South Korea. In January, a fire broke out in connection with a police raid on homeless people living in a Seoul building. According to countryaah, five homeless and one police officer died in the fire, believed to have been caused by a Molotov cocktail, and over 20 people were injured. Newly-appointed National Police Chief Kim Siok Gi resigned because of the disaster. However, no police were among the 27 people charged with the fire.
Relations with North Korea were tense and the situation was further tightened when the arch rival in May carried out a new nuclear weapons explosion and terminated the ceasefire agreement from the end of the Korean War in 1953. No peace agreement has ever been concluded. Later, however, South Korea offered to resume food shipments to neighboring countries where the famine was great. Food assistance had been halted when President Lee Myung Bak took office in early 2008. In November, a brief firefight broke out between a South and a North Korean vessel at the disputed border in the Yellow Sea. The lake incident was described as the most serious in seven years, although no human was killed.
The Ministry of Finance reported in April that South Korea has recovered from a recession. Growth was at a slight plus during the first quarter of the year, while the economy had shrunk by more than 5 percent the previous quarter. One reason for the improvement was assumed to be the government’s crisis package.
Former President Roh Moo Hyun was called in April for questioning in connection with a corruption investigation. His wife, son and brother-in-law were accused of receiving large sums from a businessman during Roh’s presidential term 2003-08. Roh, considered a relatively spotless politician, committed suicide a few weeks later by throwing himself from a cliff near his home. He apologized to a farewell family. The opposition and large sections of the public objected to the treatment of Roh and accused the government of inciting his death.
President Kim Dae Jung, who was head of state in 1998-2003, passed away in August at the age of 83. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his “sunshine policy” in relation to North Korea.
After three years of trial, stem cell researcher Hwang Woo Suk was sentenced in October to two years of probation for misappropriation of research funding. Hwang had been prosecuted for fraud, embezzlement and ethical assault on false allegations that he had succeeded in cloning human embryos and special stem cells.
The December 2002 election was surprisingly won by Roh Moo Hyun. In particular, he received support from women and young voters because of his program, where social issues and gender equality took a prominent place.
The nuclear crisis between North Korea and the United States led to considerable nervousness in the South Korean population, facing the possibility of armed confrontation between the two opponents. In the shadow of peace demonstrations and demonstrations facing the United States, the South Korean government offered itself as a broker, which was accepted by Pyongyang. It was seen as an expression of a desire for improved relations between the two countries.
On May 14, 2004, the South Korean Constitutional Court ruled that the violations of the country’s electoral law by President Roh Moo-hyun were not sufficient to remove him from the post. He had otherwise been suspended from office by the National Assembly in March 2003. Roh Moo-hyun was immediately re-elected as President, and Acting President, Goh Kun returned to the post of Prime Minister. On May 25, Goh Kun resigned as prime minister with a view to forming a new government. Finance Minister Lee Jun temporarily took over the post.
In September, under pressure from North Korea, the South Korean government admitted that South Korean scientists were secretly experimenting with the production of highly enriched uranium. Authorities assured that the trials had been conducted without official knowledge and without anyone’s approval. The government rejected any allegation that South Korea should have launched a nuclear weapons program, and assured that there had been an isolated incident.
That same month, the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) arrived in South Korea to resume its investigations into the secret nuclear experiments. On the same occasion, the IAEA expressed its concern over Seoul’s nuclear activities the previous activities. South Korea reiterated that the country had no nuclear weapons production plans.
A fierce controversy with Japan erupted in March 2005 when a Japanese local council decided to appoint an annual anniversary for two disputed islands: Takeshima in Japanese and Dodko in Korean. South Korea let its reunification minister Chung Dong-young make the case. He also chaired the National Security Council. Chung promised to defend Korea’s sovereignty; He also pointed out that Japan sought to legitimize its colonial past and at the same time pointed out that the act “seriously damaged” the relationship between the two countries. The islands consist of rocks, are uninhabited and are considered by both countries as areas of economic and strategic importance. The sovereignty over the islands has been debated since 1905, when Japan occupied the Korean peninsula. Korea re-occupied the islands in 1953 and has since conducted patrols on them.