Looking back at 2013: Domestic news

Our final look back at 2013, including a random collection of news stories, mainly domestic, that caught our attention.

In the news

Yongsan building site
The Yongsan site in June 2014 – via AsiaPundits
Celebrity pitchers
Celebrity pitchers Shin Soo-ji (July 2013) and President Park (October 2013) at Jamsil Stadium

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 Mar5 Mar20 Mar18 April7 May
North Korea Chic
Designer camouflage pants that sell for $425 – an example of North Korea Chic, according to Elle
Miss Korea contestants
Miss Korea contestants

Business

  • 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.

Politics

President Park making her inaugural speech
President Park making her inaugural speech (source: Blue House)
  • 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.
Inaugural Arirang
Left to right: musical actress Choi Jung-won, veteran diva Insooni, Jazz singer Nah Youn-sun and pansori singer Ahn Sook-seon (photo: Joongang Ilbo)

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