Foreign teacher held on drug charges

March 20, 2007 Joonang Ilbo A 24-year-old Canadian English teacher has been detained on charges of smoking hashish, the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday. Four Canadians and one Australian who teach or had taught at private academies in Seoul and Gyeonggi province have also been investigated on the same charge but were not detained, prosecutors said. According to prosecutors, the Canadian man, who teaches English at a private academy in Seongnam, Gyeonggi province, allegedly smoked hashish in his studio apartment in Bundang-district on the southern outskirts of Seoul on Jan. 5 with three of the suspects. The man is suspected of buying 3.6 grams of hashish from an unidentified foreigner at a bar in Itaewon, central Seoul, on Jan. 1 for 200,000 won ($211) and selling 1.6 grams of the drug to a 26-year-old Canadian English teacher, one of the suspects under investigation. The man admitted to police that

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Right to Publicity Lawsuit in Korea

Stars break new ground in publicity rights case March 20, 2007 Joonang Ilbo Seven South Korean movie stars and their management agency, iHQ, are suing a local movie magazine, Screen, seeking a total of 350 million won ($370,880) in compensation for commercially using the stars’ pictures without their permission, according to the Seoul Central District Court. The movie stars are Jun Ji-hyun, Jung Woo-sung, Kim Sun-a, Zo In-sung, Ji Jin-hee, Cha Tae-hyun and Yang Jin-woo ― leading stars of television and movies, and among the most visible faces of hallyu, the Korean pop culture wave that is sweeping Asian countries. In their complaint, the movie stars accused the monthly magazine of selling their pictures, taken for interviews with the magazine, on a Japanese Web site where online users pay to download photographs of hallyu stars, according to the court. “The pictures were taken for interviews with the magazine and the

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Korea Looks to China and EU for More FTAs

Chosun Ilbo With the free trade agreement (FTA) talks between Korea and the U.S. winding down, the government is now promoting FTA talks with China and the European Union (EU). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) announced Monday that it will hold a conference for joint research among business people, government officials and scholars on an FTA between Korea and China. An official from MOFAT said the joint research could be seen as a step leading to FTA discussions since such research has in the past been connected to FTA negotiations. The conference would cover basic work to promote an FTA between the two countries such as detailed rules regulating joint research operations and other items to include. MOFAT also announced that it will hold the first round of FTA talks with the EU in May. Kim Han-soo, the director of the free trade bureau at MOFAT, will

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Drug Confession on Blog Leads to Bust by Seoul Police

The Marmot’s Hole has a post on how an office worker who posted on his website that he smoked pot in the Netherlands led to the police arresting the individual. What NOT to post on your blog in Korea A 38-year-old office worker got a rude introduction to the perils of blogging when he posted about his pot-smoking experience in the Netherlands on his blog [Segye Ilbo, Korean].You guessed it—the police busted him. The office worker, identified only as Mr. A, was with two colleagues on a seven-day, six-night business trip to the Netherlands in January. Having completed their work, they were spending the rest of their time in-country doing a little sightseeing when their guide mentioned that while smoking pot in Korea might be illegal, smoking pot in the Netherlands was not punished. Their curiosity sparked, they paid a visit to a local coffee shop and bought three joints,

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Sidewalk motorcyclists to face stiffer penalties

Sidewalk motorcyclists to face stiffer penalties March 20, 2007 Joongangilbo The National Police Agency announced it will enforce a massive crackdown in May against motorcyclists who ride their bikes on sidewalks and crosswalks. The practice is the source of many complaints by foreign visitors to Korea. According to a recent agency survey of 154,000 motorcyclists at 50 major intersections nationwide, more than nine out of 10 crossed roads on pedestrian crosswalks. About 63 percent failed to halt at the stop line and 47 percent did not use the lane nearest to the sidewalk that is reserved for motorcycles. More than one out of 10 motorcyclists rode on the sidewalks, according to the survey. The number of motorcycle accidents has increased as well, from 10,269 in 2004 to 12,161 in 2005 and 13,635 last year, according to the agency. During January and February, 1,750 accidents occurred in which 100 were killed,

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Frequent Constitutional Revision Undesirable

By Ko Seung-kyun Korea TimesThe current debate over the issue of constitutional revision in regard to the presidential term requires careful scrutiny. South Korea has already experienced eight revisions of its constitution since its inception in 1948. High frequency of constitutional revision can cause an unhealthy political environment and instability as well as confusion. Any attempt at constitutional revision should take into consideration not just the presidential term but also a wide range of various factors attributable to democratic principles as well as the maximization of political efficiency and stability. The current proposal under consideration as proposed by the Roh administration appears to be too simplistic to fulfill these conditions. South Korea today faces unique political problems and challenges. The country has to deal with insurmountable challenges from North Korea in a wide range of issues. It has to overcome economic and financial difficulties as well as social problems _

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Lesson II: Korean for Korean Law

Lesson II: Korean for Korean LawI. Daily WordsA. to Sue someone (verb): 고소하다.B. to be Sued: 고소 당하다.C. Lawsuit (noun): 소송, 고소D. Contract Law: 계약법E. Criminal Law: 형법, 형사법F. Civil Law: 민법, 민사법G. Corporate Law: 회사 법H. Tax Law: 세법I. Intellectual Property: 지적 소유권 (재산권)J. Constitutional Law: 헌법II. Daily SentencesA. I am being sued for breach of contract. 나는 계약위반으로 고소 당했다.B. I was sued for violation of the company’s trademark. 나는 회사의 상표 위반 혐의로 고소 당했었다.C. I will be sued for hitting his car. 나는 그의 차를 부셔서 고소 당할 것이다. [email protected]

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76 Percent of Apartment Owners to Pay More Tax

Chosun Ilbo A Lesson in Survival From the Finance Minister The real estate tax burden this year will rise for 7.38 million households or 76 percent of the 9.7 million apartments, condominiums and villa complexes across the country. The 9.7 million will pay W85,000 (US$1=W945) in combined property tax per household on average this year, up about 12 percent (W9,000) from last year, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs said Thursday. The increase is small, the government explained, because property taxes for households worth less than W600 million in government-set value, which are not subject to combined real estate tax, are limited to a rise of no more than 10 percent. But as the government plans to raise real estate tax from the current 50 percent of publicly assessed value to 100 percent by 2017, the burden is also expected to rise for householders not subject to combined

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President Roh Takes Aim at Prosecutors

By Ryu Jin Korea Times President Roh Moo-hyun fought prosecutors in his early days in office. A born controversialist, he volunteered to debate with young prosecutors on TV in 2003, though the goodwill event turned into a raw war of words. Four years later, now in his final year, he seems to have taken up arms against the prosecution once more as he believes the country’s powerful investigative body needs to be changed. In a speech on Tuesday, the president cited the press and the prosecution as institutions needing reform. “Our work for reforms has entered a final stage,” he said. “But there are some areas that need more change.” Having sought to break away from the old authoritarian era when those with power and vested rights colluded, Roh takes pride in his achievements in reform and innovation of the private as well as the public sector. Roh’s criticism of

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Suspected Kidnapper Nabbed

By Kim Rahn Korea Times The police Friday arrested a 38-year-old man on suspicion of orchestrating last month’s kidnapping of a golf course owner. The suspect, Chong Song-il, is the son of Chong In-suk, a woman who was believed to be the mistress of a high-ranking official in the 1960s and who died mysteriously. Incheon International Airport Police arrested Chong near his house in southern Seoul early yesterday morning, 18 days after the kidnapping. On Feb. 26, the owner of a golf course in Kyonggi Province, identified by his surname Kang, his 24-year-old son and his driver were taken abducted by a group of men at the airport. They escaped two days later from a villa in PyeongChang, Kangwon Province, where they had been held. Kang claimed two of his relatives had ordered gangsters to kidnap him in a plot to take over management of the golf course. Earlier this

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Koreans Likely to Enjoy US Visa Waiver Program

South Koreans may be able to travel to America without a visa if a Sept. 11 reform bill becomes law in the United States. The chances of Korea entering the U.S. visa waiver program has increased after the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill Tuesday. “If the bill becomes law, there would be a higher possibility that South Koreans could travel to the U.S. freely without a visa,’’ an immigration expert said. U.S. senators voted 60 to 38 for the security reform bill containing a provision enabling U.S. President George W. Bush to fulfill his promised expansion of the visa waiver program. Under current American law, countries wanting to participate in the program are required to have a less than a 3 percent refusal rate on their U.S visa applications. South Korea has failed to join the program because its refusal rate on U.S. visa applications is above 3 percent.

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Scholars Urge Korea to Upgrade System for US FTA

By Yoon Won-sup and Kim Sue-youngStaff Reporters Korea Times Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong, right, and Kim Jong-hoon, chief South Korean negotiator for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, look pensive during a National Assembly session, Wednesday. /Yonhap Economic and political experts said that a free trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and the United States, once concluded, will bring great opportunities for South Korea to enter the world’s biggest market.But they warned that the FTA may also pose critical challenges to Korea if it fails to upgrade its economic systems to the level of the United States. Lee Hong-shik, head of the FTA Research Team at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), said, “The most important point of the FTA is that Korea will enter the U.S. market earlier than other nations.’’ Lee said that Korea will have advantage in bilateral trade with the United

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Illegal Migrant Workers to Get Help Receiving Pay

Korea Times Kang Shin-who The Ministry of Labor plans to help migrant workers who have overstayed their visas due to delayed salaries. The ministry Tuesday announced that it will visit immigrant detention centers and help those who have had difficulties in getting their salaries from companies they worked for. The ministry said it will provide legal counselors to help retrieve the money in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice. If the ministry finds foreigners who have overstayed their visas due to such circumstances, it will put priority in retrieving the unpaid salary and then take action on the overstayed visa, as according to a policy “first pay, second overstay notice.” In cases where the companies are unable to pay the migrant workers, the ministry said it will guarantee the payment will be made via an online bank account even after they leave Korea. In addition, the ministry plans to regularly

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Investigation of Homicides in Korea

Tiny clues shed light on brutal homicides March 13, 2007 Joongang Ilbo A breakthrough in a murder case can come from a tiny piece of evidence. It can be a miniscule blood stain or a fingerprint on a discarded bottle, but solid evidence is hard to come by. To find the vital piece may require the search of a thousand homes and several weeks of sleepless nights. But without decisive evidence a case can remain unsolved indefinitely, depriving the victim’s relatives and loved ones of justice. On Jan. 24, the nation was shocked when a woman’s torso and handless arms were found. They were in a bloodstained bag dumped in a restroom at the Ansan subway station. Some wondered if a serial killer was on the loose. Danwon police launched an intensive murder investigation, according to three officers interviewed for this story. Blood stains from the victim were discovered in

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Rape Sentences Egregiously Low

This column appears in the Korea Times every Wednesday. Rape Sentences Egregiously Low Dear Professor Sean Hayes: I was very surprised when the American soldier convicted of raping a 67 year old woman only received 4 years in jail. I know in my home, Vancouver, anyone convicted of rape will receive a substantially higher sentence. Did the convicted receive a short sentence because of the influence of the United States military or because of low sentences for rapists in Korea? Surprised Canadian. Dear Surprised Canadian: The United States military played no role in the low sentence given to the American private. The sentence received was even longer than the normal rape sentence in Korea. The reason, according to the Court, was that the victim was extremely traumatized by the rape and assault. Private Geronimo Ramirez, 23, in mid January, raped a 67 year women as she was returning from an

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Korea-U.S. Agree in Two More Areas in FTA

Chosun Ilbo Korea, U.S. Make Headway Toward FTA Korean and U.S. trade negotiators reached agreement on the customs and government procurement at their eighth round of bilateral free trade talks, which is under way in Seoul. Including antitrust measures, where the two sides agreed Thursday, they have now concluded negotiations in three out of 19 areas under discussion. By concluding deals in the less critical sectors first, they have been able to move faster in trade negotiations toward complete conclusion in all fields. But thorny issues like agricultural market and auto taxes remain a stumbling block, and the two sides plan to settle them in two rounds of high-level negotiations after this round wraps up. Korean top negotiator Kim Jong-hoon told reporters on Sunday, the fourth day of talks, that Korea’s attempt to protect its agricultural market and the U.S.’ demand that Korea change its car tax regime based on

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Crimes Out of Desperation Increase

By Park Chung-a Korea Times In a 1948 Italian movie “The Bicycle Thief,’’ Antonio, a middle-aged breadwinner ends up becoming a bicycle thief as a way to overcome his desperate situation arising from economic hardship. Now there is an increasing number of such “bicycle thieves’’ whose crimes are linked to trying to improving their desperate lot in the country. Last week, a 42-year-old man identified by his last name Kang, was caught by police while trying to steal three bicycles near Changhanpyong subway station in Seoul. Kang said that he stole the worn-out bicycles in order to buy ingredients to make stew for his daughter and son who are elementary school students. “I was just so desperate to feed my children. With the money exchanged with the bicycles I thought I could cook something for my children,’’ Kang told the police. However, the bicycles that he stole would not have

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Lawsuits Against State to Get Tougher

By Kim Rahn Korea Times Individuals may have a lesser chance of winning lawsuits against the state, following a government measure to improve the quality of its lawyers. The measure came amid an avalanche of suits filed by individual citizens or companies against government agencies and public organizations, according to the Ministry of Justice. The number of suits against the nation climbed from 6,815 in 2000 to 10,027 last year, while money claimed amounted to 3 trillion won. The ministry announced Monday it had abolished a provision restricting lawyers’ payments in cases involving the state earlier this month. The provision, established in 1978, limited payment to lawyers representing the state. Lawyers used to receive a 2 million won retaining fee when the amount of claimed money in the suit was less than 50 million won; 3 million won in a 50-100 million won suit; and 5 million won when the

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Lone Star’s KEB Deal Said Illegal

By Na Jeong-juStaff Reporter Korea Times State auditors said Monday Lone Star Funds, a U.S. private equity fund, was not eligible to acquire Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) in 2003, but financial regulators approved the deal in violation of the law. Following its audit of Lone Star’s qualification to become the majority shareholder of KEB, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) concluded it was illegal for the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to approve the sale of KEB’s controlling stake to the company. BAI officials said the auditor has requested the FSC to review its 2003 decision to endorse the sale. In line with the request, FSC may embark on the procedure of deciding on whether to withdraw its ruling for Lone Star, but doing so is not compulsory. “We can’t do anything about it until a final court ruling comes out,’’ an FSC official said. The auditor also requested the

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