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The country is shocked when a convicted rapist is arrested for the rape and murder of a young student. North Korea wants the South to resume tours of a scenic northern mountain, but Seoul refuses until civilian safety is guaranteed. The financial officers who were involved in the North's currency reform are reportedly executed by firing squad. LG announces a focus on new technology manufacturing. Car sales are almost back to pre-crisis levels. And matchmaking agencies may be held responsible for divorces.
Top News: The police captured a 33-year-old man, who is believed to have raped and murdered a middle school student, almost two weeks after the crime had occurred.
The country was thrown into shock when news of the murder was made public, and many criticized the police for the lack of a speedy investigation on the case. The suspect, who is a convicted rapist, was caught roughly two weeks into the investigation, after the body was dumped in a water tank.
A rise in sexual crimes and heinous murders has heated up a debate on whether the country should uphold capital punishment, as it has been more than ten years since it has implemented the death penalty.
North Korea said it will seek out a new business partner for an inter-Korean tourism project at a scenic mountain site in the North, if the South does not resume tours that have been suspended due to a disagreement over security issues. Seoul has suspended tours at the site for more than a year, after a South Korean woman was mistakenly shot by North Korean guards adjacent to the tourist site.
Pyongyang also threatened to seize property at the Mount Kumgang site held by South Koreans, if Seoul denies restarting the mountain tours, which have been considered a cash stream for the impoverished North.
The South’s Unification Ministry dismissed the threats and reiterated that it will not resume the tours until the North guarantees the safety of South Korean civilians that cross over into the North on tours.
North Korea executed its top financial officers in order to calm public unrest caused by a recent currency reform aimed at cracking down on underground money in the market, according to South Korean news reports.
The official, who is believed to have been executed by a firing squad in Pyongyang, was demoted and disappeared from public events after small riots started occurring in the North due to the crackdown, according to reports.
Analysts say the execution, if it did indeed occur, could be a sign that the North’s leadership is struggling to regain power and support from the public.
Money: LG Electronics, a major South Korean electronics manufacturer, announced that it will focus on the development of four new technologies this year: solar cells, light-emitting diodes, rechargeable batteries, and air conditioning systems.
The group announced that it will pour in roughly $3.27 billion this year for research and development, a near 23 percent jump from the previous year.
Sales of local automobiles in South Korea have almost recovered and are nearly back to pre- economic crisis levels, according to market data in the industry. Published by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, the data indicated that car sales had jumped by 21 percent compared to a year ago, according to numbers from February.
Service sector jobs make up more than 70 percent of the employment market in Korea, according to data released by a government statistics office.
The number of workers in the service sector was roughly 16.4 million in December, making up for 70.6 percent of the workforce, while the numbers again hovered above the 70 percent mark.
It is the first time that service sector jobs have accounted for more than 70 percent of the workforce in South Korea.
Elsewhere: International matchmaking agencies in the country will face harsher guidelines for matching up local men and foreign brides.
The country’s fair trade commission ordered that matchmaking agencies will be required to return payments made by their clients, mostly from rural areas in the country, if they get divorced due to lack of correct information provided by the companies.