Bureau Chief Malaysia and Brunei, Kuala Lumpur
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Nov 25, 2012

“Shadow of Roh” neck and neck with dictator’s daughter before South Korea polls

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s December presidential election looks set to turn into a referendum on two of the country’s most polarizing leaders as the daughter of military dictator Park Chung-hee faces off against a former aide to ex-President Roh Moo-hyun.

Park’s authoritarian rule propelled South Korea from poverty to the cusp of developed-nation status and ended when he was assassinated in 1979. The left-wing Roh’s single five-year term closed in chaos as economic reforms failed and a policy of engagement with North Korea was wrecked as Pyongyang pushed ahead with a nuclear weapons program.

Nov 19, 2012

South Korean opposition far apart on presidential deal

SEOUL (Reuters) – With a week until a deadline to finalize nominations for South Korea’s December 19 presidential election, neither of two main opposition challengers appears willing to step aside, which will likely mean the conservatives retain the country’s most powerful office.

Moon Jae-in, who has been nominated by the main left-of-centre opposition party, has held talks with independent Ahn Cheol-soo over a joint platform that could lead to a single candidate, but the talks have been bedeviled by infighting and leaks, with neither side appearing willing to give way.

Nov 13, 2012

Secrecy cloaks South Korea’s civil nuclear program

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s government should resume publishing polls on nuclear safety after a loss of public confidence in the sector in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, an opposition South Korean lawmaker said on Tuesday.

The call came as South Korea, whose public is traditionally seen as pro-nuclear, investigated fake safety documents for parts used in nuclear plants led to two of the country’s 23 reactors being shut down last week and has raised the prospect of power shortages in the harsh Korean winter.

Oct 28, 2012

South Korea pension fund needs more contributions, new investments

SEOUL (Reuters) – The first payouts from South Korea’s state pension fund only started in 2008, but faced with the fastest ageing population among developed nations and one of the lowest birthrates, the country needs to deal with a looming funding crunch.

The world’s third-largest state fund by assets is generating more than $2 billion a month in new net funding as contributions outpace payments, but by 2034 that will end as South Koreans retire and the working age population falls.

Oct 19, 2012

North Korea threatens to fire on South if propaganda balloons launched

SEOUL (Reuters) – Impoverished North Korea threatened on Friday to open fire on South Korea if it allows activists to go ahead with plans to drop anti-North leaflets on its territory, its most strident warning against its long-time foe in months.

North Korea, which is still technically at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in merely a truce, often uses shrill rhetoric denouncing its rich, capitalist neighbor and threatening all-out war.

Jul 17, 2012

Young North Korea leader pushes out father’s allies as he tightens grip

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s young leader promoted a new army marshal after sacking his top general in what a South Korean official report said was a bid to impose authority on a military that has been the backbone of his family’s long rule over the isolated state.

But analysts said the moves, just seven months since rising to power, do not suggest any fundamental change by Kim Jong-un to the policies of his grandfather and father which have left North Korea constantly on the brink of famine and ostracized by the most of the world.

Jul 12, 2012

Rock chicks, show tunes and Minnie Mouse: Pyongyang swings to Kim’s new vibe

SEOUL (Reuters) – It might not be Lady Gaga’s pop music extravaganza rolling into town, but North Korea’s young dictator is taking unprecedented steps to breathe some fun into his repressive regime, helped by women rock stars in miniskirts and killer heels, and cultural icons from the usually reviled United States.

Kim Jong-un, the late-20s head of state who took over the family dynasty last December, gave the performance a thumbs up at the end. The gerontocrats who make up the ruling elite in the hermit nation also applauded enthusiastically, according to an hour and forty minutes of footage released on Thursday by North Korea’s state broadcaster KRT.

May 17, 2012

North Korea resumes work on nuclear reactor: report

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea has resumed construction work on an experimental light water reactor (ELWR) in a move that could extend its capacity to produce more material for nuclear weapons, website 38North reported on Thursday.

Based on April 30 satellite images, work halted in December at the reactor had now re-started, said the website (38north.org), run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University and former U.S. State Department official Joel Wit.

Apr 14, 2012

In North Korea, third Kim’s bloodline all that matters

SEOUL, April 15 (Reuters) – Smarting from a failed rocket
launch, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has little choice but
to stick to his father’s playbook of milking an impoverished
country to develop weapons and blackmail the international
community for aid and recognition.

Far from fearing a coup or instability after Friday’s public
fiasco, the third of his line to rule North Korea will lead
celebrations on Sunday to mark the centenary of the birth of his
grandfather, the founder of the world’s only Stalinist monarchy,
“Eternal President” Kim Il-sung.

Dec 29, 2011

North Korea hails nuclear, military feats of Kim Jong-il

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea lauded the military might built up by deceased leader Kim Jong-il on Thursday, likely tying his young successor to the same policies that have set Northeast Asia on edge as the impoverished state inches closer to nuclear weapons capability.

A gathering of 100,000, soldiers in uniform and bare-headed civilians, gathered in silence in wintry sunlight in the capital Pyongyang to mourn the passing of the man who had led the country for 17 years until his death on December 17.

    • About David

      "I am currently Reuters Malaysia Bureau Chief and have been here since August 2008, tracking Malaysia from the return of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to parliament and the government choosing a new Prime Minister Najib Razak. Prior to Malaysia, I worked as Bureau Chief in Hungary for four years in a tumultuous time that saw mass riots, a record budget deficit and shock election results. I have worked mainly on emerging market economies covering debt restructurings from countries as diverse as Argentina, Russia, Serbia and Iraq."
      Joined Reuters:
      20 odd years ago
      English, French
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