South Korea

South Korean leader seeks economic summit with Japan, China

Seoul  - South Korean President Lee Myung Bak proposed a three-nation financial summit this month with Japan and China to try to limit the effects of the global financial crisis, a ruling party spokesman said Monday.

Lee would like the meeting to take place at the Asia-Europe Summit, which is to be held October 24-25 in Beijing, the Grand National Party spokesman said after talks with Lee and party chairman Park Hee Tae in Seoul.

Lee said the three neighbours working together could deal with the crisis because East Asia is the largest holder of currency reserves in the world.

Shares fall sharply in Seoul

Shares fall sharply in SeoulSeoul  - Shares nosedived Monday on the Seoul stock exchange, sending the benchmark Kospi Index down more than 4 per cent, as worries over the global financial crisis persist despite a US bailout plan.

The Kospi plunged 60.90 points, or 4.3 per cent, to close at 1,358.75.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers 775 to 79.

The main index of the technology-heavy Kosdaq market declined 25.71 points to 406.39.

Two suicides spark copycat fears after Korean actress's death

Two suicides spark copycat fears after Korean actress's deathSeoul - Two women were found dead Friday in South Korea in circumstances similar to the apparent suicide of a top South Korean television and film actress, raising fears of copycat acts, news reports said.

Choi Jin Sil, 39, an icon of South Korean prime-time television dramas, was found hanging Thursday from the shower stall in a bathroom at her Seoul home with an elastic band tied around her neck.

Depression, malicious rumors and fallout from an ugly divorce in 2004 have been cited as factors that drove the mother of two to her death.

US nuclear negotiator extends visit to North Korea

North Korea prepares to restart nuclear reactorSeoul - US envoy Christopher Hill has extended his stay in North Korea for at least a day, leading to speculation Thursday that there may be progress in his efforts to save a disarmament deal.

South Korea was informed by the US that Hill, who traveled overland Wednesday to Pyongyang, would not return to Seoul on Thursday and had extended his stay until at least Friday, according to a Foreign Ministry official cited by Yonhap News Agency.

Discord marks short Korean military talks

North KoreaSeoul - The first military talks between North and South Korea in eight months ended shortly after they began Thursday with no concrete progress and North Korea accusing the South of spreading propoganda in its territory.

Pak Rim Su, the leader of the North's delegation, accused the South Korean side of not being prepared to solve problems at the talks in Panmunjom, a village inside the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

Discord marks short Korean military talks

Seoul - The first military talks between North and South Korea in eight months ended shortly after they began Thursday with no significant progress and North Korea accusing the South of spreading propoganda in its territory, South Korean media reports said.

Pak Rim Su, the leader of the North's delegation, accused the South Korean side of not being prepared to solve problems at the talks in Panmunjom, a village inside the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

North Korea called the talks to protest propoganda leaflets that South Korea has been disseminating in his country, Pak said.

North, South Korea to hold first military talks in eight months

Seoul  - Military officers from North and South Korea are to meet Thursday for the first time in eight months, the Defence Ministry in Seoul said.

On the agenda at the talks in Panmunjom, a village inside the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, is the implementation of agreements already made between the neighbours' militaries, the ministry said Wednesday.

In a surprise move last week, North Korea proposed to hold the discussions Tuesday, and South Korea's military later accepted but moved the talks back two days.

It was the first offer by North Korea to hold such a dialogue since conservative South Korean President Lee Myung Bak took office in February.

US envoy heads to North Korea

US envoy heads to North KoreaSeoul - The United States' top negotiator with North Korea was cautious Tuesday over any predictions ahead of his trip to Pyongyang to break an impasse in implementing a nuclear disarmament agreement.

"We will see what happens when we go up to DPRK (North Korea) tomorrow," Hill told reporters upon arriving in South Korea before driving over the inter-Korean border to Pyongyang.

Hill is seeking to persuade North Korea to reverse moves earlier this month to revive work at its main nuclear site Yongbyon in steps that have threatened to derail a 2007 pledge to abandon nuclear weapons.

South Korea bans imports of Chinese milk products, recalls cookies

South Korea bans imports of Chinese milk products, recalls cookies Seoul - South Korea on Thursday banned the import of Chinese milk and milk powder products and recalled two snacks found to contain the chemical melamine, which has caused kidney damage to thousands of Chinese babies.

The Korea Food and Drug Administration ordered the recall of Misarang Custard cake from China and Milk Rusk cookies imported from Hong Kong after some of the products on South Korean store shelves were found to contain melamine.

Australia mulls patent for dodgy Korean cloning scientist

Sydney - Australia might issue a patent to a South Korean scientist who falsely claimed to have cloned human embryos, news reports said Wednesday.

National patent agency IP Australia confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that it was reviewing a patent application from Hwang Woo Suk, formerly of Seoul National University, for his disputed technology on cloning human embryos.

Hwang was once hailed as a national hero in South Korea before being embroiled in a scandal over falsified data on 2004 and 2005 studies in which he not only claimed to have cloned human stem cells but also to have developed patient-specific stem cells.

Voting underway in Swazi elections - no political parties allowed

Johannesburg  - Voting was underway Friday in parliamentary elections in Swaziland that have been branded farcical by political parties that are barred from contesting polls in Africa's last absolute monarchy.

Voters queued outside polling stations from early morning in the landlocked kingdom of around 1 million people to cast their ballot for 55 members of the 65-seat national assembly. King Mswati III names the remaining 10.

He also names the prime minister, ministers and judges.

The run-up to the polls has seen unprecedented protests in the normally peaceful country of mainly subsistence farmers, with political parties and trade unions using the occasion to underscore the lack of democracy in the country.

Shares surge 4.6 per cent in Seoul

Shares surge 4.6 per cent in SeoulSeoul - Ending this week's roller coaster ride on a high note, shares surged 4.5 per cent Friday on the Seoul stock exchange following overnight gains on Wall Street and signs that US authorities might take new measures to help the troubled financial sector.

The benchmark Kospi index soared 63.36 points, or 4.6 per cent, to close at 1,455.78.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers 707 to 135.

The main index of the technology-heavy Kosdaq market gained 12.70 points to close at 446.46.

HSBC drops bid to buy South Korean bank

Seoul - Britains's HSBC Holdings Plc said Friday it has withdrawn from a deal to buy a 51 per cent stake in Korea Exchange Bank (KEB), due to falling asset values amid the global credit crisis.

"Taking into account all relevant factors including current asset values in world financial markets... HSBC Asia exercised its right to terminate the acquisition agreement with immediate effect," the bank said in a statement.

A year ago HSBC agreed to buy KEB, Korea's fifth largest lender, for 6.3 million dollars from US buyout fund Lone Star Funds, but the deal has been stalled over legal disputes stemming from the Lone Star's 2003 purchase of KEB.

North and South Korea to discuss energy and economic aid

North & South KoreaSeoul - North Korea was scheduled to hold talks Friday with South Korea on outstanding oil shipments and economic aid promised to it for dismantling its nuclear programme.

The one-day meeting is to take place in Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said Thursday.

Shares fall 2 per cent in Seoul

Shares fall 2 per cent in SeoulSeoul - Shares fell more than 2 per cent Thursday on the Seoul stock exchange following losses in the US.

The benchmark Kospi index fell 32.84 points, or 2.3 per cent, to close at 1,392.42.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers 482 to 168.

The main index of the technology-heavy Kosdaq market plunged 11.17 points to 433.76.

On the currency markets, the US dollar was quoted at 1,153.30 Korean won, after 1,116.0 won on Wednesday. (dpa)

South Korea shaken by Lehman fallout as markets "overreact"

Seoul - South Korean companies and financial markets will feel the after-effect of the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers in the short term, but officials and analysts are confident that the economy can cope with the turmoil in the long term.

Finance Minister Kang Man Soo told the parliament's financial committee on Wednesday he expected that foreign investors would continue to abandon their interests in the country for the time being.

But it would be unlikely that South Korea will suffer serious repercussions from the current US financial woes, despite the flight of foreign investors, Kang was quoted by the public broadcast station KBS as saying.

Seoul's Kospi jumps 2.7 per cent on AIG bailout

Seoul - Shares rebounded Wednesday on the Seoul stock exchange in reaction to US government plans to bail out the troubled insurance giant American International Group Inc (AIG).

The benchmark Kospi index surged 37.51 points, or 2.7 per cent, to close at 1,425.26. The rise came a day after the Kospi fell 6.1 per cent on the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and trouble at AIG, both linked to the plunging subprime US mortgage market.

Advancing issues outnumbered losers 715 to 132 Wednesday on the Kospi.

The main index of the technology-heavy Kosdaq market rose 15.64 points, or 3.64 per cent, to 444.93.

The US dollar was quoted at 1,116 won, down from 1,160 won Tuesday. dpa

SanDisk turns down Samsung's 5.85-billion-dollar takeover offer

Seoul - US memory card maker SanDisk Corp has rejected Samsung Electronics Co's hostile 5.85-billion-dollar takeover bid, calling it "inadequate."

In a statement released after the markets closed Tuesday in the United States, the Milpitas, California-based SanDisk said its board unanimously decided against the South Korean electronic giant's 26-dollar-per-share offer because it "significantly undervalues SanDisk given the long-term prospects of its business."

Samsung retorted Wednesday that its 26-dollar-per-share cash offer represented a premium of 80 per cent of Monday's stock price and SanDisk "continues to cling to unrealistic expectations on both its standalone market value and an appropriate merger price."

Shares fall sharply in Seoul on Lehman Brothers' collapse

Seoul - Shares nosedived Tuesday on the Seoul stock exchange, sending the benchmark Kospi Index down more than 6 per cent, as the collapse of Lehman Brothers bank in the US caused panic among investors.

The Kospi plunged 90.17 points, or 6.1 per cent, to close at 1,387.75, the lowest level in 18 months. The local currency fell to a 49-low against the dollar.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers 810 to 63.

The main index of the technology-heavy Kosdaq market declined 37.62 points to 429.29.

On currency markets, the US dollar was quoted at 1,160.0 Korean won, after 1,109.10 won last Friday. The financial markets were closed on Monday because of a public holiday. (dpa)

Shares gain more than 2 per cent in Seoul

Shares gain more than 2 per cent in SeoulSeoul - Shares surged more than 2 per cent Friday on the Seoul stock exchange, tracking gains in the US market.

The benchmark Kospi index soared 34.68 points, or 2.4 per cent, to close at 1,477.92.

Advancing issues outpaced decliners 670 to 157.

The main index of the technology-heavy Kosdaq market rose 12.13 points to 466.91.

On currency markets, the US dollar was quoted at 1,109.10 Korean won, after trading at 1,109.5 won on Thursday.



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