LTW: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards captures S. Korean oil tanker to get oil money back

Good morning,

While the whole Korean peninsula turned into Kor-beria with temp dropping to -24 Celsius, the coldest in 35 years, Iran seized a S.Korean oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz on Jan 4, holding 20 crew members. Though Iran cited environmental sea pollution by the tanker, it was clear Iran’s move is aimed at pressuring S.Korean government to speed up the release of the 7 billion oil dollars S.Korea is holding to follow the U.S. sanction against Iran.  The two countries have been working on finding a solution such as paying with Covid 19 vaccines, but not much progress.  S.Korea immediately dispatched top officials to Tehran for dialogue, despite Iran’s refusal to their entry. It is feared the seizure will last long as there is no easy solution under the current hostile U.S.-Iran relationship. S.Korea turned into a  shrimp caught between two fighting whales or suffering grass under fighting elephants.

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LTW: Supersonic Son wins FIFA Puskas award for his stunning goal

Good morning & Merry X-Mas, 

S.Korean Son Heng-Min of Tetterham Hotspur won the 2020 FIFA Puskas Award for his fancy goal on Dec 17, 2019 against Burnley. Son picked up the ball on the edge of the Spur’s penalty area, ran the entire length of 80meters for 12 seconds with 12 touches, ridiculing 6 Burnley defenders. You gotta see the video below as words cannot describe this “Sonsational” performance. 

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LTW: Korean Economy in Good Shape?

While the global economy has been tanking from the Corona crisis, S.Korean economy has been relatively hit softer. The latest OECD survey showed Korea’s GDP will drop only 0.8% in 2020, the best among the 37 OECD nations with average forecasted to be negative 7.5%. The second best was Turkey with minus 4.8%. Hyundai also did fairly, making 590 billion Won($494M) operating profit in Q2 this year, while all other major car makers are bleeding red, thanks to strong sales of luxury brand Genesis models and no shutdown of Hyundai plants in Korea. Korean stock market was O.K too, climbing from a low of 1,439 at the time of Corona peak in March to 2,400 in the KOSPI index, the highest in the past 24 months. Economists contribute all of this to the proactive containment of Corona pandemic with no lockdown and expansionary fiscal policy to minimize damage to the economy.

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LTW: A Mayor’s Suicide and Memorial Expenses

 

PARK Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul and the 2nd most influential person after President Moon Jae-in, took his own life on July 9 after a sexual harassment complaint by his ex-secretary was filed a day earlier. First elected mayor of Korea’s capital in 2011 in a by-election, Park was reelected in 2014 and 2016, with two years left in his term. Park was also expected to run for presidency in 2022 for the current ruling Democratic Party of Korea.

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LTW: Corona-19 virus hits South Korea hard

 

S.Korea suddenly turned into “Land of Morning Virus’. Since the first Corona 19 case on Jan 20, it took nearly a month to reach 51 cases until Feb 18. The cases then doubled in one day to 104, with the first death on Feb 19, and have been increasing exponentially with 3,150 cases and 17 fatalities as of Feb 29. Nearly 85% of the cases centered around Daegu, 323km(201mi) Southeast of Seoul, that have 5.4 million people with high concentration of large auto suppliers. No auto suppliers have been shutdown yet because of the virus, but Hyundai had to stop its No.2 plant in Ulsan that produce Santafe, Pallisade and Genesis G80 SUV because of one paint shop employee with virus. Over 71 countries have placed either total ban or some control of Koreans entering their countries.

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LTW: Korea a Punching Bag?

Bad week for South Korea. Russian A-50 AWACS plane broke into S.Korean airspace in East Sea (Sea of Japan) on July 23 during joint Russia-China military exercise, testing the tattered S Korea-U.S.-Japan triangle alliance after recent sentimental trade war between S.Korea and Japan. Total of 18 South Korean F-15 fighters had to scramble, firing 360 warning shots to force the Russian plane out. It was the first time Korean airspace was violated since the end of Korean War in 1953. When asked for apology, Russia snapped that it was Korean pilots who went crazy enough to fire shots. Angered by South Korea’s recent deployment of F-35 stealth fighters, N.Korea’s Kim Jong-un fired two short range ballistic missiles again on July 25, which Donald Trump said was O.K.

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LTW: South Korea – Japan Conflct & The Kot Keun Theory

South Korea and Japan are into diplomatic/economic war never seen since liberation in 1945. Japan announced export restrictions to S.Korea on key materials like hydrogen fluoride used in semiconductors effective July 4, saying “trust” between the two nations was broken after the Korean Supreme court’s decision to order Japanese companies like Nippon Steel to compensate Korean workers forced to provide labor during Japanese colonial rule. Japanese government has been arguing that the Korean Supreme Court decision is against the 1965 diplomacy normalization agreement in which Japan provide $500 million, then 25% of Japanese foreign currency reserve, as a overall compensation for the Japanese rule of Korea in return for no further demand whatsoever.

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LTW: Palme d’Or in the 72nd Cannes goes to Korean movie maker

History was made in Korean film industry as Joonho Bong won top Palme d’Or  in the Cannes Film Festival on May 26 for his latest film ‘Parasite.’ It was the first time a Korean movie director won this award, more meaningful as it is 100th year since movie first came to Korea, then Japanese colony, in 1919.  The Grand Prix, the 2nd  prize, went to Mati Diop for  her debut film “Atlantics,” who became the fist black female to receive a prize.  Bong’s first film was released  in 2000, and the Parasite  which explores working class struggles, was his 9th movie.  South Korean Moon Jae-in sent a congratulatory letter to Bong, commenting he was anxious to watch Parasite.

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