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▶ Korean Peninsula security talks move to Russia
A top foreign affairs aide to President Park Geun-hye has held a series of bilateral talks on North Korea in Vladivostok, Russia. Ju Chul-ki is in the country for an international security conference, also including officials from around 50 countries, including the U.S. and China. Ju's trip has coincided with this week's ASEAN Regional Forum in Brunei, as well as a trip to Russia by North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan. It is not clear whether Kim also plans to attend the Vladivostok conference.
▶ Private group looking to relocate Kaesong equipment
Meanwhile, a private task force has called on both Koreas to relocate equipment from the suspended Kaesong Industrial Complex. The move represents a growing impatience by South Korean investors over the shutdown of their factories in the North's western border city. Amid a stalemate between Seoul and Pyongyang, the unification ministry has said it will examine the request and announce appropriate measures.
▶ S. Korea, U.S. to continue military cost-sharing talks
The government has another prickly issue to deal with, after opening negotiations on how much Seoul should pay for U.S. military forces to be stationed in Korea. An initial round of talks in Washington saw the two sides agree to aim for a conclusion by the end of October. While the U.S. is faced with defense budget constraints, South Korean civic groups claim Seoul is paying as much as 65 percent of the total cost of maintaining American forces in Korea.
▶ Gov't vows to ease debt burden of vulnerable
Elsewhere, the Park Geun-hye administration continues its efforts to support those in need, by targeting household debt. The overall figure reached nearly 962 trillion won as of the end of March, equivalent to around 89 percent of the country's gross domestic product for 2011, which is much higher than the OECD average of under 75 percent. At a parliamentary hearing, the finance ministry has warned of the danger this poses to economic recovery, pledging measures to support the financially fragile.
▶ Seoul mayor slams NLL transcript disclosure
The National Assembly's vote in favor of dislosing the full transcript and tapes from the 2007 inter-Korean summit has come in for more criticism. After sharp comments from the likes of independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has urged the "top-secret" records not to be used "as a political football," as the main rival parties argue over what was said at the summit. Given the potential sensitivity of late former President Roh Moo-hyun's comments while meeting with then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, concerns have been raised about damaging inter-Korean trust.
▶ Former president posthumously acquitted
In another development relating to a controversy that goes further back in history, another former president, Kim Dae-jung, has been found not guilty of violating an emergency decree enforced by the Park Chung-hee government. The posthumous acquittal came in a retrial 36 years after Kim's imprisonment, with the Seoul High Court apologizing to his family for the "disgraceful" original decision by the state.
▶ Seoul shares close 1.64 pct lower on weak yen
In money news, Seoul shares closed down 1.64 percent, ending up just below 1,825.
The dip has been blamed on the Japanese yen's downturn against the U.S. dollar, a negative for local exporters, with exchange rates breaching the 100 yen mark to the greenback for the first time in a month.
▶ Japanese imperial couple visit Korean boot
Speaking of Japan, Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko have been presented with Korean name cards while visiting the Tokyo International Book Fair. The pair were also given a photo book of the exhibition, despite the on-going political frostiness between Seoul and Tokyo.
▶ Olympic stars ready to shine for S. Korea at Universiade
South Korean stars from the London Olympics are looking to shine once again this weekend in Russia, at a multi-sport event for university students. The 2013 Summer Universiade will kick off in Kazan, and will run until July 17. Among the 13,500 athletes from 170 countries will be Olympic gold-medal winning gymnast Yang Hak-seon and fellow star Son Yeon-Jae.
▶ Won bin headline TO BE WRITTEN
And bad news for fans of Korean heartthrob Won Bin, or actress Lee Na-young for that matter. Their management firm has confirmed they are dating after "naturally" developing feelings for one another as they share the same agency and meet each other often at work.
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