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.
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
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
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.