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Reunions between families separated by the Korean War will be held through a six-day program at a resort in North Korea. A large whole-sale market in Pyongyang is shut down to crack down on black market operations. Korean women rank amongst the most unequal in terms of work and wages, compared to other developed countries. Energy consumption drops for the first time in over a decade. Hyundai expects to sell 60,000 of their most popular sedan. And North Korea's first private university finally opens its doors.
Top News: The two Koreas agreed on the final list of families separated during the Korean War that will be reunited at a tourist site in North Korea after a rough two-year suspension of the program, due to political tensions between the North and South.
The reunion will be held for six days at a mountain resort in the North as part of a series of conciliatory moves by Pyongyang, suggesting a change in climate between the two countries. Relations had soured after the South’s conservative Lee Myung-bak administration came into power in 2008. Separated family reunions were first started in 2000 after the first historic summit meeting between the South’s late president Kim Dae-jung and North Korea’s Kim Jong-il.
Pyongyang recently cracked down on market activities by scattering one of the largest wholesale markets in the country located just outside of the capital, according to organizations studying movements in the North from Seoul.
The wholesale Pyongsong Market, which had roughly 30,000 to 40,000 stalls, reportedly was broken up and dispersed into smaller neighboring markets by North Korean authorities as part of an effort to control market movements in the country.
Black markets started appearing in the mid-1990s during one of the greatest famines in the country to make up for the shortage in state rations. Activists say North Korea’s leadership had given tacit consent to market operations but in the recent years have begun to clamp down on activities out of concern that capitalist influence would seep into the country through smuggled items from China and South Korea.
Money: Korean women ranked near the bottom amongst developed countries in economic activities, according to a survey conducted by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Roughly 55 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 64 are working or seeking work, almost six percent lower than the average of other advanced countries, while the remaining 45 percent are either inactive or have given up looking for jobs.
The low activity rate comes from the male-dominated job market and the wage gap between the genders. The report from the OECD indicated South Korean men, on average, earn 38 percent more than women, topping the gender wage gap out of other countries.
Energy consumption in the first half of this year dropped for the first time in 11 years due to a warmer winter and a slow economy that led to a decrease in product output by manufacturers.
The 2.9 percent drop from the previous year was the first time since the Asian Financial Crisis that Korea saw a decrease in energy consumption.
Industrial energy use fell by 3.2 percent, compared to a year ago, while energy consumed in homes dropped 4.6 percent.
Hyundai Motors, South Korea’s largest automaker, announced it expects to sell more than 60,000 of its new mid-sized sedan domestically, while competing with other brands such as Toyota or Honda in the global market.
The new YF Sonata has taken on a sleek and sporty design as part of Hyundai’s effort to leave behind its modest and fuel-efficient image and raise its brand image in the global market.
The Sonata has been one of Korea’s most favored cars after the first generation was introduced in 1985. The company had received at least 25,000 pre-orders for the new YF model shortly before its launch.
Elsewhere: North Korea opened its first private university in Pyongyang after seven years of construction funded by donors from South Korea and other countries. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology has not opened classes yet but has become the first international school in the country built with approximately $35 million from donators including South Korea’s Defense Ministry.