End of Year Review: 2017 South Korea Biggest News and Events
Park impeached on the 10th of March – Kicking off from where we left off last year, former President Park Geun-hye made history, but not on the right side of history. After mishandling of classified government information and letting non-government and non-authorized government personnel – her friend Choi Soon Sil – access to that information, citizens got enraged and took to the streets, one time as many as 1.7 million protesters, to call for her impeachment. She was finally impeached on the 10th of March, making her the first Korean president to be removed from office. She was arrested and has been charged with corruption. She’s still being held up in a detention centre in Seoul. Click here for the scandal timeline.
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President Moon Jae-in is elected – On election day on the 9th of May, Korean citizens spoke and they spoke loud and clear. Moon Jae-in had almost double the votes of Hong Jun-pyo, who came in second. He assumed office the next day and according to his approval ratings, although slightly down since he assumed office, the majority of Koreans have been pleased with his presidency so far.
Blue represents cities and provinces won by Moon Jae in
Kim Jong Nam is murdered in Malaysia – In a brazen assassination, the older brother of the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Nam was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International airport with an extremely toxic nerve agent. While the death is still under investigation, many believe, including the South Korean government, that the assassination was masterminded by Kim Jong Un. Here is a timeline detailing his killing. His son also released a video statement which can be found here
North Korea November 29th missile launch – On November 29th, North Korea tested its 23rd missile in 16th tests since February. Normally, a missile launch test from North Korea wouldn’t make this cut as this interview suggests most South Koreans are increasingly becoming numb to it. But this missile launch was particularly different. North Korea state news agency KCNA called the new missile “the most powerful ICBM” and inevitably, the government of Japan, South Korea and the US strongly condemned it. U.S Defence Secretary Mattis also said the missile is capable of hitting “everywhere in the world”. Although he later backtracked his statement saying “it has not yet shown to be a capable threat against us right now … we’re still doing the forensic analysis.” Kwon Se-jin, a renowned aerospace space professor disputes that claim and backs Mattis’ original statement of the missile having the capability to hit the entire US mainland.
Kim Jong Un releases a statement for the first time ever – After what North Korea considered to be scathing attacks on them and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, on the 22nd of September, Kim released a statement in the first person, the first of its kind, directly addressing comments US President Donald Trump had made towards them to “totally destroy North Korea”. Kim vowed to “tame” Trump and called him a “mentally deranged US dotard” which immediately began trending worldwide and sending people to the dictionary. Click here for the statement in full.
G-dragon album USB: Kpop star G-dragon released his first solo project in 4 years in a USB stick that contained no music but rather a serial number to his label’s website, YG Entertainment, that can be used to download the 5 tracks EP. It made history as it was the first of its kind. But it also stirred a lot of discussions as South Korea’s domestic Gaon Chart refuse to recognize the album because the USB stick contains links to the songs for download rather than actual music, per chart operator the Korean Music Content Industry Association (KMCIA). This caused anger and debate among fans who questioned what the definition of an album is. G-dragon responded by asking “isn’t the most important thing for music a good melody that will linger on the ears, mouths and minds of people for a long time and the lyrics that can touch people and make them laugh and cry?”. Even though it wasn’t recognized on the charts, the USB album is considered one of the biggest Kpop music album release of 2017.
Samsung boss arrested and charged – Jae Yong Lee, the 3rd wealthiest person in South Korea and Vice Chairman of Samsung, and Samsung paid $18 million to a firm controlled by Choi Soon Sil and friend of former president Park. While Samsung insists this wasn’t a bribe, prosecutors charged him with corruption and he was sentenced to 5 years in prison. This was a major victory for prosecutors as high profile, wealthy and influential individuals are rarely charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. Watch his conviction video here
Long 10 days Chuseok holiday – In September, amid escalated tensions from a recent North Korean missile launch test, President Moon Jae-in declared Oct 2nd as a temporary holiday, which extended Chuseok holiday (Korean thanksgiving holiday) to 10 days. He said, “if Oct. 2 were a temporary, one-off holiday, people could enjoy an unprecedented 10-day holiday thanks to the regular Chuseok holidays.” “I hope people can enjoy their time off and take the time to rest and relax,” he said.” “Although it may seem inappropriate to discuss holiday matters amid a grave security situation, if the government waited longer to designate the temporary holiday with shorter notice, this would have made it difficult for the public to plan ahead,” he added. It was the first of its kind and the biggest and longest holiday in Korea in 2017.
Actor Kim Joohyuk car accident – Around 4:30 pm on October 30th, a dashboard black box camera caught actor Kim Joohyuk’s car as he suddenly sped off the road and hit an apartment complex barely minutes away from his home. An initial report put the cause of his vehicle going off the road to a heart attack and it was later revealed he died from head injuries as a result of the impact of the accident. His death shocked the nation and according to Naver, his name became the most searched word on Naver search engine in 2017.
Trump visits Korea – on November 6th, US president Donald Trump touched down in Korea and was greeted with a ceremonial welcome. He was welcomed by President Moon and First lady Kim Jung-sook. He addressed Korea’s National Assembly where he reiterated the US commitment towards continuing its strong relationship with South Korea. He also talked about trade policy between both nations as he warned North Korea not to “try us”. Click here to read every tweet and retweet from Trump about South and North Korea.
BTS hits global fame – what can be said of BTS that you don’t already know? They’ve won and continue to win awards, performed in shows and concerts all over the world and achieved worldwide fame and recognition by their fans, affectionately known as “army”. Throughout the year, they’ve trended multiple times across all social media platforms in Korea and around the world, including on Naver, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They’re by far the leading Kpop artists, solo or group, in 2017.
SHINee Kim Junghyun suicide – On the 18th of December, Junghyun sister called the police to tell them her brother was about to commit suicide. According to the Gangnam police, when police got to his residence, he had lit brown coal briquettes. He was rushed to the Konkuk University Hospital. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it and unbeknownst to many of his friends and fans, Junghyun had been struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. His death has stirred conversation about mental health in Korea. He left a lengthy suicide note he had penned 2 weeks prior to his death where he talks about feeling alone and the enormous pressure from his music and Kpop. Read the entire suicide note here in full, unedited
Wannacry ransomware attack – In May, it was reported around 300,000 computers running on Microsoft, from over 150 countries, including many from South Korea, had been encrypted and infected with the hackers demanding payment in the form of Bitcoins. At least four South Korean computers, including those of CJ CGV Cinemas, were affected and it was reported many Korean companies paid the ransom to have their data back. On the 20th of December, the US and the White House officially accused North Korea of being “directly responsible” for the cyber attack. north Korea hit back and called the accusation “absurd”, threatening to retaliate the accusation.
Was any big news and/event from 2017 left out? Leave a comment in the comment section below
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