≡ Kang, Pompeo Pledge Continued Close Cooperation On N. Korea
The top diplomats of South Korea and the U.S. have reaffirmed the two countries' continued close coordination on North Korea.
During bilateral talks in Palo Alto, California on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also discussed ways to further develop their alliance.
Our Christine Min has more.
The top diplomats of Seoul and Washington praised the enduring strength of the two countries' alliance and promised continued close coordination on North Korea.
According to Seoul's foreign ministry, the two sides shared their assessment of the current situation on the Korean Peninsula as well as ways to resume nuclear talks with Pyongyang.
After the bilateral talks, Kang told reporters that she and Pompeo also exchanged opinions on President Moon Jae-in's renewed push to resume inter-Korean projects.
She said it is important for the South and North to carry out dialogue and maintain the momentum for North Korea's engagement, pointing out that inter-Korean relations cannot always move accordingly to the same pace as U.S.-North Korea relations.
Pompeo said earlier that he remained hopeful Pyongyang will keep its denuclearization commitment made by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Pompeo is known to have also called for collective efforts to safeguard the Strait of Hormuz, seeking increased commitments from Seoul.
A South Korean official told reporters in Palo Alto that Kang assured Pompeo that Seoul is looking into ways to contribute to maritime security operations in the region.
Christine Min, eFM News.■
<Photo: Yonhap News>[2020.01.15]
≡ Unification Minister Vows Action To Improve Inter-Korean Relations
Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul has pledged to take possible measures to improve inter-Korean relations rather than waiting for progress in negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.
The remark was made during a luncheon meeting with representatives of pro-unification civic and religious groups today.
Kim was quoted as saying by civic group officials that the ministry will review various measures such as cooperation with international organizations.
He also said the government will take a more "flexible" stance this year to create conditions for dialogue.■
<Photo: Yonhap News>
≡ Top Diplomats Of S. Korea, Japan Discuss Row Over History, Trade
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, discussed a protracted trade row between Seoul and Tokyo stemming from differences over wartime forced labor.
The two diplomats met on the sidelines of a trilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in California on Tuesday.
Kang reiterated to Motegi a call for Japan to retract its export controls against South Korea and urged for the trade authorities of the two sides to speed up the dialogue process.
She also repeated that Seoul respects South Korean court decisions on the forced labor issue, adding that any solution must have the support of the victims.
The two ministers also spoke privately for five-minutes, raising speculation that it could have been about a solution for a real breakthrough.
Kang and Motegi agreed to continue close communication and coordination to keep alive the dialogue momentum created after President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's summit in China last month.
Seoul's foreign ministry said in regards to North Korea, the ministers shared the need for bilateral and trilateral efforts with the U.S. to facilitate nuclear dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang as well as lasting peace in the region.■
<Photo: Yonhap News>[2020.01.15]
≡ S. Korea's Employment Rate Hits 22-Year High In 2019
South Korea's employment rate reached a 22-year high last year.
Data from Statistics Korea on Wednesday showed 301,000 jobs were added in 2019, marking the first time in two years that the number of job additions exceeded 300,000.
Thanks to the addition, the employment rate for people aged between 15 and 64 rose to 60.8 percent last year, marking the highest figure since 1982.
The number of employed people reached over 27.1 million in December, up 516,000 on-year, representing the largest growth in five years and four months.
Meanwhile, the jobless rate remained unchanged from the previous year at 3.8 percent.■
<Image: Yonhap News>
≡ Voices Of Seoul: Are 18-Year-Olds In S. Korea Ready To Vote?
South Korea is gearing up for general elections in April, which will see 18 year olds casting ballots for the first time in the country's history.
It is a major change that's been hotly debated, with some saying it has been a long time coming, while others are concerned teens aren't yet prepared to handle their new political power.
In this week's Voices of Seoul, our Jenna Lee takes at look at the level of political engagement for youth in other countries, and what it could mean for young voters in Korea.
High school seniors in Korea will be able to vote for the first time, after the National Assembly passed an electoral reform bill at the end of last year, lowering the legal voting age from 19 to 18.
It's a big change that comes just ahead of the parliamentary elections set to be held on April 15.
Calls to lower the voting age were first pushed 23 years ago by former President Kim Dae-jung, who made it one of his campaign pledges.
But supporters and critics continue to be locked in passionate debate about whether giving minors the right to vote will lead to politicization of the classroom and other problems.
Some educators are looking abroad for benchmarks, like Japan, which started allowing 18-year-olds to vote in political elections in 2015 to increase civic participation among the young generation.
The Japanese government released election education materials to high schools nationwide, and even implemented mock elections to better inform young voters.
Some regional education offices in Korea are looking at Germany's "Beutelsbach consensus," as an example.
It is a guideline on political education that exists for all organizations and it mainly states three principles, which are prohibition of manipulation, the need for debate and diversity, and empowerment of participants.
tbs talked to foreigners living in Korea about the minimum voting in their home countries, ranging from 18 to 25, and what they think about the change for local youth.
[Clip: Foreign Resident: 00:18]
"I'm from United Arab Emirates, Dubai. I think it makes sense to make it at 18. This generation is more aware of their surroundings. They are better at analyzing the situations than the previous generations."
[Clip: Foreign Resident: 00:26]
"I am from Germany. I honestly always think that people should be a tiny bit older. If you're very young, you're usually very sporadic, and one day you mean this, and next day you mean that. In some sense, I think lowering from 19 to 18 doesn't make too much of a difference, but honestly, I don't think someone is actually grown up in their heads before they're 25 or 26."
In an era when information spreads at a rapid pace, and younger generations have a lot of zest for civic change, following the trend of lowering the voting age to 18 seems to be a practical measure for South Korea.
Perhaps the most significant change this will trigger is the introduction of election education, which is indispensable to expanding voting rights to minors and political engagement across all ages.
Jenna Lee, eFM News.■
<Photo: Yonhap News>
≡ Education Minister Confident In Increasing Ratio Of Public Kindergartens To 40%
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae says she is confident the government will achieve its goal of increasing the ratio of public kindergartens to 40 percent by 2022.
Yoo made the remark during an interview with tbs FM's Kim OuJoon's News Factory this morning.
She also pointed out that the so-called three kindergarten bills passed at the National Assembly earlier this week give more authority to education superintendents in managing private kindergartens amid public distrust in them.
She added that the strengthened regulation makes it much more difficult for private kindergarten owners to close down their business as they please.
The three kindergarten bills are aimed at improving management and accounting transparency at private preschools.■
<Photo: Yonhap News>