Deputy Bureau Chief for Korea, Seoul, South Korea
Choonsik's Feed
Nov 4, 2015

South Korea’s stellar headline jobs data masks chronic problems

SEOUL, Nov 4 (Reuters) – Beneath South Korea’s rosy headline
jobs figures are persistent signs pointing to weak productivity
in the services sector, responsible for more than half of
economic output, and worsening job prospects for the country’s
youth.

The employment rate in the first nine months held steady at
a record 60.2 percent in 2014, data released last month showed,
compared with 58.5 percent in 2000 after the Asian financial
crisis. The services sector led the way, employing 37 percent
more in 2015 as of September than in 2000, versus a mere 4
percent increase for the manufacturing sector. As a result, the
services sector’s share of total employment jumped to 77 percent
from 69 percent over the period, versus a fall to 17 percent
from 20 percent for the manufacturing sector.

Nov 2, 2015

South Korea October inflation hits 11-month high as consumption recovers

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s annual inflation in October accelerated to its highest in 11 months to reflect an ongoing recovery in consumption, government data showed on Tuesday, easing the pressure for an immediate rate cut by the central bank.

The consumer price index rose 0.9 percent in October from a year earlier, Statistics Korea data showed, up from a 0.6 percent increase in September. It was the fastest rise since a 1.0 percent gain in November last year.

Oct 15, 2015

Bank of Korea stands pat and keeps cautiously upbeat view

SEOUL, Oct 15 (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank left
its key interest rate at a record low on Thursday, offering a
cautiously optimistic view of the economy as it looks forward
to recovering domestic demand but heightened global uncertainty.

The Bank of Korea’s monetary policy committee unanimously
kept its base rate unchanged at 1.50 percent even
as the central bank trimmed economic growth forecasts by 0.1
percentage point each for this year and next year.

Oct 14, 2015

S.Korea won strong vs some currencies despite fall vs dlr – official

SEOUL, Oct 14 (Reuters) – The won has fallen against
the dollar in recent months but not as much as other major
currencies have, a South Korean foreign exchange official said,
indicating he sees the country’s currency as over-valued.

The official also told Reuters this week that the baseline
scenario Korean foreign exchange authorities have is for the
Federal Reserve to begin raising United States interest rates
before the end of this year.

Oct 14, 2015

South Korea forex official: won still strong vs euro, yen

SEOUL, Oct 14 (Reuters) – The won has fallen against
the dollar in recent months but not as much as other major
currencies have, a South Korean foreign exchange official said,
indicating he sees the country’s currency as over-valued.

The official also told Reuters this week that the baseline
scenario Korean foreign exchange authorities have is for the
Federal Reserve to begin raising United States interest rates
before the end of this year.

Oct 1, 2015

S.Korea Sept exports fall but domestic demand stays up

SEOUL, Oct 1 (Reuters) – South Korean exports in September
fell for a ninth consecutive month on-year but were offset by
signs of a pick-up in domestic demand, undermining the case for
an additional interest rate cut soon.

Exports fell 8.3 percent in September from a year earlier,
less than a median 10.0 percent drop forecast in a Reuters
survey and improving from a revised 14.9 percent decline in
August, trade ministry data showed on Thursday.

Sep 23, 2015

In South Korea, Park’s revamp of rigid labour laws faces opposition

SEOUL, Sept 24 (Reuters) – In the past year, Kim Yoon-sung
applied to about 120 companies for a job, and could not land
even one.

Instead, the 26-year-old South Korean is on her fourth
outsourcing contract, one of tens of thousands of young
graduates struggling to get regular employment in Asia’s
fourth-largest economy.

Sep 15, 2015

South Korea takes stab at slaying zombie company menace

SEOUL, Sept 16 (Reuters) – South Korea is getting serious
about tackling its “zombie company” problem and will set up its
first restructuring firm backed by the government and banks in
November, spooked by some huge corporate losses and a darkening
economic outlook.

Korea Development Bank (KDB) will also seek to sell some of
the 118 non-financial firms it controls, the government said
last week – a move seen as part of its new resolve to deal with
the issue. About 20 companies controlled by the state-run bank
are seen as struggling.

Aug 13, 2015

Bank of Korea holds rates steady, but volatile China a risk

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank kept interest rates steady on Thursday, maintaining its view that the struggling economy is on track for recovery, but analysts said growing uncertainties in China could prompt it to cut rates later in the year.

The Bank of Korea’s monetary policy committee unanimously left the base rate KROCRT=ECI at a record low of 1.50 percent for a second consecutive month. It cut the rate by a combined 1 percentage point between August last year and June this year.

Aug 6, 2015

South Korean dreams fade as economy and president struggle

SEOUL, Aug 6 (Reuters) – It took three years and acceptance
of a sharp wage cut for machinery repair engineer Choi In-chan,
52, to find a job earlier this year.

Like many baby boomers who enjoyed South Korea’s heady
growth years, Choi has been doubly squeezed by the country’s
recent economic malaise: not only is he unprepared as retirement
looms, but his adult son is unable to find a full-time job.