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How North Korea hype helped South Korea’s pro-peace Moon

South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, cannot rely on his resounding election victory for long. Analyst Sven Schwersensky tells DW that Moon has to deliver on difficult issues, both domestically and regionally. DW: It wasn't a surprise that Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party won the South Korean presidential election, but the margin with which he defeated other candidates was quite big. Did you expect the outcome? Sven Schwersensky: The final result was pretty much what the polls had predicted, but what came as a surprise was that the second in race from former President Park Geun-hye's party, Hong Joon Pyo, lost by a significant margin. This was not expected by many in South Korea. One noticeable thing in the election was that about 30 percent of voters cast a blank ballot. This, in my opinion, was a protest by a large number of conservative voters who showed their mistrust to all presidential candidates. It also shows that Moon now has a very important task to perform, most importantly to work for social cohesion to overcome deep divisions and polarization in the country. This is going to be a huge but essential task. An important step in this regard will be constitutional reforms, which Moon said he would strive for and make a preliminary decision on it next year. South Korea is facing a number of crises. The unemployment is growing, the income gap is expanding, corruption is on the rise, and then there is a worsening conflict with North Korea. How can Moon deal with so many issues? Unlike his predecessors, Moon was sworn in immediately after the polls. He has already taken some steps to address the issues. He has ordered the setting up of a job creation committee. Moon promised during his election campaign that he would create 170,000 new jobs in the public sector alone and a total of more than 800,000 jobs over the five years of his presidential term. How difficult will it be for the new president to regain public confidence in the government? Moon needs to establish a different form of political communication, both with parliament and the people. After his victory, he held meetings with the leaders of all political parties represented in parliament and offered them his cooperation. These were short meetings but they show that the new president wants to work together with everyone. Moon says he wants to start a dialogue with North Korea, building on the approach of his mentor and former President Roh. He also said he was willing to visit Pyongyang under favorable conditions. How do you expect Moon to deal with the crisis unfolding on the Korean Peninsula? With the appointments of the secretary of the union and the prime minister, Moon has signaled that he wants to proceed very quickly on his election promises regarding North Korea. At the same time, however, Moon has made it clear that he is aware of the fact that the stringent international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang are necessary. I think the new South Korean president would like to resume talks on the reopening of Kaesong and, perhaps he will initiate other joint economic projects with the North. It will be beneficial for South Korea's economy. To what extent has the conflict with North Korea affected the election result? It is always the case that the conservative camp plays up the fear of a possible North Korean attack and the liberal bloc advocates peace and tries to convince the people that the conflict with Pyongyang cannot be resolved through military means. This time too, the same question dominated the election campaign. Moon, however, has apparently benefited from the North Korea issue, because the conservatives, as well as the United States, overstated the topic. In his election campaign, Moon hinted that he wanted South Korea to rely less on the United States. What will it mean for the US-South Korea relations and, significantly for the future of the US' deployment of the THAAD missile defense system? I think Moon would want a more self-assertive role for South Korea in its dealing with the US. The missile defense system was an important topic in the last phase of the election campaign when US President Donald Trump and his security adviser pointed that Seoul must fund THAAD completely or at least jointly, like other security measures. The Moon administration will also focus on improving ties with China. Nevertheless, whether it will get South Korea any concessions on the missile defense system is unclear. Sven Schwersensky is the country representative for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Seoul. The interview was conducted by Esther Felden.

South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, cannot rely on his resounding election victory for long. Analyst Sven Schwersensky tells DW that Moon has to deliver on difficult issues, both domestically and regionally. DW: It wasn’t a surprise that Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party won the South Korean presidential election, but the margin with which he defeated other candidates was ... Read More »

Head of retail powerhouse Lotte indicted in South Korea corruption scandal

The chairman of retail giant Lotte has been charged over the graft scandal that brought down the country's leader. Ousted President Park Geun-hye has also been formally indicted. Shin Dong-bin, the head of South Korea's retail powerhouse Lotte, was charged with bribery on Monday after he allegedly offered 7 billion won (5.79 million euros, $6.15 million) to a sports foundation linked to a close aide of former President Park Geun-hye. Sixty-two-year-old Shin was indicted in Seoul without being detained by prosecutors. Scandal widens The retail giant denied allegations that it made improper deals with Park, or those linked to her, for favors. Lotte, which owns hotels, stores and food products, becomes the second conglomerate mired in the political scandal after Jay Y. Lee, the chief of Samsung Group, was arrested in February. Former President Park was also charged on Monday with taking bribes worth about 29.8 billion won from Samsung in exchange for supporting Lee's succession, according to a statement from prosecutors. "We have formally charged Park ... with multiple offences including abuse of power, coercion, bribery and leaking state secrets." they said. Park still in jail Park has been behind bars at a detention center in the outskirts of Seoul since her arrest last month. She was impeached by parliament in December after months of public protests. The decision was upheld by the country's Supreme Court last month. The sixty-five-year-old has been accused of colluding with her confidante Choi Soon-sil to receive bribes from Lotte and Samsung. Choi, who is currently on trial over the scandal, now faces an additional charge of bribery involving Shin. She allegedly used her links to the president to force local firms to "donate" nearly 66 million euros to organizations, and allegedly used the cash for personal gain.

The chairman of retail giant Lotte has been charged over the graft scandal that brought down the country’s leader. Ousted President Park Geun-hye has also been formally indicted. Shin Dong-bin, the head of South Korea’s retail powerhouse Lotte, was charged with bribery on Monday after he allegedly offered 7 billion won (5.79 million euros, $6.15 million) to a sports foundation ... Read More »

Apple beats Samsung in smartphone sales, reports record quarter

Tech giant Apple has reported record revenue in the last quarter, powered by a strong demand for its iPhone 7 Plus. It beat out rival Samsung to reclaim the position of world's top smartphone seller. Apple's revenues climbed to an all-time record $78.4billion (72.6 billion euros) compared with $75.9 billion (70.3 billion euros) in the same period a year earlier, the company said Tuesday. Apple said it sold 78.3 million iPhones in the fiscal first quarter ending December 31, up five percent from the same holiday shopping period in 2015. That beat the Korean company Samsung's 77.5 million smartphones in the quarter, for the first time since 2011. The growth allayed concerns that iPhone sales, which account for more than two-third of the company's total revenue, were softening due to three quarters of sequential decline. The statistics come at a time when global demand for smartphones is slowing and cheaper Android alternatives are flooding the market. "We're thrilled to report that our holiday quarter results generated Apple's highest quarterly revenue ever, and broke multiple records along the way," Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in the earnings release. "We sold more iPhones than ever before and set all-time revenue records for iPhone, services, Mac and Apple Watch," Cook added. The company, however, did see its revenue in the Chinese market drop 12 percent to $16.2 billion.

Tech giant Apple has reported record revenue in the last quarter, powered by a strong demand for its iPhone 7 Plus. It beat out rival Samsung to reclaim the position of world’s top smartphone seller. Apple’s revenues climbed to an all-time record $78.4billion (72.6 billion euros) compared with $75.9 billion (70.3 billion euros) in the same period a year earlier, ... Read More »

South Korea grills top executives over links to disgraced president

A senior executive at Samsung has denied receiving favors for donations to scandal-linked foundations. More than 50 corporate groups donated to foundations belonging to the president's longtime confidant. South Korean lawmakers on Tuesday questioned the heads of the country's top conglomerates, including Samsung, Hyundai Motor and six other companies, about their involvement in a political scandal rocking the presidency. Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong said that while President Park Geun-hye had asked him to support cultural and sports-related developments during a one-on-one meeting, there had been no request for financial aid. "There are many things that I feel embarrassed about and I regret as we have disappointed the public with many disgraceful things," Lee said. "There are often requests from various parts of society, including for culture and sports. We have never contributed seeking quid pro quo. His case was the same," he added. Looming impeachment Park's presidency has been disgraced by a influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime confidant Choi Soon-sil, who prosecutors charged in November with influencing state affairs and directing funds to two non-profit foundations she used for personal gain At least 53 corporate groups donated to the foundations, with Samsung being the largest donor, providing 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million, 16.24 million euros) to the two foundations. The hearing marked a rare moment for the country's most powerful business leaders, who rarely participate in such public events. Meanwhile, Park is expected to face an impeachment vote on Friday after several weeks of mass protests in the capital. If she steps down, she will be the first South Korea president to do so since the country's democratic reforms in the 1980s. Since the scandal erupted in October, Park has witnessed her approval ratings slide to an all-time low of four percent.

A senior executive at Samsung has denied receiving favors for donations to scandal-linked foundations. More than 50 corporate groups donated to foundations belonging to the president’s longtime confidant. South Korean lawmakers on Tuesday questioned the heads of the country’s top conglomerates, including Samsung, Hyundai Motor and six other companies, about their involvement in a political scandal rocking the presidency. Samsung ... Read More »

South Korea prosecutors raid Samsung offices in Park political scandal probe

South Korean prosecutors have raided Samsung Electronics offices as a part of a probe in the scandal involving President Park Geun-hye. There are allegations the company may have given millions to the president's friend. Prosecutors raided Samsung offices on Tuesday as a part of a probe in an ongoing scandal involving South Korean president Park Geun-hye. Prosecutors are looking into an allegation that Samsung might have given 2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) to Park's friend, Choi Soon-Sil, in order to finance Choi's daughter's equestrian training. Choi's daughter was previously a member of the South Korean national equestrian team and trained in Germany. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said, "we're searching Samsung Electronics offices," without adding any further details. Samsung Electronics and Samsung Group made no comment. Choi is alleged to have used her closeness to Park in order to gain significant influence over the South Korean government, despite not having any official governmental role. Park has publicly apologized twice for the scandal. Her approval rating stands at just 5 percent, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. It is the lowest mark since polling began in 1988. Prime Minister to be proposed by parliament Park agreed to withdraw her prime minister nominee in the face of opposition in parliament on Tuesday. Park nominated a liberal candidate outside of her conservative Saenuri Party, but the opposition said they would reject her choice because they felt they were not consulted properly. It is the only cabinet position that requires parliamentary approval. Park said she would confirm a different candidate brought forth by opposition MPs. "If the National Assembly recommends a new premier, I will appoint him and let him control the cabinet," Park said. Tens of thousands rallied in Seoul on Saturday, demanding Park be removed from office.

South Korean prosecutors have raided Samsung Electronics offices as a part of a probe in the scandal involving President Park Geun-hye. There are allegations the company may have given millions to the president’s friend. Prosecutors raided Samsung offices on Tuesday as a part of a probe in an ongoing scandal involving South Korean president Park Geun-hye. Prosecutors are looking into ... Read More »

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