South Korea’s president declared war on the coronavirus on Tuesday, ordering additional hospital beds and more face masks to be made available as the number of cases rose by 974 in the worst epidemic of any nation outside China. The virus began to spread rapidly in South Korea after it entered the congregation of a Christian sect in Daegu city. The leader of the sect tested negative for the virus on Monday.
South Korean actor Cha In-ha was found dead in his home, police said Wednesday, making him the third young entertainer to die in the country in the last two months. The news about Cha comes after the recent deaths of two prominent female K-pop idols. On Nov. 24, 28-year-old Goo Hara was found dead in her Seoul home, while Sulli, 25, reportedly ended her life in October.
A South Korean court has sentenced two K-pop stars to six and five years in prison for gang-rape and additionally convicted one of them for distributing videos of the assaults and other sexual encounters. Jung Joon-young, a singer-songwriter, and Choi Jong-hoon, a former member of the boy band FT Island, were found guilty of gang-raping two different women in two incidents in 2016.
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.
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.