Korean News Roundup: Sewol captain given life in jail, Kim Yuna donates to Nepal disaster and JYP buys coconuts

Here’s the biggest news of the day in Korea.

The Captain of the Sewol has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Gwangju High Court which is more than the original sentence of 36 years which was given to him in November. The crew’s sentences were also upheld by the court although altogether they were reduced from 5 to 30 years to 18 months to 12 years. Many people are still calling for higher-ups to be held accountable and better safety procedures to be put in place. But this is some justice for the victims, at least.

Kim Yuna continues to show everyone why she is so beloved with a $100,000 donation to the Nepalese earthquake disaster. She previously donated similar amounts to the Haiti disaster and Sewol victims’ families.

You can now get paid to watch ads in Korea. SPC’s new “Happy Screen” service will give you points that can be used at their stores nationwide (they own various franchises such as Paris Baguette, Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts). To launch the service they’re selling 4000 tickets to Dream Concert which no doubt means thousands of idol fans will be frying their eyes and brains watching hours and hours of phone adverts.

Like the super rich in most of the rest of the world, Korea’s rich chaebol families seem to be doing better and better. This is largely due to a new law which increases the amount that can be given out in dividends. Having said that the maximum dividend payout ratio (that is the percentage of a company’s net income that can be given out to shareholders) is 11.7% which is measly compared with the UK’s 51.6%.

Korea’s economy continues to struggle as the world’s 4 largest economies perform worse than expected. That’s the biggest peril of an export driven economy.

Another political row has emerged after President Park vowed to investigate pardons granted to Sung Woan-jon by former President Roh Moo-hyun. Sung was a businessman who recently committed suicide leaving behind a list implicating a number of high profile figures, including the former Prime Minister who resigned yesterday, in corruption. The opposition party have condemned the comments saying the current conservative President is stirring up false rumours about the former liberal President. Others are saying she may be trying to deflect attention away from her own party.

Jang Dong-min, Yoo Se-yoon and Yoo Sang-moo held a press conference to apologise for all the offensive things they have said. You can read our reaction here.

The Hankyoreh has an interesting look into the tiny budget flophouse accommodations favoured by Koreans cramming for tests and foreign students. Residents seems to be  satisfied despite how small the rooms are and are happy to be able to meet new people.

The Korean Herald has an interesting piece about how big K-pop companies are diversifying their activities into different areas like tourism, cosmetics and fashion. Not to be outdone by SM’s fancy holiday packages or YG’s cool new clothes range,  JYP is selling… coconut products.


To be fair, they do come in fancy looking bottles.

And finally…

That Graduate Fine Art thesis project K-pop boyband that angered so many fans has released its first single. Beware of the bass.


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