South Korea’s latest big export: Jobless college graduates


 


South Korea’s latest big export: Jobless college graduates – Reuters

 

Left: A jobseeker stands as he gets into the 2018 Japan Job Fair in Seoul, South Korea. Jobseekers attend the 2018 Japan Job Fair in Seoul, South Korea. (Filepics)

SEOUL: Cho Min-kyong boasts an engineering degree from one of South Korea’s top universities, a school design award and a near-perfect score in her English proficiency test.

But she had all but given up hope of finding a job when all her 10 applications, including one to Hyundai Motor Co, were rejected in 2016.

Help came unexpectedly from neighboring Japan six months later: Cho got job offers from Nissan Motor Co and two other Japanese companies after a job fair hosted by the South Korean government to match the country’s skilled labor with overseas employers.

“It’s not that I wasn’t good enough. There are just too many job seekers like me, that’s why everyone just fails,” said the 27-year-old, who now works in Atsugi, an hour southwest of Tokyo, as a car seat engineer for Nissan.

“There are numerous more opportunities outside Korea.”

Facing an unprecedented job crunch at home, many young South Koreans are now signing up for government-sponsored programs designed to find overseas positions for a growing number of jobless college graduates in Asia’s fourth largest economy.

State-run programs such as K-move, rolled out to connect young Koreans to “quality jobs” in 70 countries, found overseas jobs for 5,783 graduates last year, more than triple the number in 2013, its first year.

Reuters Graphic
(Graphic: Korea’s young talents going abroad png – https://tmsnrt.rs/2LwlSUU)

Almost one-third went to Japan, which is undergoing a historic labor shortage with unemployment at a 26-year low, while a quarter went to the United States, where the jobless rate dropped to the lowest in nearly half a century in April.

There are no strings attached. Unlike similar programs in places such as Singapore that come with an obligation to return and work for the government for up to six years, attendees of South Korea’s programs are neither required to return, nor work for the state in the future.

“Brain drain isn’t the government’s immediate worry. Rather, it’s more urgent to prevent them from sliding into poverty” even if it means pushing them abroad, said Kim Chul-ju, deputy dean at the Asian Development Bank Institute.

In 2018, South Korea generated the smallest number of jobs since the global financial crisis, only 97,000.

Nearly one in five young Koreans was out of work as of 2013, higher than the average 16 percent among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In March, one in every four Koreans in the 15-29 age group was not employed either by choice or due to the lack of jobs, according to government data.

Reuters Graphic
(Graphic: S.Koreans landing overseas jobs by country 2018 png – https://tmsnrt.rs/2DZCTR9)

LABOR MISMATCH

While India and other countries face similar challenges in creating jobs for skilled labor, the dominance of family-run conglomerates known as chaebol makes South Korea uniquely vulnerable.

The top 10 conglomerates including world-class brands such as Samsung and Hyundai, make up half of South Korea’s total market capitalization.

But only 13 percent of the country’s workforce is employed by firms with more than 250 employees, the second lowest after Greece in the OECD, and far below the 47 percent in Japan. “The big companies have mastered a business model to survive without boosting hiring,” as labor costs rise and firing legacy workers remains difficult, said Kim So-young, an economics professor at Seoul National University.

Yet while increasing numbers of college graduates are moving overseas for work, South Korea is bringing in more foreigners to solve another labor problem – an acute shortage of blue collar workers.

South Korea has the most highly educated youth in the OECD, with three-quarters of high school students going to college, compared with the average of 44.5 percent.

“South Korea is paying the price for its overprotection of top-tier jobs and education fervor that produced a flood of people wanting only that small number of top jobs,” said Ban Ga-woon, a labor market researcher at state-run Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & Training.

Even amid a glut of over-educated and under-employed graduates, most refuse to “get their hands dirty”, says Lim Chae-wook, who manages a factory making cable trays that employs 90 people in Ansan, southwest of Seoul. “Locals simply don’t want this job cause they think its degrading, so we’re forced to hire a lot of foreign workers,” Lim said, pointing to nearly two dozens workers from the Philippines, Vietnam and China working in safety masks behind welding machines.

In the southwestern city of Gwangju, Kim Yong-gu, the chief executive of Kia Motor supplier Hyundai Hitech, says foreign workers are more expensive but he has no choice as he can’t find enough locals to fill vacancies.

“We pay for accommodation, meals and other utility costs in order not to lose them to another factory,” said Kim. Out of a staff of 70, 13 are Indonesian nationals, who sleep and eat at a building next to his factory.

NO HAPPY ENDING FOR EVERYONE

For those who escaped Korea’s tough job market, not all has been rosy.

Several people who found overseas jobs with government help say they ended up taking menial work, such as dishwashing in Taiwan and meat processing in rural Australia, or were misinformed about pay and conditions.

Lee Sun-hyung, a 30-year old athletics major, used K-move to go to Sydney to work as a swim coach in 2017 but earned less than $A600 ($419) a month, one-third what her government handlers told her in Seoul.

“It wasn’t what I had hoped for. I could not even afford to pay rent,” said Lee, who ended up cleaning windows at a fashion store part-time before she returned home broke less than a year later.

Officials say they are making a “black list” of employers and improving the vetting process to prevent recurrence of such cases. The labor ministry also established a “support and reporting center” to better respond to problems.

Many on the programs lose touch once they go overseas. Almost 90 percent of the graduates who went abroad with the government’s help between 2013-2016 didn’t respond to the labor ministry’s requests about their whereabouts or changed their contact details, a 2017 survey showed.

Still, the grim job market at home is driving more Koreans to the program every year. The government has also increased relevant budget to support rising demand – from 57.4 billion won ($48.9 million) in 2015 to 76.8 billion won in 2018, data released by lawmaker Kim Jung-hoon shows.

“The government isn’t scaling up this project to the extent we would worry about brain drain,” said Huh Chang, head of the development finance bureau at South Korea’s finance ministry, which co-manages state-run vocational training programs with the labor ministry. Rather, the focus was on meeting growing demand for overseas experience given so many graduates are outside the workforce, Huh added.

A hopeful scenario would be for the economy to one day make use of the resources these graduates bring home as experienced returnees, Huh said.

For 28-year-old K-move alumni Lee Jae-young, that feels like a distant prospect.

“The one year abroad added a line in my resume, but that was about it,” said Lee, who returned to Korea in February after working as a cook at the JW Marriott hotel in Texas. “I’m back home and still looking for a job.” – Reuters

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5G to move Malaysia forward


Video:

https://rightwaysrichard.blogspot.com/2019/04/5g-to-move-malaysia-forward.html?jwsource=cl

5G technology is go­­ing to be the cornerstone of Malay­sia’s march into the new age and a vital foundation for the country to remain relevant and competitive, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Speaking at the launch of the 5G Malaysia showcase here, the Prime Minister said Malaysians can leverage on this technology within the next three years and catapult the national economy towards strong and sustainable growth.

“We have come a long way and yet there’s still a distance to go,” he said, adding that 5G would impact every industry that is vital to the growth of the country’s economy.

“Industries like manufacturing that has contributed 22% to the Gross Domestic Product in the last five years, remains integral to the national economy.

“Through smart manufacturing or massive machine-type communications, the government hopes that it can attract high value-added, high technology and knowledge-intensive investment in areas such as aerospace, chemicals and chemical products, machinery and equipment and medical devices,” Dr Mahathir said.

He was given a taste of the future when he was driven in a driverless car and had a conversation with a hologram.

The Prime Minister was taken on a driverless blue Proton Exora for a 500m ride from the Palace of Justice to the Putrajaya Corporation building on the opposite side of the road.

A safety driver was present and sat on the driver’s seat and showed the prime minister that the car was able to manoeuvre even though his hands were not on the steering wheel.

Dr Mahathir was visibly impressed with this latest technology as he waved at the crowd and media cameramen.

As he entered the function hall, he was again given an experience of how things will be in the future when he had his face scanned to gain entry into the hall.

Later at the launch, the Prime Minister spoke to a little girl by the name of Aisyah, not with her physically but her hologram.

Aisyah or her real name Tengku Zara Eryna Tengku Ahmad Saifud­din is no stranger to Dr Mahathir.

The seven-year-old was featured in an election campaign video with the prime minister last year.

During the short conversation with the hologram, “Aisyah” asked: “Atuk, when you were my age, what G were you on?”

Dr Mahathir replied “Zero G”, draw­­­ing laughter from the audience.

“Aisyah” also asked Dr Mahathir what’s next for Malaysia beyond 5G, to which she answered “Teleporting humans”.

Dr Mahathir told the audience that the government, through the National Fiberisation and Connec­tivity Plan and the National 5G Task Force would create an environment conducive for the growth of 5G.

The 5G showcase event is open to public at the Putrajaya Corporation Complex until April 21.

by mazwin nik anis and joseph kaos jr The Star

Firms racing to be the first to provide 5G

With the government backing 5G in order for the country to get on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, many companies are racing to be the first to bring the benefits of the technology to the masses.

“The 5G technology will enable our industries to fully exploit the power of artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, virtual reality, and software engineering,” said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo at the launch of the inaugural 5G Malaysia Showcase.

“It will bring innovation which will substantially impact almost every sector, including education, transportation, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment and public safety.”

The four-day showcase at Kom-pleks Perbadanan Putrajaya features 11 local and international telcos, tech companies and higher learning institutions.

Digi showcased the potential of 5G in emergency services.

Digi chief executive officer Albern Murty said: “It enables the use of 4K video, collection and transferring of data in real-time to respective emergency services such as first responders, hospitals, and the fire department, saving valuable time.

“What is equally important is 5G’s capability to dedicate a portion of the network for mission critical services such as emergencies.”

The system uses a drone which will scout road and traffic conditions, and transmit the data to the a Command Centre Monitoring System, ambulance and hospital in real time.

Celcom Axiata Bhd unveiled its first autonomous car, a collaboration with eMoovit and Ericsson, which uses a combination of sensors, cameras, radar and artificial intelligence to travel without a human driver.

Celcom also showcased its 5G Hologram Call technology which projects people and objects in 3D.

In a demo, Maxis proved that its 5G network could exceed 5Gbps (gigabits per second).

Its chief technology officer Morten Bangsgaard said: “It’s been slightly over a month we started our live trials. What we are doing now is validating how it will perform in real life, under different conditions like what it happens when it rains. These are practical things that will enable us to learn how to build the network, understand expected capacities, cost involved, which are important to allow us to plan for our rollout.”

But he said the nationwide rollout could only be planned after it gets the spectrum allocation.

“The government has indicated that an announcement on spectrum allocation will be made later this year,” he said.

TM One chief executive officer Azizi A. Hadi said the most important element in the 5G race was how it is used to benefit people’s lives and consequently take Malaysia to the next level.

He showed how the Smart Safety Helmet developed by TM can be used to tell the location of the wearer as well as if the person is injured in the line of duty.

Nokia on the other hand demonstrated how 5G could be used for venues, allowing more devices to be connected at the same time, and events streamed in virtual reality for those who could not attend.

It also showed off a virtual reality table tennis game, and how 5G could be used for quality control in the manufacturing field.

ZTE had a demo of a racing game streamed from a remote location to a virtual reality headset using 5G, showing how the technology can be used to make gaming more accessible to those without a gaming machine.

Huawei offered a virtual reality 4K drone for attendees to try out. The drone would pan and tilt according to users’ head movements in “almost” real-time.

It also showcased the use of 5G in agriculture, aquaculture, healthcare alongside its RuralStar technology, which it says will be able to provide cellular coverage to rural and underdeveloped areas.

U Mobile showed tele-surgery, multi stream 4K videos and low latency gaming but cautioned that 5G requires supporting devices for it to take off.

Jasmine Lee, U Mobile chief marketing officer, said: “Even 4G did not really take off until there were devices, and content, so it is really going to be the same for 5G.”

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Spotlight on virtual banking licenses


Bank Negara’s plan to issue up to three virtual banking licences has excited the local financial sector which otherwise has begun to look a little lethargic.

 
BANK Negara’s announcement this week which
stated that it is looking to issue up to three virtual banking licences has excited the local financial sector which otherwise has begun to look a little lethargic.

The announcement comes at the same time as Hong Kong’s move to issue three licences of this type to a combination of companies partnering finance firms, namely Standard Chartered, BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd and online insurance company ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co.

Five more of such licences in the city are being processed.

In Malaysia, the announcement by Bank Negara is significant also because the central bank has not issued any new banking licences for many years now.

That said, both Hong Kong and Malaysia’s move to encourage pure online banking ventures is very much in line with the fact that fintech innovations are slowly but surely seeping into the daily lives of people globally, providing cheaper and more easily accessible financial services.

The idea of virtual banks – which theoretically means a bank without any physical branches whatsoever – however, is not entirely new.

In fact, many countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have attempted it.

Some have failed, others continue to operate, taking deposits and giving out loans much like traditional banking outfits.

Closer to home, India, China, South Korea and Japan have ventured into this model.

Japan, for instance, went for the zero branch strategy as far back as the 1990s with the setting up of Japan Net Bank.

There have been other Internet banks there since then such as Seven Bank which has been providing financial services via ATMs across 7-Eleven convenience shops in Japan since the early 2000s.

In South Korea, the then-chair of the Financial Services Commission, Yim Jong-yong gave initial approval for the setting up of the country’s first two virtual banks back in 2015.

K Bank was its first, starting operations in April 2017 followed a few months later by kakaobank, which started with some W300 billion (about RM1.077bil) in start-up capital.

To be sure, virtual banks, which primarily target the retail segment including the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have existed even before the concept of fintech – which is basically using technology to provide improved financial services – gained prominence over the last few years.

The rise of fintech in recent times can be attributed to consumers becoming increasingly tech-savvy and more demanding when it comes to convenience on-the-go.

It also stems from the fact that there are millions of individuals who are unbanked or underbanked but who now have access to the Internet.

In China alone, mobile payments run in trillions of yuan.

It is perhaps this increasing savviness that is contributing to regulators the world over wanting to push for more virtual banks and easing guidelines to fit the concept in.

It is noteworthy that within the Asean region, Malaysia is among the first to attempt this virtual bank model.

Timo, Vietnam’s first bank sans any traditional branch, was officially launched in 2016 while nearest neighbour Singapore currently does not have any banks purely of this nature.Even so, Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus has said that the central bank is currently working towards releasing licensing guidelines for such operations only by the end of this year.

She has stressed that discussions with the few parties interested in setting up virtual banks in Malaysia are still at the preliminary stage.

Still, that’s not stopped industry people from raising questions, many of which are valid.

For starters, notwithstanding theoretical definitions, what will be the exact definition of a local virtual bank ?

 What are the rules?

“Who can apply to operate such banks and will these guys be subject to the same rules that apply to traditional banks such as those involving capital requirements and such?” asks one senior banker attached to a regional bank.

While the jury is still out on rules that will apply in Malaysia should the idea materialise, a broad idea on this can be gleaned from the guidelines that have been set out by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

According to the HKMA, firstly, a “virtual bank is defined as a bank which primarily delivers retail banking services through the Internet or other forms of electronic channels instead of physical branches”.

HKMA’s guidelines include rules such as virtual banks having to play an active role in promoting financial inclusion when offering their banking services.

“While virtual banks are not expected to maintain physical branches, they should endeavour to take care of the needs of their target customers, be they individuals or SMEs,” it says, adding that virtual banks should not impose any minimum account balance requirement or low-balance fees on their customers.

In terms of ownership, the HKMA says that because virtual banks will mostly be focused on retail businesses covering a large pool of such clients, “they are expected to operate in the form of a locally-incorporated bank, in line with the established policy of requiring banks that operate significant retail businesses to be locally-incorporated entities”.

It also says that it is generally its policy “that a party which has more than 50% of the share capital of a bank incorporated in Hong Kong should be a bank or a financial institution in good standing and supervised by a recognised authority in Hong Kong or elsewhere”.

While the guidelines cover a lot more, it is worthwhile pointing out that the HKMA is of the view that “virtual banks will be subject to the same set of supervisory requirements applicable to conventional banks”, with some of the rules being changed in line with technological requirements.

It adds that in terms of capital requirement, “virtual banks must maintain adequate capital commensurating with the nature of their operations and the banking risks they are undertaking”.


Noticeable absence of tech players

Interestingly, in the first round of licences given out by the HKMA, there was a noticeable absence of major Chinese tech companies like Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Ant Financial, which many would have thought make obvious choices given their experience in carving out game-changing fintech-centric services especially in their home country of China.

“Mobile payment services offered by the likes of WeChat and Alipay are possible with Internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent behind the entire ecosystem, the fact that they were not included raised some eyebrows,” says one Hong Kong-based banking analyst.

In the same vein, Hong Kong has been criticised for not being proactive enough when it comes to encouraging financial start-ups and being overly protective of conventional banks as evident in its fintech sandbox programme of 2016, which was reportedly introduced to help traditional financial institutions try out new technology instead of supporting fresh start-ups.

“Still, a start is better than no start and we are looking forward to when these virtual banks start operating in nine months’ time,” says the analyst.

He adds that as long as security is not an issue, he hopes that virtual banks will be able to provide what traditional banks are “still not good at”, namely personalised customer service and cheaper services.

While it is early days yet in Malaysia, the general feedback is that virtual banks will be good, specifically for consumers who will have more choices.

But this will come at the expense of increased competition within the banking sector.

Analysts in Hong Kong have predicted that about 10% of revenue belonging to traditional banks there will be “at risk” over the next ten years because of the setting up of virtual banks.

Whether or not it will be the same for Malaysian banks remains to be seen.

A lot of this will depend on the guidelines that the central bank plans to set out in the months to come.

By Yvonne Tan The Star

Breaking ground with new banking concept

Backed by Ma: MyBank is backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Alibaba affiliate
company Ant Financial owns 30% of the online lender. (Photo: AFP)

(The Star Online/ANN) – DURING the height of the fintech revolution that’s been taking place over the last few years, one prominent banker in Malaysia made an interesting comment during a private dinner.

The banker said that while he welcomes fintech companies into the market, he wasn’t really afraid of losing any significant business to them. What he really feared, if anything, were the technology giants turning on a banking facility for the millions of users they have on their platforms.

“This Facebook Bank, Google Bank or Whatsapp Financial Group,” he quipped in half jest.

The logic is simple: with those platforms even then having had the myriad users globally, they are able to tap that user group to offer financial services.

But banking remains a highly regulated space. Not every technology company will be able to fulfill those criteria or even have such intentions.

Still, there are a number of virtual banks that have sprung up globally.

Here are some of the more notable ones in this part of the region.

China: WeBank

WeBank is China’s first private digital-only bank, launched in early 2015.

It is backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings – China’s biggest messaging and social networking company, which is also the operator of WeChat

Besides Tencent, its other backers include investment firms Baiyeyuan and Liye Group.

According to its website, WeBank provides consumer banking services through digital channels, as well as microcredits and other loan products.

The Internet-only lender had turned in a profit one year into operation thanks to surging demand for microloans among blue-collar workers and small entrepreneurs.

In 2017, WeBank made a net profit of 1.4 billion yuan or US$209mil, while its return on equity came in at 19.2%.

Its total lending in that year was nearly twice that of closest rival MyBank for the same period.

A recent stake sale of the bank values the company at US$21bil, making it one of the world’s largest “unicorn” companies.

Banking Tech recently reported that the lender is now eyeing an Australian expansion to compete with payments company Alipay, which is its largest rival.

MyBank

MyBank is backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Alibaba affiliate company Ant Financial owns 30% of the online lender.

Not unlike WeBank, it has a focus on consumer and small and medium-sized enterprises, a sector underserved by traditional banks in China.

It uses credit data from the e-commerce giant’s AliPay product to conduct analysis for loans.

By circumventing human involvement, the bank said it was able to deliver loans to borrowers faster and up to 1,000 times less than it would cost brick-and-mortar banks to do so.

Like WeBank, it turned profitable one year into operations due to its less capital-intensive model.

Ant Financial is reportedly looking to go public in the near future.

India: Digibank

Singapore’s banking giant DBS Bank launched Digibank in April 2016 – a move that has enabled it to penetrate the Indian retail banking market.

Breaking away from conventional banking norms with their onerous form-filling and cumbersome processes, Digibank incorporates a host of ground-breaking technology, from artificial intelligence to biometrics.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta expects the mobile-only bank to break even in three to four years, which according to him is not such a bad deal as compared to the traditional branch model, which needs 15 to 20 years to break even.

Digibank has over 1.5 million customers and it is handling them with 60 people rather than the 400-500 staff members it would normally need under the traditional model. Its cost-to-income ratio is in the low 30s.

Following its Indian venture, DBS went on to launch a similar mobile-led bank in Indonesia where the government expects the country’s digital economy to reach US$130bil or about 12% of its gross domestic product in 2020.

Other Singaporean lenders have also jumped on the bandwagon. United Overseas Bank (UOB) said it would launch “digital banks” for its five key markets in Asean, starting in Thailand. It aims to have three to five million customers in the next five years

Elsewhere, OCBC is also reportedly pursuing a similar idea in Indonesia.

Japan

Established in 2008, Jibun Bank reached profitability in less than five years. The outfit is a joint venture between Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and local mobile network operator, KDDI.

The story goes that instead of competing with each other, the two organisations decided it would make more sense creating a “separate bank” that complement their goals.

The Asian Banker in a case study on Jibun Bank noted that in its first year, the lender had accumulated over 500,000 new customers. By 2015, Jibun Bank’s asset volume surpassed that of Japan’s oldest Internet bank, Japan Net Bank. Asian Banker also noted that the lender’s deposit volume has grown to a size that is comparable to that of a mid-tier regional bank – all of this without the help of a branch footprint.

 South Korea: K-bank and Kakao Bank

The two South Korea’s online-only banks have signed up new customers by the millions since beginning operations in 2017.

Kakao Bank is run by mobile messaging Kakao and Korea Investment Holdings, while K-bank is operated by telco KT.

The authorities there are hoping that K-bank and Kakao Bank would spur growth in a banking industry that has stagnated amid rising credit costs, narrowing interest margins and heavy regulation.

The Financial Times in an October 2017 report wrote that about 300,000 new accounts were opened with Kakao Bank in the 24 hours following its launch in late July. This figure was more than what traditional banks in South Korea got in a year through online channels. And as at end-September that year, it had already garnered 3.9 million users.

The news agency said that Kako Bank users can wire money abroad for just a tenth of typical commission fees.

Its peer K-bank, meanwhile, attracted over half a million users in the few months following its April 2017 launch.

In contrast, international banks operating traditional branch networks in the country were looking at downsizing their branches.

Early this year, Shinhan Financial Group inked a deal with mobile app maker Viva Republica to set up an Internet-only bank, making it the third player in the game.

by gurmeet kaur The Star

Related:

 

Apple faces brewing storm of challenges


Shrinking share: People walk outside an Apple store in Beijing. Apple’s market share in China in the third quarter of 2018 was around 9, and has dipped from above 14 in 2015, overtaken by local rivals like Huawei, Oppo and Vivo. — Reuters

Video: 5G …https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/iJfCBqPUKHQ

 

SHANGHAI: Apple Inc’s chief executive Tim Cook has his work cut out in China this year: the iPhone maker faces the looming threat of a court-ordered sales ban, the uncertain outcome of trade war talks and the roll-out of a new 5G network, where it finds itself behind rivals like Huawei and Samsung.

The complex outlook raises a challenge for Apple as it looks to revive its China fortunes after weakness there sparked a rare drop in its global sales forecast, knocked US$75bil from its market valuation and roiled global markets.

Cook told investors that the main drag on the firm’s performance in China had been a sharper-than-expected slowdown in the country’s economy, exacerbated by the impact of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“We did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China,” he said.

Chinese shoppers told Reuters another element had been key: the high price-tag on Apple’s flagship phones.

Analysts said the firm faced a brewing storm of challenges: an economic slowdown, stronger rivals like Huawei Technologies Co Ltd bringing out comparable tech at lower prices and bubbling patriotic sentiment amid the trade war.

A Chinese court has also issued a preliminary injunction banning some Apple phones, part of a legal battle with chip maker Qualcomm Inc. This ban, potentially hitting iPhone models from the 6S through the X, has yet to be enforced.

Last Thursday a local industry body, the China Anti-Infringement and Anti-Counterfeit Innovation Strategic Alliance, called on Apple to heed the court order and not “trample the Chinese law by leveraging its super economic power and clout.” Apple declined to comment on the group’s statement but has previously said it believed its current phones complied with the Chinese court’s order.

“These are tough times for Apple in China,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint, adding the iPhone could see its market share slip to 7% this year in the face of stronger local rivals and worry about the sales ban.

Apple’s market share in the third-quarter of 2018 was around 9%, and has dipped from above 14% in 2015, overtaken by local rivals like Huawei, Oppo and Vivo.

Another question mark for Apple is its 5G strategy in China, where the US firm is not expected to have a 5G-enabled phone until 2020, behind rivals like Huawei, Xiaomi Corp and Samsung Electronics.

China is looking to push ahead with its rollout of a faster 5G network, with a pre-commercial phase this year and a commercial network in 2020.

Some are looking to make an early bet on the technology.

Huawei is planning a 5G phone mid-year, while Xiaomi is aiming for the third quarter. Samsung is expected to unveil a 5G phone in the first half of the year.

Industry insiders, however, said Apple would likely hold off until the fall of 2020 to have its own 5G-enabled phone, a strategy that would bypass the untested early period of the technology, but which could mean Chinese shoppers delay iPhone purchases or buy another brand that switched to 5G earlier.

“I’ll definitely be paying attention to 5G functionality when I buy my next phone,” said Wu Chengjun, a graduate student in Beijing who currently uses an iPhone X.

With the exception of Huawei, which makes it own 5G chips, Qualcomm is providing the technology to many of the major phone makers releasing 5G handsets this year.

“If you’re a (phone maker) looking for a ‘super cycle’ (of sales), if you don’t have 5G, your situation won’t get any better,” Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s president, told Reuters in an interview. ”

The carrier channel is going to be incentivised to start selling 5G phones in the second half of 2019, he said. — Reuters

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5G connectivity promises faster Internet speeds and more efficiency to run complex tasks in the cloud. —123rf.com   https://youtu.b…

 

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South Korean Christian-based cult leaders pastor Lee jailed for raping followers


South Korean Pastor Lee Jaerock was convicted of the multiple rape of eight
female followers — some of whom believed he was God. — AFP
  • Religious devotion is widespread in technologically advanced South Korea
  • South Korea has proven fertile ground for religious groups with
    strong, unambiguous ideologies that offered comfort and salvation

A South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers — some of whom believed he was God — and jailed for 15 years.

Pastor Lee Jaerock’s victims were “unable to resist as they were subject to the accused’s absolute religious authority”, judge Chung Moon-sung told the Seoul Central District Court.

Religious devotion is widespread in technologically advanced South Korea, with 44 percent of people identifying themselves as believers.

Most belong to mainstream churches, which can accumulate wealth and influence with tens of thousands of followers donating as much as 10 percent of their income.

But fringe groups are also widespread — experts say around 60 people in the country claim to be divine — and some have been implicated in fraud, brainwashing, coercion, and other behaviour associated with cults worldwide.

Lee set up the Manmin Central Church in Guro, once a poor area of Seoul, with just 12 followers in 1982. It has now grown to 130,000 members, with a spotlight-filled auditorium, sprawling headquarters, and a website replete with claims of miracle cures.

But three of Lee’s followers went public earlier this year, as South Korea was swept with a wave of #MeToo accusations, describing how he had summoned each of them to an apartment and raped them.

South Korean Pastor Lee Jae-rock arrives at the Seoul Central District Court to attend his trial on Thursday. | AFP-JIJI

“I was unable to turn him down,” one of them told South Korean television.

“He was more than a king. He was God,” added the woman, who had been a church member since childhood.

Lee told another that she was now in Heaven, and to strip as Adam and Eve went naked in the Garden of Eden. “I cried as I hated to do it,” she told JTBC television.

Eight women laid criminal complaints, and the court found Lee raped and molested them “tens of times” over a long period.

“Through his sermons the accused has indirectly or directly suggested he is the holy spirit, deifying himself,” the judge said.

The victims believed him to be “a divine being who wields divine power”, he added.

Lee, who denied the charges, stood with his eyes closed as the judgement was read, showing no emotion, while around 100 followers filled the courtroom to overflowing, some of them sighing quietly.

The 75-year-old’s lawyers had accused the women of lying to seek vengeance after being excommunicated for breaching church rules.

– Second Coming –

South Korea has proven fertile ground for religious groups with strong, unambiguous ideologies that offered comfort and salvation that appealed strongly during times of deep uncertainty.

More recent versions have claimed a unique knowledge of the path to material and spiritual prosperity — a message that resonates in a highly competitive and status-focused society.

According to a 2015 government survey, 28 percent of South Koreans say they belong to Christian churches, with another 16 percent describing themselves as Buddhist.

But according to Park Hyung-tak, head of the Korea Christian Heresy Research Institute, around two million people are followers of cults.

“There are some 60 Christian-based cult leaders in this country who claim to be the second coming of Jesus Christ, or God Himself,” he told AFP.

AFP/File / MENAHEM KAHANA

“Many cults point to megachurches mired in corruption and other scandals in order to highlight their own presumed purity and attract believers,” he added.

On his own website, Lee says that God has “anointed me with His power” but the Manmin Central Church has been condemned as heretical by mainstream Christian organisations, partly because of its claims to miracle healing.

In one example on the church website, Barbara Vollath, a 49-year-old German, said he was born deaf but her bone cancer was cured and she gained hearing in both ears after Lee’s daughter and heiress apparent Lee Soojin prayed for her with a handkerchief he had blessed.

South Korean cults can have deadly consequences: in 1987, 32 members of an apocalyptic group called Odaeyang, were found dead at their headquarters in an apparent murder-suicide pact, including its leader, who was under police investigation for embezzlement.

And they can influence the highest reaches of power.

Choi Soon-Sil, the woman at the centre of the corruption scandal that brought down her close friend president Park Geun-Hye, is the daughter of late religious leader Choi Tae-min.

The elder Choi became Park’s spiritual mentor after establishing his own church, Yeongsegyo (“Spiritual Life”), combining tenets of Buddhism, Christianity and shamanism.

Source: AFP

On a mission from God: South Korea’s many cults

The jailing of a South Korean religious leader on Thursday for the rape of multiple followers is the latest example of religious cults in the country.

The world’s 11th-largest economy is technologically advanced but has a history of cult organisations and charismatic religious leaders, some of whom have amassed enormous wealth and influence.

Here are some groups that have previously attracted controversy or had brushes with the law.
Pastor Lee Jaerock, a South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers. Here are other South Korean cult groups that have made headlines
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 Pastor Lee Jaerock, a South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers. Here are other South Korean cult groups that have made headlines

Pastor Lee Jaerock, a South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers. Here are other South Korean cult groups that have made headlines

The World Mission Society Church of God predicted the end of the world would come on December 31, 1999.

However, being wrong has been no barrier to its fortunes, and an anti-cult group estimates that it has more than 200,000 followers, although it claims more than two million.

Its founder Ahn Sang-hong, who died in 1985, is worshipped as the Heavenly Father, who it says will come for the salvation of 144,000 souls — the number appears in a biblical prophecy.

Ahn’s wife Jang Gil-ja is regarded as the Heavenly Mother. Its aggressive evangelical activities in south east Asian countries sparked controversy.

Shincheonji, or the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, suggests that its founder Lee Man-hee has donned the mantle of Jesus Christ and will take 144,000 people with him to Heaven, body and soul, on the Day of Judgement.

But its adherents have long surpassed that number, and critics say they have to engage in endless loyalty competitions to earn credits to be included among the saved, sacrificing their everyday lives and leading to serious family disputes.

Shincheonji ‘is the nation of God, created by Him to fulfil what is in heaven on this earth in today´s time’, it says on its homepage, adding that Lee ‘is creating God´s kingdom of heaven here on earth, exactly as he witnessed it in heaven’.

The female leader of a doomsday cult and three of her acolytes were arrested this year for allegedly holding some 400 followers captive in Fiji and subjecting them to violence and barbaric rituals.

Victims were hit hundreds of times in ceremonies known as ‘threshing floors’, defectors told South Korean media.

Shin Ok-ju, founder of the Grace Road Church, has gone on trial on charges of violence, child abuse, exploitation and incarceration, among others.

One of South the largest and best-known cults is Providence or Jesus Morning Star, also known by the acronym JMS — which matches the initials of its founder Jung Myung Seok.

He set it up in 1980 as a breakaway from the Unification Church, also known as the Moonies.

Jung was released from prison earlier this year after serving a 10-year sentence for the rape and sexual assault of four female followers.

He told them to have sex with him to purge themselves of sin.

Guwonpa, or ‘Salvation Sect‘, came to national attention when the Sewol ferry — whose operating company was run by its leader Yoo Byung-eun and his family — sank in 2014 with the loss of more than 300 lives, most of them children.

On the run from charges of corruption and negligence, Yoo’s body was found in a field, so badly decomposed that authorities were unable to determine the precise cause of death.

In 1987, 32 members of an apocalyptic cult called Odaeyang, meaning ‘five oceans’, were found dead at their headquarters in the southern city of Yongin in an apparent murder-suicide pact.

Among them was the cult’s leader Park Soon-Ja, who had been under pressure from her lenders over $17 million of debts and was under police investigation for embezzlement.

Police said Park’s two sons and a cult official strangled her and 28 others before killing themselves.

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Trump’s tariffs won’t restore U.S. jobs



The sewing lines at Bernhard Furniture Company which where skilled craft
jobs are growing without the help of tariffs, and company officials

Related image

Trump’s tariffs won’t restore U.S. furniture jobs :
https://www.reuters.tv/v/PvWi/2018/09/27/trump-s-tariffs-won-t-restore-u-s-furniture-jobs

In a town where a 30-feet tall chair is the chief landmark, and which is synonymous with a U.S. furniture industry decimated over the years by imports from China, many greet the possibility of tariffs on Chinese goods with a shrug.

No wonder. Of three once bustling Thomasville furniture plants in the city limits, one is being demolished and cleared for parkland, another may become the site of a new police station, and a third is being converted into apartments.

President Donald Trump is threatening to levy tariffs of up to 25 percent on $500 billion of goods imported from China each year, including roughly $20 billion of furniture, as a way to bring back hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs lost to China and other low-cost competitors.

Yet, the transformation of U.S. industries since China’s emergence as the world’s low-cost producer almost two decades ago means many no longer directly compete with Chinese imports, so tariffs may not translate so easily into more U.S. jobs.

At family-owned Bernhardt Furniture in Lenoir, some 90 miles west of Thomasville, executives say it would take about $30 million in capital investment – some 10 percent of annual sales – to resurrect standard wood furniture lines now mainly made in countries like China and Vietnam.

That is too much to commit based on a policy that a future administration could reverse.

“The theory is you turn (imports) off, the jobs come back. That’s not really true… The buildings don’t exist. The people don’t exist. The machinery does not exist,” to make the sorts of furniture that now gets imported, said Alex Bernhardt Jr., chief executive and the company founder’s great grandson.

What the company needs now, executives say, is the open markets and steady economy that have allowed it to grow its workforce from below 800 at the end of the 2007-2009 recession to almost 1,500 today – partly on the basis of exports to China.

DIFFERENT COMPANY

That growth has been largely driven by demand for more customized, higher end furniture. In expanding, the 129-year-old company has been hiring not only factory workers, but also designers, marketing experts and other professionals.

In all, it is a different firm from what it was three decades ago when it first began dividing product lines between the United States and Asia.

Economists say the same is true across much of U.S. manufacturing. To invest and hire more workers, executives would need certainty, for example, that consumers would prefer U.S.-made products at a potentially higher price. They would need confidence that tariffs would last beyond the Trump administration and that production could not be shifted to other more cost-competitive countries.

Even then, there may be little incentive to go back to old product lines for industries that have changed dramatically because of globalization.

Across the Rust Belt and the former factory towns of the south, the transformation is apparent. In Buffalo, an old steel mill is now a solar panel factory, and a retail goods manufacturer now houses an office and restaurant park. Near Dayton, Ohio, a shuttered GM plant has reopened as a Chinese-owned auto glass company. Abandoned factories throughout North Carolina have landed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of “brownfield” sites that need cleanup.

Some companies are considering moving production from China as a result of the tariffs, but the jobs are unlikely to head home.

Illinois-based CCTY Bearing, for example, said it planned to move U.S.-bound production from Zhenjiang, China, to a new plant near Mumbai in India to keep labor costs down.

JLab Audio’s China-made Bluetooth products are not being taxed yet, but its chief executive Win Cramer had been scouting for suppliers in Vietnam and Mexico.

“I would love to build products onshore, but consumers have proven time and time again that “Made in America” isn’t as valuable a statement as it once was,” Cramer said. “They make decisions based on the cost.”

The price of, say, its Bluetooth earbud would jump from $20 to as much as $50 if it was made in the United States, Cramer said, far more than what tariffs would add to the cost of imports.

To be sure, early reactions suggest that foreign companies that make U.S.-bound goods in China may move some of that production to the United States. Still, countries such as Vietnam may ultimately benefit the most from Trump’s tariffs.

Japanese construction and mining equipment maker Komatsu Ltd < 6301.T > has said it has already shifted some of its production of parts for U.S.-built excavators from China. Part of that production moved to the United States, but some also went to Mexico and Japan.

In South Korea, LG Electronics <066570 .ks=””> and its rival Samsung Electronics <005930 .ks=””> are considering moving parts of U.S.-bound refrigerator and air conditioner production to Mexico, Vietnam or back home, but not to the United States, according to company sources and local media.

STEADY RECOVERY

The responses to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum show how such steps create both winners and losers.

Producers such as U.S. Steel and Century Aluminum have said they will add at least several hundred jobs as a result of the higher prices they can charge.

Mid-Continental Nail, however, laid off 130 workers because of those higher steel prices, and furniture parts maker Leggett & Platt has warned that rising metal prices would prompt it to shift production abroad.

So far, Washington has imposed duties on $250 billion of Chinese imports and Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on all Chinese goods.

Many economists project new tariffs would on balance either slow down hiring or cause job losses in a manufacturing sector where employment has grown by 10 percent over the past eight years without special protection.

(Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Q1AFUW)

The furniture industry, among the hardest hit by Chinese imports, has added 43,000 jobs since its employment hit a low of 350,000 in 2011, helped by the recovering housing market and strong consumer demand.

Industry officials say skilled upholsterers and other workers are hard to find, echoing the Federal Reserve’s concern about the impact of worker shortages on the U.S. economy.

In Thomasville, few expect that tariffs will bring furniture manufacturing back to its heyday, nor does the community need it, says city manager Kelly Craver, whose parents worked in the furniture and textile industries.

Since the recession, Thomasville has become a residential hub for growing nearby cities such as Greensboro and Charlotte. It also has its own mix of manufacturing and white collar jobs.

Mohawk Industries recently expanded its Thomasville laminate flooring facility while the Old Dominion Freight Line transportation firm and the fast-growing Cook Out burger chain have corporate headquarters there.

“We, for the very first time in this city’s existence, are going to have a diversified economy,” Craver said.

By Howard Schneider, Reuters

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Vanishing Jobs Growth Spells Deep Trouble for South Korea


 

 
Not-so-nice figures: Moon has seen his popularity slide amid criticism that he’s hurting employment by
aggressively increasing the minimum wage. — AP

Unemployment and jobs growth in South Korea haven’t looked so bad since the wake of the global financial crisis, undermining President Moon Jae-in’s economic agenda.

Data released Wednesday show the unemployment rate jumping to 4.2 percent, the highest since early 2010, and much greater than any economists forecast. Jobs growth slumped to just 3,000 last month, also the worst figure in more than eight years.

Moon, who came into office pledging to create jobs and raise incomes for regular workers, has seen his popularity slide amid criticism that he’s hurting employment by aggressively increasing the minimum wage.

While pay hikes planned for this year and 2019 are here to stay, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said the government would consider adjusting some policies.

He conceded that the jobs market wouldn’t improve much anytime soon.

Disappearing Jobs Growth

  • Number of jobs added: South Korea added just 3,000 jobs in August, the least since 2010

Source: Statistics Korea

Moon’s administration points to the fallout from corporate restructuring and the shrinking working-age population as the source of the problems in the labour market. Businesses counter that hiking the minimum wage 16% this year, with another bump of almost 11% to come next year, has made job layoffs inevitable.

Small business owners in particular, from convenience stores to fast-food franchises, have shed workers.

Adding to the economic unease in South Korea is the risk that US President Donald Trump may hit car exporters with auto tariffs, even after Seoul agreed to renegotiate its trade deal with the US.

Unemployment Spike

South Korea’s unemployment rate in August reached the highest since 2010
  • Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate
Source: Statistics Korea

South Korean bonds climbed and the won fell after jobs figures, which appeared to squash any near-term prospect of the central bank raising interest rates.

The finance minister said economic policies that are geared toward wage-based growth are moving in the “right direction”. Yet the government also acknowledged the need for more communication and market analysis in order to gain trust from companies and the people, he said.

The presidential office described the recent increase in unemployment as inevitable pain that accompanies a change in the structure of the economy, Yonhap News reported.

Like many other countries, South Korea is experiencing a widening gap between the rich and the poor. It’s confounding policy makers and exacerbating political divisions. — Bloomberg

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