South Korea said on Thursday it will scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, drawing a swift protest from Tokyo and deepening a decades-old dispute over history that has hit trade and undercut security cooperation over North Korea. Seoul’s decision not to extend the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) shows how the political and trade dispute between the Asian neighbors and U.S. allies has hit some of the region’s most sensitive security issues.
South Korean warplanes fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian military aircraft that entered South Korean airspace on Tuesday, defense officials said, while Russia denied violating any airspace and accused South Korean pilots of being reckless. The incident, which also involved China and Japan, could complicate relations and raise tension in a region that has for years been over-shadowed by hostility between the United States and North Korea.
In a victory for women’s rights in South Korea, the country’s top court ordered the government to decriminalize abortion Thursday, reforming a 66-year-long widespread ban on the procedure. Women who terminate pregnancies can face fines of up to KRW 2 million ($1,850) or one year in jail, and medical professionals assisting with abortions can face prison terms of up to two years if convicted. The court ruling ordered South Korea’s National Assembly to create legislation easing the current regulations by the end of 2020, calling the current abortion law incompatible with the constitution.
Former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was jailed for 15 years for corruption Friday, October 5, becoming the latest of the country’s ex-leaders to be sent to prison. Lee, in office from 2008 to 2013, is the fourth former South Korean president to be jailed. Lee Myung-bak faced charges of having accepted around US$10 million in illegal funds from institutions like Samsung and his own intelligence service.
A North Korean delegation, including singer Hyon Song-wol, completed their visit to South Korea, Monday, during which they examined venues for Winter Olympic performances. The delegation was met by both cheers and protests from South Koreans, with a North Korean flag and a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being burned.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said, Wednesday, North Korea will face stricter sanctions if they resume weapons testing, and gave credit to the United States President Trump for facilitating the resumption of dialogue between North and South Korea. The White House reported that Trump and Moon spoke about ‘continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea.’
Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was sentenced to an additional 25 years in prison on Friday in a case related to the corruption scandal that ousted her from power in 2017. Park was South Korea’s first democratically elected leader forced out of office. Park was fined $17.86 million for abuse of power, bribery, and coercion.
In a gesture of attempted reconciliation, North and South Korea agreed, Wednesday, that their athletes will march under the same flag at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in February. South Korea hopes this could lead to political thawing between the countries, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha saying, ‘we have to make the most’ of the opportunity.
Distracting from the attention given to the presence of Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, NBC issued an apology and fired an Olympic analyst after he commented enraging South Koreans. Joshua Cooper Ramos stated that Korea acknowledges Japan ‘has been so important to their own transformation,’ regarding Japan’s occupation of Korea before World War II.
Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s impeached and ousted president, was sentenced to 24 years in prison Friday after a court in Seoul found her guilty on multiple counts of abuse of power, bribery and coercion. Park last year became South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be impeached after a scandal exposed the entrenched, collusive ties between South Korea’s government and some of its most powerful business conglomerates like Samsung.