South Korea. According to
Countryaah, the newly elected President Park Geun Hye
was sworn in in February and promised economic recovery and
tough security issues. Just two weeks before, North Korea
had tested a nuclear weapon, for the third time since 2006.
Park had some problems with appointing her government
when several of the candidates she appointed were withdrawn
following interrogations in the National Assembly or after
revealing media irregularities. By the end of March, the new
government was ready.
The North Korean test blast deteriorated an already tense
situation and was followed by sharp condemnations from the
outside world. South Korea increased its military
preparedness and conducted a military exercise with the
United States, after which North Korea sharpened the already
tightened tone and threatened with attack.
In addition, in April, North Korea closed the Kaesong
industrial zone, where over 800 South Koreans and over
50,000 North Koreans worked in 123 South Korean companies.
Kaesong was the only joint project the two countries ran.
Several fruitless rounds of negotiations were held before
the industrial zone was reopened in September.
Former intelligence chief Won Sei Hoon was charged in
June with trying to influence the outcome of the December
2012 presidential election, in Park's favor. This should
have happened by ordering a disinformation campaign against
her opponent. The opposition party Democratic United Party
(DUP) requested a parliamentary inquiry into the charges.
During a visit by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in
October, South Korea and the United States signed a military
pact to coordinate against North Korea's threats. An annual
military parade held was reported to be the largest in a
decade, and President Park spoke of a "serious threat" from
Freedom of expression is still limited in the country due
to the źNational Security Act╗. In the first 8 months of
2014, 32 people were charged under the law. There was a
decline in 2013, in which 129 people were charged under the
law, but alarming.
The country has an important export of equipment to
suppress popular protests. Following sharp criticism from,
among other things, Amnesty International stopped the
country in January 2014 exports of tear gas to the
dictatorial state of Bahrain.
In November 2015, 80,000 in Seoul’s streets protested
against the president demanding her resignation. It came
after a series of legislative changes that made it easier
for employers to lay off their employees, and the decision
that middle school and high school students from 2017 must
have replaced their history books with state-approved texts.
The protesters were met with tear gas and water cannons.
Relations with the old occupying power and war crimes
state of Japan continued to be strained, and South Korea was
reminded every year of the war crimes when Japanese prime
ministers visited Japanese war memorials. In December,
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and South Korea's
President Park signed an agreement to settle the dispute
over the Qur'an war whores. During the Japanese occupation
of Korea, the occupation force forced over 100,000 Korean
women into prostitution, serving soldiers of the occupying
force. Japan now agreed to pay $ 8.3 million US $ for a fund
for surviving victims. In turn, South Korea pledged to no
longer criticize Japan for these crimes, and to remove a
statue commemorating the victims located in front of the
Japanese embassy in Seoul.
In February 2016, South Korea closed the Kaesong free
trade zone, which was a South Korean economic zone with
North Korean workers operated on the border between the two
countries. The occasion was North Korea's missile testing
earlier this month.
The April 2016 parliamentary election was a staggering
defeat for President Park, whose conservative coalition went
back 24 seats to 122, while the Socialist-Liberal coalition
went 21 seats up to 123. Parliament's two smaller parties
also prospered. The consequence was that President Park and
her party no longer had a majority in parliament, and
therefore politically relied on the opposition's support for
bills. This was a political double-power situation that
weakened the president.
In July, South Korea and the United States decided to
deploy the THAAD missile system. The decision sparked
protests from both China and North Korea, which saw the
decision as an offensive move. The locals in the areas where
it was to be set up also protested against the decision.