LTW - Loyalty Doubts, Cadillac Protests, & a Steamy Zuck Visit


The Last Two Weeks in Korea

1. National1) North Korea turns to the U.S. for talks
Soon after calling off the June 12 high-level talks with South Korea after complaining the low rank of South Korean delegates, North Korea proposed talks with the U.S. on June 16. The official North Korean news agency said the aim is to “ease tension on the Korean Peninsula, establish regional peace, and realize the U.S. vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.” Caitlin Hayden, NSC spokeswoman, was not excited, saying “We have always favored dialogues, but those talks must involve North Korea living up to its obligations to the world.” Experts believe the dialogue offer is to drive a wedge among South Korea, the U.S. and China, which are teaming up to disarm Kim Jong-un.


My wife is watching the North Korean dialogue offer very carefully as a nation with a couple of nuke bombs is proposing nuclear disarmament discussion with the country that has thousands of them. If Obama does accept the offer from Kim Jong-un, my will offer Tiger Woods to co-author ‘100 ways to make perfect putts.’
2) A soccer player with controversial citizenship under probe
Jong Tae-se, a footballer of Samsung Blue Wings, is under investigation for violating National Security Law by voicing support for North Korea, for which he played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The investigation began when a right wing pundit accused Jong of making comments such as “I respect Kim Jong-il. I trust and will follow him. My fatherland is North Korea,” in a press interview during the World Cup. Jong, a second-generation Korean born in Japan, holds South Korean citizenship because his father does but went to Korean schools in Japan run by a pro-North Korean organization. He joined the North Korean national soccer team in 2007, playing for the country in South Africa in 2010. At the time, Jong earned permission to represent North Korea despite his South Korean citizenship thanks to mediation by FIFA. Some soccer fans campaigned to have Jong banned from playing in the South Korean league when Samsung Blue Wings made a contract with Jong early this year.

Sports and politics have to be separated. However, how many Americans would be O.K if an American born and raised in Saudi Arabia publicly makes a speech , saying “I respect Bin Laden. I trust and will follow him,” and then SF 49ers make a contract with him to play in NFL.

2. Economy
1) Zuckerberg meets with Park in his virgin visit to Korea

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met with President Park Geun-hey in her series of meetings with global IT leaders to seek advice for her vision of a ‘creative economy’, for which Park has pledged to shift Korea’s economic landscape from smokestack industries to high-tech venture companies to create more jobs and growth. Zuckerberg showed his support for Parks’ economic policies and promised more investment in Facebook’s operation in Korea. Zuckerbeg later visited Samsung’s headquarter in Seoul for cooperation in the mobile business. Zuckerberg made right moves, by taking his one hand out of the pocket in shaking hands with Park, and carrying a Samsung Galaxy phone during the visit to Samsung.
Zuckerberg was really hot at the Blue House when he met with Park. Park has ordered all the air conditioner off at the Blue House as a showcase to save energy, and Zuckerg’s visit was no exception. The temperature went up to 33 degrees (92F) at the meeting, and poor Zuckerberg probably vowed himself, “It will be my first and the last meeting this damn lady.”  Park’s frugality comes from her father who also had banned air conditioner during the summer. A U.S. arms dealer visited Blue House one hot day in early 1970’s to thank her father, Park Jung-hee, for the business deal made. The dealer gave some money to Park Jung-hee, suggesting Park buy an air conditioner for the Blue House. Park took the money with gratitude, and put it in the dealer’s back pocket on his way out, saying “I am O.K. without the air conditioner. Please take this money, and give us more M16 rifles.”

2) Korea picks Taurus cruise missiles
Korean Department of Defense announced its plan to buy 200 Taurus air-to-surface missiles from Germany at $1M per missile, ditching U.S. made AGM-158 Jassm that was cheaper than the Taurus at $700K. With a range of 500km(310 miles), the Taurus missile can strike a bunker in Pyongyang from Daejon, 150km south of Seoul. The Taurus is usually fired from F-15K, and can penetrate through six meters of reinforced concrete. It has only 10m margin in accuracy

Koreans respect Germans for many things. German cars are #1 import models in Korea. German machines are rated as the best among Korean manufacturing companies. Koreans encourage Japan to learn from Germans on how to make an apology on WWII. Total of 103 Germans have won Nobel Prizes, while ex-president Kim Dae-jung is the only Korean with a Nobel Prize. The only time Koreans can laugh at Germans is when they watch LPGA tournaments.

3. Auto Industry
1) GM Korea union in protest over Cadillac

GM Korea union got angry at the company’s decision to provide imported Cadillacs for its 12 executives to replace locally produced mid-size Alpheons. In protest, the union is putting warning stickers on Cadillacs trying to enter the plant that read “This car’s entrance to our company steps on the pride of our GM Korea labor union members.” GM Korea management said Cadillac is a brand of GM just like Chevrolet, and it deserves to be promoted. GM has sold only 133 Cadillacs from Jan to May this year, only 0.22% of the import market. While the whole import car market has seen 19.4% YOY increase in sales for the first five months this year, Cadillac went the other way, showing a 36.7% slide. GM is hoping to boost the name value of Cadillac in Korea to sell over 2,000 Cadillacs within 3 years.
I am all for GM Korea union’s logic. “This Louis Vuitton handbag’s entrance to my apartment steps on the pride of our Korean handbag industry workers.” Too bad, my wife has a firm goal of making it another record year for Louis Vuitton Korea.