North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has had nightmares in which his own people threw stones at him, Rep. Chung Mong-joon of the ruling South Korean Grand National Party said, The Korea Herald reported on Monday.
The Korea Herald said Chung made the comments to the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Sunday, citing his father's private conversations with Kim. "Chairman Kim Jong-il once told (my father that) he was well-aware that his people, in fact, did not like him although many people came out to welcome him when he showed up," Chung reportedly said.
The comments, if true, indicate that Kim is well aware of the situation in North Korea. "He told my father that he had dreams in which he was hit by stones thrown first by Americans, second by South Koreans and then by North Koreans," Chung said.
Chung is seen as a potential presidential candidate during the upcoming presidential elections in 2012.
S. Korea to become most aged nation in 2050: report
South Korea is likely to become the most aged nation in the world in 2050, a state-run think tank said Monday.
The percentage of South Korean aged more than 65 among total population is projected to reach 38.2 percent in 2050 due to rising average lifespan and falling birthrate, the Korea Institute of Finance (KIF) said in a report.
The period during which South Korea falls into aged society from aging society is expected to take only 26 years, compared with 154 years for France, 94 years for the United States, 77 years for Germany and 36 years for Japan, according to the report.
The report warned that the rapid aging could damage the country 's growth potential and weigh on fiscal health, but it could become an opportunity for local financial companies as demand for stable financial products is likely to rise.
The KIF advised local financial firms to expand services for comprehensive and customized asset management, revitalize mortgage loan market and nurture healthcare-related insurance.
In addition, the government should reduce public pension schemes and raise private pension system in a bid to brace for the shortages of fiscal sources, the KIF said
S. Korea has 61 condemned criminals
South Korea has 61 condemned criminals though it has not carried out an execution over the last 13 years, Amnesty International said Monday. In North Korea, at least 60 people were executed last year, according to the human rights body.
In the report, Amnesty International said the death penalty has been imposed on 61 people in South Korea as of the end of 2010, with two newly included. Another two were sentenced to capital punishment and they have appealed to high courts.
But the country has not carried out an execution since 1997, and Amnesty International classifies South Korea as a de facto “death penalty-free” state.
South Korea is one of many nations that impose death sentences but do not carry out executions, including India, Laos, Pakistan, Thailand, Algeria, Kuwait, Tunisia, Cameroon and the Maldives.
“On Feb. 25, South Korea’s Constitutional Court resolved that capital punishment did not violate human dignity and worth as protected by the Constitution,” according to the report. It also said that Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam considered building a new execution chamber but the plan was put on hold.
An Amnesty International Korea official said that South Korea is at the crossroads between the abolishment and retention of death penalty.
“Many lawmakers are for the abolishment of capital punishment. Three bills on the abolishment are pending, and dozens of lawmakers announced a statement for the issue last October,” she said in a press briefing in Seoul.
Regarding North Korea, the human rights organization said 60 executions were reported last year but it was unable to confirm the exact number sentenced with the death penalty.
“The death penalty is often imposed even though the alleged crime is not subject to a death sentence under domestic law.
Executions are usually carried out in secret, but an increased number of reports were received compared to last year of executions being held in public to serve as an example to others,” the report said.
Amnesty International also presumed China executed thousands of people, but could not elaborate because statistics on the death penalty in China are considered state secrets. The figure in China solely is believed to be much more than 527, the number of executions carried out in the other 23 nations among the 58 retentionist countries.
The group said the world is moving to abolish the death penalty: Since 2003, less than half of the retentionist nations have carried out executions, and 139 countries ― about two thirds of the world’s total nations ― have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.