Korea Republic to build two new nuclear reactors by 2029

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South Korea plans to build two new nuclear reactors within the next 15 years in an effort to revive its nuclear power footing for energy, the government announced Monday.

The addition will increase the number of reactors to 39 by 2029. Currently, Korea has 23 reactors nationwide.

The expansion of nuclear power is included in the seventh “basic plan for long-term electricity supply and demand,” which covers the period between 2015 and 2029.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy had developed the biannual power supply plan to set the energy mix of the country’s power sources by 2029 and submitted it to the National Assembly on Monday for approval.

The energy plan also calls for the withdrawal of a proposal to build four coal-fired power plants under the sixth power supply basic plan to help further reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Giving up additional coal-powered plants was an unavoidable choice to raise the ratio of environmentally friendly energy sources in the energy mix to meet the growing power demand and in line with Korea’s Post 2020 Climate Change Mitigation Commitments,” a MOTIE official said.

The latest power supply plan projected the country’s demand to increase 2.2 percent per year on average over the next 15 years, reaching 656,883 gigawatt-hours in 2029.

“We will also raise the ratio of renewables, like solar and wind power, and natural gas in the energy mix but those clean energy sources are still too expensive to become stable clean energy sources, replacing nuclear power, in resource-poor Korea,” the official said.

The post-2020 regime is a new international agreement sought by the United Nations that will set each of its member’s own commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

South Korea is expected to submit its own report before the end of September.

The government has yet to reveal its voluntary commitments, but the latest power supply plan suggests the country will boost its use of clean and renewable energy.

With the proposed changes in the country’s power sources, nuclear power plants will account for 28.5 percent of the overall power supply, in terms of generation capacity, in 2029. The figure compares with 27.4 percent under the sixth basic plan announced two years ago.

The proportion of fossil-fuel power plants, on the other hand, will be lowered from 34.7 percent to 32.2 percent, while that of clean, renewable energy sources will rise from 4.5 percent to 4.6 percent, the ministry said.

The seventh power supply plan, however, faces opposition from civic groups.

“We are very surprised that the ministry consider nuclear energy as a clean energy source,’’ Lee Yong-kyung from Energy Justice Actions said, adding that nuclear energy is not a cheap energy source considering the cost of construction and compensation.

“The time is ripe for Korea to prepare for a transit to renewables, not to set it aside due to cost issues.’’

By Seo Jee-yeon, news reports (jyseo@heraldcorp.com)

The Korea Herald

Korea Republic and Japan to discuss ‘collective self-defense’ issue

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SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) — South Korea and Japan will begin working-level consultations as early as next month on Tokyo’s use of its right to “collective self-defense,” officials said Sunday.

The move follows a deal between Defense Minister Han Min-koo and his Japanese counterpart, Gen Nakatani, in Singapore on Saturday.

In the meeting held Saturday on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the ministers agreed on the basic principle that Tokyo needs Seoul’s consent in exercising the right on matters related with the Korean Peninsula.

They also agreed to discuss relevant details in working-level talks between the militaries of the two sides.

A South Korean ministry official said the issue will be addressed in the Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT), a regular deputy ministerial-level meeting also involving the United States.

“If needed, however, South Korea and Japan will hold a working-level policy meeting,” he said.

At issue is the scope of Japan’s use of the right to collective self-defense and specific conditions, said the official.

Last month, the U.S. and Japan revised the guidelines for their defense cooperation to allow Japan to fight alongside its allies and partner nations even when not under attack itself.

It raised concerns among Koreans who believe Japanese leaders have yet to learn lessons from the nation’s wartime past. Japan brutally occupied Korea from 1910-45.

Appearing on Japanese television, the country’s defense chief, Nakatani, said his troops may attack a North Korean missile base if the U.S. comes under its missile attack.

South Korean officials made clear that Japan requires South Korea’s approval for every military action on the peninsula.



The Korea Herald

(LEAD) Korea Republic , United States and Japan to discuss Korea DPR next week

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SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) — Chief nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan will convene here next week on ways to dissuade North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

In the two-day session starting Tuesday in Seoul, the regional powers will “share assessments of recent situations in North Korea and its threats,” the ministry said in a statement.

“(The three nations) will also have in-depth consultations on various ways for substantive progress in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue in terms of deterrence, pressure and dialogue,” the statement said.

South Korea will be represented by Hwang Joon-kook, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs. His U.S. and Japanese counterparts will be Sung Kim, special representative for North Korea policy, and Junichi Ihara, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, respectively.

They serve as top delegates to the now-suspended six-way talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. The negotiations, also involving China and Russia, were last held in December 2008.

It would be their first gathering since they met in Tokyo in January.

The envoys are scheduled to have a working dinner on Tuesday, followed by a formal discussion session the next day.

The North has refused to return to the talks, as it continues to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities.

It recently announced a successful test-launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and also claimed to have mastered the technology to put nuclear warheads onto missiles.

The reclusive nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, reportedly purged the defense minister, Hyon Yong-chol, further raising doubts about his leadership.

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo are seeking U.N.-level measures against Pyongyang’s SLBM test, saying it is in violation of U.N. resolutions banning it from carrying out any launch using ballistic missile technology.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on his trip here earlier this week, called for more international pressure on the North.

South Korean officials agreed to the need for getting tougher on the North.

“In general, there is a need to change the situation by strengthening pressure and dialogue efforts,” a ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.





Yonhap News

United States defense chief to visit Korea Republic next month: Seoul sources

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) — The defense chief of the United States plans to visit South Korea in early April for talks with his South Korean counterpart on pending security and alliance issues, sources here said Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is expected to come here early next month as the destination of his first bilateral visit since taking office last month,” a Seoul source said, adding his itinerary will also include Japan.

“Seoul and Washington have made a significant progress in pushing for Carter’s trip here,” another source said. “A wide range of bilateral issues will be dealt with at the ministers’ talks.”

In a statement, Seoul’s defense ministry said earlier in the day that Carter and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo “agreed to exchange opinions on the security situation and pending bilateral issues after meeting in the near future.”

The agreement was made in a dialogue between the two over the phone, during which Carter and Han also “agreed to closely cooperate for the development of the relations and a stronger joint defense posture in the future,” according to the ministry.

The planned visit by the top U.S. defense official comes at a time when Seoul is divided over whether to allow the U.S. to deploy a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense battery on its soil, while officials of the two sides have said there have been no official consultations on the matter.

Supporters say the deployment would help better protect against North Korea’s ballistic missile threats, while opponents claim it would inflame tensions with China and Russia as they see the move as a threat to their security interests.

During his confirmation hearing in February, Carter pledged to significantly beef up missile defense, including deploying more ground-based missile interceptors in California and Alaska, saying North Korean missiles could pose a “direct threat” to the country.

In 2006, he openly called for a pre-emptive strike on a North Korean long-range missile that was being readied for a test-launch, claiming that the risk of inaction in the face of North Korea’s race to threaten the U.S. would be greater than the risk associated with a pre-emptive strike.

On Thursday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), is set to arrive here for a three-day visit for talks with his counterpart on boosting the bilateral alliance.



Yonhap News Agency

South Korean businessmen visit Korea DPR amid Kaesong wage row

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SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) — A group of South Korean businessmen on Wednesday failed to deliver a protest letter to North Korea over its unilateral decision to raise wages for workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a government official said.

The 14 members of the council of South Korean companies operating in the zone visited there and had a two-hour meeting with the North’s related officials.

They included Pak Chol-su, deputy head of the Central Special Development Guidance Bureau in charge of running the complex, according to the South’s official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The letter included the council’s opinion that it would help increase investors’ trust in the Kaesong complex for the two Koreas to set the wage level through mutual consultations, he added.

But the North refused to receive the letter.

Concerns have grown over the fate of the joint venture, which is the last-remaining major inter-Korean project.

In February, the North announced plans to raise the minimum wage for its workers from US$70.35 to $74 starting in March.

A total of 124 South Korean firms operating in the complex will begin to pay the March wage for around 53,000 North Korean employees on April 10.

The companies, mostly small and medium-sized ones, are sandwiched between the North’s pressure and the South Korean government’s stern response. The unification ministry warned of legal and administrative punishment against those following Pyongyang’s measure.

Heading to the North’s border town of Kaesong earlier in the day, Chung Ki-sup, who leads the council, said the South’s government needs to address the North’s strong protest against the cross-border spread of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by activists here.

It’s one of the biggest obstacles to efforts to resume inter-Korean dialogue, he pointed out.

Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector campaigning against Pyongyang, said he would organize an event to fly half-a-million leaflets toward the North by the use of helium balloons on March 26.

Also to be sent are thousands of DVDs and USBs containing the copies of “The Interview,” a Hollywood comedy that involves a plot to kill the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, he said.

“The problem of the Kaesong Industrial Complex can be resolved easily if the upcoming leaflet scattering is curbed,” Chung claimed.

The Park Geun-hye administration maintains that it has no legal ground to forcibly block the leaflet campaign, which is tied to the freedom of speech.

Unification ministry officials have instead advised activists to make a “wise” choice in consideration of worries that their leaflet campaign may jeopardize the safety and security of residents in border areas.

“It’s not appropriate to link the leaflet-scattering issue with our response to North Korea’s unilateral and unjust demand for a wage hike,” ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at a press briefing.

He urged the North to accept the South’s offer of talks on the wage dispute and other pending issues.

As to the matter of a land use fee for the Kaesong facilities, Lim said the government will seek consultations with the North “at a proper time.”

Launching the facilities in 2004, the North agreed to exempt the South from a land use fee for a decade.

“Our government is aware that the North is supposed to impose a land use fee from this year,” he added.






Korea Republic and New Zealand to sign Free Trade Agreement next week

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President Park Geun-hye will hold a summit with her New Zealand counterpart in Seoul next week to ink a free trade agreement aimed at expanding bilateral cooperation on economy, security and culture, the presidential office said Monday.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is set to arrive in South Korea for a three-day trip on Sunday. The two leaders will meet on Monday at Cheong Wa Dae. Key has visited Seoul three times since 2010 and met Park twice since she entered office in 2013, officials said.

The summit will focus on ways to upgrade the bilateral relationship countries’ and seek follow-up measures to support the FTA concluded in November during the G20 summit held in Australia. The two leaders will sign the pact on Monday and request respective parliamentary endorsements afterward.

Under the pact, the two sides agreed to eliminate New Zealand’s import tariffs on 92 percent of all shipments from South Korea in terms of their value and remove all tariffs on South Korean products within seven years after the implementation of the deal. South Korea will reciprocate by removing tariffs on 96.4 percent of shipments from New Zealand over a 15-year period when the deal goes into effect.

The two sides have agreed to exclude some products from the deal, mostly agricultural goods such as rice that are considered very sensitive in South Korea.

In 2013, bilateral trade between the two countries came to $2.8 billion, making New Zealand the 44th-largest trading partner of South Korea. South Korea is New Zealand’s 41st-largest trading partner, according to the ministry.

New Zealand is the third-largest beef exporter to Korea, following Australia and the United States.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)

The Korea Herald

Korea Republic and Australia team up to tackle business regulations

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The Korean and Australian governments met Friday in Seoul to discuss repealing business regulations to boost their economies and economic ties.

The Australian Embassy hosted the Best Practice Regulation Workshop, a public forum, to exchange ideas on business regulations.

The participants, including Australian Ambassador to Korea Bill Paterson, Korean and Australian government officials and a panel of experts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, shared ideas on each government’s initiatives to cut red tape such as financial regulations in Korea and measures to protect foreign investors Down Under.

During the meeting, the Korean panel introduced measures they had taken, such as building a robust platform for regulatory reform and establishing a communication channel to address complaints about regulations.

The Australian participants also discussed their actions on deregulation. They said they had designated a “Repeal Day” to reduce regulatory costs and set up the Regulator Performance Framework to monitor regulators’ policies.

“I believe the forum marks a profound opportunity for Seoul and Canberra to push for regulatory reforms,” a Korean official said at the meeting.

He added that Seoul would take this forum as an opportunity to continue bilateral efforts on reforming business regulations.

Korea has been seeking cooperation with other governments in order to abolish trade barriers and retain its advantage over competitors in new markets, according to the Office for Government Policy Coordination, a Korean government agency dealing with business regulations.

By Yeo Jun-suk (jasonyeo@heraldcorp.com)

The Korea Herald

Daehan Minguk to develop infrastructure for electric cars

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South Korea will invest 32.2 billion won ($29.24 million) over the next three years to expand its infrastructure for electric cars, including the installation of more than 5,000 new recharging plug-ins, the government said Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, only about 3,000 electric vehicles have been sold in the country, compared with over 260,000 in the United States and 95,000 in Japan.

“Sales and use of electric cars in the country have been kept at minimum due to the lack of recharging stations while electric car sales largely depend on government subsidies,” the ministry said in a press release.

To help encourage the development of the necessary infrastructure by the private sector, the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding on forming a special project company with five public and private firms that will build new charging stations.

The companies include the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp.

and top local automaker Hyundai Motor Group. The companies will jointly invest 32.2 billion won (US$29.24 million) over the next three years to install 5,580 charging plug-ins throughout the country, the ministry said.

Of the total, 2,750 plug-ins will be installed in residential areas with the rest to be installed at new charging stations to be built.

The government also seeks to increase the number of electric cars in the country, supplying some 3,000 electric vehicles for public use in 2015 alone.

Starting this year, all public offices, including state-run universities, are also required to buy electric cars for at least 25 percent of all of their new cars. (Yonhap)


China preparing to send pandas to Korea Republic

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BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) — A top executive of South Korea’s biggest amusement park operator, Samsung Everland, has held talks with China’s foreign ministry officials, during which they discussed preparations to send giant pandas to Seoul, according to the Chinese ministry on Saturday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a state visit to South Korea in July last year. Since then, the two nations have designated Samsung Everland, which operates South Korea’s largest amusement park in south of Seoul, as a host for the bears. Sending pandas is a time-honored goodwill gesture by Beijing for fostering bilateral relations.

Samsung Everland Vice President Cho Byeong-hak and Xing Haiming, deputy director-general of Asian affairs at the Chinese foreign ministry, held talks in Beijing on Friday, the Chinese ministry said in a brief statement posted on Friday night.

Cho and Xing “exchanges views on China-Korea cooperative research of giant pandas,” the statement said, without elaborating further, such as when China would send pandas to South Korea.

Dubbed “panda diplomacy,” China has the tradition of sending pandas to foreign countries as a gesture of friendship.

Bilateral relations between South Korea and China have steadily improved since their new leaders took office in early 2013.

Samsung Everland is the de facto holding company of Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest family-run business conglomerate.




Source : The Korea Herald

Korea Republic exports drop 3.4 pct on-year in February

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South Korea’s exports shrank 3.4 percent on-year in February, but the trade surplus surged to a new monthly high as imports dropped at a faster rate, the government said Sunday.

The country’s outbound shipments came to US$41.46 billion last month while imports plunged 19.6 percent on-year to US$33.8 billion, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Trade surplus came to $7.66 billion, the highest amount ever for the country.

February marked the 37th consecutive month of surplus. (Yonhap)


Source : The Korea Herald