South Korea 2018
South Korea. Talks between South Korean President Moon Jae In and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un took place on three occasions during the year. According to Countryaah.com, Seoul is the capital city of South Korea, a country located in Eastern Asia. The first two were conducted at the demilitarized zone in the border town of Panmunjom in April and May. The third was held in September in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang. The summits resulted in a series of approaches between neighboring countries. Among other things, the two leaders agreed to work for a nuclear-free Korea peninsula. At the inauguration of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, South and North Korea marched under a common flag. A reunification meeting between families split during the outbreak of the Korean War was held in North Korea in August, and in October work began on the removal of 800,000 mines along the South and North Korea border.
The United States has suspended several military exercises with South Korea since US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un agreed at a historic summit in June to “work for total nuclear disarmament in the Korean Peninsula”. Among other things, the United States withdrew the large exercise “Freedom Guardian” scheduled for August.
In April, South Korea’s former President Park Geun Hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison for abuse of power and bribery. Among other things, she had received bribes corresponding to more than SEK 170 million of business conglomerates. She had also shared state secrets with her friend Choi Soon Sil – who in February was sentenced to 20 years in prison for abuse of power and corruption.
More convictions against Park fell during the summer. In July, she received eight years in prison, including for receiving unlawful bribes from the country’s intelligence service National Intelligence Service (NIS). She was subsequently given a year in prison for corruption and abuse of power following a decision in the Supreme Court in August.
In October, another president was sentenced to prison. It was Lee Myung Bak who received 15 years for corruption during his time in power 2008-13. According to the court, Lee had embezzled the equivalent of nearly $ 200 million from companies run by his brother. In addition, he had received bribes from Samsung chairman Lee Kun Hee, who was previously convicted of tax fraud.
Lee Kun Hee’s son, Lee Jae Yong, who is the heir to the Samsung Empire, was sentenced last year to five years in prison for, among other things, mutating Park Geun Hye. However, a high court in February decided to release him.
At the end of 2016, approx. 400 military deniers imprisoned. They refused military service citing their religion, conscience and attitude. Following new regulations from December 2015, the names and personal details of the military refusers were published on the military’s Web site.
In October 2016, it was revealed that President Park had close contact with Choi Soon-sil, who, without incidentally being employed or holding a public office, advised the President and had access to state secrets. The scandal spread and people demonstrated to have the president removed. In December, Parliament decided to petition Park for a state court. In the intervening period, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn was made acting president. President Park’s population backing was then down to 4%. In March 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously issued its order stating that Park had pleaded guilty to abuse of power, bribery and coercion. At the same time, the order was formally removed from the presidential post and presidential elections were printed.
The May 2017 presidential election was won by Moon Jae-in of the Social Democratic Party with 41.1% of the vote. The election expressed deep distrust of former President Park’s LKP, whose candidate had to settle for 24.0%. One of President Moon’s first tenure was to cancel former President Park’s decision that 2018 should be taught based on state textbooks in history. The state history books should put her father, the dictator Park Chun-hee in a better historical light. Moon’s decision meant that schools could choose textbooks from private publishers – with state-approved content. At the same time, the government prioritized the phasing out of nuclear power in favor of gas as a primary energy source. Negotiations on gas supply from Russia in pipelines through North Korea should therefore be resumed.
President Moon had a far more conciliatory and peace-seeking attitude toward North Korea than his conservative predecessors who had sought confrontation. He declared during his election campaign for the presidential office that he was in favor of a peace agreement and an end to war with the Brotherhood in the north in return for its nuclear disarmament. He was therefore also opposed to the US deployment of the THAAD missile system in South Korea. However, the escalation of tensions between North Korea and the United States during 2017, which reached a preliminary culmination in July with North Korea’s trial launch of intercontinental missiles, led him to change his stance. He asked the US for permission to equip and deploy a full THAAD missile system.