Asan Korea Perspective

JY Lee and Samsung

JY Lee was released from prison on Feb 5, ending a one-year long confinement. The appellate court sentenced him to probation overturning the previous ruling, which sentenced him to five years in prison. The appellate court dismissed the charge of bribery and concluded that JY Lee was pressured to provide funds to the ousted President Park.[1] There is much controversy surrounding the latest ruling, which many observers believe favored Lee. Some critics claim that we still live in ‘Samsung Republic.’ According to a public survey conducted by Realmeter, 58.9% of South Koreans disagreed with the Court’s decision;[2] only 35.7% supported the decision.

JY Lee is embroiled in another case related to the former President Lee Myung-bak. Samsung is accused of providing funds to the company linked to the former president.[3]

Army Foundation Day parade

On Feb 8, North Korea held a military parade to celebrate the Army Foundation Day. The parade lasted little under two hours. North Korea showcased several IRBMs (Hwasong-12) and ICBMs (Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15).[4] Kim Jong Un delivered a speech before the parade but he did not mention nuclear weapons.

Military Parade Comparison (2017, 2018)

Date

April. 15, 2017 Feb. 08, 2018

Duration

3 hours

1 hour 30-40 min

Broadcast

Live

Pre-recorded

Foreign Press

Present No

Type of Missile Displayed

IRBM Hwasong-12

IRBM Hwasong -12

ICBM Hwasong-14

ICBM Hwasong -14

SLBM Pukkuksong-2

ICBM Hwasong-15

South Korean media outlets pointed out that the scale of the parade was smaller than last year. Experts believe that North Korea was trying to exercise restraint ahead of the Winter Games.[5]

Daylight in the Alliance?

On Feb 8, President Moon welcomed US Vice President (VP) Mike Pence to the Blue House.[6] The meeting lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes. President Moon emphasized his determination to use the Winter Olympics as an opening to pave the way for talks and establish peace on the Korean peninsula while VP Pence remained firm on the need for the US and South Korea to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea.[7]

VP Pence was reported to have attended the opening reception for only 5 minutes. People suspect that VP Pence was openly expressing dissatisfaction with the presence of the North Korean delegation.[8]

President Moon Receives Invitation to Pyongyang

On Feb 10, President Moon held a luncheon meeting with Kim Yo-Jong and other members of the North Korean delegation. Kim Yong-nam (ceremonial head of DPRK), Choe hwi (Chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee), and Ri Son- gwon (Chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of DPRK) were also present.[9] The meeting lasted 2 hours and 50 minutes. Kim Yo-Jong delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un and invited President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang.[10]

Balance of Services

The Bank of Korea announced on Feb 5 that the balance of services deficit was estimated at $34.47bn for 2017. This is the third consecutive year since 2015 that balance of services deficit has reached record lows. One of the main causes was o