Friday, November 22, 2019
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Biegun believes N.K. can still make choice to denuclearize
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said Wednesday that he has not seen concrete evidence that North Korea plans to dismantle its nuclear weapons program but believes Pyongyang can still make that choice. Biegun made the remark before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a confirmation hearing on his nomination as deputy secretary of state. He said the belief is shared by U.S. President Donald Trump, who "remains of the view" that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "can make this decision to move forward."
Lam Research to build technology center in S. Korea
U.S. semiconductor equipment maker Lam Research Corp. will build a technology center in South Korea, officials said Wednesday. Yongin city authorities signed a deal with Lam Research Korea, the South Korean unit of the U.S. company, earlier in the day to provide the supplier of wafer fabrication equipment and services with an industrial site in Yongin, about 50 kilometers southeast of Seoul, city officials said. Lam Research plans to invest about US$100 million in the new center in Yongin, said an official who is in a position to know about the plan.
FTC begins process to sanction Naver over alleged breach of competition rules
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said Monday it has started a process to penalize Naver Corp., South Korea's biggest internet portal, over alleged abuse of its market dominance. The anti-trust watchdog sent the company the final report detailing its judgment on the alleged violation of fair competition rules in three different areas, Song Sang-min, a FTC director in charge of market oversight, said. He declined to give details about the specifics of the review.
Railway Workers' General Strike Enters Second Day
A general strike by unionized railway workers entered its second day on Thursday, inconveniencing rush hour commuters. The government and the Korea Railroad Corporation(KORAIL) are implementing emergency transport measures to minimize disruptions in train operations. KORAIL plans to keep the train operation rate at up to 74-point-nine percent during the strike, which began on Wednesday for an indefinite period of time.
Senior Presidential Aide Made Secret Visit to US Ahead of GSOMIA Expiration
A senior presidential aide reportedly made a previously undisclosed visit to the United States this week ahead of the expiration of a military information sharing agreement between South Korea and Japan. Kim Hyun-chong, the deputy chief of South Korea's National Security Office(NSC), is said to have left for Washington on Monday and returned home on Wednesday. Kim reportedly met with officials from the White House. With the General Security of Information Agreement(GSOMIA) expiring Friday, the top presidential aide is thought to have made last-ditch diplomatic efforts to explain Seoul's position that it cannot renew the pact without changes in Japan's disposition towards trade restrictions against South Korea.
N. Korea Says No Interest in US Summit until 'Hostile' Policy Removed
A senior North Korean diplomat on Wednesday renewed calls for the United States to drop its "hostile policy" against Pyongyang, saying denuclearization could be discussed in future talks only after such a policy is removed. First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui made the remarks to reporters after meeting senior Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow. Choe said that the nuclear issue may be off the table in future talks, stressing that denuclearization can be discussed only when the U.S. abolishes all hostile policies toward North Korea.
NSC to discuss post-GSOMIA strategy
South Korea's top security officials will hold a weekly meeting Thursday that is expected to focus on security cooperation in the looming absence of an accord with Japan on exchanging military information. The arrangement, called GSOMIA, is slated to expire at 12 a.m. Saturday due to Seoul's decision made in response to Tokyo's export restrictions. On Thursday morning, Chung Eui-yong, director of Cheong Wa Dae's national security office, plans to convene the last regular session with the other members of the National Security Council (NSC) standing committee ahead of the deadline.
Political parties under pressure for generational change in runup to elections
South Korean political parties face mounting pressure to give younger, reform-minded candidates a chance to run in next year's parliamentary elections as public disappointment with the political establishment is growing, analysts say. A political firestorm was ignited by an abrupt announcement by Im Jong-seok, former presidential chief of staff, to retreat from mainstream politics Sunday. Im hinted he will not run in the April 15 elections. Rep. Kim Se-yeon of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said on the same day he won't entertain an election bid. Kim, a reform-minded three-term lawmaker, called his party "a zombie," stressing the need for it to make a new start.
Pakistani PM positive about exhibiting 'Fasting Buddha' statue in Korea: Jogye order official
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reacted positively to the query from a South Korean Buddhist leader to display the "Fasting Buddha" statue, a key Gandhara art piece, in South Korea, an official of the Jogye Order said Wednesday. Ven. Wonhaeng, the 36th President of Jogye Order, South Korea's largest Buddhist sect, paid a courtesy call on the prime minster during his trip to Pakistan, according to the official. The statue is currently at Lahore Museum in Pakistan.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Britain's Prince Andrew to 'step back from public duties' after Epstein furore
Prince Andrew on Wednesday said he was cancelling his public engagements, as the outcry over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein showed no sign of abating. Queen Elizabeth II's second son has been under pressure since a television interview broadcast Saturday in which he defended his links to the disgraced financier, who was found dead in a New York prison in August.
NK vice FM renews calls for US to drop 'hostile policy'
A senior North Korean diplomat on Wednesday renewed calls for Washington to drop its "hostile policy" against Pyongyang, saying denuclearization could be discussed again in future talks only after such a policy is abolished. First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui made the remarks after meeting senior Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow. She arrived in the Russian capital for the two countries' inaugural strategic dialogue on bilateral and international issues. "In my opinion, the discussions related to the nuclear issue might have been taken off the negotiating table," Choe told reporters.
Biegun believes NK can still make choice to denuclearize
US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said Wednesday that he has not seen concrete evidence that North Korea plans to dismantle its nuclear weapons program but believes Pyongyang can still make that choice. Biegun made the remark before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a confirmation hearing on his nomination as deputy secretary of state. He said the belief is shared by US President Donald Trump, who "remains of the view" that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "can make this decision to move forward."
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Korea's Kim Hyun-chong dilemma
With the expiration of a military-intelligence sharing pact between Seoul and Tokyo only days away, the U.S. is intensifying its pressure on South Korea to maintain the agreement for security cooperation. More Koreans are concerned Cheong Wa Dae's August announcement of its intention to end the General Security of Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in response to Japan's July trade restrictions has resulted in a rift in the Korea-U.S. alliance. Such concerns have triggered debates about Kim Hyun-chong, the second deputy director of the presidential National Security Office (NSO), and his brand of diplomacy.
2 South Koreans captured by Houthi rebels freed
Two South Koreans captured by Yemen's Houthi rebels were released, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, Wednesday. "Sixteen sailors including two South Koreans as well as two South Korean vessels and one Saudi Arabian vessel were released around 3:50 a.m., Monday (KST). The release came 45 hours after the Korean vessels were seized by the Houthi rebels," the ministry official said in a statement.
Korea aims to be leader in global procurement market
Korea is seeking to become a leader in the global procurement market by ramping up efforts to create an ecosystem whereby public programs foster sustainable, innovative growth, the head of the state-run procurement service agency said Friday. Public Procurement Service (PPS) administrator Jung Moo-kyung considers it an extremely viable goal amid growing consultation and joint project requests filed with the agency from around the world.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Chaos Looms as Rail Workers Union Goes on Strike
The national rail workers' union went on an indefinite strike at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, threatening service disruptions across the board. A union spokesperson said final negotiations with KORAIL for higher wages and hiring of more staff failed. The last time rail workers went on strike was in 2016, which caused train services to be disrupted for 74 days.
Moody's Hints at Downgrading Credit Ratings of Korean Firms
Global credit ratings firm Moody's has hinted it could downgrade the credit ratings of many Korean businesses next year. The rationale is that export-dependent Korean companies are exposed to a raft of external uncertainties, including the U.S.-China trade war. Moody's also forecast Korea's economic growth rate in 2020 at 2.1 percent, virtually unchanged from this year's outlook. Chris Park of Moody's Corporate Finance Group in Hong Kong told reporters in Seoul on Tuesday that the credit rating outlooks of 14 out of 24 Korean companies under evaluation were "negative."
Samsung to Lose Lead in Global Chip Market to Intel
Samsung is expected to lose its place as the world's top chipmaker to U.S. chip giant Intel this year due to a severe slump in the memory chip market. In a recent report, global market researcher IC Insights forecast Samsung's semiconductor sales would plummet to US$55.61 billion this year, down 29 percent on-year and well below the estimated $69.88 billion for Intel. Samsung took the No. 1 spot in 2017 and 2018 thanks to a booming memory chip market, beating Intel, which had held it from 1993 to 2016. But the memory chip market has declined this year.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
US unilaterally halts 3rd round of defense cost-sharing negotiations
After pushing South Korea to assume an unprecedented financial burden of US$5 billion for stationing US troops on the Korean Peninsula, American representatives walked away from the two countries’ defense cost-sharing talks and declared that the negotiations had broken down. After the South Koreans insisted that they couldn’t accept the US’ unreasonable demands, the US took the extreme measure of unilaterally halting the negotiations. This behavior is the latest demonstration of US brinkmanship as it leans on Seoul to dramatically increase its defense contribution. It’s almost unheard of for the cost-sharing talks to be halted halfway through.
How has Abe stayed in power for so long?
“The Shinzo Abe administration is quite adept at handling controversy. During elections, they don’t come out with policies that might draw an outcry from the public.” Yu Uchiyama, a professor of Japanese and comparative politics in the University of Tokyo graduate program for interdisciplinary cultural studies, cited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “adeptness” at steering political situations as one of the secrets behind his ability to stay in power for so long. Speaking in his office at the University of Tokyo on Nov. 18, Uchiyama explained, “Policy measures like raising the consumption tax rate or amending security legislation [to allow the exercise of collective self-defense authority] were pursued when there was no election taking place.”
China accounts for 32% of S. Korea’s air pollution, joint study finds
A joint study conducted by researchers from South Korea, China, and Japan has concluded that 32% of South Korea’s ultrafine dust came from China in 2017. China accounted for 25% of Japan’s ultrafine dust pollution for the same year. The study measured levels of various air pollutants in all three countries over a long-term period from 2000 to 2017. The National Institute of Environmental Research announced the study’s results on Nov. 20. Conversely, South Korea accounted for only 2% of China’s fine particulate matter. The concentration of South Korea’s ultrafine dust in 2017, however, has decreased by 12% compared to 2015 levels, while China’s has decreased by 22% for the same period. (Kim Bong-gyu, staff photographer)
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Samsung reigns over the global TV market
Samsung Electronics held a global TV market share of 30.3% (based on revenue) in the third quarter of the year, securing its lead in the global market since 2006. According to market research firm IHS Markit on Wednesday, the South Korean tech giant outstripped its competitors, recording a 19.4% market share in terms of shipments.
‘About 32% of ultrafine dust in S. Korea comes from China,’ says a research
A joint research by South Korea, China, and Japan found that 32% of ultrafine dust in South Korea comes from China. This is the first time that the Chinese government has acknowledged that ultrafine dust in China actually affects South Korea. The National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) under the South Korean Ministry of Environment held a briefing session on Wednesday and released a summary of the Joint Research Project for Long-range Transboundary Air Pollutants in Northeast Asia. Environmental researchers from South Korea, China, and Japan studied the ultrafine dust emissions in three countries and their impact on one another. They looked at the emission levels in three cities in South Korea (Seoul, Daejeon, and Busan), six cities in China (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Qingdao, Shenyang, and Dalian), and three cities in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka).
Hitler’s birthplace to turn into a police station
The building where Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was born in Austria will be turned into a police station after 130 years of dispute amid rising concerns that it is becoming a shrine to far-right extremists. BBC and other news outlets said on Tuesday that the Austrian government has decided to turn Hitler’s former house in Braunau am Inn into a police station. Against this backdrop, It is also expected to launch an EU-wide architecture competition this month to decide the design.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
President Moon, "I Will Rein in the Real Estate with Stronger Measures"
On November 19, President Moon Jae-in mentioned the government's real estate policy and said, "If we can't control the prices with the current measures, we will rein in the real estate market even if we have to keep producing various, stronger measures." The president appeared on the two-hour MBC show, "2019 Conversation with the People," hosted by Bae Cheol-soo this evening and said, "Right now, real estate prices are rising again centered on the high-price houses and apartments in Seoul. The government is conducting a thorough investigation and have several options planned." He warned that the government could release stronger tax policies and loan regulations if speculation centered on Gangnam, Seoul showed no signs of easing up. The dialogue with the people, which was broadcast live throughout the nation, was the eighth such talk since President Moon entered office.
North Korea Should Approach the Table Without Attaching Any More Strings
Kim Yong-chol, chairman of the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee released a comment on November 19 and said, "There is no room to discuss the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula, before the United States completely and irreversibly withdraws its hostile policy on North Korea, which is the root of this problem." He also told the U.S. "Don't even dream about it," referring to the denuclearization negotiations. Kim further said, "We can only discuss the issue of denuclearization after trust is established between North Korea and the United States and after the threats that hinder our safety and development is completely removed." The message was almost identical to the one released by Kim Kye-gwan, the advisor for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs the previous day.
Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Telcon RF Pharm denies Vivozon’s backdoor listing via stake invest in Kosdaq member
Kosdaq-listed Telcon RF Pharm, the majority shareholder of unlisted Vivozon, has denied rumors of potential backdoor listing of Vivozon through the acquisition of another Kosdaq-listed firm Lumimicro. On Wednesday, Telcon RF Pharm said the planned acquisition of Lumimicro by Vivozon and Boltia owned by Vivozon’s CEO Lee Doo-hyun has nothing to do its management. Vivozon also maintained it was committed to IPO.
BTS picked as Variety’s 2019 Group of the Year, fingers crossed for Grammy nomination
K-pop sensation BTS gets its hope to become invited to the Grammy Awards ceremony as the first Korean artist after it achieved yet-another milestone of being crowned as the Group of the Year in Variety’s 2019 Hitmaker The American entertainment magazine Variety on Tuesday announced BTS as the winner of Group of The Year of its annual list of Hitmakers. “The record-breaking septet has solidified their status as global superstars, rounding out one of the largest stadium tours of the year and releasing a string of top-selling singles,” wrote the magazine.
Countdown starts for NCSoft new Lineage 2M opening on Nov. 25
South Korea’s leading online game developer and publisher NCSoft Corp. will start the download service for its much-anticipated mobile MMORPG title “Lineage 2M” on Nov. 25. The blockbuster in the making is available from Nov. 27. Pre-orders topped 7 million on Nov. 1.
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