Crazy Heat Wave
In 2018, Seoul experienced one of its hottest days. The record of 1994, which is remembered as the “year of the worst heat wave,” is expected to be broken by 2018’s summer with the highest temperature exceeding 35 C for a long time. The crops burned in the heat and the resulting price hike became serious. People also suffered from paying high electricity bills. Many people who run restaurants and accommodations are frustrated because their businesses are not paying these days due to the lack of customers even during the peak season.
Ongoing U.S.-China Trade War
In retaliation for the U.S.' tariff walls, China decided to go head-to-head. China announced that it would impose additional tariffs on 5,207 kinds of American products, which are worth $600 billion. It seems this is China's counterattack against the U.S.' pressure to increase the tariff rates on Chinese imports up to 25 percent. U.S. President Donald J. Trump warned that if China retaliates, the extra customs duty could reach $500 billion. Trump expressed confidence by tweeting that his tariffs are working better than anyone ever anticipated and that the Chinese market has dropped 27 percent in the last four months.
BMW Hit the Skids
A series of cars produced by German carmaker BMW caught fire while being driven on the road. Experts guess that the malfunction of the exhaust gas recirculation system was the problem, but the exact cause of the fire is not clear. BMW is conducting an emergency safety diagnosis on about 106,000 vehicles of 42 models that are classified as subject for recall. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is considering to prevent people from driving BMW sedans. However, it seems impracticable due to the vehicle owners’ backlash and possible legal dispute.
Remedies for Hidden Cameras
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced that they will mobilize all means and resources for women to use public transportation under safe conditions. By the first half of next year, mass transportation facilities will be equipped with detectors for hidden cameras. Managers and supervisors of every public building are obliged to check at all times whether any illegal cameras have been installed. Ministry of Gender Equality & Family is also struggling to eradicate crime related to hidden cameras, campaigning with a strong message that says, “Illegal shooting is a serious offense and do not just stand by and watch.”
Rest More or Earn More?
Korea adopted a new workweek, requiring companies to reduce the maximum working hours from 68 to 52 hours per week. People who cherish the value of work-life balance generally welcome the introduction of the 52-hour workweek and enjoy their increased leisure time. But some criticize the side effects such as direct pay cuts. Others complain that as the time spent outside the workplace and inside the house increases, family members and spouses expect too much from each other.
No More Plastic Cups
Disposable cups are no longer allowed inside cafes and fast food restaurants. When the use of plastic cups is detected, the owner must pay a penalty of up to 2,000,000 won (US$1,780). However, people are already worried about the effectiveness of the new law due to its ambiguous standards. If a customer does not finish the drink inside the store, it is okay to give them a disposable cup. Keeping mugs hygienic and supplying manpower to enforce the regulation is also an issue.
The Much Disputed ‘Control of Eating Broadcast’
The Ministry of Health and Welfare presented their plan on “Comprehensive Measures to Manage the National Obesity Problem,” and many people are against it, starting a petition for revocation. The phrase that led to the controversy was “establish criteria for binge eating and develop guidelines and a monitoring system for media content that fosters excessive eating.” Some say the media is framing the government’s plan in a negative way and exaggerating it just for sensational reports. Others point out the lack of details related to exercises.