SEOUL, August 24 -- North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Saturday morning, the Japanese government said, with the launch coming a day after Seoul informed Tokyo of its decision to scrap a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact.
South Korea's military said North Korea fired what were believed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its eastern coast from Sondok in South Hamgyong Province in Pyongyang's seventh round of such launches since July 25. The missiles, fired at 6:45 a.m. and 7:02 a.m., flew about 380 kilometers at a top speed of Mach 6.5 and reached a maximum altitude of about 97 km, Yonhap News Agency quoted the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying. The missiles were unlikely to have landed in Japan's territory or exclusive economic zone, according to the Japanese government. The country's Defense Ministry said the two missiles flew some 350 km and 400 km, respectively. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya criticized the launches as "a clear violation" of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban Pyongyang from testing such missiles. Tokyo has already lodged a stern protest against North Korea over the missile firings, Japan's parliamentary vice foreign minister Kiyoto Tsuji told ruling party lawmakers Saturday. However, U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed the latest launches, saying Washington and Pyongyang have a really good relationship and that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been "pretty straight with me."
BEIJING, August 21 -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday asked Japan and South Korea to seek a solution to resolve their differences "through dialogue," amid concern that worsening relations between Tokyo and Seoul may threaten regional economic stability down the road.
Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono also called on Beijing and Seoul to bolster trilateral cooperation even when respective bilateral ties sour, but his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung Wha lambasted Tokyo's moves to tighten export controls against her country.
"While maintaining a constructive attitude, it is important (for Japan and South Korea) to find out an appropriate solution through dialogue," Wang said at the outset of a foreign ministerial gathering of the three nations in Beijing.
Kono said, "Two countries sometimes face various difficulties respectively, but even under such circumstances, Japan, China and South Korea should work together trilaterally." A Japanese government official briefing reporters later in the day quoted Kono as telling Wang and Kang that the foreign ministers "should refrain" from raising issues related to bilateral relations during the trilateral meeting.
Kang, however, told Kono and Wang that South Korea hopes that the three nations will stick to "free and fair" trade for prosperity in the region in an apparent jab at Japan, underscoring that strains between Tokyo and Seoul are unlikely to wane soon.
She also said at a joint press appearance following the talks, "It is important to eliminate unilateral and arbitrary trade retaliatory steps and remove uncertainties" in East Asia. Kang did not single out Japan.
The Japanese official said Wang did not make comments aimed at mediating in the row between Tokyo and Seoul.
Recently, Japan-South Korea ties have plunged to the lowest point since normalization in 1965 over Japanese imposition of export control measures in the wake of a string of South Korean court rulings last year ordering compensation for wartime labor.
At a three-way meeting in Bangkok earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to make efforts to ease their confrontation, but no resolution has been in sight.
Although Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul agreed Wednesday to accelerate negotiations to reach regional free trade agreements, Japan-South Korea trade spats would make it more difficult for them to be realized, foreign affairs experts say.
SEOUL, August 16 -- North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles into the Sea of Japan early Friday, South Korea's military said, in its sixth round of such launches in just over three weeks.
The projectiles were launched around 8:01 a.m. and 8:16 a.m. from Tongcheon County in Gangwon Province, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. They both flew about 230 kilometers, reaching a maximum altitude of about 30 kilometers and flying at a top speed of Mach 6.1, the JCS said in a statement, adding that South Korean and U.S. authorities are analyzing the specification of the projectiles. It was the sixth launch of projectiles by the country since July 25, with the previous one occurring on Saturday when it fired what were believed to be short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan. South Korea's National Security Director Chung Eui Yong held an emergency meeting with his council members, where they urged North Korea to stop such moves as they could escalate military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The latest launches are likely another warning against a South Korea-U.S. joint military drill that started last week and runs through late this month. The Japanese government said that it has not confirmed any projectiles flying into Japan's exclusive economic zone and that the projectiles posed no immediate security threat. "We will do all we can to ensure the safety of the people by working closely with the United States among others," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after North Korea's latest launches. Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said, "The advancement of missile-related technology by North Korea is a very serious issue for the entire region and the international community. We will take all possible measures toward vigilance and surveillance."
North Korea did not immediately comment on the latest launches. However, earlier in the day, a North Korean state organ issued a statement harshly criticizing South Korean President Moon Jae In's appeal for inter-Korean cooperation and dialogue in a speech the previous day. A spokesperson for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, a body that manages Inter-Korean relations, said in the statement Pyongyang has "nothing to talk any more with the south Korean authorities," according to the Korean Central News Agency. "Even at this moment, there go on in south Korea joint military exercises against the DPRK. Does he have any face to talk about dialogue atmosphere, peaceful economy and peace-keeping mechanism," the statement said, reiterating the leadership's criticism of the exercises. DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
SEOUL, August 15 -- South Korean President Moon Jae In called on Thursday for a dialogue with Japan amid frayed bilateral relations over wartime history and trade policy, saying Seoul will "join hands" if Tokyo chooses the path of talks.
"Better late than never. If Japan chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, we will gladly join hands," Moon said as he spoke at a ceremony in Cheonan, south of the capital Seoul, to mark the end of Japanese colonial rule 74 years ago. Moon also made a conciliatory gesture to Tokyo, saying Seoul has "not dwelt on the past" and expressed "hope that Japan will play a leading role together in facilitating peace and prosperity in East Asia while it contemplates a past that brought misfortune to its neighboring countries." His speech came as ties between the two Asian neighbors sank to the lowest point in recent years after South Korean court decisions last year that ordered Japanese companies to compensate plaintiffs who claim to have been conscripted as laborers during World War II. The compensation issue, which Tokyo claims to have already been settled by a 1965 bilateral accord, has recently escalated into tit-for-tat tightening of export controls. Moon said his country aims to become an economic powerhouse despite Japan's tightened export controls. "In the face of Japan's unwarranted export restrictions, we will continue our determined march toward a responsible economic powerhouse," he said. The president emphasized that the normal flow of trade could be disrupted if a country uses its comparative advantage in a sector, referring to Japan's move that requires manufacturers of semiconductor-related materials to seek approval each time before shipping to Seoul. "If any country weaponizes a sector where it has a comparative advantage, the peaceful free trade order will inevitably suffer damage. A country that achieved growth first must not kick the ladder away while others are following in its footsteps," he said. He explained that his government would channel efforts into improving competitiveness of domestic materials, parts and equipment industries, while enhancing cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises and conglomerates to build "an economy that will never be shaken."
South Korea calls Japan's recent tightening of export controls "an economic retaliation" as Tokyo views that Seoul has failed to deal with months-long disputes over wartime labor. As for inter-Korean relations, Moon also highlighted his government's efforts to help keep a dialogue going between North Korea and the United States. "In spite of a series of worrying actions taken by North Korea recently, the momentum for dialogue remains unshaken," he said, adding that Seoul is committed to denuclearization and bringing about peace on the Korean Peninsula during his term as president. North Korea has recently fired a series of short-range ballistic missiles, which it claims to be "new-type tactical guided missiles," as a warning against South Korea-U.S. joint military drills that started on Aug. 5 and run through late this month. U.S. President Donald Trump said last week that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed displeasure at the military exercise in a letter to him and that the two leaders would have another meeting. With ongoing provocative actions by Pyongyang, Moon may be well aware of people's concerns over forming a "peace economy" with North Korea as he suggested. Moon reiterated that his government's intention is not to give unilateral aid to North Korea, but to promote mutual benefits. "Both Koreas will be able to reduce not only huge defense expenditures but also the invisible cost of the division, the so-called 'Korea Discount,'" said Moon.
SEOUL, August 14 -- South Korean company to start making Isocell Bright HMX sensor, developed with Chinese firm Xiaomi, that offers detailed images similar to those of high-end DSLR cameras.
Samsung announced a new camera sensor on Monday, designed for smartphones, which packs 108 megapixels. Smartphone cameras typically have about 12 to 16 megapixels, where each megapixel, or million pixels, represents the small individual areas on a computer screen that are used measure the quality of an image or digital screen. However, Samsung’s new 108-megapixel camera sensor, the Isocell Bright HMX, is the first to go above 100 megapixels for a smartphone camera, the South Korean technology company says. The megapixel count is comparable to a high-end digital single-lens reflex camera.
With its 108 megapixels, the Isocell Bright HMX is designed to take extremely detailed photos. It’s also designed to take better lowlight shots by merging the pixels to absorb more light. When the pixels are merged, the megapixel count is reduced from 108 to 27, which is still more than twice as many as a standard smartphone camera. For recording video, Samsung’s Isocell Bright HMX can shoot up to 6K resolution at 30 frames per second, where the highest video resolution that smartphone cameras have been able to shoot is 4K at 60 frames a second. Samsung worked in partnership with Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi to develop the sensor, so it is likely that it will be featured in a forthcoming Xiaomi phone. The South Korean firm did not mention whether its own smartphones or other smartphone makers in the future will feature the 108-megapixel sensor. It said it was starting mass production of the Isocell Bright HMX sensor this month.
SEOUL, August 10 -- North Korea has fired two unidentified projectiles into the sea off eastern coast on Saturday, Yonhap news agency reported citing South Korea's military.
South Korea's defense ministry said it is closely following the developments. No further details are available at this point. On August 6, North Korea launched new guided missiles under the supervision of leader Kim Jong-un. The two missiles flew around 450 km and struck targets in the Sea of Japan. After test launches, Kim Jong-un said that this was "a warning over joint military drills" held by South Korea and the United States. On August 5, the United States and South Korea started joint military drills. According to preliminary reports, the military exercise will last until August 20.
"This is a serious issue for the international community," Japanese Senior Vice Defense Minister Kenji Harada told reporters after the launches. North Korea's missile launch would constitute a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning the country from using ballistic technology. South Korean military officials and the defense minister held an emergency meeting after the latest launches and took them to be another warning against a South Korea-U.S. joint military drill that started from Monday and runs through late this month. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that its launches a day earlier were a "warning" to the United States and South Korea over their ongoing joint military exercises. U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he received a "beautiful" letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in which he said he does not like conducting the short-range ballistic missile tests North Korea has been doing in recent weeks but justified the move as a response to the U.S.-South Korea drills. The U.S. president said on Aug. 1 he was not worried about the missiles being tested by the North, calling them "very standard," short-range devices. "Short-range missiles, we never made an agreement on that. I have no problem. We'll see what happens," Trump told reporters after North Korea carried out a series of missile launches. South Korean and U.S authorities are currently working on identifying the exact type of the projectiles, said the JCS, while warning that additional launches are highly likely as North Korea is now conducting summer military drills. The Japanese government said Saturday that it has not confirmed any ballistic missiles flying into Japan's exclusive economic zone and that the projectiles posed no immediate security threat. Even so, "we will strengthen our air and missile defense capabilities," Harada said.
TOKYO, August 9 -- President Moon Jae In on Friday tapped a semiconductor expert as his next science and technology minister as South Korea grapples with Japan's tightening of chip-making material shipments to the country.
Choi Ki Young, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Seoul National University, is a global authority in semiconductors and has helped South Korea become the world leader in memory chips, presidential spokeswoman Ko Min Jung said. The latest reshuffle within the Moon administration also includes the appointment of diplomat-turned-lawmaker Lee Soo Hyuck as new ambassador to the United States. Lee, a first-term National Assembly member from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, was South Korea's top negotiator at six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. Tapped as new gender equality and family minister is Lee Jung Ok, a sociology professor at Daegu Catholic University. The minister's portfolio includes the issue of "comfort women" who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels. The issue, which stems from Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, has been a source of diplomatic tension between South Korea and Japan.
SEOUL, August 8 -- Japan has approved export of a high-tech material to South Korea for the first time since imposing tighter curbs last month, but doubled down on political pressure and warned it could broaden restrictions on shipments to its Asian neighbor.
The approval and subsequent warning illustrate how Tokyo is upping the ante in the diplomatic row while at the same time is unwilling to unilaterally stop exports to South Korea. The dispute, rooted in their wartime past and exacerbated by the recent tightening of curbs on shipments of three high-tech components, has stoked nationalism and raised trade concerns. Relations between the two United States allies worsened late in 2018 as part of a decades-old dispute over compensation for forced laborers during Japan’s occupation. South Korea has invoked its difficult history with Japan, which colonized the Korean peninsula during World War II. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday (Aug 8) that tighter curbs would undermine Japan’s international credibility and accused Tokyo of using its industrial advantage as a weapon against another country. “The measures so far undermine the trust of the free trade order and the international division of labor,” Mr Moon said. “Even if there are any gains, it will be short-lived. In the end, it is a game without winners, where everyone, including Japan itself, becomes a victim.” The latest export approval followed “strict examination”, Japanese ministers said, cautioning that Tokyo could consider expanding its controls beyond the three high-tech materials. "If improper use of exports are found beyond three high-tech materials, we will implement thorough steps to prevent recurrence including expanding application examination,” Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said. Mr Seko said Japan does not usually announce each export approval but did so this time after South Korea described Japan’s recent curbs as an “embargo” on shipments. South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Tokyo had allowed the export of EUV photo resists, a chemical crucial for Samsung’s advanced contract chip making production. Samsung declined to comment.
Japan has removed South Korea from the “ white list” of countries with fast-track trade status, meaning some exporters may have to go through a lengthy permit application process to ship restricted items to South Korea. That covers a broad range of items, including those applicable to weapons production and machine tools. South Korea was scheduled to take a call on its plan to drop Japan from a similar “white list” of countries on Thursday, but trade ministry officials said the plan had been put off until further discussions. Japanese officials have cited unspecified security reasons for their export curbs. But they have pointed to an erosion of trust after South Korean court rulings last year ordered Japanese firms to compensate wartime forced laborers. Japan says the matter was settled by a 1965 treaty normalizing bilateral ties. Given the curbs in place, Japan’s approval to export the three materials could take up to 90 days, slowing shipments. Shares of Tokyo Ohka Kogyo rose 3.9 per cent and Stella Chemifa surged 10.1 per cent after the latest approval. Tokyo Ohka Kogyo makes photo resists and Stella Chemifa produces hydrogen fluoride, both materials affected by the export curbs. But it remains unclear if the initial approval from Tokyo signals a breakthrough in trade relations. “They approved only one out of a number of items, and they said they would approve exports for pure civilian purposes,” a South Korean senior trade ministry official said. South Korean chipmakers are hitting a dead end in their quest to find alternatives for key Japanese materials that have been hit with export restrictions, raising the prospect of major disruption to their operations in coming months. Of particular concern is sourcing of hydrogen fluouride, a key chipmaking material. South Korean chipmakers have been desperate for Japan’s high-purity hydrogen fluoride because it helps them get high “yield” rates, which is critical to making chips profitably.
PYONGYANG, August 7 -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared that the latest series of missile launches by Pyongyang send "adequate warning" over the South Korea-US military drills.
The country's state news media reported on Wednesday that Kim made the statement as he inspected on Tuesday the launch of a new type of tactical guided missiles - the fourth test in 12 days. KCNA said Kim had watched the launches, which verified the "war capacity" of the new armament.North Korea says US 'hell-bent' on sanctions despite seeking dialogue. With the launches carried out satisfactorily, "Kim Jong Un noted that the said military action would be an occasion to send an adequate warning to the joint military drill now under way by the US and South Korean authorities," KCNA said. The drills are taking place despite Pyongyang's warnings that the exercises would jeopardise nuclear negotiations between the US and North Korea.
In Tokyo on Wednesday, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper met with his Japanese counterpart, Takeshi Iwaya, to discuss the latest developments in North Korea, as well as tensions in the South China Sea. Esper visited Australia and New Zealand before arriving in Japan. He will travel to Mongolia and South Korea during the latter part of his Asia trip. On Tuesday, Pyongyang fired two projectiles that "are assumed to be short-range ballistic missiles" into the sea, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said earlier. US President Donald Trump last week downplayed North Korea's launches calling them "very standard", while adding that Kim would not want to "disappoint" him. Trump and Kim held an historic summit in Singapore last year, where North Korea made a vague pledge on denuclearisation.
SEOUL, August 5 -- South Korea and the United States began a joint military drill Monday despite warnings from North Korea, South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong Doo told parliament.
The scaled-back combined command post exercise, called 19-2 Dong Maeng, will be held through Aug. 20 to test South Korea's capability to retake operational control over its forces from the United States during wartime. It mostly involves computer simulations, not mobilization of troops or military equipment. North Korea has said it launched two projectiles, suspected of being short-range ballistic missiles, on July 26 to send a warning to the South over the exercise, which it condemns as a rehearsal for an invasion. It also fired projectiles last Wednesday and Friday, and the South Korean and U.S. militaries are on alert more such provocations during and after the period of the exercise. North Korea has warned that going ahead with the exercise would undermine a commitment made by U.S. President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and could adversely affect working-level negotiations with the United States.
South Korea and the United have not held large-scale military drills since June last year when Trump, following his summit with Kim in Singapore, said he wanted to halt "war games" while continuing dialogue with North Korea, calling them "tremendously expensive" and "very provocative." In March, the two sides scrapped two major annual military exercises -- Key Resolve, and Foal Eagle -- that Pyongyang had viewed as provocative, in a bid to support diplomatic efforts on North Korea's denuclearization. At the same time, they launched the smaller-scale Dong Maeng as a replacement for Key Resolve, a computer-simulated command-and-control exercise, and did away with the "counterattack" portion of the exercise, for example. As for Foal Eagle, a field training exercise, it is reportedly being reorganized into low-key smaller-scale drills to be conducted at regular intervals.