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Headlines, October 16, 2019

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today

Korea's export prices drop on strong won in Sept.

South Korea's export prices dropped from a month earlier in September largely due to the strength of the local currency against the U.S. dollar, central bank data showed Wednesday. The export price index -- in terms of Korean won -- came to 101.03 last month, down 0.8 percent from 101.81 the month before, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). The reading marks a 5 percent drop from the same month last year.

Moon unveils S. Korea's future car vision on Hyundai's R&D hub tour

President Moon Jae-in announced South Korea's far-reaching strategies Tuesday to become the world's leader in future mobility technologies, including the government's plan to invest 2.2 trillion won (US$1.8 billion) in the sector over the coming decade. He was attending a highly symbolic ceremony to declare the country's vision for a global leader in the development of tech-enhanced vehicles, which was held at Hyundai Motor's Namyang R&D Center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province.

IMF cuts S. Korea's growth forecast to 2 pct for this year

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday lowered its growth forecast for South Korea's economy this year to 2 percent from its previous outlook of 2.6 percent amid a global economic slowdown. Slowing growth in China and the "spillover" of the yearlong trade war between the United States and China have affected the IMF's downward revision of a growth outlook for Asia's "developed" countries, such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore this year, the IMF said.

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KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)

Seoul Metro Labor, Management Reach Agreement Hours into Union Strike

The labor union and the management of Seoul Metro that operate subway lines one through eight reached an agreement on Wednesday morning just hours after the union began a three-day strike. Seoul city said the two sides were able to reach an agreement following behind-the-scenes overnight negotiations. The labor union launched the strike to call for an increase in the number of safety-related workers, the abolition of a wage-peak system and the implementation of a new shift system.

S. Korea Adds 348,000 Jobs in September

South Korea added over 300-thousand jobs for the second straight month in September. According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of employed people reached 27-point-four million last month, up 348-thousand from a year earlier. Monthly on-year job growth remained above 300-thousand last month after it marked 452-thousand in August, the largest figure since March 2017.

S. Korea Held to 0-0 Draw by N. Korea in World Cup Qualifier in Pyongyang

South and North Korea drew 0-0 on Tuesday evening in their 2022 World Cup qualifying match in Pyongyang. The rare inter-Korean duel came in the second regional qualifying round for the Qatar World Cup and was played in front of no spectators at Kim Il-sung Stadium. Pyongyang did not respond to Seoul's repeated calls to allow South Korean spectators and media outlets into the country to attend. The match was not broadcast live in South Korea either. With the draw, the South leapfrogs the North to lead Group H with seven points, while the North drops to second on goal difference.

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Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)

Jobless rate hits 6-year low in September, job additions largest in 5 yrs

South Korea's jobless rate hit a six-year low in September and there were more new jobs added than at any time in the past five years, government data showed Wednesday. The unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage point on-year to 3.1 percent last month from a year earlier, marking the lowest level for any September since 2013, Statistics Korea said in a statement. In particular, the unemployment rate for young adults -- those aged between 15 and 29 -- declined to 7.3 percent last month from 8.8 percent a year earlier, it said.

U.S. sanctions aim to make N. Korea productive at talks: Pentagon

The United States' sanctions campaign against North Korea is intended to bring the regime to the negotiating table with a mindset to be productive and reach solutions, a senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday. Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, made the comment at a forum discussing U.S. relations with China, including its role in denuclearizing North Korea. Negotiators from the U.S. and North Korea met in Sweden Oct. 5 to resume working-level talks on denuclearizing the regime, but the discussions broke down over what the North characterized as Washington's failure to come up with a new proposal.

Seoul subway union, company reach deal

Unionized workers at Seoul Metro reached an agreement with the management Wednesday, effectively canceling a strike that was expected to affect public transportation in the capital. The two sides at the company that runs Seoul subway line Nos. 1 to 8 resumed talks at around 3 a.m., just hours after they walked away from the negotiating table. They dramatically reached a deal at around 8:53 a.m., just minutes before the planned strike was scheduled to start at 9 a.m.

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The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)

Korea aims to become world’s No. 1 green car provider, first to commercialize autonomous driving

South Korea aims to become the world’s No. 1 green car provider and the first country to start commercial operations of autonomous driving in the next 10 years, the government said Tuesday. It will achieve the goal by promoting the convergence of industries, implementing policy support and injecting a combined 60 trillion won ($50 billion) from the private and public sectors.

N. Korean leader rides horse to Mount Paekdu, slams US sanctions

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rode a white horse to visit Mount Paekdu, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula considered the birthplace of his late father, slamming US sanctions and calling for greater "self-reliance" efforts to frustrate them, state media reported Wednesday. Kim has visited the mountain, considered one of the peninsula's most sacred places, ahead of big political or diplomatic decisions and events, and the latest trip has spawned speculation about whether another big decision might be forthcoming.

Former consul general to Vietnam named new ambassador

Former South Korean Consul General to Vietnam Park Noh-wan was appointed its next ambassador, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said Monday. Currently ambassador for international relations to South Korea’s North Jeolla Province, Park was a minister at the South Korean Embassy in Vietnam and counselor of South Korea’s permanent delegation to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Park replaces Kim Do-hyun as Seoul’s chief envoy to the Southeast Asian nation.

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The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)

Ambassador Lee asked to dispel concerns over Korea-US alliance

New South Korean Ambassador to the United States Lee Soo-hyuck's top tasks are to dispel growing concerns over the alliance between Seoul and Washington, and to promote the improvement of relations. On Tuesday, Seoul's foreign ministry said the new ambassador has been formally appointed and will leave for Washington, D.C. next week. Washington confirmed its diplomatic consent to Lee following President Moon Jae-in's decision two months ago to name the diplomat-turned-lawmaker to the position.

Korea to commercialize fully automated vehicles by 2027

Korea will commercialize fully automated vehicles by 2027, becoming the world's first country to have entirely self-driving cars on the roads, President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday. The government will also seek to raise eco-friendly vehicles' share of the domestic automobile market to 33 percent by 2030 to secure leadership in the rapidly-growing segment, Moon added. By then, Korea will account for 10 percent of the global eco-friendly car market.

Most Korean manufacturers reluctant to return home

Most Korean companies that have invested in overseas plants are reluctant to return "home" due to the unfriendly business environment here that forces them to shoulder higher costs, data showed Tuesday. The trend is in stark contrast to other countries that have successfully attracted home-grown firms' relocation with various benefits and incentives.

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Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)

Duty-Free Shops in Arrivals Flop

The new duty-free shops in the arrivals areas of Incheon International Airport have proved a dismal flop four months after opening amid high hopes that they would attract Koreans returning home from overseas trips. The shops in arrivals had the support of President Moon Jae-in, who said in August last year that Koreans traveling abroad have to suffer too much hassle lugging their duty-free purchases on board.

Hong Kong Leader Rules out Concessions in Face of Escalating Violence

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday ruled out making any concessions to pro-democracy protesters in the face of escalating violence, which police said was now "life threatening" citing the detonation of a small bomb. "I have said on many occasions that violence will not give us the solution. Violence would only breed more violence," Lam told a news conference. "For concessions to be made simply because of escalating violence will only make the situation worse. On the other hand, we should consider every means to end the violence."

Korean Air Offers Unpaid Leave

Korean Air on Monday said it is offering unpaid leave to staff for the first time since its establishment. Employees who have worked for the company for more than two years can apply by Oct. 25 for a three-month unpaid leave between November and May next year, extendable by up to another three months. Korean Air said the scheme is part of its efforts to help its staff to balance work and family, but insiders say the scandal-ridden airline wants to cut costs.

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HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)

S. Korean supporters of prosecutorial reform “ stunned and sad” at Cho Kuk’s resignation

South Koreans calling for prosecutorial reforms could not conceal their shock after Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s abrupt resignation announcement on the afternoon of Oct. 14. Experts urged civil society and politicians to reflect deeply on the key issues in the debate that has unfolded in South Korea over the 67 days since President Moon Jae-in first nominated Cho for the position on Aug. 9.

“Stunned and sad” was how participants in Oct. 5 and 12 candlelight demonstrations for prosecutorial reform in Seoul’s Seocho neighborhood described themselves in an Oct. 14 telephone conversation with the Hankyoreh.

Japanese paper reports US offered to partially lift UN sanctions on N. Korea

During the working-level negotiations that North Korea and the US held in Stockholm, Sweden, ten days ago, the US offered to partially ease UN economic sanctions on the condition that North Korea takes meaningful steps toward denuclearization in line with its commitment to complete denuclearization, a Japanese newspaper reported.

N. Korea refuses live broadcast of World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang

No matter how passionately the Red Devils cheer for the South Korean football team, their dream won’t come true this time around — and the game wasn’t covered by the media or even broadcast live.

The team played its North Korean counterparts on the afternoon of Oct. 15 at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang, in the second Asian qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It was the two teams’ first match in Pyongyang in 29 years, the last time being Oct. 22, 1990.

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The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)

Hyundai Motor shares plans for future cars and vision to build win-win mobility

In line with the South Korean government’s announcement of future car industry strategy, Hyundai Motor Group has revealed its “future car ecosystem” strategy to be carried out with domestic small and medium-sized companies. Its vision is to build an automobile ecosystem promoting mutual growth beyond selected players’ success to be prepared for the new era of environment-friendly and self-driving cars.

Ace Bed CEO donates fancy carp to Unification Pond in Paju

Ace Bed Co., Ltd. said on Tuesday that its CEO Ahn Yoo-soo donated some 200 fancy carp he raised himself to the Unification Pond located at Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea. The donated fancy carp, which are worth about 600 million won, have been raised by Ahn for the past 30 years, according to the company. Born in Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province, North Korea, Ahn moved to the South during the the January Fourth Retreat of the Korean War. He has participated in many reunification projects, such as sending humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Young leaders in their 40s are changing the world

Volodymyr Zelensky, former actor who played the protagonist of a political satire TV comedy series, was actually elected President of Ukraine in April this year. Emmanuel Macron of new political party “La République en Marche” has been pushing for reforms since he became the youngest president in French history. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has been awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending the country’s civil war with Eritrea. All these leaders in their forties are attracting the world’s attention while driving innovation domestically.

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The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)

President Moon, "Cho-Yoon Dream Team for Reforms in the Prosecution Service, a Dream-like Wish"

On October 14, President Moon Jae-in spoke on the resignation of Minister of Justice Cho Kuk and repeatedly lowered his head saying that he was sorry. At the same time, he emphasized Cho's words, "My role as a kindling for reforms in the Prosecution Service ends here," and said, "He (Cho) was a big drive for reforms in the Prosecution Service." The president also stressed the need for change in the media saying, "It was a valuable opportunity to deeply consider the role of the press once again." His words were understood to be in line with the ruling party's criticism of the media in connection to the coverage of the prosecutors' investigation of Minister Cho's family.

Five Workers Died at ThyssenKrupp in a Year and a Half

The vast and dark shadow cast over labor sites by the "outsourcing of danger" is terrifying. This can be seen in the data presented at this year's parliamentary inspection. Among the workers killed or injured in safety-related accidents at the five subsidiaries of Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) in the past four years (271 workers), 97.7% (265) of the cases occurred to employees of partner companies and only 2.3% (6) involved regular employees of the subsidiaries. Employees of partner companies were 44 times more likely to be exposed to accidents than the regular employees of the subsidiaries.

"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.

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Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)

Korean policy rate revisits historic low of 1.25% after second cut this year

The South Korean central bank on Wednesday delivered its second rate cut this year to revisit the historic-low level of 1.25 percent as the country encounters the dangerous mix of economic stagnation coupled with depression. The Bank of Korea (BOK) lowered the policy rate by 25 basis points to 1.25 percent, all-time low kept from June 2016 to November 2017. It reversed to easing with the first cut in three years in July after the economy in the first quarter reported negative growth. The second cut was widely expected as authorities signaled further easing after consumer prices fell for the second consecutive month.

S. Korea introduces new guidelines to guard against air pollution

The South Korean government on Tuesday announced new guidelines to cope with worsening air pollution that has emerged as a major health risk in the country after concentration of fine dust particles hit record levels earlier this year. The Ministry of Environment said on Tuesday that it has established a new standard crisis management manual to tighten control of fine dust in the country.

Viva Republica raises chance to win online bank license with 2 lenders on its team

Viva Republica, the operator of South Korea’s peer-to-peer money transfer app Toss, has rebidded for the third license for online-only bank in Korea Tuesday, raising its winning chance by teaming up with two major banks KEB Hana Bank and Standard Chartered Bank Korea as well as other big names. Viva Republica has the largest 34 percent stake in the consortium, followed by KEB Hana Bank, Hanwha Investment & Securities, Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business (KBIZ) and E-Land World with equal 10 percent stake each.

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