Picture of the Day: North Korea Alters Protest Photos to Hide ROK Economic Development

N.K. alters Seoul rally photos

This screen capture from the North’s Korean Central TV on Dec. 7, 2016, shows blurs in its broadcast of a rally in downtown Seoul, apparently trying to hide tall buildings around the site. Pyongyang has been active in reporting weekend protests in South Korea demanding the president’s resignation, but analysts say it still didn’t want to show South Korea’s economic development to its people. (Yonhap)

President Park Had Toilet Replaced In Incheon Before Using It

Not to pile on President Park’s already bad week, but this is a pretty strange story:

Rep. Song Young-gil (far left) talks about the President’s toilet episode at a YouTube live talk show organized by main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea at the National Assembly. / Screen capture from YouTube

And on Dec. 8, a lawmaker revealed for the first time the President’s other “more private” attachment: a bacteria-free clean toilet.

“The President visited Incheon City Office when I was city mayor (2010-14),” said Rep. Song Young-gil, of the Minjoo Party of Korea.

He made the comment on Dec. 8, as a guest on a YouTube live talk show organized by the main opposition party at the National Assembly.

According to the informant, the office had reported to the President during the morning about the city’s current situations and the mayor’s performance.

After a luncheon at the office, they went outside for local canvassing with her.

“At one time, officials from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae had asked me if the President could use my room for a brief rest,” Rep. Song said on the show, at which four other lawmakers were guests.

“I gladly agreed to the request. But then, the presidential secretaries again came to me and said the President wanted to replace a toilet in a restroom inside the room.

“I was totally dumbfounded.”

The story was surprising enough to turn heads toward him, with the show’s host, former party member Choi Min-hee, being particularly loud about the President’s newly found “surreal” penchant for hygiene.

“I guess the President simply did not want to share my toilet,” Rep. Song said, laughing. [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but I have to wonder if President Park travels around with extra toilets and a plumber to install them as part of her entourage?

How Did JTBC News Get Choi Soon-sil’s Tablet Computer to Start South Korean Political Scandal?

It is just amazing to me that Choi Soon-sil would leave a tablet computer with so much sensitive information on it in her former office with no password protection for anyone to open up and check out:

JTBC reporter Shim Su-mi reports where and how she found the tablet PC Thursday night. [JTBC]

In its evening news program on Thursday, JTBC refuted rumors concerning how its reporter discovered presidential friend Choi Soon-sil’s tablet PC in October before anyone else, which proved to be a crucial piece of evidence against her.

Ko Young-tae, former head of The Blue K, a shell company suspected to be headed by Choi, accused JTBC during the parliamentary hearing on Wednesday of changing its statement on how it came to possess the tablet.

“JTBC first said that it found the tablet in a trash can in Germany, and then changed its statement to say that it found the tablet PC among things that Choi threw out of her house after being informed by Choi’s household manager,” Ko said in the hearing. “And then it changed its statement once more to say the tablet PC was found at my desk at my company.”

JTBC Newsroom anchor Sohn Suk-hee and JTBC reporter Suh Pok-hyun on Thursday evening provided explanations to rumors surrounding how the tablet was first discovered by its reporter.

An explanation was provided the first time that JTBC reported on the case, which was on Oct. 24, when Suh said during Newsroom, “JTBC reporters searched one of the offices that used to belong to Choi, and in one of them we found her tablet among things Choi left behind.”

Sohn and Suh provided the same explanation during the program on Thursday evening, and added that the tablet was first obtained by JTBC reporter Shim Su-mi, who visited the office of The Blue K in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, on Oct. 18.

According to JTBC, Shim found traces that both The Blue K and Widec Sports appear to be owned by Choi and found the former office of The Blue K before any other journalists. Shim received permission from the building manager and entered the office, finding a desk and the tablet there.

“The office was on sale for two months, and real estate agents could enter freely,” Suh said. “So the reporter entered an office that was not owned by anyone at the time.”

Shim, in finding the tablet, saw its charger was missing. She bought a charger for the tablet model, came back and opened six files, examined them and left the tablet there, according to JTBC.

She then returned two days later, for fear that the evidence inside could be destroyed by Choi or her confidants. She copied the files inside, and broke the news on Oct. 24. That same day, she handed the tablet over to prosecution.

At the parliamentary hearing Wednesday, a few lawmakers demanded JTBC reveal how it came to examine the tablet in the first place, as rumors that Ko or Choi’s ex-husband, Chung Yoon-hoi, chief of staff to Park from 1998 until 2004, gave it to JTBC.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Asiana Airlines Pilots Get Into Brutal Fist Fight Before New York Flight to Seoul

More bad headlines for a Korea based airline:

An Asiana Airlines flight from Incheon to New York was delayed for about an hour after two pilots were involved in a fight. / Yonhap

Asiana Airlines has come under fire for letting a co-pilot injured in a bloody fight, operate a flight bound for New York from Seoul last week, risking the safety of 275 passengers.

According to reports, a quarrel broke out between two co-pilots of flight OZ222 that was supposed to depart from Incheon International Airport for New York at 11 a.m. Friday.

The two punched and kicked each other, leaving one taken off the flight for medical treatment. Departure was delayed for about one hour.

The other co-pilot was also injured, but the company’s safety director left him on the flight after checking his condition. [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link.

Picture of the Day: ROK JCS Holds Meeting After Presidential Impeachment Vote

Defense meeting after impeachment

Defense Minister Han Min-koo (R) presides over a meeting of military leaders at the Joint Chiefs of Staff right after the National Assembly passed an impeachment bill against President Park Geun-hye in a vote of 234 for, 56 against and two abstentions on Dec. 9, 2016. (Photo courtesy of defense ministry) (Yonhap)

Korea Finder 16-27

Welcome to Korea Finder.  The way this contest works is that each week a new image is posted and the first reader to accurately describe or locate the image gets a point.  At the end of the year the reader with the highest amount of points will win a Korea related book of their choice.

Who knows what is pictured in the below Google Earth image from South Korea?:

2016 Korea Finder Leaders Board

  1. Comfortable Chairs – 9
  2. MTB Rider – 7
  3. Smokes – 4
  4. Dd – 2, Setnaffa – 2
  5. JoeC – 1, Nullscan -1, sfasdfsadf – 1

President Park Has Been Impeached; What Is Next For South Korea?

It is official President Park has been impeached:

After being impeached by the National Assembly, President Park Geun-hye looks down as she convenes her last Cabinet meeting Friday, right before the vote that suspended her from office. She apologized to the nation again, and asked ministers to minimize any vacuum in government, and to work on the economy. / Korea Times

The National Assembly passed the motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal, Friday.

Park was suspended from office at 7:03 p.m. immediately after the result was officially delivered to the presidential office, and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn began working as acting head of state.

The President’s fate is now in the hands of the Constitutional Court, which is expected to make a ruling on whether the impeachment was valid in a few months.

Park is the second Korean president to be impeached after the late President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004. Roh was able to return to office thanks to wide public support after the Constitutional Court overturned the Assembly’s decision.

The impeachment motion, signed by 171 opposition and independent lawmakers, passed overwhelmingly with 234 in favor, 56 against, two abstentions and seven invalid votes in the 300-member Assembly. Pro-Park lawmaker Choi Kyung-hwan of the ruling Saenuri Party was absent.

This well exceeded the necessary approval of two-thirds of the 300 lawmakers required for its passage. [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but the most significant thing that has happened is that South Korea now has a new acting President which is Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

ROK Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn

So who is Hwang?  His a 59 year old lawyer who worked as a state prosecutor for 30 years before entering politics.  He is well known for being a close confidant of President Park.  In 2013 he served as the Justice Minister for Park before becoming the Prime Minister in 2015.  ROK Heads may remember that back in July Hwang was detained by protesters outside of the selected THAAD site and pelted with eggs.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo and other government officials are trapped in a bus in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, on Friday as an angry mob of residents protest the deployment of the Thaad system in their hometown. Hwang was also pelted with eggs and doused with water. [NEWSIS]

I doubt Prime Minister Hwang will make any major policy decisions because of his close ties to Park that could lead to widespread public protests.  That is why I think he will probably just be keeping the seat warm until the Constitution Court reviews the impeachment.  The last impeachment of a ROK President occurred in 2004 with President Roh Moo-hyun.  The Constitutional Court took 63 days to rule that the impeachment was not legal and he was reinstated.  Considering the widespread public outrage against President Park I doubt she will be reinstated.  However, the court has up to six months to rule on the legality of the impeachment.  If they rule the impeachment is legal then an election will be held 60 days after the ruling.  I think the conservative party will want this to drag on so they can select a candidate and organize a campaign to run against the Korean left wing parties who have taken maximum political advantage of the Park Geun-hye crisis.

It will continue to be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next few months.

Choi Soon-sil’s Daughter Has High School Graduation Annulled

Things have gotten worse for the girl that started the down fall of the President of Korea by cheating at school, she has now lost her high school graduation diploma:

Chung Yoo-ra

The education office in Seoul has annulled the high school graduation of Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of President Park Geun-hye’s confidant Choi Soon-sil, after finding out her grades and attendance were fabricated and she had not fulfilled the requirements to graduate.

It also asked the prosecution to investigate Chung, Choi and 10 others involved in the irregularities in managing Chung’s attendance, tests and grades, including teachers and school board members at Chungdam High School.

The decision came about two weeks after the Ministry of Education ordered Ewha Womans University to cancel Chung’s admissions due to the university’s favors in admissions and grading.

In her third year at the high school in 2014, Chung, a dressage competitor, was absent for 141 days with the excuse that she participated in competitions or training overseas. She submitted related documents to prove her participation and the school acknowledged her absence.

“Of the documents, those for 105 days of absence were fabricated,” said Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), in a briefing, Monday.

The Korea Equestrian Federation falsely issued the documents although there was no training during the stated periods, he said. [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but I think it is pretty ridiculous that anyone that would miss 141 days in one school year would be allowed to graduate no matter what the excuse is.