Connect to share and comment

Tit for Tat

The UN toughens sanctions against North Korea, and Pyongyang lashes back, vowing to expand its weapons program, incarcerating two American journalists and increasing rent and wages at Kaesong. South Korea signs trade pact with ASEAN, and Samsung inks a deal with Saudi Arabia’s second largest mobile carrier. Will the two Koreas meet in the World Cup?

 

Top News: North Korea lashed back at toughened U.N. sanctions against its second nuclear test by announcing it will launch a uranium enrichment program and utilize all its plutonium for nuclear weapons. 

 

The announcement came a day after the U.N. Security Council agreed to a resolution banning the Stalinist state from exporting weapons and importing most other arms. The agreement also allows other member states to intercept any cargo from North Korea suspected of violating the resolution and authorizes countries to seize or destroy the goods. 

 

North Korea sentenced two American journalists to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry into the country and other “grave crimes.” The announcement was made through a brief dispatch from state-run media KCNA four days after the North said the trial for the detained reporters had begun.

 

North Korean border guards detained the two journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, while they were reporting for San Francisco-based Current TV. Pyongyang will likely use the reporters to open talks with the U.S., according to analysts in South Korea.

 

The relationship between North and South Korea also continues to deteriorate, as Pyongyang demanded an increase in workers’ wages and factory rent in the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The Unification Ministry said the North demanded South Korean companies pay 31 times the current rent, and four times the wage, boosting pay to $300 monthly per worker. Wages of North Korean workers go directly to the leadership.

 

One South Korean companies dismantled its operations in the North, citing uncertainties over inter-Korean relations. It is the first company to leave. Some North Korea watchers suggest Pyongyang is trying to force South Korean companies out of the complex instead of unilaterally expelling them.

 

Seoul also demanded the North release a South Korean worker held for more than two months for allegedly speaking against the leadership. The South Korean government has not been able to establish contacts with or determine the safety of the worker, identified only as Yu, since he was detained.

 

The North proposed the two sides meet again on June 19 to renegotiate terms of operation in the industrial complex.  

 

Money: South Korea signed an investment agreement with the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), finalizing a wider free trade pact. The new agreement aims to bolster investment in both sides and gives greater access to South Korean investors to explore a market that has a near $1.3 trillion gross domestic product in total.

 

Samsung Electronics signed a $100 million deal with Mobily, Saudi Arabia’s second largest mobile carrier, and agreed to provide technology for broadband-speed wireless connection services. Mobily’s 14 million subscribers will be able to use Samsung’s WiMAX service, allowing high-speed wireless data transfer. The exact launch date of the service has not been made public yet.

 

Elsewhere: The South Korean national football team won its seventh straight entry to the World Cup with a 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates. All eyes are now on the North Korean team, whose bid for the finals depends on its match with Saudi Arabia. If it wins, it would mark the first time the two Koreas would compete in the World Cup.

 

South Korea completed construction of its first space center, a much-needed independent facility for the development of satellite and rocket launching technology. The Naro Space Center is located in the southwestern region of the country and is scheduled to launch its first rocket mounted with a scientific satellite into orbit in July. 

 

http://www.globalpost.com/passport/south-korea/090616/tit-tat