Monday, October 14, 2019
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Moon's approval rating hits new low amid 'Cho Kuk' setback, poll shows
President Moon Jae-in's approval rating dropped again to its lowest level, a weekly survey showed Monday, amid a lingering public outcry over Justice Minister Cho Kuk, whose family is under a criminal investigation in a fraud and corruption scandal. According to Realmeter, the rating fell 3 percentage points on-week to 41.4 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. It marked the lowest in its weekly survey of public support for Moon since the president took office in May 2017.
S. Korean PM to attend Japanese emperor's enthronement event amid soured relations
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon is scheduled to visit Tokyo next week to attend the Japanese emperor's enthronement event, his office said Sunday, in what is seen as a move to mend soured relations between the two neighbors. Lee will visit Japan from Oct. 22-24 for the ceremony, according to a statement by the prime minister's office. His itinerary includes the enthronement event on Oct. 22 followed by a banquet hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Oct. 23.
Cheong Wa Dae vows 'patient push' for materials industry growth
Cheong Wa Dae said Sunday it would continue a push to develop South Korea's materials, parts and equipment sector irrespective of Seoul's future ties with Tokyo. To that end, the government plans to launch R&D projects on 80 core items next year, according to Lee Ho-seung, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs. It will also revise an enforcement ordinance to expand tax deductions for new growth engines and original technologies, he said.
Justice Minister to Unveil Prosecution Reform Plans Monday
The presidential office, the government and the ruling Democratic Party(DP) on Sunday pledged to cooperate to finalize reform of the prosecution, urging the National Assembly to pass relevant bills. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Justice Minister Cho Kuk, presidential office officials and ruling party lawmakers held a meeting at the National Assembly Sunday afternoon to discuss plans for reform.
After the meeting, DP spokesperson Hong Ihk-pyo told reporters that the justice minister will announce a revised regulation scaling down and rebranding the prosecution’s special investigation divisions on Monday, and the revision will be passed at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Railway Workers to End 3-Day Strike Monday
Unionized railway workers are set to end a three-day strike at 9 a.m. on Monday, but normalized rail services will be restored in stages. The Korea Railroad Corporation(KORAIL) said on Monday that approximately 91-point-two percent of regular rail services will be operating the same day, with subway operations in the Seoul region operating at 99-point-nine percent of the normal level.
Opposition Party Criticizes Ruling Bloc's Meeting on Prosecution Reform
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party(LKP) has strongly criticized a move from the ruling bloc to speed up prosecutorial reform, calling such plans "politically motivated." Top officials from the presidential office, the government and the ruling Democratic Party(DP) held a meeting on Sunday to discuss the reform plans. LKP Floor Leader Na Kyung-won said that day during a meeting at the National Assembly that reform plans proposed earlier by her party were more drastic and reformative than those from Justice Minister Cho Kuk.
Foreigners remain net sellers of South Korean stocks in September
Offshore investors remained net sellers of South Korean stocks for a second consecutive month in September amid the Korean currency's weakness against the U.S. dollar, data showed Monday. Foreign investors sold a net 915 billion won (US$769 million) worth of local stocks last month, compared with a net selling of 2.3 trillion won in August, according to the data from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). Investors from Britain and Singapore were among the net sellers of local stocks last month, the data showed.
Kazakh man extradited over suspected hit-and-run incident in S. Korea
Police detained a Kazakh man Monday after he was extradited from Kazakhstan over his suspected involvement in a hit-and-run case, resulting in the serious injury of an elementary school boy, in South Gyeongsang Province last month, the National Police Agency said. The 20-year-old suspect, whose name was withheld, voluntarily entered the country via Incheon airport, west of Seoul, around 7:50 a.m. the same day. He is suspected of hitting the 7-year-old boy, a first-grader, on a road in the southeastern city of Changwon around 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 16 and fled the scene before returning home via Uzbekistan the next day.
S. Korea uses helicopters to spray disinfectant over DMZ to prevent spread of ASF
South Korea's military flew helicopters to spray disinfectant over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas Friday as it launched a weeklong quarantine operation to prevent the spread of African swine fever, the defense ministry said. The military began the operations near Yeoncheon, north of Seoul, earlier in the day after traces of the infectious animal virus were found in a dead wild boar inside the DMZ, some 1.4 kilometers north of the DMZ's southern boundary, this week.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Prime minister to attend Japanese emperor’s enthronement ceremony
Despite soured ties between South Korea and Japan, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon will attend the Japanese emperor’s enthronement ceremony next week, the government said Sunday. According to the Prime Minister’s secretariat, Lee will visit Japan from Oct. 22 to 24 for the enthronement events of Japanese Emperor Naruhito. Lee will attend the enthronement banquet on Oct. 22, and another banquet hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Oct. 23, the secretariat said in a statement.
Biz sentiment worsens for Q4
South Korean manufacturers' business sentiment for the fourth quarter of the year worsened due to external uncertainties, a survey showed Monday. The business sentiment index, compiled by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stood at 72 for the October-December period, slightly down from 73 the previous quarter, KCCI said in a statement. The BSI figure has stayed below the break-even threshold of 100 for the past 14 consecutive quarters. The last time the BSI was above 100 was in the third quarter of 2014.
Samsung Galaxy Fold available again in Korea, soon in Japan, China
The third batch of Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphones were set to be released in the Korean market Monday, drawing attention to the total volume of available units. Samsung was to begin taking orders for the foldable gadget on its homepage as well as some e-commerce platforms like 11st, eBay and Coupang at midnight on Sunday, according to the tech giant.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Scalpers to hit Pyongyang with WC qualifier tickets
A scalper's ticket at the upcoming inter-Korean FIFA World Cup qualifier, Oct. 15 would be estimated to cost around 50,000 North Korean won, or $6, sources familiar with the issue said, Sunday. They said the tickets were expected to be sold out and that some North Korean football fans would "willingly purchase" scalper's tickets because North Koreans were excited about key South Korean international footballers Song Heung-min and Lee Kang-in coming to Pyongyang.
North Korea threatens to end freeze in long-range missile testing
North Korea issued a veiled warning on Thursday that it could eventually end a freeze in long-range missile testing as it criticised a call by U.N. Security Council members for it to give up its nuclear weapons and denounced a recent U.S. missile test. Five European members of the U.N. Security Council met on Tuesday to urge North Korea to take "concrete steps" toward giving up its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.
Swine fever spreads in wild boar population along DMZ
Quarantine authorities sounded a red alert over the weekend after new detections of African swine fever (ASF) among wild boars near the shared border with North Korea. On Sunday, quarantine officials confirmed two more cases of the virus in dead boars found in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, inside the Civilian Control Line (CCL), 5 kilometers to 10 kilometers from the Southern Limit Line of the demilitarized zone (DMZ). This brings the total infection count to five for wild boars. The carcasses were near where another dead boar carrying the ASF virus was found on Friday, officials said.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
PM to Meet Abe with a Message from Moon
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon will attend the enthronement of new Japanese emperor Naruhito in Tokyo on Oct. 22 to represent the Korean government, according to a spokesman on Sunday. Lee's three-day schedule also includes an official dinner and meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two countries are trying to find a diplomatic solution to a deepening diplomatic spat over compensation for wartime Korean forced-labor victims.
Meth Abuse 'Rampant' in N.Korea
Police investigations here of organized crystal meth smuggling from North Korea have revealed some startling information about widespread abuse of the drug in the North. Many North Koreans apparently regard the highly addictive drug as a healthful picker-upper that is effective in preventing cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and cerebral hemorrhages, when in fact the opposite is true. Many North Korean households apparently have stashes of crystal meth, which is touted as a panacea in some regions. There are statistics supporting such accounts.
Tens of Thousands of Elderly People Turn in Driver's Licenses
Some 43,000 senior citizens voluntarily turned in their driver's license from January to September this year, encouraged by the promise of a free transport pass. According to the Road Traffic Authority on Thursday, a total of 43,449 senior citizens voluntarily turned in their driver's license in the first nine months, up a whopping 503.5 percent on-year. The number of car accidents caused by elderly drivers increased 48 percent from 20,275 in 2014 to 30,012 in 2018. The proportion of elderly motorists among all drivers also rose from 7 percent to 9.5 percent over the period.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Super ecological environment of DMZ an unexpected “gift” of division
Cutting across the midsection of the Korean Peninsula, the DMZ is a tragic setting created by war and division – but in natural terms, it is a land of blessings. While South and North Korea have remained at odds across heavy barbed-wire fences for the 66 years since their division, the national environment, untouched by human hands, has transformed the world’s most forbidding region of heavy militarization into a space of peace and life.
Local governments gear up to utilize and conserve UNESCO biosphere reserves in DMZ
After parts of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Yeoncheon County in Gyeonggi Province and Cheorwon, Hwacheon, Yanggu, Inje, and Goseong Counties in Gangwon Province were registered as UNESCO biosphere reserves this past June, the local governments are rolling up their sleeves to utilize and conserve the areas in question. Yeoncheon County announced on Oct. 4 that it’s designating 2020 as the “Year of Visiting Yeoncheon,” with the goal of attracting 10 million tourists. “We will seize this as an opportunity for making the nation aware of the outstanding natural and ecological system around the DMZ in Yeoncheon,” the county said.
Lee Jae-yong steps down from registered inside director position within Samsung Electronics
After three years, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is stepping down from his position as a registered inside director with the company. His decision appeared influenced by the “precedent” of the National Pension Service (NPS) opposing the inside director reappointments of late former Hanjin Chairman Cho Yang-ho and SK Chairman Chey Tae-won at Korean Air and SK last March. The result is an ironic turn of events where Lee is becoming even more actively involved in management after letting go of his registered director status, considered a symbol of “responsible management.”
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Harry Harris says Seoul’s financial contribution is not enough
U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris has said that Seoul’s financial contribution for the deployment of U.S. troops, who he said are performing a role to protect the country, is not enough. From the perspective of the United States, South Korea could be seen as having funded only one-fifth of the total defense cost, he commented, adding that as the world’s 12th largest economy, South Korea can and should take a larger share. The two sides may be able to find middle ground if they enter into negotiations, the ambassador said in an exclusive interview with the Dong-A Ilbo at the State Department in Washington on Friday (local time).
Ex-Japanese PM visits history museum on Korean slave laborers
“I hope that Japanese people visit this place, and humbly face the historic truth,” Yukio Hatoyama, former Japanese prime minister and progressive politician, said as he visited the National Memorial Museum of Forced Mobilization in Busan on Saturday. He is the first Japanese politician to have visited the museum, which was inaugurated in December 2015 to record the misery faced by forced labor.
Business leaders from S. Korea, U.S. call for bilateral cooperation
The delegation of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) has said that it asked the United States to exempt South Korea from future tariffs on autos and received a positive response. The FKI and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will also propose that the governments of South Korea and the United States should refrain from conducting acts that would undermine the alliance.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Politicians Lash out at the Court and the Prosecution Service Threatening Democracy
The Liberty Korea Party fiercely condemned the court after it dismissed the request for an arrest warrant for the younger brother of Justice Minister Cho Kuk. For the second day, they attacked the judge overseeing warrants, blaming his past as a former prosecutor and the fact that the chief judge who appointed him was a member of the Society for the Research of Our Law for the latest decision. Floor leader Na Kyung-won said, "It was a dismissal tailored to Cheong Wa Dae, a dismissal to protect Cho Kuk."
Ripples of Alileo: Prosecutors Express Regret and KBS Reporters Hold an Emergency Meeting
The controversy triggered by an episode of Alileo, a show on YouTube, is spreading. In this episode, Rhyu Si-min, chairman of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation interviewed Kim Gyeong-rok, the assistant director and private banker at Korea Investment & Securities who managed the assets of Chung Kyung-sim, professor of Dongyang University and also the wife of Justice Minister Cho Kuk.
"Don't Use" Disposable Products: Love for Eco-Bags in Aewol, Jeju
The number of tourists visiting Jeju exceeds 15 million a year. Every other store lining the streets of Jeju are either cafes or convenience stores trying to attract the tourists. Due to the nature of tourist destinations, the consumption of various disposable products, such as plastic bags and plastic cups is high. On the shores of Aewol-eup, known for its beautiful landscape, you can easily find a plastic cup and straw with some leftover coffee and plastic bottles rolling around. The residents of Aewol-eup, Jeju-si, got fed up with this and launched a campaign to reduce the use of disposable products.
Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Amorepacific to issue $167.8 mn worth new shares to recapitalize subsidiaries
South Korea’s cosmetics giant Amorepacific Group will issue 200 billion won ($167.8 million) in new shares to recapitalize its mainstay beauty company Amorepacific Corp. and green tea brand Osulluc. Amorepacific Group in a regulatory filing on Thursday said it will issue 7,092,200 convertible preferred shares to existing shareholders at 28,200 won apiece and offer any forfeited shares in a public offering. The new shares will be issued on Nov. 11 and listed on Dec. 26. The new shares can be converted to common shares after 10 years at a 1:1 ratio.
Korea’s DSME adds $1.3 bn submarine, 2 LNG carriers to this year’s order book
Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) added new vessel orders worth 1.56 trillion won ($1.3 billion), achieving 51 percent of its annual sales target. The shipbuilder in a regulatory filing on Friday said it bagged an order worth 1.11 trillion won from Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration to design and build a 3,000-ton submarine. The order is an addition to 1.7 trillion won submarine order it secured from the Korean government in 2012.
NH Investment issues industry’s first corporate ESG report in S. Korea
NH Investment & Securities Co. released an environmental, social and governance (ESG) report on 15 companies representing each industry on Friday, becoming the first brokerage house in South Korea to issue a report on corporate non-financial data that has been increasingly attracting attention of investors. The 357-page-long NH ESG Report in both Korean and English analyzed the ESG metrics on 15 firms – SK, Posco, LG Chem, KEPCO, Samsung Heavy Industries, Korean Air Lines, Hyundai Motor, Samsung Electronics, Samsung SDI, SK Telecom, Kangwon Land, Yuhan, Shinsegae and Kolmar Korea. Investors can check the full report at its website.
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