South Korea 2019
South Korea. Chun Hae Sung of South Korea’s reunification ministry announced in March that North Korea indicated that it would withdraw its staff from the cooperation office in Kaesong that the countries, in a spirit of peace enthusiasm, opened last year. The office had separate offices for South and North Korea’s representatives as well as a common conference room.
South Korea-Japan relations deteriorated in July after Japan decided to limit its exports of high-tech goods to South Korea. The decision was preceded by a South Korean court ruling that Japanese companies, which should have used Korean forced laborers during World War II, would compensate for it. The conflict between the countries is based on the abuses, in the form of forced labor and sexual slave trade, that Japan committed during the country’s occupation of South Korea. Japan considers that South Korea has already been replaced by the abuses, while South Korea does not think Japan has done enough.
In August, the conflict worsened after Japan decided to remove South Korea from the so-called white list. The list contains upwards of 30 countries against which Japan has few trade restrictions. South Korea’s President Moon Jae In condemned the decision, which he believed would affect the foundations of the countries’ economic cooperation. He also claimed that it violated international standards.
In protest against South Korea’s and US joint military exercises in August, North Korea fired a series of projectiles. At the same time, North Korea stated that the peace talks with South Korea would end.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of SKR in general and in geography as South Korea in particular.
The US and South Korea temporarily halted a military exercise in November in the hope that the peace process with North Korea would be promoted. Unfortunately, the message was not welcomed by North Korea, who said that the country did not want to talk to the United States until the exercises with South Korea were completely discontinued.
The working class is traditionally violently attacked by the South Korean authorities. On December 9, 2013, the country’s railway workers launched a strike in protest that the country’s railway company had set up a subsidiary to operate a new high-speed line. The railway workers feared that this was the beginning of a privatization of the railway company. Authorities responded on December 17 when 30 officers raided the railway workers’ union headquarters in Seoul. The union’s computers and internal documents were seized. Two days later, the union’s offices in Daejon, Busan, Suncheon and Yeongju were exposed to similar raids. On 22nd, the authorities took action against the country’s LO (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, KCTU) as several thousand officers stormed the national organization’s headquarters in Seoul. 130 employees were arrested and several injured when police used pepper spray. The search of the KCTU was conducted without a court order. It was the first raid against KCTU since the organization gained legal status in 1999.
In April 2014, President Park and Australian Prime Minister Abbott signed a free trade agreement between the two countries.
Migrant workers form a large part of the labor force in South Korea’s agriculture. Migrant workers are important in agriculture, but many employers use the migrant workers unscrupulously, so that in many places they work under slave-like conditions.
In December, the Constitutional Court of South Korea dissolved the country’s 3rd largest party Unified Progressive Party (UPP). The dissolution came on the grounds that the UPP was “in violation of the country’s fundamental democracy” after the right-wing government accused the UPP of supporting North Korea. At the same time, the party’s 13 members of parliament were abolished. At the 2012 parliamentary elections, the party advanced 8 seats. It had achieved a total of 10.3% of the vote. It was the first time since 1958 that South Korea had banned a political party. The ban was an indication that the country’s right-wing radical government was increasingly using the vaguely worded “National Security Act” as a tool to threaten, strike – or ban – the opposition. At the same time, seven other members of the UPP were indicted in the Supreme Court for “calling for a riot” and in violation of the Security Act.
In April 2014, the ferry MV MV Solled with 476 aboard. 304 passengers and crew died. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won then made his resignation request, but still remained in the post until January 2015. In the following months, the Prime Minister’s Office was a clean review camp:
- Lee Wan-koo, February – April 2015 where he was forced to resign after allegations of corruption
- Choi Kyoung-hwan, April – June 2015
- Hwang Kyo-ahn, appointed in June 2015
The South Korean economy grew by 3.3% in 2014. It was high compared to the EU and the US, but low compared to other countries in the region and below half of Chinese growth. In December 2014, China and South Korea therefore signed a free trade agreement that would benefit both countries. At the same time, China placed more distance from its traditional allies North Korea. The economy was more important to China and South Korea than historical political conflicts and relations.
According to CountryAAH, the population of South Korea in 2019 was 51,225,197, ranking number 28 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.100% yearly, and the population density was 526.8467 people per km2.