City takes measures to keep Insa-dong as it is/ 2013-02-08
City takes measures to keep Insa-dong as it is
The Seoul city government said it has taken legal measures to prohibit cosmetic stores and massage parlors from opening additional businesses to preserve the cultural value of Insa-dong, central Seoul, which houses many antique shops and art galleries.
The municipal government said yesterday it will bring a revised ordinance before the Seoul Metropolitan Council by the end of the month that details a management plan for Insa-dong, which was designated as a culture preservation area in 2002, to protect Korea’s traditional culture.
The city government said the revised plan will prevent cosmetic shops, Chinese-style massage parlors and franchise coffee shops from opening additional stores in the region.
Daehangno, central Seoul, famous for street performances and concerts, is also designated as a protected area by the city, but was excluded from the plan because it is a commercial area.
According to the city government, there are a total of 11 cosmetic shops and three Chinese-style massage parlors on the streets of Insa-dong.
“There have been complaints that too many stores aiming to sell Korea’s popular cosmetic products have been spreading in the area recently,” a spokesman of the city government said.
“It might be a bit late, but we decided to protect Insa-dong.”
The city government has other plans to promote the area as well.
It plans to distribute a sticker for those stores that sell traditional cultural products so visitors can recognize that the products are made in Korea.
“Many tourists were disappointed when they found that the products or souvenirs they have purchased in Insa-dong were in fact cheap Chinese imitations,” Kim Hoon-gi, an official in the Culture Policy Division from the city government told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “We will operate a system that can verify that traditional cultural products being sold in Insa-dong are manufactured in Korea.”
Kim added that the city government has discussed with the owners of cosmetic and franchise coffee shops how to run their businesses in a way that can promote Insa-dong in a more traditional-culture friendly manner.
“We have requested they decorate their interiors in a more Korean style, and also suggested workers in the shops wear hanbok [Korean traditional costume],” he said.
The city government said it will try to have more available traditional markets in the area.
It said that it will support a maximum of 100 million won ($91,800) of deposit money when a person wants to open a traditional store such as an antique shop or art gallery.
By Kwon Sang-soo [email@example.com]
Getting off on the right foot/ 2013-02-08
Getting off on the right foot
President-elect Park Geun-hye and leaders of both the ruling and opposition parties agreed yesterday to set up a consultative body to discuss national governance. The meeting, aimed at finding bipartisan ways to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threats, achieved better results than expected. Despite uncertainties ahead, the rare meeting carries great significance, particularly given the affirmation of partnerships between both parties and an agreement to cooperate with no strings attached.
As the written agreement is binding, any attempts to deviate from it will face public outrage.
The incoming Park Geun-hye administration has to surmount a number of serious obstacles from the outset - including an imminent nuclear test in North Korea, an ominous economic slowdown due to the weak yen, and ballooning demands for welfare, medical services and employment. Political bipartisanship under such circumstances will be a huge benefit in addressing the challenges ahead.
Considering that political division is the biggest enemy to security, the unseen solidarity of political leaders could help reduce our internal ideological conflicts. The leadership meeting could serve as a stern warning against any misjudgments by the North. It could also empower the government to cooperate with neighboring countries more closely, not to mention easing citizens’ growing anxiety.
In the bipartisan consultative apparatus - a communication channel - Park’s leadership is crucial. She must first employ a flexible attitude toward communicating with the opposition. She vowed to establish a joint meeting of political leaders from both sides, and she must take advantage of that even after her inauguration on Feb. 25.
Korean politics have been inundated with fierce power struggles and massive political scandals. The public is now sick of such costly - and outmoded - politics. That’s why political reform emerged as the hottest topic in the last general and presidential elections. Politicians must concentrate on drawing up policies that improve the lives of ordinary citizens rather than being engrossed in unruly fights. If they agree on policy formulations in the initial stage, unnecessary friction and ungrounded accusations could be substantially reduced.
In a sharp departure from the past, the Democratic United Party gladly accepted the president-elect’s offer of a meeting to cope with Pyongyang’s nuclear threats. We hope the parties continue to work together; this is the most obvious shortcut to overcoming factionalism.
Korean models make top ten list in New York/ 2013-02-08
Korean models make top ten list in New York
NEW YORK - Korean fashion is drawing global attention at New York Fashion Week, which kicked off yesterday, with three rookie Korean models receiving attention on the runway for fall 2013.
New York Magazine, a weekly magazine covering culture and the arts, on Wednesday introduced 10 rookie models to watch for in this week-long fashion event. They include three Koreans: Kim Sung-hee, 26; Park Ji-hye, 25; and Soo Joo, 23.
The 10 models were selected by the magazine after taking counsel from industry directors and designers that scout models as well as from modeling agencies.
Among the 10 are also two Russians, one each from Belgium, the United States, Angola, France and the Netherlands.
New York Fashion Week is one of the world’s four largest fashion events along with Paris, London and Milan.
The magazine described Kim as “the first-ever Asian face of Prada.” She stepped into the spotlight in the fashion industry when she caught the eye of Miuccia Prada, the designer of the luxury Prada and Miu Miu brands.
Kim was shot in a collection book for Miu Miu 2013 by leading fashion photographer Steven Meisel, side by side other worldwide models.
New York Magazine described her as being a suitable model for designer Alexander Wang.
Park was selected to walk the 2013 runway for Chanel and Christian Dior. Model casting director James Scully pointed to her as the model that will shine in Vogue magazine this year.
New York Magazine recommended Park as the model for designer Jason Wu, who designed U.S. first lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration ball gown.
Soo was also introduced by the magazine as being under the radar of the New York fashion industry since she made her debut two years ago.
Along with the three rookies, five prominent Korean designers will introduce their work as part of a “Concept Korea” presentation at the opening show of the fashion week on Thursday at The Stage at Lincoln Center.
It is the seventh season of the Concept Korea show, organized by Seoul’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Creative Contents Agency, Daegu Metropolitan City and the Korea Research Institute for Fashion Industry.
Designers taking part are Lie Sang-bong, Son Jung-wan, Choi Bo-ko, Kathleen Kye and Kim Hong-bum.
Designers will showcase their works on the runway with a combination of fusion Korean traditional music.
By Jung Kyung-min [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Park announces top appointments today/ 2013-02-08
Park announces top appointments today
President-elect Park Geun-hye will make public today the first batch of major appointments in her administration.
The announcement will be made at 10 a.m. today, Yoon Chang-jung, spokesman of Park’s transition team, said yesterday.
“As soon as we complete vetting, more appointments will be announced after the Lunar New Year holidays,” Yoon said. The holiday runs from tomorrow through Monday.
In the brief press conference, Yoon refused to describe which posts will be filled today.
Top posts in the cabinet and secretariat of the incoming administration remained empty until yesterday after Park’s botched attempt to appoint Kim Yong-joon, her transition committee head, as prime minister.
Kim got hammered by the press with allegations of tax evasion and draft dodging by his sons and withdrew his nomination.
Park has little more than two weeks until her Feb. 25 inauguration.
Speculation is high that the first batch of appointments will include a new nominee for prime minister.
Throughout her campaign, Park promised to respect the prime minister’s authority to recommend ministers, and observers said she wants to appoint the prime minister first so she can discuss the creation of her first cabinet with him or her.
The National Assembly already scheduled a session for Feb. 26 to vote on a motion to confirm the prime minister nomination.
A confirmation hearing will take place before the vote.
Yoon denied yesterday that Park was running out of time to form a cabinet and the presidential secretariat.
“The schedule was not disturbed,” Yoon said. “And it won’t be disturbed either. It is moving forward as we originally planned.”
By Ser Myo-ja [email@example.com]
Park Geun-hye’s delegation arrives in Washington/ 2013-02-08
Park Geun-hye’s delegation arrives in Washington
WASHINGTON - A high-level delegation sent by South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye arrived in Washington Wednesday amid lingering questions about its specific mission and mandate.
“(We) came here to deliver President-elect Park’s intention to ensure the further development of bilateral ties on the military, political, diplomatic and economic fronts,” Rep. Lee Hahn-koo, head of the delegation, told reporters upon arrival.
Lee, the floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, is leading the group, which includes other lawmakers and senior government officials, on a three-day trip.
On the agenda are North Korea’s apparent move to test a nuclear bomb and Park’s plan to visit Washington as early as April, according to diplomatic sources. But the group’s exact schedule remains uncertain.
While the delegation is seeking to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. side has not given a clear answer yet.
“The details of the delegation’s schedule are still being confirmed,” a State Department official said.
A source said the delegation has not requested a courtesy call on President Barack Obama.
The delegates are scheduled to have separate meetings with Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank.
“The rest of the schedule is in the making,” the source said. “The second term of the Obama administration has just begun. Secretary of State Kerry was sworn in last week. It is true that there are difficulties in arranging the delegation’s meetings with senior U.S. officials.”
The delegation is expected to be able to meet Kerry, added the source.
Park’s aides at the transition team characterized the group as intended to have unspecified “policy consultations,” rather than serving as “special envoys” of the incoming South Korean leader.
In late January, Park dispatched Kim Moo-sung, one of her long-time aides, as a special envoy to Beijing. Kim met with China’s president-in-waiting, Xi Jinping.
The team’s trip is basically to reciprocate a visit by an inter-agency U.S. delegation led by Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, to Seoul last month, South Korean diplomats here said.
Five years ago, then-South Korean President-elect Lee Myung-bak sent Rep. Chung Mong-joon to Washington as his envoy. At that time, President George W. Bush dropped in as Chung was meeting with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
The growth problem grows/ 2013-02-09
The growth problem grows
“Korea became one of the top seven exporters in the world.” A former minister said that as he looked back on the five years of the Lee Myung-bak administration. We knew from early on it would be very hard to fulfill Lee’s core pledge of 747: achieving 7 percent annual growth, per capita income of $40,000 in 10 years and joining the top seven economies. But at least when it came to exports, Korea became one of the top seven powers.
In fact, President Lee focused on exports more than any other recent president. He understood the role of exports in Korea’s economy and aggressively stimulated them. He was a master of exchange rates. He personally oversaw the currency policy. When the value of won soared, he constantly checked with ministers to see if the exchange rate was acceptable. As a former corporate CEO, he understood the importance of exchange rates, which determine the unit price of exported goods. Thanks to various factors, the Korean economy benefitted from a low won for the past five years. The won-to-dollar exchange rate was the lowest except for during the foreign exchange crisis of the late 1990s and the won-to-yen rate was the lowest in history.
The president led the export drive from the front line, but his overall economic achievement fell far short of his pledges. The average growth in the five years of the Lee administration was 2.9 percent. There were two crises in the period: the global financial crisis that started in 2008 and the ongoing European crisis. However, in the same period, the growth rate of the global economy was 2.88 percent, so the Korean economy performed not much better than the global average. While a low won value boosted exports, domestic consumption shrunk because of growing household debts. An insider at the Bank of Korea said we’ve forgotten the fact that the economy can only fly when its two wings - exports and domestic consumption - move together.
Last year’s growth was 2 percent. It was the lowest the economy has seen except for the negative 1.9 percent growth in 1980 during the second oil shock, the negative 5.7 percent growth in 1998 during the foreign currency crisis and 0.3 percent growth in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. The government should have make various efforts to boost the economy, but because of the presidential election of last December, no full-scale economic stimulus plans were prepared.
The growth rate is more than a mere number. When the rate goes up by 1 percent, we have 60,000 to 70,000 more jobs and an additional 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) in tax revenue. When the economy grows smoothly, we will have an unexpectedly easy solution to the household debt problem and financing Park Geun-hye’s welfare promises. But the new administration is set to start very soon and there is no discussion about economic growth. A securities company executive said, “As the low-growth trend continues, economic entities are losing confidence. And that is a sign of a crisis in the making.” Economic growth is no panacea. However, hardly any economic problem can be dealt with without growth.
*The author is a deputy business editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Lee Sang-ryeol
Three candidates selected for head prosecutor spot/ Justice Minister to nominate one; President Lee to make final decision/ 2013-02-08
Three candidates selected for head prosecutor spot/
Justice Minister to nominate one; President Lee to make final decision
Three candidates for the nation’s top prosecutor were picked yesterday to replace the embattled predecessor, Han Sang-dae, who bitterly stepped down last year, taking responsibility for internal conflicts and bribery scandals involving fellow prosecutors.
The Ministry of Justice’s recommendation committee convened a meeting yesterday and selected three senior prosecutors to be the next prosecutor general - Kim Jin-tae, the deputy head at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office; So Byung-chul, the head prosecutor at the Daegu High Prosecutors’ Office; and Chae Dong-wook, the head prosecutor at the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office.
“The committee members had a deep discussion on qualifications of the candidates and how to evaluate them,” Lee Dong-yeol, spokesman of the Justice Ministry, told reporters. “After that, they selected three candidates through a vote.”
Han, 54, resigned on Nov. 30 after a rebellion by his senior prosecutors, who resisted his attempt to disband an elite investigating body.
So far, the ministry has received recommendations on candidates for the position from citizens, including civic activists, and began vetting some of the listed candidates concerning their military service records, assets and resumes.
Under the legal procedure, the Justice Minister will nominate one of the three candidates, and President Lee Myung-bak will make a final approval for the nomination, through a consultation with incoming President Park’s transition team.
However, some political observers say there appears to be a conflict between outgoing president Lee and incoming Park over the appointment because Park’s side wants the appointment to be made by Park, not the outgoing president.
Kim, 61, from Sacheon in South Gyeongsang, is currently in the second-highest position in the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, serving as acting prosecutor general since Han stepped down.
Kim was once in charge of bribery scandals involving political big-wigs, such as former president Roh Tae-woo and Kim Hong-up, son of late leader Kim Dae-jung.
Chae, 54, from Seoul, was also a high-profile prosecutor, renowned for indicting Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-goo of bribery in 2006. He also took deputy head of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office before Kim.
So, 55, from Suncheon, South Jeolla, was head manager of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s criminal cases. So was once in charge of a bribery scandal involving former president Roh Tae-woo.
By Kim Hee-jin [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Time for bipartisanship/ 2013-02-07
Time for bipartisanship
South Korean presidents have experienced countless military provocations from North Korea in the six decades since the 1950-53 Korean War. But no president has entered office under as dire of a security situation as Park Geun-hye. After declaring it will not give up its nuclear weapons program, the North is poised to conduct a third nuclear test. But one can hardly find a substantial solution. If Pyongyang succeeds in minimizing warheads and puts them onto its medium-range missiles, South Korea will be under a direct nuclear threat from the North.
In February 1998, Kim Dae-jung took a presidential oath amid an economic crisis. At the time, both ruling and opposition parties heartily demonstrated an unprecedented bipartisan cooperation to overcome it. Fifteen years after the crisis, our country faces a similar dilemma. If the ruling and opposition camps avoid a concerted action to cope with the threat, the North will only become emboldened. We welcome the contingency meeting today between lawmakers from both sides to effectively deal with the nuclear threat.
The bipartisanship urgently needs the opposition Democratic United Party’s cooperation. After a crushing defeat in the December presidential election, the DUP concluded that its image as a party with a weak sense of security contributed to the defeat. Then, the party leadership visited an air base in Cheongju, North Chungcheong and convened an emergency meeting at Yeonpyeong Island, the site of North Korea’s shelling in November 2010.
More important, however, is a fundamental change of attitude. The DUP has behaved undeserving of its status as the main opposition. It opposed a National Assembly resolution condemning the North’s sinking of our Cheonan warship, and for the North’s bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island, the leadership attributed it to the hawkish policies of the Lee Myung-bak administration.
There should not be an ideological divide on the issue of national security. After the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. , the opposition Democratic Party gave full support to the Republican administration. The North’s possession of nuclear weapons offers an unheard-of security risk. If the DUP takes a divisive posture, Pyongyang will try to take advantage of its nuclear power. If both parties display staunch bipartisanship, however, the North will be intimidated by the new unity.