Asia in 2016: Korea

Asia in 2016: KoreaSouth Korean President Park Geun-hye was stripped of her executive powers after the country’s legislature voted for impeachment in December, the culmination of a year of political scandal that saw massive protests in Seoul and other major cities in the last quarter of 2016. Park’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, was detained on charges of extortion and…

Can South Korean Agriculture Survive Free Trade?

Can South Korean Agriculture Survive Free Trade?Two views exist on South Korean agriculture –a pessimistic one that argues it will collapse in the face of opening markets, and an optimistic one that argues it will become more competitive once South Korea reforms a structure in which the majority of farmers are insignificant and small. Since the agreements in the Uruguay Round…

Donald Trump Says the Korea FTA is a Disaster. Not True.

Donald Trump Says the Korea FTA is a Disaster. Not True.Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the United States presidency, said on Aug. 8 that the four-year-old free trade agreement between South Korea and the US was a “perfect example of broken promises and that it “doubled our trade deficit with South Korea and destroyed nearly 100,000 American jobs.” That is not true. According to…

Brexit and Korea: Pandora’s Box?

Brexit and Korea: Pandora’s Box?Many who observed the Brexit decision consider Pandora’s box now to be open. Was the Brexit ballot box indeed Pandora’s box? Were the Brexit decision and the “Trump phenomenon” flares of erupting distrust and frustration with the establishment, anti-immigrant sentiments, xenophobia, animosity toward international institutions, and isolationism, as many have noted? The world has prospered…

South Korea Shipbuilding Industry Faces Crisis

South Korea Shipbuilding Industry Faces CrisisSouth Korea’s massive shipbuilding industry, the world’s leader, is facing a crisis, with the country’s three largest shipbuilding firms reporting combined losses of W6.4 trillion (US$5.5 billion) in 2015 alone in offshore plants as the shipping market has deteriorated and world oil prices have plunged, resulting in a fall in new contracts. The industry is…

South Korea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

South Korea and the Trans-Pacific PartnershipOn Oct. 5, 12 countries, making up 40 percent of the world economy and including Japan and the United States finally agreed after years of negotiation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the omnibus free trade bill being pushed by Washington, DC. The agreement was seven years in the making after the administration of US President Barack…

S. Korea’s Chaotic, Corrupt Defense Policy Driven by Fear

S. Korea’s Chaotic, Corrupt Defense Policy Driven by FearFollowing an eight-month investigation that ended in July, a South Korean joint task force on corruption in defense contracts reported that W980.9 billion ($867.7 million at current exchange rates) worth of defense contracts in South Korea have been affected by corruption in the last seven years. This amounts to a full 8.9 percent of this…

Crucial Nuclear Debate in S. Korea Nonexistent

Crucial Nuclear Debate in S. Korea NonexistentThe Fukushima nuclear accident, precipitated by the March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, has had a dramatic effect globally, shattering the myth that it is the safest and cheapest source of energy. Germany, Belgium and Switzerland have decided to phase out nuclear power and France, the most nuclear-reliant country in the world, said it would…

Oil Prices not Delivering Asia Boom

Oil Prices not Delivering Asia BoomThe best efforts of central bankers in the West and Japan to re-ignite inflation have thus far failed. The rest of Asia, which once seemed partly immune to the problems of aging and indebted societies, is now looking far more vulnerable to deflationary forces. Low and still-falling interest rates should in principle benefit these countries…

South Korea: Headwinds and Crosswinds

South Korea: Headwinds and CrosswindsSouth Korea today faces economic and political headwinds as strong as any country in Asia, with faltering domestic consumption and struggling exports in the face of slowing Chinese demand from Korea’s formidable export machine. Abenomics’ latest tactics to weaken the yen are giving Seoul’s export sector even more problems.  The government, headed by Park Guen-hye,…
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