Posts tagged with "South Korea"

John Bolton bad-mouths Trump for ‘bluffing’ about stopping North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

December 25, 2019

In his sharpest criticism yet of his old workplace—the White House; not Fox News—former National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested this week that the Trump Administration is bluffing about stopping North Korea’s nuclear ambitions—and soon might need to admit publicly that its policy has failed badly, according to an exclusive interview by Axios’ Jonathon Swan posted on December 22.

Indeed, according to Swan, “Bolton told me in an interview that he does not think the administration “really means it” when President Donald Trump and top officials vow to stop North Korea from having deliverable nuclear weapons—”or it would be pursuing a different course.”

Why now? Bolton, who “resigned” from the White House last September, is speaking out ahead of an end-of-year timetable. If Kim Jong-un follows through on his threatened Christmas provocation, Bolton says the White House should do something “that would be very unusual” for this administration—concede that they got it wrong on North Korea.

“The idea that we are somehow exerting maximum pressure on North Korea is just, unfortunately, not true,” Bolton told Axios. For example, he suggested, the U.S. Navy could start to squeeze Kim Jong-un by intercepting oil that is illegally being transferred to North Korea at sea.

If Kim thumbs his nose at America, Bolton told Swan, he hopes the administration will say: “We’ve tried. The policy’s failed. We’re going to go back now and make it clear that in a variety of steps, together with our allies, when we say it’s unacceptable, we’re going to demonstrate we will not accept it.”

Bolton, who has advocated for a more aggressive North Korea strategy, also criticized Trump for saying earlier this year that Kim’s short-range missile tests don’t bother him.

“When the president says, ‘Well, I’m not worried about short-range missiles,’ he’s saying, ‘I’m not worried about the potential risk to American troops deployed in the region or our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan.'”

The bottom line, according to Bolton:  “Time is on the side of the proliferator,” he said. “The more time there is, the more time there is to develop, test and refine both the nuclear component and the ballistic missile component of the program.”

Research contact: @axios

Dying for a better life: South Koreans fake their funerals for life lessons

November 11, 2019

A South Korean healing center is offering free funerals—complete with coffins—but only to the living. The practice is believed to increase participants’ desire to live—and to provide a more optimistic perspective on daily existence. And right at the start, there is good news: The mock-funeral experience is free.

According to a report by Reuters, more than 25,000 people have participated in mass “living funeral” services at the Hyowon Healing Center in Yeongdungpo-gu, Seoul for the past seven years. At the center, the process is described as “heal-dying.”

Dozens take part in each funeral—from teenagers to retirees—donning shrouds, shooting funeral portraits, penning their last testaments, and lying in a closed coffin for around ten minutes.

Hyowon began offering the living funerals to help people appreciate their lives, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with family and friends, said Jeong Yong-mun, who heads the healing center.

Jeong told Reuters that he is heartened when people reconcile at a relative’s funeral, but is saddened they wait that long. “We don’t have forever,” he said. “That’s why I think this experience is so important – we can apologize and reconcile sooner and live the rest of our lives happily.”

“Once you become conscious of death, and experience it, you undertake a new approach to life,” 75-year-old Cho Jae-hee, who participated in a recent living funeral as part of a “dying well” program offered by her own senior welfare center, told the news outlet.

University student Choi Jin-kyu told Reuters that, during his time in the coffin, he realized that too often, he viewed others as competitors. “When I was in the coffin, I wondered what use that is,” said the 28-year-old, adding that he plans to start his own business after graduation rather than attempting to enter a highly competitive job market.

South Korea ranks 33 out of 40 countries surveyed in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index. Many younger South Koreans have high hopes for education and employment, which have been dashed by a cooling economy and rising joblessness.

“It is important to learn and prepare for death even at a young age,” Professor Yu Eun-sil, a colorectal cancer specialist at Asan Medical Center’s Pathology Department, who has written a book about death, the news outlet said..

In 2016, South Korea’s suicide rate was 20.2 per 100,000 residents, almost double the global average of 10.53, according to the World Health Organization.

Occasionally, Jeong Yong-mun says,he has dissuaded those contemplating suicide.

 “I picked out those people who have asked themselves whether … they can actually commit suicide, and I reversed their decision,” Jeong told Reuters.

The message of personal value resounded with Choi.“I want to let people know that they matter, and that someone else would be so sad if they were gone,” he said, wiping away tears. “Happiness is in the present.”

Research contact: @Reuters

Amid U.S. vaping clampdown, Juul enters China, the world’s largest tobacco market

September 13, 2019

Holy smokes! No sooner did U.S. e-cigarette maker Juul Labs come under scrutiny for its flavored products at home than it surfaced in China, Reuters reports—with online storefronts on e-commerce sites owned by Alibaba Group and JD.com, geared to tap into the world’s largest market of smokers.

Following a press conference on September 11, during which President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump voiced concern about the health effects of vaping—noting that their 13-year-old son, Barron, is in the age group most likely to be captivated by the tasty, new smokes—the U.S. government announced plans to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves.

Juul, in which tobacco giant Altria Group owns a 35% stake, has been launching its products in international markets such as South Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Reuters says.

The move comes as U.S. health officials are investigating a handful of deaths and potentially hundreds of lung illnesses tied to contaminants in vaping products—among them, E acetate, THC, cutting agents/diluents, pesticides, opioids and other toxins.

China, which is the world’s largest single market for tobacco consumption with over 300 million smokers, represents a market with both opportunity and risk for the company.

It is already home to dozens of Chinese competitors with names such as Relx, Yooz, and SNOW+ that have taken tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding from high-profile investors.

Research source: @Reuters

Chances look slimmer for Singapore summit

May 23, 2018

The budding détente between North Korea and the United States hung in the balance on May 22, as the Trump administration continued pushing Pyongyang to denuclearize as a condition of the scheduled meeting in Singapore on June 12 with the hermit kingdom’s Leader Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, according to a report by CNN, North Korea has released three strongly worded statements—slamming Seoul and Washington for their joint military maneuvers earlier in the month and demanding that South Korea take action against defectors it claimed were sending anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets across the border.

As tempers on both continents continued to flare, South Korean President Moon Jae In flew into Washington, DC, to meet with President Trump in an effort to salvage the summit.

But should the diplomatic deliberations even be saved?

Those in the know say the White House staff is balking—both because North Korea seems to already have taken denuclearization off the table; and because Trump has not taken the time or trouble to learn about the nuclear program, something necessary to have a substantive conversation.

South Koreans, however, blame Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton for the problems with the summit, according to The Washington Post.

Bolton has said that his goal is for the North Korean denuclearization process to go like the one that took place in Libya in 2003, when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his country’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. That didn’t end well for the Libyan leader, who eventually found himself in the midst of a coup that led to his capture and execution.

While Trump continues to hold firm on the denuclearization demands, about three-quarters of Americans (77%) approve of his original decision to meet with Kim Jong Un, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on May 10.  Trump’s approval rating for handling the situation with North Korea has jumped ten points since late March.

At press time, there were no reports coming out of the POTUS’s meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae.

Research contact: @jgriffiths

Nearly 80% of South Koreans now trust Kim Jong Un

May 3, 2018

The rapprochement between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which took place at the border between the two countries on April 27, has had a radical effect on the people of South Korea, Bloomberg reports.

Just over a month ago, the polling organization Gallup found that just 10% of South Koreans approved of Kim. However, findings of a poll of 1,023 South Koreans released on May 1 by the Korea Research Center, show that, now, 78% of respondents trust the controversial ruler.

In turn, The Week reports that Moon is well-liked in South Korea, where he has an 86% approval rating. Respondents to the Korea Research Center poll cited several key moments in the summit between the two leaders as impressive—including the pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Thirty percent of respondents said Moon’s decision to cross the border was the most impressive part.

Nearly 90% of South Koreans said the summit was a productive step forward.

Later this month, U.S. President Donald Trump may have the opportunity to create his own détente with Kim at the same location—the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. That site makes the most sense for the North Korean leader, News 4 Jacksonville reports, because media facilities and equipment already are in place.

Will the proposed Trump-Kim talks open up the Hermit State? Only time will tell.

Research contact: @Jee_vuh

60% of Americans worry about safety of Olympic team

February 8, 2018

Sixty percent of Americans are worried about the safety of the U.S. athletes who are competing in the Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea, starting tomorrow and going through February 25, based on findings of a Marist Poll released on February 6.

Among the 1,033 adults polled, 21% are “very concerned” about the security of Team USA and 39% are “concerned,” while 25% are “not too concerned” and 14% are “not concerned at all.”

Republicans (69%), as well as Americans age 60 and older (69%), are more likely than others to express apprehension.

“There have been security problems in the past at the Olympics,” said Dr. Lee Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “People understand this isn’t the calmest place in the world right now.”

Terrorism is feared by many—among them, Americans age 45 or older (60%), those without a college degree (60%), and women (59%) are more likely than younger residents (47%), those with a college degree (45%) and men (48%).

Research contact: TheMaristPoll@marist.edu