from Photographers' Blog:

Being a bird

December 8, 2009

South Korea’s Armed Forces Day is an annual event held on October 1.

seconddive

The country’s military puts on a variety of displays that include performances by military bands, drills by honor guard contingents and martial arts displays by special warfare units. There are also air shows with helicopters and fighting planes. One of the highlights of the event is a skydiving performance by South Korea’s Special Warfare Command soldiers.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

S.Korea bank supervision law clears hurdle; regulator upset

December 7, 2009

    SEOUL, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A bill to hand South Korea's central bank a role in supervising banks cleared a big hurdle on Monday, earning immediate rebuke from the top financial regulator.
   The National Assembly's powerful finance committee gave its blessing to the bill allowing the Bank of Korea to conduct its own probe into banks as part of a new role aimed at maintaining financial stability.
   The central bank lost its powers to supervise financial institutions in the aftermath of the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis. They were handed to the newly created regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC).
   "It is a pity and it is regrettable that the revised Bank of Korea act passed the finance committee," FSC chairman Chin Dong-soo told reporters. "The government is opposed to this revised act."
   Banks also criticised the bill, saying it would add to their burdens. [ID:nSEO127240] [ID:nSEO194897]
   "Giving grounds for the Bank of Korea to require a joint investigation in relation to financial market stability will increase banks' workload and harm their management efficiency," the Korea Federation of Banks said in a statement.
   The bill still has to be approved by the judiciary committee before a full parliamentary vote.
   Under current law, the central bank must go through the FSC and its implementing agency, the Financial Supervisory Service, if it wants access to detailed information on financial firms, including their foreign securities holdings and other investments.
   Pressure to change the law comes after criticism last year that the authorities were slow in dealing with market jitters about the foreign debt exposure of local banks. (Reporting by Kim Yeon-hee and Seo Eun-kyung; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher & Jan Dahinten) ((yeonhee.kim@thomsonreuters.com; +82 2 3704 5646; Reuters Messaging: yeonhee.kim.reuters.com@reuters.net))
  ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to newsfeedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com))
Keywords: KOREA BANKS/REGULATION
   . Keywords: KOREA BANKS/REGULATION
  
Monday, 07 December 2009 10:23:38RTRS [nTOE5B60A8] {C}ENDS

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

South Korea to push for naked short selling of bonds

By Reuters Staff
November 20, 2009

By Cheon Jong-woo and Seo Eun-kyung
SEOUL, Nov 20 (Reuters) - A top South Korean regulator said on Friday the authorities would take steps to encourage local and foreign banks to use naked short selling of bonds, a move analysts said could trigger a flood of foreign buying.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

S.Korea restricts trading in FX forwards

November 19, 2009

   By Seo Eun-kyung and Cheon Jong-woo
   SEOUL, Nov 19 (Reuters) - South Korea announced measures on Thursday aimed at tightening control over foreign exchange liquidity to make the banking system less vulnerable to the capital flight seen during the financial crisis.
   The Financial Services Commission, a financial watchdog, said the measures would enhance the soundness of banks' foreign currency assets in Asia's fourth-largest economy that is heavily reliant on exports.
   But the regulator said the country would not try to directly control foreign currency liquidity conditions at foreign bank branches in the country, although the branches would be subject to new regulations on forward deals.
   Authorities appear to be looking at ways to avoid a repeat of the capital flight that occurred during the global financial crisis, partly triggered by worries about the ability of companies to roll over their foreign debt liabilities during the global credit crunch.
   One measure called on banks to hold at least 2 percent of their total foreign assets in foreign treasury bonds rated A or above, or set aside a certain amount of safe foreign assets, such as treasuries, in proportion to the value of liabilities maturing within a year.
   The measure will not apply to foreign bank branches in the country. However, restrictions were placed on both local banks and foreign bank branches in trading foreign exchange in forward markets.
   "Exporters' excessive FX hedging boosted short-term foreign currency debts worsening the credit crisis last year. As the economy heavily relies on external factors, we may face the same situation if we experience another crisis," said Jeong My-young, a currency strategist at Samsung Futures.
   "The authorities are showing their determination to minimise the potential impact from hedging practices," she added.
   The steps are expected to weaken bets for a firmer won <KRW=> as exporters will be less aggressive in buying the local currency, traders said.
   A large chunk of foreign currency debt relates to forward currency hedging by shipbuilders -- South Korea is home to the world's three biggest such as Hyundai Heavy Industries <009540.KS> and Daewoo Shipbuilding <042660.KS> -- to cover billions of dollars in new ship orders.
   Banks have had to borrow short-term dollars to square their foreign-currency positions after taking up dollar/won forward offers from shipbuilders.
   For a FACTBOX on the measures, click here. [ID:nSEO196381]
   "Next year, the won will not necessarily rise further," said a currency trader at a foreign bank in Seoul.
   Reflecting the view, the won turned lower with falling as much as 0.4 percent in the morning, although it is up almost 9 percent since the start of the year. (Additional reporting by Kim Yeon-hee; Editing by Neil Fullick) ((jongwoo.cheon@thomsonreuters.com; +82 2 3704 5665; Reuters Messaging;jongwoo.cheon.reuters.com@reuters.net)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com))
Keywords: KOREA ECONOMY/CONTROL 
  
Thursday, 19 November 2009 05:35:09RTRS [nSEO238632] {C}ENDS

from Photographers' Blog:

Surrounded by demonstrations in South Korea

November 13, 2009

It was October, 1990 when I was on a street in central Seoul for the first times as a news photographer. My first job: to cover an anti-government demonstration by students and workers. Protected by a helmet and gas mask, I shot pictures with a Nikon FM2 without the help of a motor drive. It was a battle. The protesters, hundreds of them, had steel bars, stones and petrol bombs. They were forced back by riot police, armed with tear gas, heavy sticks and hard-edged shields.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

S.Korea considering steps to boost bank liquidity

By Reuters Staff
November 11, 2009

SEOUL, Nov 11 (Reuters) - South Korea is looking at measures to enhance foreign currency liquidity at banks, a top regulator said on Wednesday, which reportedly may require them to hold U.S. Treasuries as a portion of their foreign assets.

Chin Dong-soo, chairman of the Financial Services Commission, told reporters that the authorities were in discussion over several measures on bank liquidity, without elaborating.

from Left field:

Third time lucky for Pyeongchang?

October 20, 2009

pyeongchangWith the race for the 2018 winter Games now officially underway, and with the surprise choice of Rio de Janeiro for 2016 fresh in the mind, bid cities will be asking themselves whether paying your Olympic dues is the key factor in getting the Games.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

S.Korea mulls controls on foreign banks’ forex liquidity

October 16, 2009

SEOUL, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The South Korean government is considering controlling foreign currency liquidity at branches of foreign banks in the country to cope with potential financial market crises, a senior finance ministry official said.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

S.Korea president: world economic crisis not over

October 13, 2009

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak    SEOUL, Oct 13 (Reuters) - South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on Tuesday it was premature for the country to end its crisis management status, saying the world economy was not out of the woods yet.
   "I believe our government must maintain its crisis management system for the time being because the world economy has not come out of the crisis yet," a statement from the presidential Blue House quoted Lee as saying during a scheduled cabinet meeting.
    Later, Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun told a parliamentary session government mortgage lending controls imposed last month were taking effect as real estate prices in the capital area were showing signs of stabilising.
   "Real estate prices that had been growing fast in the capital areas are now stabilising after the introduction of DTI (debt-to-income ratio) measures," he said, referring to the government's move last month to limit the amount of mortgage loans depending on the borrower's income.
   The comments came after the central bank chief's remarks giving credit to the lending controls and calling for caution about economic optimism dampened expectations among investors for an interest rate increase this year. [ID:nSP479672]
   The Bank of Korea has held the benchmark 7-day repurchase agreement rate <KROCRT=ECI> steady at a record-low 2.0 percent for the past eight consecutive months after reductions totalling 3.25 percentage points over four months since last October.
   Its governor, Lee Seong-tae, expressed in August and September his concern about rising housing prices, convincing investors to price in heightened risk of an early increase in interest rates. (Reporting by Yoo Choonsik; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner) ((choonsik.yoo@thomsonreuters.com; +82 2 3704 5580; Reuters Messaging: choonsik.yoo.reuters.com@reuters.net)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com)) Keywords: KOREA ECONOMY/CRISIS 
  
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 03:56:31RTRS [nSEO367164] {C}ENDS

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

S.Korea to restrict FX borrowing, excessive hedging

September 25, 2009

A South Korean bank clerk shows new 5,000-won ($4.93) bank notes at the headquarters of Woori Bank in Seoul January 2, 2006. The Bank of Korea begun to distribute on Monday the new 5,000-won bank notes, the second-highest denomination in the country's currency, which is aimed to prevent counterfeiting and forgery attempts for public use, local media reported. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon    Sept 25 (Reuters) - South Korea is discussing measures to crack down on excessive foreign-currency borrowing by banks, Chin Dong-soo, chairman of the Financial Services Commission, said.
   The timing of the proposed measures may be flexible, depending on decisions on global standards by the Financial Stability Board, the G20's regulation coordination arm, he said.
   For a related story, click on [ID:SEO144752]
   Following are the planned steps Chin unveiled at a briefing.
   -- Tighten criteria on foreign currency liquidity ratios by differentiating weightings of foreign assets by retrieval probability
   -- Make obligatory the holding of safe foreign assets such as foreign currency-denominated bonds with ample liquidity and high credit ratings
   -- Set risk management standards on foreign derivatives transactions to crack down on excessive forex hedging and speculative trading
   -- Increase the obligatory ratio of foreign borrowing with more than one year maturity to 110 percent of total foreign borrowing in 2009 and 120 percent in 2010, from the current 80 percent
   -- Impose a ceiling on foreign asset size and leverage ratios in proportion to capital to restrict foreign asset growth
   -- Tighten disclosure rules over currency hedging costs from asset management companies, which had been blamed for banks' rush to borrow short-term debt
    (Reporting by Kim Yeon-hee in SEOUL; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)
  ((yeonhee.kim@thomsonreuters.com; +82 2 3704 5646; Reuters Messaging: yeonhee.kim.reuters.com@reuters.net))
  ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to newsfeedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com))
Keywords: KOREA ECONOMY/ 
  
Friday, 25 September 2009 05:33:48RTRS [nSEO112172] {C}ENDS