South Korea 2006
South Korea. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in South Korea include Independence Day (August 15) and New Year (January 1). South Korea’s Prime Minister Lee Hai Chan was forced to resign in March as a result of widespread popular protests that he chose to play golf on the same day (March 1) that all the country’s transport workers went on a general strike. It was also the anniversary of a 1919 rebellion against Japanese colonial rule. As early as 2005, the prime minister had already been criticized on two occasions for playing golf on inappropriate occasions – once when the country was hit by violent floods, a second time when an old Buddhist temple had just burned down. Lee was replaced in April by Urip Party and former Environment Minister Han Myung Sook, who thus became South Korea’s first female prime minister.
In May, big company Daewoo’s founder Kim Woo Choong was sentenced to ten years in prison and fines for organizing multi-billion-class fraud.
The ruling Urip Party suffered a setback in the local elections on May 31 and gained power in only one of 16 cities and provinces. The opposition Conservative Great Nationalist Party took home twelve local items, including the mayor’s office in Seoul. The election results were seen as a manifestation of popular dissatisfaction that the government had failed to improve the country’s economy and that the extensive South Korean assistance to North Korea had not brought the countries closer together.
Relations with North Korea worsened during the year, mainly due to the fact that North Korea shot several missiles in July and probably carried out an underground nuclear test in October. Both documents were condemned by the whole world. South Korea’s backlash was to hold back food aid to North Korea, which in turn contrasted to set up planned family reunions between North and South Koreans. A visit by US President George W. Bush to South Korea on September 14 was reported to have produced lean results. While the United States advocated tougher grips on North Korea for its nuclear weapons efforts, South Korea advocated a more conciliatory tone toward its neighbor in order to reduce tensions.
North Korea’s nuclear test in October led to the UN imposing sanctions on the regime in Pyongyang, which South Korea, with some reservations, agreed to. Somewhat later in the same month, South Korea clarified that some senior officials in North Korea would be banned from entry into South Korea and that North Korean merchant ships arriving in South Korea should be controlled. However, the reconciliation process between the two countries that started in 2000 would continue.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon was appointed as UN Secretary-General in October following the departure of Kofi Annan. On January 1, 2007, Ban Ki Moon would become the first Asian in office over 30 years. The epithet attributed to the South Korea was a good mediator, a world-class administrator, low-profile and uncharismatic.
In November it was announced that two farms in South Korea had been affected by bird flu, and a mass slaughter was set in motion.