≡ Seoul Seeks Probe Into Japan Claim S. Korea Violated UN Sanctions
South Korea has proposed an investigation by the United Nations or another international body as it continues to reject Japanese claims that Seoul violated sanctions against North Korea.
Kim You-geun, deputy chief of Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office, also called for a full investigation into possible violations by Japan as well.
Jenna Lee has the details.
Kim said the government deeply regrets accusations by some senior Japanese officials that South Korea did not enforce proper export control on strategic materials.
He added that the government will apologize immediately and address any problem if one is found.
If South Korea is proven innocent, however, Kim stressed that Japan must apologize and immediately withdraw their export restrictions of high-tech materials to Seoul.
The proposal is Seoul's latest response to Japan's export restrictions against South Korea on three types of key chemical materials used in memory chips and smartphones.
Tokyo officials have openly questioned whether South Korea can be trusted in handling the materials, while Japanese media have suggested the goods were smuggled out of the country on multiple occasions.
Jenna Lee, eFM News.■[2019.07.12]
≡ S. Korea, Japan Hold First Working-Level Talks On Export Curbs
South Korea and Japan have held their first working-level talks to discuss restrictions imposed on Japanese exports of high-tech materials to South Korean firms.
Seoul's trade ministry officials sat down for a closed-door meeting with their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo this afternoon.
The two sides exchanged no handshakes or eye contact during the first minute of the meeting that was revealed to reporters.
Seoul officials were expected to have pressed Japan to clarify the reason behind singling out South Korea to regulate high-tech exports and to back up its accusation that Seoul's export control system is inadequate.■
≡ Russia May Supply S. Korea With Chemical Subject To Japan's Export Curbs: Yonhap
As South Korea struggles to convince Japan to withdraw its trade restrictions, Russia has reportedly offered to supply etching gas, one of the chemicals subject to Tokyo's export curbs.
Citing a government source, Yonhap News reported that Russia approached South Korea with the idea through a diplomatic channel.
The source is reported to have said that Russia tried to sell its chemicals, saying their quality is on par or superior to that of Japanese chemicals.
Earlier, Cheong Wa Dae stressed the need to reduce dependence on Japan and to review expanding cooperation with Russia and Germany in the trade of chemicals.■[2019.07.12]
≡ S. Korea To Raise 2020 Minimum Wage By Smallest In Decade
South Korea has decided to raise its minimum wage for next year by 2.9 percent, the smallest amount in a decade.
Labor and business representatives eked out an agreement, but the umbrella union groups are calling it a "disaster."
Claudia Kim has more.
The Minimum Wage Commission agreed on an increase of 2.9 percent to 8,590 won an hour early this morning after a marathon meeting that ran past midnight between labor and business representatives.
The single-digit increase, the smallest hike in a decade, was widely anticipated as President Moon Jae-in signaled a more flexible approach to his minimum wage pledge amid an economic slowdown and sluggish job growth.
The raise follows a whopping 16.4 percent hike in 2018 and 10.9 percent for this year.
The labor-friendly president vowed to raise the minimum wage to 10,000 won by 2020, but last year he said it might be difficult to meet the goal.
Initially, the labor sector had demanded a 19.8 percent increase for next year, while the business sector proposed a 4.2 percent cut.
Labor circles are expected to fiercely push back as there is some time left for negotiations before the labor ministry finalizes the decision early next month.
Steep hikes over the past two years have been met with strong backlash from SMEs and mom-and-pop stores struggling under mounting labor costs.
Choi Bae-geun, an economics professor at Konkuk University, told tbs FM's "Kim Eo-jun's News Factory" this morning that a steady minimum wage increase is helpful to the self-employed in the long run since it will boost local consumption and revitalize the economy.
He said the government should also try to reduce small firms' debt burden by lowering lending rates to create a positive cycle for both supply and demand.
Claudia Kim, eFM News.■[2019.07.12]
≡ Another N. Korean Boat Found In S. Korean Waters: JCS
The Joint Chiefs of Staff says a small North Korean wooden boat has been found in South Korean waters.
The JCS said the Coast Guard discovered the vessel this morning some 30 meters off the coast of Geojin in Gangwon's Gosong County.
It added no one was on board the boat.
Military authorities said there are traces the vessel had been flooded but further investigation is needed.
The incident comes after a boat from the North crossed over the inter-Korean maritime border undetected last month and was found at a port in Samcheok.■