Another Korean Tycoon Gets a Free Pass

  South Korea’s reputation for dispensing even-handed justice took yet another knock Tuesday when a court suspended the prison term of one of the country’s richest men for a gangland-style revenge assault. It was the second time in a week that one of Korea’s high-flying tycoons avoided jail from a criminal conviction. On September 6,…

In Korea, Getting Out of Jail Costs Money

The suspension of a three-year prison sentence for Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong Koo, convicted of embezzlement in February, if he donates $1 billion to charity, is the latest and most dramatic example of a uniquely Korean form of justice. Chung isn’t the first to escape jail by delivering large sums of money to…

South Korea has a Burma Problem

The announcement Wednesday that South Korean engineers had found a record natural gas field in Burma could hardly come at a worse time for Seoul, if it bothers to consider the irony. A day earlier, a Seoul court recalled a time when South Korea’s human rights record was among the worst in the world by…

The Risky Road to Pyongyang

Seven years ago, when President Kim Dae Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il held their groundbreaking summit talks in Pyongyang, the North Korean dictator ended his handshakes by declaring that he would be in Seoul for the second round of summit talks. It never happened. And the fact that he reneged on that…

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

The drama of the bloody shooting death of Korean pastor Bae Hyng-Kyu, 42, Wednesday by Taliban militants in Afghanistan and concerns over the release of his 22 Christian mission comrades points up the increasingly dramatic, often dangerous role that Korean missionaries are playing across the world, particularly in Islamic countries. In a burst of sometimes…

Korean Pastor Killed by Taliban

The minister who led a group of South Korean church volunteers on a summer mission trip to Afghanistan has been killed by the Taliban militants who kidnapped the group last week. Pastor Bae Hyeong-gyu, 42, was killed Wednesday, according to government officials. The pastor’s body was tossed on a highway between Kabul and Kandahar in…

A Grand Korean Inquisition

The inquisition may not have got to the bottom of anything, but as political theater it was hard to beat Thursday’s spectacle of South Korea’s leading conservative political party roasting its two leading presidential candidates on live television over charges of corruption, illicit love and tax evasion. For six hours – three for each candidate…

The Rise and Fall of a Korean Success Story

Curator of a major Seoul museum, professor at an elite university and co-director of the Gwangju Biennale, the country’s premier art event, at 35, Shin Jeong-ah had risen quickly to the top of South Korea’s fine art scene. Too quickly, it turns out. Shortly after being named to the biennale post on July 4, what…

Free Trade End Game in Seoul

Washington’s demand for further talks on the draft of the Korea-US free trade agreement was the last thing on Seoul’s mind when the tough 10-month negotiations ended last April in a deal that turned out to be surprisingly popular in South Korea despite demonstrations by South Korean farmers who see the pact as a threat…

Korea’s Boffins Establish a Kimchi Scale

Korea’s national dish kimchi has officially been around at least since the Shilla Dynasty of the Three Kingdoms, which spanned the period from the second century AD to the seventh. Some authorities say it might have been around even longer, going back to when cabbage was first introduced on the Korean peninsula perhaps 4,000 years…