Korean News Roundup: Japanese PM avoids comfort women issue and anti-dog meat activists face nasty rumours

The big news of the day today has been all about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to the US and his stance on comfort women and Japan’s role in the sexual slavery of particularly Korean and Chinese women during the Second World War.

Abe’s trip is mainly to discuss ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership deal negotiations between Japan, America and ten other countries but Abe also offered his condolences to American troops who died during WWII saying he had felt “deep repentance in my heart” during his visit to the Washington memorial for the war.

Yesterday a Korean American student at a public address at Harvard asked the Prime Minister about the issue but he avoided directly taking it on saying he had no plans to change the Kono statement (an over 20 year old state apology he had attempted to review) and then going on to discuss the wider issue of violence against women during conflict throughout the world. Soompi has a good rundown of the encounter or you can watch it below.

A number of former Korean ‘comfort women’ and war victims have been protesting the US’ decision to invite Abe to Congress at all and urging Abe to make a fuller and clearer apology. TIME has a great in-depth piece about the whole situation.

Meanwhile, President Park is still off-duty undergoing medical treatment after falling ill during her trip to South America.

The work to raise the Sewol ferry from the seabed has officially gone out to tender internationally. Companies will have about three months to make their bid for the contract. Hopefully this means a reliable company will be chosen and the rest of the victims can finally be put to rest.

There’s a truly horrible story about a two-year-old who was allegedly strangled to death by his mother. The woman had called the police a day before to report that her husband had beaten the toddler to death but later admitted to strangling him “because of stress from family discord.”

A new piece of software for business-owners called “Magic System” was recently released which automatically records the phone numbers of customers that call the business so they can be used for promotional and marketing purposes. The Korean BizWire article reporting the story is very positive about it but all I could think about were all the data protection laws that would be broken if this was launched in my country.

The Korea Observer’s got an in-depth report into allegations the Humane Society International put down dogs it had rescued from illegal Korean dog meat farms and spread a canine flu virus found in Korea and southern China to Chicago. The website finds little basis in truth for the allegations although they do point to a bit of drama in the animal rights activism community.

The Korea Herald has an interesting infographic with the forecasts for Korean exports in 2015. It’s looking good for electronics and food and not so good for car and shipbuilding.

And finally…

A new survey was released which shows what single people in Korea think is the most ‘worthless’ form of consumption that the opposite sex engages in. According to this survey, single men think women spend too much on snacks, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery while Korean women think men spend too much on video games, alcohol and cigarettes. There is so much that could be said here but I will hold my tongue.

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