TIME South Korea

South Korea Decriminalizes Adultery, Condom Shares Soar

Inside a Unidus Condom Factory Ahead Of Export Price Index Release
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images An employee unwraps condoms during testing in the research laboratory at the Unidus Corp. factory in Jeungpyeong, South Korea, on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.

Well, that figures

Stocks of a South Korean condom company increased 15% after news broke that the country decriminalized adultery.

The law against adultery was approved in 1953 and upheld in 2008 under the pretext of protecting social harmony. However, citing grounds of personal freedom, seven judges in a nine-judge panel rejected the ban as unconstitutional Thursday.

“The law is unconstitutional as it infringes people’s right to make their own decisions on sex and secrecy and freedom of their private life, violating the principle banning excessive enforcement under the constitution,” said Constitutional Court justice Seo Ki-seok.

The news saw a 15% jump in shares of Unidus Corp, a manufacturer of condoms.

Some 892 South Koreans were indicted last year for adultery, though none faced jail time.

[Reuters]

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TIME South Korea

Court Sentences Korean Air Nut-Rage Exec to 1 Year in Prison

In this Dec. 12, 2014 file photo, Cho Hyun-ah, head of cabin service at Korean Air speaks to the media in South Korea
Lee Jin-man—AP Cho Hyun-ah, head of cabin service at Korean Air, speaks to the media in South Korea on Dec. 12, 2014

She was angered she had been offered macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a dish

(SEOUL) — A Seoul court on Thursday sentenced a former Korean Air executive to a year in prison for aviation law violations that stemmed from her inflight tantrum over how she was served macadamia nuts.

The court said Cho Hyun-ah was guilty of forcing a flight to change its route and two other charges.

Cho, the daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, achieved worldwide notoriety after she ordered the chief flight attendant off a Dec. 5 flight, forcing it to return to the gate at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

She was angered she had been offered macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a dish and had a heated confrontation with members of the cabin crew.

The court also found Cho guilty of obstructing the flight’s captain in the performance of his duties and forcing a crew member off a plane. It found her not guilty of interfering with a transport ministry investigation into the incident.

Cho, in custody since Dec. 30, wiped away tears as a letter expressing her remorse was read to the court by head judge Oh Seong-woo.

The letter included details about how Cho, one of the richest women in South Korea who regularly flew first class, was adjusting to the basic conditions of her prison and finding time to reflect on her life. “I know my faults and I’m very sorry,” Cho said in her letter.

Prosecutors had called for three years in prison.

Cho’s behavior, dubbed nut rage, caused an uproar in South Korea. The incident touched a nerve in a country where the economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates known as chaebol that often act above the law.

TIME South Korea

South Korean Soldier Sentenced to Death for Killing 5 Comrades

South Korea Koreas Tension
Ahn Young-joon—AP South Korean soldiers aim their machine guns on a truck as they cross a floating bridge on the Nam Han River during an annual military exercise in Yeoju, South Korea, on Nov. 12, 2014

South Korea has not executed anyone since December 1997

(SEOUL) — A South Korean military court has issued a death penalty on a soldier who killed five comrades in a shooting spree last year.

Shooting rampages by bullied soldiers are not unusual in South Korea, which requires all able-bodied men to serve about two years in the military in the face of threats from North Korea.

The soldier, surnamed Yim, has told investigators that he opened fire on his colleagues in June after seeing drawings they made of him that he considered insulting.

The Defense Ministry says Yim, who has been identified only by his surname, was sentenced to death Tuesday in a military court in the eastern Gangwon province.

South Korea has not executed anyone since December 1997 but death sentences are still occasionally issued by courts.

TIME South Korea

Daughter of Korean Air Boss Treated Crew ‘Like Slaves,’ Chief Steward Says

<> on December 30, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. The Seoul court is expected to decide on December 30, 2014 whether to issue an arrest warrant for Cho, who resigned as vice president at the Korean Airline for delaying an airplane to take off over how her nuts were served.
Chung Sung-Jun—Getty Images Former Korean Air vice president Cho Hyun-ah leaves the Seoul western prosecutors' office as she is transferred to a detention house on Dec. 30, 2014, in Seoul

Cho Hyun-ah behaved like "a beast," the court hears

The former Korean Air (KAL) executive currently on trial in the “nut rage” case treated the airline’s crew like “feudal slaves,” according to statements from a chief steward in court on Monday.

Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of KAL chairman Cho Yang-ho, flew into a rage when she was served macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a dish on a flight departing New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in early December.

Chief steward Park Chang-jin described Cho Hyun-ah as “a beast that found its prey gritting its teeth as she became abusive, not listening to what I had to say at all,” Reuters reports.

The 40-year-old scion, who was KAL vice president at the time, forced the aircraft to return to the gate and demanded Park’s immediate removal, but ultimately ended up resigning herself following public outrage over her actions.

Cho’s father apologized to Park in court last week and promised he would not be reprimanded over the incident.

[Reuters]

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TIME North Korea

Lil’ Kim’s Dad ‘Wanted $10 Billion to Hold a Summit with South Korea’

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il  speaks
DMITRY ASTAKHOV—AFP/Getty Images North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il speaks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (not pictured) during their meeting at Sosnovy Bor Military Garrison, Zaigrayevsky District, Buryatia outside Ulan-Ude on August 24, 2011.

Apparently, you can put a price on peace

In 2009, North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Il set steep demands for holding a summit with the South, including $10 billion and half a million tons of food, according to former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in a new book.

“The document [of demands] looked like some sort of standardized ‘summit bill’ with its list of assistance we had to provide and the schedule written up,” said Lee in extracts seen by Reuters, referring to Pyongyang’s request for 800,000 combined tons of rice, corn and fertilizer. “We shouldn’t be haggling for a summit.”

Upon receipt of Kim’s demands, Lee says he chose not to acquiesce, scuppering prospects for negotiations between the long-time foes.

While North and South Korea have officially been at war since 1950 — separated by a slender buffer known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone — talks have occasionally been held, and new summits are intermittently proposed. Current North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Park Geun-hye have not outright rejected the possibility of a meeting this year.

[Reuters]

TIME South Korea

South Korea’s President Will Hold Talks With the North Without Conditions

SKOREA-POLITICS-PARK
Jung Yeon-Jemdash — AFP/Getty Images South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaks during her New Year press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Jan. 12, 2015.

The pledge follows recent overtures made by Kim Jong Un

South Korean President Park Geun-hye announced during a nationally televised address on Monday that she’s willing to hold a summit with North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un without any pre-conditions.

“My position is that to ease the pain of division and to accomplish peaceful unification, I am willing to meet with anyone,” said Park. “If it is helpful, I am up for a summit meeting with the North. There is no pre-condition.”

Park’s pledge follows similar overtures made by Kim Jong Un during his New Year’s address.

“Depending on the mood and circumstances to be created, we have no reason not to hold the highest-level talks,” said Kim.

Since the war between Seoul and Pyongyang was suspended by an armistice in 1953, South Korea’s and North Korea’s leaders have only met on two occasions — in 2000 and 2007.

[Al-Jazeera]

TIME South Korea

Seoul Could Deport an American Author for Praising North Korea

South Korea American's Deportation
Park Ji-ho — AP California resident Shin Eun-mi talks to reporters at Seoul District Prosecutors' Office in Seoul on Jan. 7, 2015

Apparently, you're not allowed to say that North Korean beer tastes good

A Korean-American author living in South Korea faces deportation after making supposedly pro-Pyongyang comments during a lecture late last year — including a remark about the Hermit Kingdom’s palatable beer.

On Thursday, prosecutors called on the Korea Immigration Service to deport Shin Eun-mi for violating the state’s security laws, according to the Associated Press.

South and North Korea have agreed an armistice but are still technically at war. This means that comments overtly complementary of communist-ruled North Korea are viewed very seriously in the South and can be punished by up to seven years in prison.

Shin reportedly said during a lecture in November that many North Korea defectors had a desire to return home one day and claimed that the rivers in the People’s Democratic Republic were much less polluted than those in South Korea. She also lauded the taste of North Korea’s state-produced lager.

The California resident has made several trips north of the 38th parallel and writes frequently about her experiences visiting North Korea for online news outlets. She published a book about the country that appeared on a government-designated reading list in 2013.

[AP]

TIME South Korea

Korean Air’s ‘Nut Rage’ Executive Is Facing Serious Charges

Cho Hyun-ah
Ahn Young-joon—AP Cho Hyun-ah, center, former vice president of Korean Air Lines, arrives at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors' Office in Seoul on Dec. 30, 2014

"Nut rage," punishable by up to 15 years in prison, doesn't pay

South Korean prosecutors filed charges against the daughter of the chairman of Korean Air Lines on Wednesday for delaying a flight — and, prosecutors allege, endangering its safety — because she was unhappy about how she was served nuts.

Police have held Heather Cho Hyun-ah, formerly head of in-flight service at her father’s airline, in custody since Dec. 30, after she threw a tantrum when a flight attendant gave her macadamia nuts in a bag, not on a dish. Dubbing the fiasco the nut-rage incident, media have struggled to decide if it should inspire disgust over the entitlement of South Korea’s ultra-rich or a chuckle at their expense.

Yet the charges against Cho, who has resigned from her posts at the South Korean airline, are anything but chuckle-worthy. They include violations of aviation-safety regulations for allegedly disrupting the South Korea–bound plane’s flight plan by forcing it to return to New York City’s John F. Kennedy airport shortly after leaving the gate. The Financial Times reports that Cho, if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison.

Read next: Prosecutors Seek Arrest for Korean Air Nut Rage Executive

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