South Korea

Climate & Environment
South Korea commits to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050
South Korea commits to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050
Credit: unsplash.com / Shawn Ang

Following a visit by Cop26 president-designate Alok Sharma, president Moon Jae-in has announced that South Korea will commit to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. “By replacing coal power generation with renewable energy, we will create new markets and industries and create jobs,” he said.

Earlier this year, Moon presented plans for a Green New Deal investing $37 billion in clean energy, green infrastructure and electric vehicles by 2025. A further $7 billion investment in carbon-cutting measures was announced last week.

Regional News • Asia
Kim Jong-un apologizes in a letter to Seoul for the shooting of South Korean official
Kim Jong-un apologizes in a letter to Seoul for the shooting of South Korean official
Credit: Kremlin.ru (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has issued an apology for the death of a 47-year-old South Korean government worker, who was shot dead and his body set alight North Korean troops. The unidentified man was found floating on the sea, in the North's waters.

The apology came in the form of a letter sent to South Korea's Blue House Friday morning, which acknowledged that the incident should not have happened.

According to the Blue House, the letter read "Chairman Kim Jong Un asked to convey that he feels very sorry that instead of giving aid to our compatriots in the South who is struggling with Covid epidemic, we have given President Moon and our compatriots in the South a great disappointment with this unseen misfortune in our sea."

Regional News • Asia
North Korea's ruler Kim Jong-un hands over some responsibilities to sister
North Korea's ruler Kim Jong-un hands over some responsibilities to sister
Credit: KCNA

According to reports from South Korean secret services, the North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un has handed over further powers to his sister Kim Yo-Jong. She is now in charge of "the management of state affairs". What exactly is meant by that remains open, though.

According to South Korean media reports, relations with the USA and South Korea, among other things, are to fall within her area of responsibility. The North Korean side has not officially confirmed the report. However, the country is known for the fact that important personnel decisions are only communicated in the state media weeks or months later.

Health
Report: Masks recommended for students in schools by Swedish researchers
Report: Masks recommended for students in schools by Swedish researchers
Credit: unsplash.com / Rusty Watson

Based on data from South Korea, the United States and Israel analyzing the infections and spread of the coronavirus through children, researchers now believe that children can contract Covid-19 and easily spread it.

A group of 26 researchers from Sweden wrote that "Because children are contagious, can become seriously ill, and it is unclear today how a mild infection affects their future health, we should already at the start of school take measures to keep the infection down".

They recommend sport only outdoors, eating meals seperated in classes, avoiding group tasks and that masks should be worn at all times.

Regional News • Asia
North Korea declares state of emergency in Kaesong over first suspected Covid-19 case
Kim Jong-un in a meeting of the WPK Central Committee
Kim Jong-un in a meeting of the WPK Central Committee Credit: KCNA (Public Domain)

Kim Jong-un declared a state of emergency and imposed a lockdown on the border city of Kaesong after a person suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus returned from South Korea after illegally crossing the border.

According to KCNA, a person "who went to the south three years ago, a person who is suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus, returned on July 19 after illegally crossing the demarcation line.".

If confirmed, it would be the first case officially acknowledged by Pyongyang.

Science • Space
SpaceX launches South Korea satellite, recovers booster and two fairings
SpaceX launches South Korea satellite, recovers booster and two fairings
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on Monday delivered the ANASIS-II, a South Korean military communications satellite, to orbit and set a new record for the fastest turnaround time for reusing a rocket. The first stage booster successfully landed on the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship.

The company also set a new milestone by catching both halves of the nosecone fairing. Catching the $6-million fairing spares it from suffering any saltwater damage and so allows it to be used again with minimal maintenance, reducing costs.

Technology • Internet & Web
South Korea fines TikTok for mishandling children's data
South Korea fines TikTok for mishandling children's data
Credit: unsplash.com / Solen Feyissa

The social network platform TikTok has been fined around $154.000 for mishandling data of children in South Korea. According to the Korea Communications Commission that issued the fine, the data of children under 14 years old has been collected without the required consent of their legal guardians.

In addition to the collection, the data had been transferred overseas without the permission or disclosure to the users.

Regional News • Asia
Mayor of Seoul, South Korea has gone missing
Mayor Park Won-soon
Mayor Park Won-soon Credit: Kks6088 (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

The police in Seoul has started a wide search after Mayor Park Won-soon has gone missing, following a verbal message to his daughter that she described as sounding like a will. His phone has been turned off and police officers are focussing on the Sungbuk neighbourhood where his signal was last detected. A government official has confirmed that he did not turn up for work on Tuesday.

Park has been mayor of Seoul since 2011 and has been viewed as a leading candidate for the 2022 presidential election.

Regional News • Americas • South America
Uruguay is the only Latin American country in EU's Covid-19 'safe list'
Munich International Airport passport control
Munich International Airport passport control Credit: Vasyatka1 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The European Union has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in from July 1, and the only Latin American country is Uruguay.

As infection rates in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia are still high, their nationals will face travel restrictions.

The current list is formed by Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Regional News • Asia
Inter-Korean liaison office blown up by North Korea

North Korea has blown up an inter-Korean liaison office at its border hours after threatening South Korea with military actions. The joint liaison office, located near the North Korean border town Kaesong, was opened in 2018 and was used for talks with South Korea. The explosion was confirmed by South Korea's Unification Ministry at 2:49 p.m. local time. Kim Yo-jong, sister to Kim Jong Un, had threatened the demolition of the office last weekend.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Black Lives Matter banner removed from U.S. embassy in Seoul after Trump displeased
Black Lives Matter banner removed from U.S. embassy in Seoul after Trump displeased
Credit: U.S. Embassy Seoul / Twitter

After just two days, the embassy of the United States in South Korea has taken down the banner with the message "Black Lives Matter".

Bloomberg and Reuters report that the banner was removed after President Trump expressed displeasure with it.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Black Lives Matter banner displayed at U.S. embassy in Seoul, South Korea
Black Lives Matter banner displayed at U.S. embassy in Seoul, South Korea
Credit: U.S. Embassy Seoul / Twitter

The embassy of the United States in South Korea has tweeted a picture showing a banner with the message "Black Lives Matter" on the walls of the embassy in support of the ongoing anti-racism protests in the United States and around the world.

Regional News • Asia
North Korea threatens military action against South Korea

The sister of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong has announced that "By exercising my power authorized by the supreme leader, our party and the state, I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with the enemy to decisively carry out the next action" and adding that it would be time to break with the authorities of South Korea. Kim Yo Jong has not specified that the next action would be that she instructed to be carried out.

Regional News • Asia
North Korea cuts communication channels with South Korea
North Korean soldier
North Korean soldier Credit: Roman Harak (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

North Korea announced Tuesday it would cut off all communication channels with South Korea, including a hotline between the two countries' leaders. Pyongyang decided to escalate its pressure on the South for not stopping activists from floating anti-regime leaflets across their tense border.

South Korea's government repeated that it would work toward restoring peace on the Korean Peninsula. North and South Korea are technically still at war because no peace agreement was reached when the Korean War ended in 1953.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Trump postpones G7 summit and plans to invite other countries

President Donald Trump said Saturday he would postpone the G7 summit scheduled to take place in June. Trump also said he would like to invite Australia, India, Russia and South Korea.

"I don't feel that as a G7 it properly represents what's going on in the world. It's a very outdated group of countries," Trump told reporters on Air Force One.

Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she could not attend a June G7 summit in person.

Regional News • Asia
South Korea closes schools days after reopening

More than 500 schools in South Korea closed just days after they reopened, due to a new spike in virus cases. Thousands of students had returned to school earlier on Wednesday, as the country began easing virus restrictions.

The chairman of the National Association of Parents for True Education Na Myung-joo said:  "Except for the lower grades of elementary schools and kindergarteners who are in urgent need of emergency care services, and high school seniors ahead of the national college entrance exam, it will be safe for the rest of the students to conduct remote classes for the time being.".

Education • School Education
Seoul's Education Superintendent warns of reopening schools prematurely
Empty seats in classroom
Empty seats in classroom Credit: unsplash.com/@flpschi

Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of Seoul's education office, calls for postponement of reopening schools. All schools, as well as kindergartens, were supposed to reopen this week, as per governmental decision. In a post to Facebook on May 11, he stated that "if the current trend of concerns over a second wave of COVID-19 continues, (I) believe there is a need to review the school reopening schedule." Hee-yeon suggests postponing the reopening by a week.

Regional News • Asia
South Korea struggles to contain second Covid-19 outbreak

South Korea, who was quick to take action to contain the spread of Covid-19 earlier this year, is struggling to contain new infections. Over the weekend, the country counted 69 new cases, equal to the number reported in the entire previous week and the highest daily number in over a month. Most new cases are linked to Seoul bars and nightclubs and authorities are in the midst of tracking down and testing over 7,000 patrons.

Regional News • Asia
Gunshots fired at Korean DMZ
Gunshots fired at Korean DMZ
Credit: wikimedia/Johannes Barre (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

On Sunday, North Korean soldiers fired gunshots at the wall of South Korean guard post at the countries' DMZ, Demilitarized Zone. According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, no one was injured. South Korea broadcasted a verbal warning and returned fire twice. As of now, the reason behind the fire exchange is unclear.

Health
Coronavirus relapse cases continue to rise in S. Korea

The number of people who tested positive again for COVID-19 after making full recoveries has reached 163 since the first such case was identified on April 8.

The latest figure accounts for 2.1 percent of those cured of COVID-19 and released from quarantine.

No secondary infections have been reported from relapse cases.

Health
North Korean Dictator sends support letter to South Korea over COVID-19

A personal letter from Kim Jong-un, North Korea's Dictator, has been delivered to South Korea's president Moon Jae-in. In the letter, Kim Jong-un expresses his support to fight the coronavirus. He also wished for good health. Following this Moon returned a letter to North Korea to express his gratitude for the quiet support.