Our final look back at 2013, including a random collection of news stories, mainly domestic, that caught our attention.
In the news
- Asiana Airlines flight 214 from Incheon crashed on landing at San Francisco airport on 6 July. The Boeing 777 had approached the runway too low and too slow. An American local TV station got duped by an intern at the National Transportation Safety Board into disclosing the pilots’ names as Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow
- Plans for a $27 bn new development in Yongsan were cancelled in April. Here‘s what the building site looks like now:
- A former actress and a TV anchor were among those accused of faking their children’s passports or otherwise fabricating documents to get admission to foreign schools
- Two young Korean adoptees, one in France and the other in the USA, discovered they were identical twins and decided to make a documentary of their story.
- Kym Min-jin’s £1.2 million Stradivarius, stolen from a Euston sandwich shop, was found in the Midlands.
- Korea’s suicide rate dropped, and the country dropped to second in the league table of working hours, behind Mexico.
- Two aspects of the service economy made the news: protestors for hire; and husbands for hire.
- President Park’s press spokesman resigned after molesting a volounteer guide / interpreter from the Korean Cultural Service during a state visit to the USA. The state visit to Britain went without a hitch, though the President tripped over her hanbok outside the Guildhall.
- Three months apart, Jamsil Stadium hosted Doosan Bears v Samsung Lions, with different celebrity opening pitchers. One of them was more athletic than the other. Shin Soo-ji’s pitch has received over 400,000 YouTube views.
Swishing skirts and indecent exposure: women in the news
- With the inauguration of the first female president, people’s attention turned towards fashion. Not least in the Pyongyang propaganda teams: “The DPRK’s army and people are compelled to take notice of the ever stepped-up anti-DPRK invectives by the puppet group instigated by the venomous swish of skirt of the owner of the inner room of Chongwadae,” ranted the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.
- Some women would have preferred not to have a skirt at all: Asiana flight attendants brought a case to the National Human Rights Commission, demanding to be allowed to wear trousers.
- Meanwhile there were concerns that the law was being tightened to fine people wearing indecent clothes. “A fine for a person who exposes his or her skin is too much. Is this for real? I’m so dead!” tweeted pop diva Lee Hyori.
- And needless to say, the President’s fashion sense drew media attention. A random selection of links: 4 Feb | 26 Feb | 4 Mar | 5 Mar | 20 Mar | 18 April | 7 May
- Elle magazine named ‘North Korea Chic’ as a top fashion trend for fall 2013
- It was alleged that 20 contestants in the Miss Korea contest looked identical – supposedly because they had all undergone similar plastic surgery techniques
- The world’s biggest ever ship, the first of the Maersk Triple E series built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, had its naming ceremony in Okpo, Geoje Island, in June.
- John Lewis announced plans to expand its partnership with Shinsegae Department Stores.
- After the combative nature of the previous Tesco Homeplus boss Lee Seung-han, who called the government’s business policy of being like a watermelon (green on the outside, but red inside), the new boss Do Sung-hwan was less confrontational: the new motto is “happy growth, corresponding to its 4-H goals of happiness, harmony, humanism and hope.”
- The Korean navy is to buy 8 British-made anti-submarine helicopters costing around KRW75billion each. In the five years to 2012, South Korea was the world’s 4th largest arms importer.
- Korea Exchange hurried to implement a “kill switch” after some programme trading errors wiped out the capital of local broker HanMag Securities.
- Korea’s first female president was sworn in.
- According to the Joongang Ilbo, her priorities for her term in office were “building an innovative economy focused on job creation; providing targeted welfare and job programs; enriching people’s lives with creative education and culture; creating a society that is safe and unified; and establishing the foundation for an era of unification.” Her inaugural speech stressed the economy, happiness, culture and trustpolitik.
- As early examples of the promotion of culture:
- But President Park struggled to form a cabinet, and the proposed Minister of Future Planning and Science quit in frustration.
- It was “confirmed” that former President Noh “disavowed” the Northern Limit Line in talks with Pyongyang in 2007, but the original transcript of the meeting had been destroyed.
- Lee Seok-ki, an MP from the leftwing United Progressive Party, was jailed for planning an armed insurrection in support of the North.
- State prosecutors accused a former head of the National Intelligence Service of attempting to influence the election in favour of President Park.
- Prosecutors raided 25 firms over former President Lee Myung-bak’s Four Rivers project
- Former President Chun had his assets seized to pay off his fines. But national museums couldn’t afford to buy the art works.