Russia 2018 Asian Qualifiers: Korea Republic vv Syria

Seoul: Star striker Son Heung-min returns from suspension as Korea Republic look to get back to winning ways on the Road to Russia when they host Syria in Group A at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Tuesday on the back of a surprise 1-0 defeat to China last week.

The Koreans, who will be without the suspended Ji Dong-won, slipped four points behind group leaders Islamic Republic of Iran following the loss and sit just a point ahead of third-placed Uzbekistan. A second successive defeat would see Syria leapfrog Korea Republic and leave the East Asians’ automatic qualification hopes in the balance.

Omar Khribin’s stoppage-time penalty handed Syria a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Uzbekistan on Matchday Six to move within a point of the Central Asians and just two behind Tuesday’s opponents. Syria will now have serious ambitions to claim at least a top-three place, but will be unable to call on Omro Al Midani in Seoul after his booking against the Uzbeks.

Source : Asian Football Confederation Website

United States says ‘strategic patience’ on DPR Korea is over

Tillerson says military option is on the table, calls China’s THAAD retaliation ‘inappropriate, troubling’

With Washington taking a North Korea policy overhaul, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday declared that the existing “strategic patience” approach is over, saying all options including military action are on the table.

At a joint news conference with Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson also urged China to cease its economic retaliation against South Korea over its plan to host a US missile shield here, calling it “unnecessary, inappropriate and troubling.”

“Efforts for North Korea to achieve a peaceful stability for the last two decades have failed to make us safe,” the secretary said.

A North Korean soldier (right) takes a snapshot from outside the window while US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (center) listens to USFK Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks during his visit to Panmunjeom, the truce village on the inter-Korean border, Friday. (Yonhap)

“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, economic measures. All options are on the table.”

His remarks represent the Donald Trump administration’s strongest signal yet that it would take a much tougher stance than its predecessors including Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” policy.

“Certainly we do not want for things to get to a military conflict, we’re quite clear on that in our communications, but obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response,” he said.

“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.”

Tillerson has said his maiden Asia tour, which also took him to Tokyo and includes a stop in Beijing from Saturday, is aimed at exchanging views on a “new approach” toward Pyongyang.

Stressing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system’s raison d’etre, he called for China to refrain from taking retaliation against Seoul and join in addressing the threat that “makes THAAD necessary.”

“We also believe it is not the way for a regional power to help resolve what is a serious threat for everyone. So we hope China will alter its position on punishing South Korea,” Tillerson said.

“We hope they will work with us to eliminate the reason THAAD is required.”

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (right) and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hold a joint press conference following their talks at the South Korean Foreign Ministry in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

Upon his landing at the Osan Air Base earlier in the day, the former Exxon Mobil chief executive took a tour around the Demilitarized Zone near the inter-Korean border and had lunch with soldiers guarding the Joint Security Area. Then he paid a visit to acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn before meeting with Yun.

But Tillerson’s comments may signal a future possible friction with the next leadership of South Korea, which faces a presidential election on May 9.

Many leading contenders including frontrunner Moon Jae-in previously served in the liberal administrations that traditionally favor engagement with North Korea instead of sanctions and pressure, not to mention military measures. They also have shown a reserved stance toward THAAD, while pledging to upend or renegotiate a December 2015 deal between South Korea and Japan on wartime sex slavery, for which Tillerson expressed support in Tokyo on Thursday.

The secretary raised expectations for a “productive relationship” with the next government here, saying he hopes it will “continue to be supportive” of the THAAD deployment plan.

Yun, for his part, echoed the need for a military step against the communist neighbor, saying its threats are “unprecedented, imminent” and require “far more effective and various countermeasures.”

At a separate session with Hwang, Tillerson reaffirmed the “ironclad” alliance that serves as a “linchpin for security and stability” in response to the growing North Korean threats.

The prime minister displayed gratitude for his visit despite “domestic difficulties associated with the leadership transition,” endorsing Trump’s remarks during their earlier phone call that the allies are “100 percent together” on North Korea and other regional and global issues.

Meanwhile, Tillerson’s shortened diplomatic consultations and public events in Seoul spawned a flurry of speculation given a leadership vacuum and political uncertainties.

A joint news conference aside, Tillerson spent almost 2 1/2 hours with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida including a dinner, and another hour with Prime Minister Abe. But his meetings with Yun and Hwang were each confined to about an hour, without a lunch or dinner gathering. Seoul officials said the US side opted not to have a meal together, citing the secretary’s “fatigue.”

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)

Source : Korea Herald

DPR Korea and Korea Republic reach deal on land use fee at Gaeseong complex

South and North Korea have reached an agreement on the land use fee amount for South Korean firms operating a joint industrial park across the border, the Unification Ministry announced Thursday.

The deal calls for South Korean firms at Gaeseong Industrial Complex to pay $0.64 per square meter every year, it said.

The complex in the North’s border city of Gaeseong opened in 2004 as a symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation. A total of 124 South Korean firms are running factories with about 54,000 North Koreans working in them.

Kaesong has served as a major revenue source for the cash-strapped North, while South Korea has benefited from cheap but skilled North Korean labor.

The South’s firms were exempted from land use fees for a decade under a 2004 deal. The two sides launched talks over the issue again in late 2014.

“The government hopes that the agreement will help South Korean firms focus on their businesses in a stable manner,” said a ministry official, asking not to be named.

The North initially claimed that the South should pay $1 per square meter for all areas that were supposed to be developed under the 2004 agreement, according to an industry source.

But Seoul insisted that it will pay only around half of the North’s offered price for the land that the South’s firms are actually using. They are currently using about 25 percent of the 1 million square meter land.

“The government hopes that the two Koreas could resolve other pending issues related to the operation of the factory zone through dialogue,” the official added.

The operation of the complex has been affected by the ups and downs of inter-Korean ties. In April 2013, the North abruptly suspended the operation of the complex for about five months, citing inter-Korean tensions.

Ending a months-long wage dispute, the two sides agreed in August to raise the minimum wage for the North’s workers by 5 percent to $73.87 per month. (Yonhap)

Source : The Korea Herald

Korea Republic enters into 3 new Free Trade Agreements

Flag of South Korea.svg

Korea on Sunday entered into free trade pacts with three economies, including its largest trade partner and one of today’s major sources of global economic uncertainty ― China.

(Yonhap)

The FTAs with China, Vietnam and New Zealand are projected to bring to Korea an additional 1 percentage point in gross domestic product growth over the next decade through a $5 billion increase in annual shipments to the three markets.

“Global trade outlook is not good, but we hope the FTAs will serve as a much-needed springboard for our economy to take a new leap,” Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said Sunday.

China accounts for 26 percent of Korea’s exports as of October, with the figures for Vietnam and New Zealand standing at 5.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

The new FTAs came into force as Korea strives to reinvigorate its economy, which has in recent years lost its export-led momentum for growth in the face of weak global demand and a slowdown in China. Overseas shipments by a couple of big-time manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor have been the main driver of growth in Korea.

The trade deal with China has immediately lifted tariff on 958 items, including home appliances, instant noodles and various other consumer products, with further elimination of tariffs and nontariff barriers being eyed.

Many Korean companies, particularly the retail companies, are jockeying to tap into the China market in order to gain an upper hand in the world’s most important consumer market with 1.3 billion population.

None here, however, seem to expect the FTAs to work magic and fix the local economy in the short term. Korea already has trade accords with the U.S., the European Union and a handful of other economies.

Challenges confront Asia’s fourth-largest economy on multiple fronts and many economists say the outlook for 2016 is murky, with the economy saddled with flagging exports, still-weak domestic demand, high household debt and low inflation.

“Exports will remain feeble and the contribution of domestic consumption to economic growth will weaken (in 2016),” LG Economic Research Institute, a Seoul-based think tank, said in a report Sunday. It said the economy would expand 2.5 percent next year, down from its earlier forecast of 2.7 percent.

The forecast is lower than the Korean government’s projection of 3.1 percent and the Bank of Korea’s 3.2 percent.

Korean policymakers took relief, however, when Moody’s Investors Service raised the rating for Korean debt to “Aa2,” the third-highest level, from “Aa3” on Saturday. That is the highest-ever rating given to Korea and one step above China and two above Japan. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings both rank South Korea at “AA-,” the fourth-highest level.

“Moody’s decision to upgrade shows South Korea’s international creditworthiness differentiates it from other nations on the back of solid economic fundamentals and amid emerging-market instability,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)

Source : The Korea Herald

Olyroos downed by Korea Republic

The Olyroos starting XI in their first friendly against Korea Republic.

The Olyroos have been beaten 2-0 by Korea Republic in a friendly on Friday night as both sides ramp up preparations for January’s AFC U-23 Championship.

Australia’s U-23 side conceeded an early goal in Hwaseong after a break down the wing was cut back and neatly finished by the hosts.

The Aussies came close to equalising soon after when Andrew Hoole, who was a late addition to the starting line-up after Kwame Yeboah picked up an injury in the warm-up, had a shot cleared off the line.

Instead it was Korea Republic who doubled their advantage just shy of the half-hour when their captain Jeimin Yeon made the most of some messy play in the box with a well guided strike.

The Olyroos carved out several chances after the interval but couldn’t find the goal they needed to get themselves back in the match despite Hoole and Ryan Edwards going close.

Coach Aurelio Vidmar rang the changes with 20 minutes to play, making six substitutions as Australia chased the game.

The result was some expansive football in the closing stages, with both sides wasteful of several chances as play went end-to-end in the energy sapping heat.

Goalkeeper Jack Duncan pulled off three top notch saves to ensure the deficit wasn’t greater, while at the other end Awer Mabil hit the cross-bar from inside the six-yard box with the last play of the game to underline the fact it just wasn’t the Olyroos night.

The sides will meet again in Incheon in three days time, with a strong showing at next year’s AFC tournament in Qatar the priority.

Last weekend’s draw saw the Olyroos grouped with the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Jordan at the 16 team tournament, which will see the top three sides qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

Match Details

Korea Republic U-23 2

Australia U-23 0

Football Federation Australia

AFC U23 Championship Qatar 2016 draw concluded in Doha

Doha: Defending Asian Football Confederation Under-22 champions Iraq found themselves alongside regional challengers Yemen, London Olympics bronze medalists Korea Republic and a highly rated Uzbekistan side in a tough looking Group C when the draw for the 16-team AFC U23 Championship was made at a grand ceremony in Doha.

AFC U23 Championship Qatar 2016

Group A: Qatar, Syria, IR Iran, China PR

Group B: Saudi Arabia, Japan, DPR Korea, Thailand

Group C: Iraq, Korea Republic, Uzbekistan, Yemen

Group D: Jordan, Australia, UAE, Vietnam

Hosts Qatar, who have called up a raft of players who won the AFC Asian U-19 Championship in Myanmar last year and elevated Spaniard Felix Sanchez to the role of U23 coach, are in Group A where they are joined by East Asian powerhouse China, Iran and Syria.

Nine-time Olympic qualifiers and fourth-place finishers at the London Games Japan are pooled along with Saudi Arabia, DPR Korea and Thailand in Group B, while 1988 quarter-finalists Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Vietnam make up Group D.

AFC Acting General Secretary Windsor John conducted the draw, assisted by former Qatar internationals Khaled Salman and Badr Bilal, and attended by a host of dignitaries from the Asian football family.

The U23 Championship, to be played from January 12 to 30, has added relevance as it will double as qualification for the Rio Olympics, to be held later next year. The tournament will be played at the Al Sadd, Al Arabi, Qatar Sports Club and Lekhwiya Stadiums, all of which are situated in and around Qatar’s capital city of Doha.

Prior to the draw, AFC Vice President Saoud A. Aziz M A Al Mohannadi and Dato’ Windsor jointly unveiled the new trophy of the tournament while the AFC U23 Championship’s new logo was also revealed.

The logo’s fantastic design represents the AFC’s five regions, with a star in the middle symbolising the promising talent that will be on display at the tournament.

A short video depicting the host nation’s history and diversity was also shown at the event.

 

Asian Football Confederation Website

Park Geun-hye touts inter-Korean deal as unification step

President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday touted a recent breakthrough between the two Koreas, saying its thorough implementation starting with a fresh round of reunions of separated families would bring the peninsula closer to lasting peace and eventually a unification.

The sides are scheduled for a working-level meeting on Sept. 7 at the border village of Panmunjeom to arrange the family reunions, following their three-day high-level talks that ended last Tuesday.

“If we safeguard the hard-won agreement, we will be able to break the vicious cycle of tension that has persisted throughout the 70-year division, and move toward a path of peace and unification on the peninsula,” the president said during a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

“Before all, I hope that the family reunions will take place without setbacks so that the aging separated families can fulfill their long-cherished wishes. We should open the door wide for their exchanges starting with this forthcoming session.”

President Park Geun-hye speaks at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday at Cheong Wa Dae. (Yonhap)

The marathon negotiations salvaged the peninsula from the verge of an armed clash. Seoul officials have been trumpeting the six-point accord as a milestone enshrining Pyongyang’s apology for a recent border land mine attack and steps to ward off a relapse, despite lingering controversy over its interpretation.

While pledging to focus on cranking up the economy and reform plans such as on labor, education and finance, Park praised the 86 young soldiers who had requested to delay their discharge from the military as cross-border tension hit new highs.

Despite the diminishing strain, Vice Defense Minister Baek Seung-joo remained adamant that the latest fence-mending dialogue could rather boost the rationale for the Kim Jong-un regime to press ahead with a major provocation to coincide with its planned celebration of the 70th anniversary of the launch of the ruling Workers’ Party on Oct. 10.

“The possibility that the North will stage a strategic provocation such as a long-range ballistic missile launch or nuclear test has increased somewhat since the agreement,” Baek said in an interview with Kyodo News.

“That’s because many people say that the agreement left North Korea with egg on its face,” he added, vowing to employ “all retaliatory steps including a restart of propaganda broadcasts” along the Demilitarized Zone in the event of a provocation.

His unrefined choice of words aside, the remarks sparked controversy as they run counter to the burgeoning mood for long-awaited reconciliation and do not reflect the overall government assessment, Defense Ministry officials said.

The October event remains set to be a barometer for future inter-Korean ties — and the core of the recent breakthrough. The possibility of a provocation was initially floated by Defense Minister Han Min-koo months ago but Seoul officials appear to have been refraining from making comments that potentially provoke Pyongyang.

Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok sought to downplay Baek’s remarks, saying they were not from “high-level intelligence” but meant to be a “general statement” based on outside experts.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)

 

The Korea Herald