic that shows how the sunken South Korean ferry boat will be lifted out of the ocean.

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Posted in: Korea-General Topics

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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 23rd, 2014 at at 7:52 am

Korean Ferry Boat Owner Has Checked Past To Include Being Suspected of a Prior Mass Murder

Via a reader tip comes this news that the owners of the South Korean ferry boat that recently sunk, had a checkered past to include him being investigated for mass murder:

The owners of the capsized Sewol ferry are the two sons of former successful maritime businessman Yoo Byeong-eon, who was once an evangelical pastor in Korea and a member of a religious cult in the 1980s, according to a report by the country’s financial authority.  (………..)

During the 1980s, the senior Yoo was also a member of the religious cult Odaeyang, making him a suspect in the cult’s 1987 mass suicide-murder.

On Aug. 29, 1987, the bound and gagged bodies of more than 30 people were found stacked in two piles in a factory in Yongin, Gyeonggi, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Seoul, in what appeared to be a murder-suicide linked to the cult. It is still a mystery whether the members committed suicide or were murdered.

Yoo was investigated by the authorities as a possible head figure of the pseudo-Christian cult, and in 1992 he was sentenced to four years in prison on fraud charges related to the incident. However, he was acquitted for his alleged involvement in the murder-suicide.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

So a suspected mass murder who spent four years in jail for fraud was licensed to run a ferry boat.  How come I am not surprised at all that the owner of the ferry boat had a shady past considering all the incompetence and negligence that we have already learned about that created this tragedy?

But wait there is more:

According to the prosecution, the three men are also suspected to have remodeled the Sewol ferry in order to load more cargo – a plan that they lobbied government officials for. (……….)

In 2009, Chonghaejin posted a 2 billion won ($1.9 million) operating profit, mainly from trips on the Incheon-Jeju route. But it has been suffering from poor performance in recent years, posting a 785 million won operating loss last year, amid a sluggish maritime economy.

So could it be that the Yoo family decided to cut safety corners, hire the cheapest personnel possible, and dangerously overloaded the ferry boat in order to turn around their operating losses?  According to the article authorities are now investigating the Yoo family for tax evasion and vow to have them compensate the bereaved families.  It makes me wonder how much money this family is moving out of the country as we speak because they have to know the hammer is coming down on them.

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Posted in: Korea-General Topics

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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 23rd, 2014 at at 3:33 am

South Korean Political Figures Risk Being Pilloried Online for Anything Related to Ferry Boat Disaster

This article in the Joong Ang Ilbo shows that anything a political figure does that could be twisted as being disrespectful to the families who lost loved ones in the ferry boat disaster will be quickly highlighted online:

Emotions are running so high across Korea about the Sewol ferry tragedy that a string of high-profile figures have been pilloried for making light of it or otherwise doing inappropriate things, like having a foolish son or eating ramen in a chair.

The youngest son of Chung Mong-joon, a seven-term lawmaker with the ruling Saenuri Party and one of the frontrunners in the race for the Seoul mayoralty in June, stirred an enormous public uproar yesterday with a posting on Facebook on Friday that used the reaction to the tragedy to insult the entire nation.

“Unlike people in other countries who cope with disasters rationally, Korean people shout out loud and swear in the face of the president, who pledged to do her best with rescue efforts, and they even poured water on the prime minister,” wrote the 18-year-old, who graduated from high school two months earlier.

“It makes no sense to expect the president to become a God-like being and fulfill every need of the people when the national psyche is extremely uncivilized. People gather to form a nation, and this nation is uncivilized because the people are uncivilized.”

As the post spread across the Internet with furious speed, Representative Chung, sixth son of Hyundai founder Ju-yung, a multi-billionaire and a former presidential candidate, made a very fast and groveling apology via social networking services. As the scandal threatened his standing as the strongest Seoul mayoral candidate, he was quick to follow up with a press conference.

“Dear families of the deceased and missing and all Koreans, I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” the apology on Twitter and Facebook reads. “I am indescribably sorry for the thoughtless action my son committed. He regrets his wrongdoing, but I should take each and every blame.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but one government official had to resign for taking a picture at the situation room and another was criticized for eating ramen at the gym the families are staying at.  Like I have said before I fully expect the Korean left to take full advantage of this disaster to attack the Park administration and online attacks like this is probably just the start.

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Posted in: Korea-General Topics

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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 22nd, 2014 at at 9:42 pm

Lotte To Enter Korean Domestic Alcohol Market With Its Kloud Beer

It looks like the two domestic Korean brewers are about to have a little extra competition:

Beer lovers, get ready to fill your glasses with the taste of new domestic ales and lagers – not just with Cass and Max. With the release of Lotte Liquor’s Kloud beer today, competition is expected to become fiercer in the market for local beer, which is dominated by Oriental Brewery and Hite-Jinro.

According to the Korea Alcohol and Liquor Industry Association, OB controls 60 percent of the domestic beer market, and Hite-Jinro has a 40 percent share. The two are the champions of the market, with their Cass, Max and Hite lagers. But a thirst has been growing among consumers for more variety in their beer.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

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Posted in: Korea-Business

comments Comments (7)    - 218 views
Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 22nd, 2014 at at 4:33 pm

Tweet of the Day: Can Ferry Boat Crew Receive A Fair Trial in Korea?

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Posted in: Korea-General Topics

comments Comments (8)    - 262 views
Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 22nd, 2014 at at 1:29 pm

Picture of the Day: Fatman Goes Camping

This front-page photo of the Rodong Sinmun’s April 21, 2014, issue shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un smiling broadly along with other officials during his visit to a youth camping site in Wonsan on the North’s southeastern coast. The Pyongyang-published paper also carried a photo of Kim smiling in a public event in its April 20, 2014, issue, despite South Koreans’ mourning over the victims of the sinking of the ferry Sewol. (No sale outside of South Korea) (Yonhap)

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Posted in: Picture of the Day

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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 22nd, 2014 at at 7:37 am

Is President Park to Blame for a Slow Ferry Boat Rescue Effort?

I figured it would not be long before the Korean left would use the ferry boat tragedy to bash the Park administration with:

Family members of missing passengers from the Sewol ferry sit with their arms linked on Jindo Bridge after being blocked by police from marching along the road to the Blue House from the gymnasium in Jindo, South Jeolla Province, Apr. 20. Jindo Bridge connects the port to the mainland. (by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)

More sad news arrived at 1:30 am, with reports of the discovery of bodies inside the Sewol’s hull. Feeling they had to do something, the representatives of the missing passengers’ family members decided to board a bus and go to the Blue House to see President Park Geun-hye. By around 2 am, about 300 family members emerged from the gymnasium, wrapped in relief blankets. Their path was blocked by around 100 police officers. A scuffle soon broke out when the police attempted to stop family members from walking out onto a four-lane highway.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, who had had water bottles chucked at him during an early morning visit to the gymnasium two days before, made another hurried visit to the building. He tried to calm the family members down, explaining that the government was “considering every possible approach.” But the family members, in their grief and anger, heard only empty promises. Chung’s vehicle was surrounded, and it was 5 am before he was able to leave the gymnasium. Tired of waiting, the family members set out on a 10-kilometer trip along the side of the highway. Their plan to board the high-speed KTX train in Mokpo and head for Seoul. At about 7 am, they were surrounded in front of Jindo Bridge by three squadrons of police officers wearing fluorescent vests. Jeong Hye-suk, mother of missing Park Seong-ho (a student in Class 5 of the eleventh grade at Danwon High School in Ansan), cried out with a hoarse voice. “What we want is for you to get the bodies out fast enough that we can still recognize their faces,” she said. “All I want is to look into my baby’s eyes one last time.

All this time you say you’ve been doing a rescue effort, and we just can’t believe that anymore. That’s why we’re out here. Who are you serving with your politics? What happened to the President who said that every minute and every second was precious? I’m tired, and I’m struggling, and I’m ashamed to be seen like this. But I’m ashamed to be a citizen of this country. I’m ashamed that I couldn’t do anything as a parent. I‘m ashamed of the grown-ups who run this society.”

The family members began their march once again around 10 am. Once again, they were blocked by police. Holding up video cameras, the police began recording pictures of the family members as they chanted “The government are killers” and “Save our children.” The crowd erupted at the sight. “What are we, demonstrators?,” people cried. “Are we rioters?” The police hurried to hide the cameras. “We stopped [the march] because it was obstructing traffic, and it was dangerous,” the police explained. “The squadron members appear to have recorded images out of habit.” [Hankyoreh]

I understand that these families are going through a difficult time, but I am not sure what they think President Park should do?  Put on a scuba tank herself?  Order God to make the weather better?  Make contact with an alien space ship to lift the ferry out of the water? Rescue divers are trying to get into the ship, but it is extremely dangerous and are taking a deliberate approach to the search so no one else gets killed.  Should President Park sacrifice the lives of these divers just to make it appear the government is some how acting quickly to look for survivors?  I do not see anything that the rescue effort could have done that would changed the results of what happened.  If anyone wants to criticize the government they should look at the enforcement of safety standards on these ferry boats that has likely been lacking well before President Park ever came to office.

However, expect to see the Korean left try to agitate against the Park administration as this tragedy continues to unfold.  Just recently one person has been arrested for spreading false rumors about the rescue effort and it makes me wonder how many other false rumors are being spread around with the purpose of discrediting the government?

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Posted in: Korea-General Topics

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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 22nd, 2014 at at 3:23 am

Chinese Authorities Seize Japanese Commercial Ship Over Pre-World War II Debt

It is going to be interesting to see how this latest provocation by the Chinese is going turn out:

The Japanese government on Monday warned that the seizure of a Japanese ship in Shanghai over pre-war debts threatened ties with China and could undermine the very basis of their diplomatic relationship.

Authorities in Shanghai seized the large freight vessel in a dispute over what the Chinese side says are unpaid bills relating to the 1930s, when Japan occupied large swathes of China.

The move is the latest to illustrate the bitter enmity at the heart of Tokyo-Beijing ties, with the two sides embroiled in a dispute over the ownership of a small archipelago and snapping at each other over differing interpretations of history.

Shanghai Maritime Court said Saturday it had seized “the vessel Baosteel Emotion owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines… for enforcement of an effective judgement” made in December 2007.

“The arrested vessel will be dealt with by the law if Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd still refuses to perform its obligations,” the court said.

Chinese and Hong Kong media said the seizure was related to a verdict by a court in Shanghai that said Mitsui must pay about 2.9 billion yen ($28 million) in relation to the leasing of two ships nearly 80 years ago.

Reports said that in 1936, Mitsui’s predecessor Daido Shipping Co rented two ships on a one-year contract from Zhongwei Shipping Co.

However, the ships were commandeered by the Imperial Japanese Navy and were sunk during World War II, reports said.  [Japan Today]

You can read more at the link, but this provocation by China could have impact in Korea as well.  In 1972 China and Japan normalized ties in return for China to drop all wartime compensation claims.  Ties between Korea and Japan were normalized back in 1965 where Korea agreed to drop all compensation claims as well.  If China is able to confiscate assets from Japanese companies for wartime claims, than that could set a precedent for Korea to do the same thing.

Last year Korean forced laborers sued a Japanese steel company for past wages in a Korean court and the judge ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to pay the workers $88,000 each.  The companies did not pay the workers because they say the 1965 basic treaty shields them from compensation claims.  There has since been other rulings against Japanese companies in Korean courts and those companies have also not paid.  The Chinese courts are now doing the same thing as the Korean courts, but authorities are actually confiscating assets to enforce the court rulings.  Depending on the political situation there may be demands within Korea to do the same thing if the Chinese are able to get away with it. It does not take much imagination to see the Korean left trying to paint President Park as weak on Japan by letting these companies get away with not complying with court orders while China is able to get compensation.

This is all the more reason why Japanese Prime Minister Abe should stop his provocations against Korea and instead work to come to reasonable solutions to the bi-lateral disagreements instead of fanning the flames.

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Posted in: China

comments Comments (3)    - 272 views
Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 21st, 2014 at at 9:21 pm

Is North Korea Planning A Nuclear Test In Time for President Obama’s Visit to Korea?

It looks like the North Koreans may be about to execute a welcome to Korea nuclear test for President Obama:

North Korea radioactivity sign via

North Korea has increased activities at its underground nuclear site, military sources said Monday, in what could be preparations for another atomic test ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming Asia trip.

“The Punggye-ri nuclear test site has shown increased movement of vehicles and forces compared to the past,” a senior military official said, asking for anonymity. “South Korean and U.S. forces have been closely monitoring the latest development to detect signs of another test.”

The latest move comes as Obama is set to visit South Korea from Friday to Saturday as part of his Asia trip, which will also include stops in Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines. Earlier this month, Pyongyang threatened to conduct a “new form” of nuclear test in protest of ongoing joint South Korea-U.S. exercises. The annual drills ended on Friday.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.


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Posted in: North Korea

comments Comments (10)    - 274 views
Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 21st, 2014 at at 4:31 pm

Tweet of the Day: More Yasukuni Nonsense In Time for Obama Trip

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Posted in: Japan

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