search close
Wed, December 6, 2023 | 00:24
Split of opposition
Rep. Kim Han-gil quit the main opposition party Sunday, pledging to start over to win the April 13 general elections and achieve a change of government. His defection is hardly surprising, given that it has been anticipated since Ahn Cheol-soo, the software mogul-turned-politician, left the party in mid-December.
Fear of easier layoffs
The Ministry of Employment and Labor has unveiled draft guidelines that, if implemented, would pave the way for companies to lay off underperforming workers and introduce a peak wage system. Under the guidelines, companies could fire workers if their job performance is deemed too poor. But the labor ministry said that the criteria of performance evaluations must be defined in advance under an agreement between management and labor. And layoffs will be possible only when the pertinent workers have no chance of improving even after undergoing retraining or a change of assignment.
Cooling property market
Concerns are mounting that the property market might cool rapidly as the number of unsold apartments soared last month. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, unsold apartments numbered 49,724 as of the end of November, up 54.3 percent from a month earlier. The figure was the largest since the 51,287 in July last year. The number of unsold apartments increased sharply in the Seoul metropolitan area, with month-on-month growth reaching 70 percent.
Diversifying arms imports
News that Korea was the world’s biggest importer of weapons last year comes as a little surprise. Korea ranked seventh in arms procurement in 2013, but its ranking soared as a consequence of signing deals mostly with American contractors, including the one to buy 40 F-35s from Lockheed Martin.
Deadlocked labor reform
Parliamentary negotiations to reform the labor market are drifting. During a meeting Sunday mediated by National Assembly Speaker Chung Eui-hwa, the ruling and opposition parties discussed how to deal with major contentious bills, including a labor reform package. But they again failed to narrow their differences.
Snowballing public debt
The soundness of the Korean economy is increasingly in doubt as its public sector struggles with snowballing debt following swollen debt problems in households and corporations. A Ministry of Strategy and Finance report showed last week that the country's public sector debt, which includes the debt of both central and local governments plus that of non-financial state companies, amounted to 957 trillion won at the end of 2014. The figure represented an increase of 58 trillion won from the year before, and given its rising pace, the debt could surpass 1,000 trillion won this year.
Day care program adrift
The central government and local education offices are clashing yet again over which side should finance the free child care program for 3- to 5-year-olds. On Tuesday, the Seoul Metropolitan Council passed a 27.5 trillion won budget bill for next year, which excluded the 252 billion won for kindergartens under the Nuri Curriculum. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education had asked the council to pass the budget, saying that the funding for daycare centers must be shouldered by the central government. But then, the council even axed the budget for kindergartens, citing the problem of fairne...
Seoul-Beijing EEZ talks
Korea and China reopened talks in Seoul Tuesday to delimit their overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the West Sea. The meeting was the first since 2008 after the neighboring countries had failed to reach an agreement through 14 rounds of director general-level talks lasting 12 years.
Ahn's new party
Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo resumed his experiment with “new politics’’ by revealing his plan to create a new party, Monday. Ahn, the former co-chairman of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), told a press conference his party would become a pan-national alliance of people who support the liquidation of old-fashioned politics and a change of government. “I plan to show the details of the new party before the Lunar New Year holiday in early February,’’ Ahn said.
1st for-profit hospital
The Ministry of Health and Welfare last week approved the establishment of the country’s first foreign-owned for-profit hospital despite vehement protests by progressive civic groups and medical organizations. According to a plan submitted by China’s Greenland Group, the three-story Greenland International Hospital will be built on Jeju Island at a cost of 77.8 billion won. The group plans to open the hospital with 47 beds in March, 2017. It will offer cosmetic surgery, skincare, internal medicine and physical check-ups, primarily targeting Chinese tourists.