Central Bank Raises Key Rate to 2.75%

The Bank of Korea on Jan. 13 raised its benchmark rate to 2.75 percent, the third rise since the onset of the global financial crisis, in an apparent move to control growing inflationary pressure.The central bank unexpectedly raised its base rate against market expectations, as prices have soared since the beginning of this year. nw


Producer Inflation Hits 2-year High

The producer price index in December jumped 5.3 percent from a year earlier to a record high of 117.8, indicating mounting consumer inflationary pressure, figures released by the Bank of Korea showed. It represented the fastest growth since December 2008, led by recent food and raw material price hikes. The figures were made available after the United Nations?Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released data on food price movements during the first week of the year. nw


Stem Cell Breakthrough

Cha Group announced on Jan. 12 it has successfully generated platelets, a scarce yet essential blood element, employing human embryonic stem cells. The company said the work, which was posted on the website of the international medical journal Cell Research, will contribute to dramatically easing blood shortages worldwide.The Korean government is sticking to its call for taking concrete steps to denounce provocations even as North Korea has recently proposed a series of inter-Korean talks. South Korea sees the North? recent proposals on inter-Korean talks as a kind of peace overture.On Jan. 10, Pyongyang proposed a meeting of working-level officials later this month to make preparations for minister-level inter-Korean dialogues. Suspicious of the North's seriousness about the proposal, Seoul in turn proposed that the two sides discuss the North's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and the torpedoing of a South Korean navy ship. nw


Some 1.3 MIL. Livestock Culled to Combat FMD Outbreaks

The number of livestock ordered culled has surpassed 1.34 million as part of efforts to prevent the spiraling spread of the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic across the nation.The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said on Jan. 11 that the government ordered the culling of 1,207,500 heads of cattle, 1.23 million pigs and 3,700 goats and deers on 3,300 farms in the past 40 days. nw


Korea, Japan Agree to Up Military Ties

South Korean and Japanese defense ministers agreed to heighten bilateral military cooperation during talks in Seoul on Jan. 11, amid tension caused by North Korea's 2010 torpedoing of a South Korean navy ship and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island off the west coast.Defense Minister Kim Kwang-jin and Japanese Defense Agency Minister Toshimi Kitazawa also exchanged views on regional security threats, including the North Korean nuclear issue.The two agreed to start consultations on reaching a deal for bilateral cooperation in areas of the exchange of military supplies and services. They agreed to consult over reaching a separate deal that would facilitate sharing sensitive military information, including information related to North Korea. nw


Army Sends Contingent to UAE

The Army officially created a Korean contingent to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Jan. 10 for a two-year mission to help train the UAE? special forces. A 130-strong contingent, named ?kh,?meaning ?rothers?in Arabic, left for the UAE the following day. The dispatch of the Korean contingent follows as part of efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation in the wake of Seoul? winning a project to build nuclear power units for the UAE, the nation? first overseas atomic energy deal, last December. nw


Google Suspected of Internet Privacy Law Violations

Google Inc. has come under fire for allegedly gathering private information through its "Street View" mapping service, police sources said. Officials of the Cyber Terror Response Center, the National Police Agency? Internet crime unit, said the global Internet giant violated three communications in Korea via its mapping service unit by collecting private information private information from unencrypted wireless networks during the filming process, in what is seen as the first move to bring criminal charges against activities related to Google? Street View. nw


Korean Navy Ship Dispatched to
Rescue Hijacked Vessel

Korea's 4,500-ton destroyer Choi Young, a ship of the Cheonghae Unit, has been ordered to go for rescuing the 11,500-ton Samho Jewelry freighter, carrying eight South Koreans, which was apparently believed to have been kidnapped by the Somali pirates. The Korean government took a stern stance against the hijackers, who were demanding a hefty ransom in return for the shipmen after seizing the Korean freighter in waters between Oman and India on Jan. 15. nw

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