≡ N. Korea Denounces US-S. Korea Joint Military Exercise
North Korea has slammed the United States over its plan to hold a joint military exercise with South Korea, saying Washington is imposing "blatant pressure" on Pyongyang.
Referring to the U.S.-South Korea joint military drill slated for next month, the North's foreign ministry said in a statement that the move is "a clear violation of the basic spirit" of the June 12th declaration signed by President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore last year.
The ministry also said its decision to suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests was a pledge to improve bilateral relations, not some kind of legislated document.
It said Pyongyang is seeing less and less reason to keep the promise between the two countries after Washington's unilateral violation of its pledge.■[2019.07.16]
≡ Govt To Restrict Visa Extensions For Health Insurance Defaulters
Starting next month, South Korea will restrict visa extensions for foreigners and Korean nationals residing overseas in case they default on state health insurance fees.
According to the justice ministry, the government will give visa permits of up to six months to foreigners who default on health insurance fees up to three times.
Those who fail to pay health insurance fees more than three times will be denied visa extensions.
The measures come as a new rule went into effect today requiring all foreigners staying in the country for six months or longer to sign up for the state health insurance program.■ [2019.07.16]
≡ Workplace Anti-Bullying Law To Provide Some Protection For Victims
Workplace bullying has been defined and declared illegal in South Korea as part of efforts to increase protection for those who are harrassed while on the job.
The new law comes after a series of videos surfaced showing bosses acting out against employees with verbal and physical abuse, sparking public outrage.
According to the revision to the Labor Standards Act that takes effect today, offensive actions that amount to workplace bullying run the gamut from subtle to blatant.
Jeong-eun Lee has more.
In October, a video of IT company CEO Yang Jin-ho slapping an employee in the face sent shockwaves throughout the country.
The revised labor law that took effect today says workers do not have to wait until their bosses go that far to file a complaint.
It stipulates that an employer or an employee cannot use his or her superior status to go beyond what is deemed appropriate to inflict physical or mental pain on workers or to worsen their working environment.
Making insulting remarks at employees both on and offline, restricting workers from taking vacations without any justifiable reason and ignoring ideas and opinions from workers are just a few examples of what can be considered workplace bullying.
Moon Kang-boon, a labor attorney and director of Happy Work Institute, drafted a manual with the labor ministry to explain the change to the public.
She says it's significant in that it challenges outdated perceptions and lets workers know they don't have to put up with sub-par treatment.
"The revision means the law no longer condones hierarchical views about labor, like you get wages in return for the stress you get or that it's not easy living off of other people's wealth, but instead guarantees dignity in workplaces."
The revision requires businesses with 10 or more employees to have a system to prevent or respond to such offensive actions.
Not only victims but other employees who are aware of such actions can file complaints with their company's human resources department.
When the complaints are confirmed, the company is required to punish the offender according to its rules of conduct and employment.
If there's retaliatory action against the victim or those who filed the complaint, the employer can face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won.
Jeong-eun Lee, eFM News.■[2019.07.16]
≡ Seoul Sees No Problem With Extending Information-Sharing Deal With Japan
The defense ministry says South Korea sees no major problem with extending a military information-sharing agreement with Japan amid concerns that diplomatic tensions could affect the military deal.
In November 2016, Seoul and Tokyo signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement, which enables the two countries to share confidential military information to better counter evolving nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
The deal is supposed to be automatically renewed every year unless either party notifies the other of its intention to terminate it 90 days ahead of the end of a one-year period.
The deadline for objections to the deal's automatic extension for another year is August 24th.
Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said there have been no changes in Seoul's stance regarding the matter nor any discussions between the two sides on the issue.■
≡ Moon Appoints Yoon Seok-Youl As New Prosecutor General
President Moon Jae-in has authorized the appointment of reform-minded veteran prosecutor Yoon Seok-youl as the next prosecutor general despite strong protests by opposition parties.
Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said the president confirmed the appointment proposal this afternoon.
But Yoon's term will start next Thursday, a day after current Prosecutor General Moon Moo-il's tenure ends.
Opposition parties had been calling on Yoon to step down, accusing him of giving false testimony during his confirmation hearing.■