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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Homeplus tops foreign donations in Korea Intel, Heineken, OB, Fendi donated nothing for whole year




Homeplus Co. was the largest donor to charity among foreign businesses operating in Korea in 2012 for the second consecutive year, according to an online corporate research firm on Monday.

Data from Korea CXO Institute showed that Homeplus, a discount chain run by U.K.-based Tesco, donated 5.53 billion won ($5.26 million) in 2012 and 6.32 billion won in 2011 to charity, topping the research firm’s list of 50 companies with over 30 billion won in annual sales.

These 50 foreign firms belong to various sectors including tobacco, liquor, luxury goods, retail and foods, automobiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals and financial services. 

The researcher’s report only takes into account the donations that appear on the firms’ audit statements, and excludes charity donations by individuals. 

IBM Korea, the local branch the U.S.-based tech manufacturer, and Novartis Korea, the local unit of the Swiss pharmaceutical firm, ranked second and third on the list, setting aside 2.51 billion won and 2.40 billion won, respectively. 

BMW Group Korea and Bayer Korea, the local units of the German automaker and pharmaceutical firm, respectively, followed with 1.95 billion won and 1.79 billion won.

BMW Group Korea boosted its charity donations the most on-year, from 322 million won in 2011 to 1.95 billion won in 2012. 

Meanwhile, GM Korea, the local unit of U.S.-based General Motors, cut its donations the most, from 4.86 billion won in 2011 to 1.24 billion won in 2012, largely due to heavy operating losses. 

At the bottom of the donor list were Oriental Brewery Co, Intel Korea, Heineken Korea and Fendi Korea.

Oriental Brewery Co., whose major shareholders are U.S.-based private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and pan-Asian PEF Affinity Equity Partners, gave no charitable donations. 

Fendi Korea, the local operation of the Italian fashion house, donated nothing for the second consecutive year. 

The local employees of foreign companies said they felt pressured in asking the headquarters for local charity funds or social contribution expenses on the yearly budget proposals.

“Every year we try to convince the head office into assigning a higher budget to local social contribution activities and charity funds,” said a spokesperson of a foreign manufacturer.

“It is an extremely difficult task and all we can do is to cross our fingers and hope that they will understand the business environment here,” she added. 

By Chung Joo-won (joowonc@heraldcorp.com)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stop and search: huge increase in police portable background checks


Use of portable background check devices by police

Crime rates are not on the rise, suggesting police checks are more of an exercise in police convenience and public intimidation

A man surnamed Kim, 32, was waiting for a friend on Seoul’s Jongno 3-ga avenue earlier this month when a police officer stopped him to ask for identification. The startled Kim handed over his ID and asked what it was about. “You were loitering around here for a while, and we just wanted to check up,” the officer said. After doing a background check on Kim, the officer thanked him and disappeared.
“I just handed over my ID without thinking,” Kim recalled. “After the officer had left, it occurred to me: this was a ‘questioning of a suspicious person.’ I was really angry. It seemed like they were treating me like a criminal without identifying themselves.”
Once in decline, cases of police stopping “suspicious persons” for questioning have made a major comeback under the Park Geun-hye administration, doubling each year since 2013. Figures on the use of portable background check devices over the past five years, which the Hankyoreh received on Jan. 11 after an information disclosure request to the National Police Agency, showed they were used for a total of 28,208,383 searches last year on passing individuals or vehicles. The amount is nearly double the 15,630,880 recorded in 2012, the last year of the Lee Myung-bak administration.
Random searches of citizens have shown an especially sharp rise. Background checks with portable devices rose from 3,238,918 in 2012 to 6,213,650 in 2013 and 11,807,970 in 2014 - nearly doubling each year. Statistically, roughly one in four adults has been subjected to one. The use of the devices to check on vehicles has also risen from 12,391,962 cases in 2012 to 16,400,413 last year.
The Act on the Performance of Duties by Police Officers defines “Police Questioning” by stipulating that “A police officer, by using reasonable judgment from a suspicious act or surrounding circumstances, may stop and ask a person questions when he has a considerable reason to suspect that the person has committed or is about to commit a crime.” Citizens have the right to refuse to answer and to say no if asked to go with the police officer - but many find it difficult to assert these rights when faced with a surprise request from the police.
In 2010, portable background check devices were used roughly 72,020,000 times: 16,027,707 times for personal questioning cases and 55,997,503 for vehicle checks. Human rights groups responded with a campaign against the questioning practices, while the National Human Rights Commission of Korea acknowledged the potential for human rights infringements. By 2012, the number was down to 15,630,000 cases, or about one-fifth its previous levels. The fluctuations could suggest the questioning was more a measure for police convenience than a reflection of real need.
Experts said the real reason for the sharp rise in questioning since Park took office is a desire to crack down on demonstrations in the first few years of the administration.
“An especially large number of people were stopped for questioning in the area around the Blue House after the sinking of the Sewol ferry [in April, 2014],” said Lee Ho-joong, a professor of law at Sogang University. “In many cases, the questionings were performed to scare people off and prevent them from taking part in large demonstrations. The police have talked about the ‘crime prevention effect,’ but there doesn’t appear to be much of one.”
Indeed, the ratio of arrests of wanted criminals with suspended cases out of all background check using the portable devices has dropped yearly from 2.4% in 2012 to 1.5% in 2013 and 0.75% last year.
The National Police Agency said the background check statistics “include not only people stopped for questioning, but also checks on traffic violations, violations of basic order, and pursuit of suspects in criminal cases.”
 
By Seo Young-ji, staff reporter
 
Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

In surprise move, Blue House senior secretary resigns instead of facing questioning


Latest move in scandal over leaked documents could indicate a crisis of leadership inside the Blue House

A Blue House senior secretary resigned on Jan. 9 after refusing to appear before the National Assembly Steering Committee in connection with the allegations of a “secret circle” involved in state affairs.
The unprecedented “defiance resignation” by senior civil affairs secretary Kim Young-han, 58, is expected to have major repercussions, coming after a bipartisan agreement earlier that morning to have him present at the committee, as well as a direct order to appear by Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon, honoring the wishes of President Park Geun-hye.
Kim Young-han, senior civil affairs secretary
The surprise resignation could indicate a leadership crisis for Park’s Blue House, with a direct act of defiance by the senior secretary in charge of managing the havoc already wracking the presidential office after a civil affairs secretary leaked a Blue House document to the outside.
The day’s events in the Steering Committee began when the ruling and opposition parties, which had been unable to agree on whether Kim Young-han should appear up until the day before, finally reached a deal that morning to keep the number of questioners to a minimum. As the person in charge of the Blue House’s special inspection in connection with the leak of documents alleging interference in government operations by Park’s Chief of Staff when she was a second-term lawmaker, Chung Yoon-hoi, Kim was to be questioned by the opposition on allegations of pressuring and forcibly investigating individuals involved the leak.
What happened next was a shock. Kim Ki-choon ordered Kim Young-han to go before the committee, at which point the defiant Kim refused, declaring he would “rather resign” than go. A number of lawmakers raised questions about Kim’s absence when the committee’s meeting resumed in the afternoon, prompting Kim Ki-choon to respond, “I ordered him to appear, and now he is acting as though he cannot. If a public official does not comply with a demand by bipartisan agreement for him to appear at the National Assembly, or an order from the Chief of Staff, then I believe he should bear serious responsibility.”
When news of Kim Young-han’s resignation announcement broke, Kim Ki-choon said, “I plan to accept the senior civil affairs secretary’s resignation and discuss his dismissal [with President Park].”
The Chief of Staff also appeared before the Steering Committee in the morning to apologize in connection with the document furor. When asked his responsibility for the leak controversy, he replied, “As Chief of Staff, I feel a grave sense of responsibility for causing the public concern and drawing their criticism over inappropriate activities by secretary office employees, and I am very sorry.”
“I will not insist on holding on to my position, and I am prepared to step down at any time when my responsibilities have finished,” he continued.
But the afternoon’s surprise resignation looks likely to leave Kim and the Blue House facing even harsher criticisms than before. Kim in particular looks likely to face questions about his responsibility for a senior secretary’s act of open defiance that comes just a week after his remarks stressing the importance of “loyalty” in secretaries’ offices at a Jan. 2 New Year kickoff meeting.
“What is this thing we call ‘loyalty’?,” the Chief of Staff asked at the time.
The resignation was met with a frosty response on both sides of the aisle. Kim Jae-won, the committee’s secretary from the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP), called it “extremely dismaying.”
“A senior civil affairs secretary bears tremendous responsibility, and a public official should be someone who responds sincerely when there is a bipartisan agreement for him to come before the National Assembly, whatever his intentions regarding resignation,” Kim said.
New Politics Alliance for Democracy floor spokesperson Park Wan-ju took aim at the Blue House over the resignation.
“This shameful episode shows the public just how far the Blue House has crossed the line with its disregard for the National Assembly and how thoroughly broken the Blue House’s internal system is,” Park said.
“Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon’s pledge to ‘fix discipline’ among Blue House workers was utterly trampled before the ink had even dried,” he added.
By Seok Jin-hwan, Blue House correspondent and Lee Seung-joon, staff reporter
Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

National Security Law again being used in communist witch hunts


Opposition lawmaker summoned, not long after Korean American deported for pro-North Korea comments

Article 7 of the National Security Law - the article that makes it illegal to praise or support North Korea - is once again being employed in communist witch hunts. Even though the UN has recommended that the article be revoked, it is emerging once more as a tool for suppressing the freedom of thought and expression, as can be seen in the case of a recent lecture.
After first ordering the deportation of Korean-American Shin Eun-mi for speaking positively about trips to North Korea during a lecture, the prosecutors and the police summoned Lim Su-kyung, a lawmaker with the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, to come in for questioning on Jan. 15. Lim was briefly on stage during the lecture, which took place at Jogye Temple, Seoul, on Nov. 19, 2014.
Meanwhile, on Jan. 13, a court will be reviewing a request for an arrest warrant for Hwang Seon, former assistant spokesperson for the Democratic Labor Party, who is charged with organizing the event and possessing material that praises the North Korean regime.
Because of a single lecture, these three individuals, who have all visited North Korea, are the subject of an investigation. “All she did was greet the audience. We will consider how to respond to the summons,” said a member of Lim Su-kyung’s office staff.
On Jan. 9, the US State Department expressed its concern about the attitude of the South Korean government and investigating authorities in relatively strong terms. “We’re concerned that the National Security Law, as interpreted and applied in some cases, limits freedom of expression and restricts access to the internet,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said when asked about Shin Eun-mi’s deportation.
But during the New Year’s press conference on Jan. 12, South Korean President Park Geun-hye responded to a question by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal by saying, “Given the unique confrontation between North and South Korea, this is the minimum law that is required to protect the security of South Korea.”
Article 7 of the National Security Law - which defines the punishment for “any person who praises, incites or propagates the activities of an antigovernment organization, a member thereof or of the person who has received an order from it, or who acts in concert with it” - is infamous as the part of a problematic law that was used to repress democratic groups when South Korea was under dictatorship.
In 1990, the Constitutional Court concluded that the phrasing of the clause is too ambiguous and wide-ranging. “The law could even make it criminal to tell a North Korean child that they are good at singing,” the court complained.
Given the fact that North and South Korea are still technically at war, the court concluded that the article had limited constitutionality, but it ordered that the article be limited to acts that endanger the safety or survival of the state or that damaged the basic democratic order.
The following year, the National Assembly added the condition that, to be prosecuted, these activities must be done “with the knowledge of the fact that it may endanger the existence and security of the State or democratic fundamental order.”
But as a series of conservative administrations have taken power, Article 7 of the National Security Law is once again flexing its muscles. In 2008, Article 7 was only invoked in 33% of cases involving a violation of the National Security Law; by 2014, this had risen to 70%.
The prosecutors gave Shin a suspended indictment because of various comments she made at the lecture, including that “North Korean residents consider themselves truly fortunate to be living under the regime of Kim Jong-un.”
A suspended indictment means that the prosecutors conclude that the charges are valid but decide not to indict the suspect for various reasons.
In regard to why Shin was given a suspended indictment, Yun Ung-geol, second deputy director general at the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, only said that Shin’s comments had romanticized North Korea and worked to its advantage. Yun did not say whether Shin had “endanger[ed] the existence and security of the State.”
“In order to apply this article constitutionally, a very strict analysis must be made about whether the act in question endangers the security and survival of the state. In the case of Shin, the prosecutors exercised restraint by giving her a suspended indictment, but the fact that they decided she was guilty represents an abuse of Article 7,” said Song Gi-chun, professor at the Chonbuk National University law school.
 
By Lee Kyung-mi, staff reporter
 
Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

[Editorial] New Year’s address shows Pres. Park’s self-righteousness in Korea


President Park Geun-hye takes a question from a reporter during her New Year’s address press conference at the Blue House, Jan. 12. Behind her is Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon. The question was about whether or not Park would be willing to have more frequent in-person briefings from her ministers and when answering she looked toward her Blue House secretaries. (by Lee Jeong-yong, staff photographer)

It was somewhat expected, but that doesn’t make it any less galling. The New Year’s press conference given on Jan. 12 by President Park Geun-hye came across as a declaration to the public that she has done nothing wrong and plans to continue on with the same kind of leadership style and approach to filling government positions. How is possible for someone to so completely disregard all the criticisms and advice that have emerged over the month since allegations first broke about her former Chief of Staff Chung Yoon-hoi’s interference in government operations? One is tempted to draw the most chilling conclusion of all: that she sees running the country as a way of testing her own obstinacy.
It’s almost too embarrassing to have to say it again, but the Chung case isn’t about what percent of the Blue House report was true or how it got leaked. At its heart, it’s about all the problems Park has created in the government and its job appointments with her insular, opaque leadership style and reliance on a “triumvirate” of secretaries. That’s what has so many people demanding that she change her approach to governing, and it’s also why people are talking about how a first step in turning things around would be dismiss the three secretaries - Lee Jae-man, Jeong Ho-seong, and Ahn Bong-geun - along with Kim Ki-choon, the Chief of Staff who failed to rein them in.
Park‘s answer was nothing if not clear. She made it official that the three secretaries were the main heavyweights in the Blue House, talking about how “we saw there really was no corruption.” Kim Ki-choon was praised as a “person of truly rare selflessness.” Her conclusions were the exact opposite of how the public sees them. And this suggests that Park is going to spend the last three years of her term continuing to use the trio to deliver her orders and filter back messages from the outside. What else can we expect from a President who has no plans for changing an insular communicative framework that even her own ruling party and conservatives - never mind the opposition - take issue with?
Park’s obliviousness and perverse logic don’t end there. She also defended the insubordination of a Blue House senior civil affairs secretary - a person whose job it is to look after discipline among public officials - by saying she “didn’t see it as insubordination” when he resigned rather than go before the National Assembly to answer questions. She also shrugged off accusations of regional bias in her appointments, saying she is “most interested in getting the best people, regardless of where they come from.” Even as the South Korean public rates her appointments as the worst thing about her administration, she persists in the lone delusion that she’s surrounded by the best of the best. Similarly, she responded to a foreign reporter’s question about potential National Security Law abuses by referring to the “particularity of the South Korean situation” rather than the universal value of human rights.
Park’s response to a recommendation for more frequent in-person briefings from her ministers was to say, “In the past, there wasn’t phone or email, but these days the telephone can sometimes be more convenient.” When the President describes in-person briefings as “old-fashioned,” you have to ask whether she is approaching major policies issues with the deep thought they deserve. A lot of people who watched the press conference are already talking about the inability to detect any kind of personal philosophy or vision in areas like social services, labor, or education. For all her talk about “selfless dedication,” the only thing the public gets to see is the administration’s bumbling.
If anything positive did come from the press conference, it’s that everyone got to see a relatively clear picture of Park‘s self-righteousness. It’s tremendously disappointing, though, to see her moving in exactly the opposite direction from public perceptions. Who is coming to take responsibility for the tragic consequences when the President keeps defying the public’s will? It’s exasperating to think about.
 
Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]
 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Prosecutors seek warrant to deport Korean-American

Korean American Shin Eun-mi takes questions from reporters while appearing for questioning at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, Dec. 17, 2014.

Shin Eun-mi has been accused of praising North Korea, a violation of the National Security Law

Prosecutors requested an arrest warrant for former Democratic Labor Party deputy spokesperson Hwang Seon in connection with a lecture where she allegedly voiced pro-North Korean views.
Hwang, 41, is being investigated for praising/incitement and siding with the enemy, as well as possessing materials favorable to North Korea, both violations of the National Security Law. Prosecutors are also planning to deport Shin Eun-mi, a 54-year-old Korean American who is being investigated on the same charges.
Analysts are viewing the rare decision to arrest and/or deport individuals for allegedly “pro-North” remarks or writings as an attempt to drum up security concerns.
The second public security division of Seoul Central District Prosecutors‘ Office, under chief prosecutor Kim Byeong-hyun, requested the arrest warrant after concluding that Hwang and Shin had praised the North Korean regime with comments made during a Nov. 2014 joint lecture at Seoul’s Jogye Temple, part of a national tour by the two.
Previously, the security investigation team at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency conducted an intensive investigation, including a search and seizure on Hwang’s home, after receiving a complaint from a conservative group. Police also investigated past activities by Hwang apart from the lecture in question.
Hwang dismissed reports that the prosecutors and police had found content in past lectures to students that were equivalent to North Korea’s arguments for a “juche revolution” in South Korean society.
“Just like they did at the time of the lecture, the prosecutors concluded that it was a National Security Law violation without checking the facts,” she said. “I see this as an operation aimed at creating a ‘frame.’”
Hwang sent on to note that her poetry collection “You Know How It Ends,” which the authorities viewed as materials favorable to North Korea, was published back in 2008.
“There was a publication event at the time at the Jogye Temple‘s traditional culture hall, and the publication was reported in the media,” she said. “They didn’t have a problem with it then, and I couldn‘t tell you why it’s suddenly an issue six years later.”
Prosecutors also reported that they had decided to pursue deportation for Shin, who holds US citizenship, and submitted an expulsion request to the Ministry of Justice’s Office of Immigration. The office is to decide the date of Shin’s departure.
According to the Immigration Control Act, deportation and entrance bans can be enforced for “individuals believed to pose a threat to the Republic of Korea’s interests, public safety, and the economic and/or social order.” Once deported, an individual is barred from returning to South Korea for five years.
Shin was investigated after a complaint charging her with making comments favorable to the North Korean regime during the November lecture. On Jan 7, prosecutors summoned her for questioning on whether she had intended to praise the North Korean regime with her talk concert comments and the book “A Korean-American Woman Goes to North Korea,” in which she recounts her experiences traveling in the North.
According to sources, prosecutors questioned Shin on whether she had intended to glorify North Korea with remarks about its “clean river water,” claims that “60% to 70% of defectors would like to visit their home,” and description of North Korea as a “land of opportunity.” Shin reportedly responded that her book and lecture were “not intended to praise North Korea.”
Prosecutors appear to have concluded that Shin’s comments in the lecture and books offer insufficient grounds for pressing criminal charges.
“If there is evidence of a crime, you indict - you don’t deport,” explained an official with the prosecutors on condition of anonymity. “Deportation applies when you’re not at the indictment stage, but when the conditions specified in the Immigration Control Act are met.”
Once deported, Shin plans to file an administrative suit demanding that the order be overturned.
 
By Jung Hwan-bong and Kim Kyu-nam, staff reporters
 
Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Solidarity of the citizens who light torches has led demonstrations against Fraudulent Election in Korea.

  1. https://storify.com/public/templates/slideshow/index.html?src=//storify.com/wjsfree/the-citizens-protested-against-the-fraudulent-elec#1

  2. A fraudulent election is not a legitimate election and an elected president through an illegitimate election is not a legitimate president. This election was indeed a serious crime that had been carefully planned ahead and committed by the government, ruling party, and state agencies together. So far nobody has been held accountable or has come forward to take responsibility. The former head of the NIS and the former head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police have been indicted. However, the prosecutors working to uncover the truth have been fired and replaced with people from Park's inner circle. Citizens, political parties, and religious leaders home and abroad who are frustrated and angry have been holding numerous protests and candle-light vigils.They are demanding a thorough investigation by introducing an independent counsel and any party that is proven guilty be punished.

  3. Demonstrations in opposition to the election frauds continued on Oct 4, 2014
  4. Protest against the fraudulent election continued on  October 4, 2014.

    Protesters demand the resignation of President Park Guen-Hye due to the fraudulent elections in 2012. They also called for the dismantling of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) which intervened in the presidential election.
  5. channel social
  6. 한국 대선 결과를 둘러 싼 논쟁
  7. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has become embroiled in a scandal involving a campaign allegedly orchestrated by the country’s spy agency to smear her opponent in 2012 election
  8. 20140927 180347 제 38차 횃불시민연대 부정선거규탄 서울역광장 집회 - 2
  9. The red banner says "Park Geun Hye OUT!