Sewol captain not guilty of murder, effectively gets death sentence; Will Hong Kong clear the streets?


The verdict of Sewol Captain Lee was handed down. While not guilty of murder, his sentence will put him to death, eventually. With APEC over, will HK clear their streets?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday afternoon, South Korea’s Gwangju District Court found Captain Lee Jun-Seok guilty for abandoning the Sewol ferry that sank April 16th, claiming more than 300 lives, most of whom were high school students. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, but judges presiding over the case, cleared Lee of homicide charges and found him guilty of negligence. While the families still seek death for Captain Lee, it’s important to reflect on the nature of this sentence and accept South Korea hasn’t executed anyone since 1997. The verdict may read 36 years in prison, but the reality of the situation is this is a death sentence. In related Sewol news, South Korea formally ended search operations for the last nine bodies yet to be recovered from the accident site.

In Hong Kong, courts have authorized bailiffs to use police to clear out protest sites if pro-democracy demonstrators refuse to clear out. Lam said, “I strongly urge protesters who are still staying in the occupied areas – whether the areas are covered by the injunctions or not – they should voluntarily and peacefully leave as soon as possible.” As I previously mentioned, with eyes on Beijing for the APEC summit, little action would take place to resolve the stand-off. Now that leaders are poised to move, expect Hong Kong officials to take the action they’re promising and for clashes to occur.

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TAB: North Korea developing nuclear launch sub and more


Reports are surfacing that the DPRK is refitting Soviet ballistic subs, capable of firing nuclear weapons. Plus an update on the gruesome murder in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In what’s sure to further to disrupt tensions in and around the Korean Peninsula, the DPRK is said to be modernizing a decommissioned Soviet Golf II class diesel submarines in order to carry ballistic missiles. According to South Korea’s Yonhap news, “The new submarine is 67 meters long with a beam of 6.6 meters, and has a dive displacement in the 3,000-tonne range.” It was only September when top military officials said it was doubtful North Korea had a sub capable of firing missiles such of these, in light of this new information it stands to reason we will see more militaristic activity, and perhaps soon.

Rurik Jutting is the 29-year-old securities trader said to have previously worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch who has been arrested and charged with a grusome double homicide in Hong Kong. Reports indicate that Jutting showed no emotions when charges were being levied against him. At Monday’s hearing, Jutting’s lawyer, Martyn Richmond, alleged his client was denied contact with British consular officials and his defense attorney. Jutting has not sought bail.

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TAB: China may reduce death sentence crimes; Hong Kong Protests gear up for long haul; Abe stands by Kono Statement


China may reduce number of crimes eligible for the death sentence. Hong Kong residents gear up on both sides. Abe to stand by Kono Statement.

October 29, 2014

China is considering removing nine crimes from its list of offenses punishable by death. Currently 55 criminal activities are eligible for the death penalty, but the draft resolution put to the National People’s Congress could reduce that. Human rights groups say China currently executes more people than the rest of the world combined.

The High Court of Hong Kong extended temporary injunctions against protests at two locations, but protesters refuse to leave. Robert Chow, one of the founders of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, a pro-Beijing group, help collect over 800,000 signatures in opposition to the Occupy movement. “Everyone thought the Occupy movement would end in a week; we had hoped the government would untangle this mess. But we waited and waited and waited. And now, we have to do something,” said Chow. Both sides, those pursuing democracy and those supporting Beijing are now gearing up for the next phase of what seems to be a very long protest, with 9 of 10 protesters saying they would stay for a year.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed no desire to revise a past government apology for Tokyo’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II. South Korea’s National Assembly speaker Chung Ui-hwa met with Abe at the prime minister’s office, “Prime Minister Abe repeated the exact words he said in March. He said he would completely inherit the historical perception of past governments.”

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TAB: Student-Government Talks in Hong Kong; Japanese Student Attempts to Join ISIS; Sewol Capt. In Court


Today on The Asia Brief: Hong Kong protesters and government lay down rules for negotiations, a Japanese student may have tried to join ISIS, and the Sewol Capt. is in court.

It’s Wednesday, October 8, 2014, and this is The Asia Brief.

Despite dwindling numbers on the streets of Hong Kong, it appears both sides are inching closer to an agreement to hold meetings on political reform. The guidelines, thus far agreed upon by both sides are: there will be more than one dialogue, that they will be held on the basis of “an equal relationship and mutual respect” and that “the government will implement… any consensus raised during the meeting.”

Tokyo police are investigating the possibility that a Japanese student tried to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. According to the Asahi Shimbun, police are questioning a 26-year-old man from Hokkaido Univ.

Lee Joon-Seok, captain of the ill-fated Sewol ferry in South Korea admitted in court during his murder trail he knew a junior member was at the helm at the time of the accident. When asked if he should have taken the helm as the ship entered a channel notorious for its strong underwater currents, replied: “Yes, I guess so.”

Thank you for joining me today. Follow the Asia News Weekly Twitter and Facebook feeds for more news throughout the day.

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SHOW NOTES

Thumbnail: Mario Madrona

TAB: Hong Kong Close to “Anarchy,” DPRK Visits South Korea, and Asian Volcanos


The deadline for student groups to move out from Hong Kong's HQ area looms as CY Leung says the area is close to
It’s Monday, October 6, 2014, and this is The Asia Brief.

The Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong continued this weekend, but unlike the peaceful week-long of assembly, violence erupted on at least two occasions. Triad gang members clashed with protestors Friday and police used pepper spray and batons Saturday and early Sunday. Chief Executive CY Leung gave protesters until today to vacate the area around government buildings, bringing the situation a head as allegations surface that the government is using police and gang members to sir up trouble. Members from the student-led groups Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, remain outside government HQ.

Japan officials have recovered nearly all bodies from last week’s deadly Mt. Ontake eruption, but rescue operations have been hampered by weather and environmental conditions. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the nation’s Mayon Volcano continued to inflate, which means magma is still moving upward, indicating an imminent eruption.

Three high-ranking members of North Korea’s leadership met with South Korean officials in Seoul during the closing weekend of the Asian Games. Seoul officials said the South invited the delegates to meet with President Park Geun-hye at Cheong Wa Dae. The meeting, however, did not materialize due to time constraints and the two countries plan to hold more talks soon. Both sides also assert that Kim Jong-un is firmly in control of the nation.

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NOTES

THE ASIA BRIEF: 9.25.14


korean suicide

It’s Thursday, September 25, 2014, and this is The Asia Brief.

The held Valiant Shield in the western Pacific. A massive military exercise aimed at disrupting enemy movement. As the rest of the world continues to see slow economic growth, Asia continues to be the place to be for foreign investment. Unfortunately, South Korea retains its title as OECD member with the highest number of suicides per day.

That’s the Asia Brief for this week. Coming up at 12:01am Friday morning, Asia News Weekly presents a full digest of the week’s news. Get the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and of course AsiaNewsWeekly.Net.

Thank you for joining me today. Follow the Asia News Weekly Twitter and Facebook feeds for more news throughout the day.

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SHOW NOTES

ASIA NOW: American Sequoias in Korea


Today on Asia Now, Yuna Kim and I try to track down the fate of 500 giant sequoias that were donated to South Korea in 1971.

The Korean War began at dawn on Sunday, the 25th of June 1950. Three years later, an armistice was signed, ending a deadly conflict claiming some 1.2 million lives on all sides. It’s also a war that was really only brought to life to many through the television show M*A*S*H.

Since that time, both nations have continued on their own independent paths. North Korea is often depicted as a rouge state, while South Korea is held up high for its ability to modernize and become an economic powerhouse in just 60 years.

However, there are other countless other stories to be told about South Korea’s recovery and this is one of them. Today on Asia Now is a story brought to us by Conrad Erkelens. He’s the son of a Navy Commander who donated 500 giant sequoias in 1971 and asked for help to uncover their fate.

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SHOW NOTES

KAM Chats: Chuseok is coming



Chuseok, the “Korean Thanksgiving” is just a few weeks away. The three-day holiday starts off on a Sunday this year, but due to a new law, we get an extra day off in the middle of the week. The bill was first submitted in 2009, and hasn’t really progressed until now.

In today’s VLOG, I share what Jo and I will be doing during my week-long vacation this year. What are you doing for Chuseok or how do you spend Thanksgiving?

ASIA NOW: Pope Francis in Korea


Pope Francis recently visited South Korea. What was it like for those seeking a glimpse of the Holy See and what could the Pope’s visit to the ROK mean for the nation’s Protestants? It’s a conversation taking place in Asia… now.

Pope Francis recently wrapped up a five-day visit to South Korea. It was the first papal visit in fifteen years. As one might expect, Pope Francis’ visit received a lot of domestic and international press. While not a Christian nation, like The Philippines, Christianity has taken root on the peninsula with roughly 30% of the population today self-identifying. That roughly breaks down to 10% being Catholic and 20% falling into Protestant and other denominations.

For those seeking a glimpse of the Holy See, what was their experience? Chance Dorland from Seoul It Up filed this report for Asia Now. I also spoke with Hongik University assistant professor Michael Hurt. He shared his opinions about Christianity in Korea and possible implications of Pope Francis’ visit.

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SHOW NOTES

Thumbnail: Jeon Han

Teaching in Korea after EPIK is gone.



My thoughts on where education needs to go in Korea. EPIK, the main public school program has been a huge failure. The program is slowly being phased out, and I think that’s a good thing. Too much money is being wasted with little result. English education needs to be reworked and rebuilt from scratch and I share my thoughts on that as a former academic administrator.