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South Korea

Yearbook 2011

South Korea. According to Countryaah official site, Parliament approved in May a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU. The agreement, which also concerned intellectual property rights, services and security testing, came into force at the end of the first half of the year. A similar agreement with the United States was approved by Parliament in November, despite strong opposition mainly from farmers. The opposition cast its votes, and someone threw a tear gas canister as the vote took place. Both trade agreements had been concluded in 2007, but the ratification process had dragged on over time. The EU and the US were South Korea's fourth and fifth largest trading partners, respectively.

2011 South Korea

The hottest rains in a century hit the country in July. Dozens of people were killed and enormous material damage occurred due to floods and landslides in the capital of Seoul.

President Lee Myung Bak launched a new venture in stem cell research in September, an area that South Korea was a leader in a few years earlier. The research was interrupted when it was discovered that results showing successful cloning of human embryos were falsified. According to President Lee, it was now time to invest again because with the help of stem cells it is hoped to cure a wide range of serious diseases. The researcher behind the false results, Woo Suk Hwang, was sentenced to conditional prison in 2009. But he was not deterred: in October, he showed eight coyotes that he claimed were cloned. Woo Suk Hwang said he has developed a new technology to create genetic copies of wildlife.

A political scare happened when the mayoral elections were held in Seoul in October. The post, considered the second most important political office in South Korea, was won by an independent candidate with no ties to any political party. Park Won Son's victory created nervousness for the established parties ahead of the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections.

When North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il passed away in December, military preparedness in South Korea was increased. Concerns existed for increased instability in the Korean Peninsula in the event of a power struggle in the unpredictable nuclear weapons state. Seoul sent condolences to the North Korean people, but did not send any official representative to attend the funeral.

A new reception center for North Korean refugees was started. The existing Hanawon center was not enough for the approximately 3,000 North Koreans who come to South Korea each year. The jumpers spend three months in the center. learn how to apply for a job and use an ATM.

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