Friday, November 29, 2019
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Manufacturers' sentiment worsens for Dec.
South Korean manufacturers' business sentiment continued to worsen for the upcoming month, central bank data showed Thursday, amid a steady decline in exports and sluggish demands at home that are apparently reflected in record low inflation. The business sentiment index (BSI) of manufacturing firms here came to 71 for December, down from 72 for this month, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). The reading marks the second consecutive month of drop. A reading below the benchmark 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.
Samsung to supply PC CPUs to Intel: sources
Samsung Electronics Co. has agreed to supply central processing units (CPUs) for computers to Intel Corp. to help address the U.S. chipmaker's chip supply issues, industry sources said Thursday. Intel has been struggling to meet demand for 14-nanometer chips for PCs since late 2018 and recently issued an apology to its customers for shipment delays. According to semiconductor industry sources, Intel has chosen Samsung to be its third-party foundry to ramp up its 14-nm production capacity as part of efforts to deal with its prolonged processor shortage.
Pentagon budget estimate suggests why Trump seeks $5 bln from S. Korea
The U.S. Defense Department has estimated it will cost nearly US$4.5 billion to station troops in South Korea in fiscal year 2020, suggesting why President Donald Trump reportedly seeks $5 billion from Seoul next year. According to the Pentagon's budget estimate drawn up in March, the total payment toward military personnel, operations, maintenance and family housing in South Korea amounts to $4.46 billion in the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2020.
Top Office Denies Allegations it Ordered Police Investigation into Former LKP Mayor
The presidential office has denied allegations that it ordered police to investigate a former Ulsan mayor affiliated with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party(LKP). Prosecutors reportedly have evidence that an investigation into then Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon ahead of local elections in June last year may have originated from the office of then presidential secretary for civil affairs Cho Kuk. Police supposedly launched a probe of Kim after receiving information on alleged irregularities from Cho's office. The LKP strongly criticized the investigation at the time, denouncing it as politically motivated.
S. Korea's Business Sentiment Edges up in November
The business sentiment of South Korean firms improved slightly in November, but pessimism about the future continues to persist. According to data by the Bank of Korea on Wednesday, the business survey index(BSI) for all industries came to 74 this month, up one point from a month earlier. The index for South Korean manufacturers came to 74 in October, also up two points from the previous month. The figure for non-manufacturers inched up one point, to 75.
Opposition Leader Rushed to Hospital on 8th Day of Hunger Strike
Main opposition Liberty Korea Party(LKP) Chair Hwang Kyo-ahn was rushed to the hospital Wednesday night after losing consciousness eight days into a hunger strike protest. The LKP chief was taken to Seoul's Severance Hospital at around 11 p.m. from a makeshift protest site in front of the presidential office and reportedly regained consciousness some 90 minutes later. Hwang began his fast last Wednesday demanding the government renew a military intelligence-sharing deal with Japan and that it, along with the ruling Democratic Party, withdraw two fast-tracked reform bills.
Moon to hold summit with Mahathir, crowning this week's ASEAN diplomacy
President Moon Jae-in's intensive summit diplomacy with the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this week will culminate with bilateral talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Seoul on Thursday. Moon plans to greet Mahathir at Cheong Wa Dae for a summit and ensuing lunch, during which they are expected to focus on ways to foster partnerships in the fourth industrial revolution, boost defense industry ties and advance free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
Pentagon budget estimate suggests why Trump seeks $5 bln from S. Korea
The U.S. Defense Department has estimated it will cost nearly US$4.5 billion to station troops in South Korea in fiscal year 2020, suggesting why President Donald Trump reportedly seeks $5 billion from Seoul next year. According to the Pentagon's budget estimate drawn up in March, the total payment toward military personnel, operations, maintenance and family housing in South Korea amounts to $4.46 billion in the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2020. In fiscal year 2019, the number was $4.43 billion, while in 2018, it was $4.32 billion.
Speaker Moon pushes for bill to resolve Japanese wartime forced labor issue
South Korea's parliamentary speaker is preparing a bill to create a fund to compensate victims of Japan's wartime forced labor with contributions by firms, governments and citizens of both nations, officials said Wednesday. The bill, pushed by National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang, is to build a 300 billion-won (US$255 million) fund to compensate some 1,500 victims of Japan's forced labor, a major diplomatic thorn between the two countries. The move came amid expectations that Seoul and Tokyo will ramp up efforts to resolve the issue after the South decided last week to "conditionally" suspend the termination of its military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Trump signs law supporting Hong Kong protesters
President Donald Trump signed a law Wednesday supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, likely angering Beijing just as Washington was hoping to ease the long-running US-China trade war. Trump had seemed reluctant to sign the bill but with almost unanimous US congressional support for the measure, he had little political room to maneuver. In a statement, Trump spoke of "respect" for Chinese President Xi Jinping and said he hoped the "leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences."
W58b worth of cryptocurrency stolen from S. Korean exchange
About 58 billion won ($49.3 million) worth of cryptocurrency was stolen on Wednesday from Upbit, a South Korean exchange, in a cyberattack, the exchange's operator said. The company, Dunamu Inc., said deposit and withdrawal services were immediately halted after the finding. "At 1:06 p.m., 342,000 Ethereum worth 58 billion won, were transferred from the Upbit Ethereum Hot Wallet to an unknown wallet," it said in a statement posted on the website of its exchange under the name of its CEO, Lee Seok-woo. "We took action right after detecting it."
Fresh allegations tie ex-Justice Minister Cho to power abuse
Embattled former Justice Minister Cho Kuk is facing fresh allegations of power abuse. In addition to the corruption scandal involving his family, Cho is suspected of wrongly suspending the internal inspection of a senior public official in 2017 and pushing for a police investigation to influence the Ulsan mayoral election in 2018. At the time, Cho was senior presidential secretary responsible for oversight of senior government officials. On Wednesday, Yoo Jae-soo, former Busan vice mayor for economic affairs, attended the arrest warrant review at the Seoul Eastern District Court. He is accused of accepting bribes while serving as a senior official at the Financial Services Commission and at Busan Metropolitan City.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
S. Korea to step up economic partnership with Mekong nations
The inaugural Korea-Mekong Summit took place in Busan, Wednesday, on the heels of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit, to explore ways to enhance cooperation between Korea and five countries that border the Mekong River. The Mekong-Han River Declaration was announced after the meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn. "Today, which will be remembered as the first year of Korea-Mekong cooperation, we have laid the groundwork for a dramatic development in Korea-Mekong relations," President Moon said at the summit. "The Mekong-Han River Declaration, adopted following the summit, will serve as a milestone toward a people-centered partnership for peace and prosperity beyond economic cooperation."
Manila aims to attract 2 mil. Korean tourists next year
Philippine Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Manila was aiming to attract at least 2 million South Korean tourists next year, as the tourism deal between the Philippines and South Korea would further boost bilateral relations. "We want to have more direct flights, not only from Incheon but also from Busan… We are talking to the different airlines. It is a private session. We are encouraging … low-cost carriers, to have more direct flights to the Philippines. We hope by next year to exceed 2 million [South Korean tourists or] more," Puyat said during an interview with The Korea Times at BEXCO Convention Center, Busan, Tuesday.
No money, no hope: South Korea's 'Dirt Spoons' turn against Moon
Hwang Hyeon-dong lives in a 6.6-square-metre (71-square-foot) cubicle near his university campus in Seoul, which comes with a shared bathroom and kitchen plus all the rice he can eat, that he rents for 350,000 won ($302) a month. The sparsely furnished rooms, in premises called goshi-won, were previously mostly used by less well-off students to temporarily cut themselves off from the outside world while they studied for civil service job tests.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Slump Grips Car Industry
The Korean car market is suffering from slump due to dire economic straits and expanding ride-sharing services, and only the rich are buying big cars. According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, car sales in Korea peaked at 1.65 million in 2015, but fell to 1.58 million in 2017. Although they rose again to 1.61 million last year, they are projected to fall again this year. Cumulative sales from January to September this year stood at only 1.15 million cars, down two percent compared to the same period of last year. The biggest reason for the decline in sales is an increasing reluctance among younger consumers to buy their own cars.
Korean Universities Slide in Rankings
Korean universities slackened in this year's Asia University Rankings, with only the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology staying on the top 10. And even KAIST slid by one notch to ninth from last year. Seoul National University dropped out of the top 10 to 11th. Four Korean universities -- KAIST, SNU, Korea University (12th) and Sungkyunkwan University (16th) -- made the top 20 in the rankings published jointly by the Chosun Ilbo and Quacquarelli Symonds on Wednesday.
Hyundai Signs W2 Trillion Plant Deal with Indonesia
Hyundai will invest about W2 trillion in Indonesia to build a car plant with an annual capacity of 250,000 vehicles (US$1=W1,178). Hyundai chief Chung Eui-sun signed the investment contract with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Busan on Tuesday. The Indonesian government will provide Hyundai with a variety of incentives, including tax benefits. Indonesia has been keen to lure investment from Hyundai because it is unhappy with Japanese cars taking up a whopping 97 percent of its market.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea protests N. Korea’s artillery drills via military communication lines
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on Nov. 26 that it had contacted North Korea on their military communication lines to protest an artillery drill carried out by a North Korean coastal battery. “This morning, we relayed to North Korea via the military communication line in the Yellow Sea that its coastal battery drill was a violation of the Comprehensive Military Agreement and called on the North to refrain from repeating the drill, while also issuing a strong objection,” said MND spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo during a briefing on Tuesday. The Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) was concluded by South and North Korea on Sept. 19, 2018.
How the US’ North Korea policy has failed over the last 30 years
“The US’ North Korea policies over the past 30 years have been a failure. When you don’t learn anything from your failures, the tragedies repeat themselves. To address the North Korean nuclear crisis we are facing and reduce the threat of war, we need to find a way to shift toward an arms control paradigm.” -- Van Jackson, senior research fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and professor at the Victoria University of Wellington “In explaining the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Kuhn argued that when ongoing issues and crises cannot be resolved through the existing paradigm, a new paradigm emerges to resolve them. The ‘denuclearization paradigm’ of the past 30 years has brought on the nuclear crisis. An environment has taken shape where a paradigm shift can occur.” -- Moon Chung-in, South Korean special presidential advisor for unification, foreign affairs and national security
S. Korea should continue to enable ASEAN as a mover in N. Korea-US relations
A summit that brought together the leaders of South Korea and the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concluded on Nov. 26 with the adoption of a chairperson’s statement and a joint vision statement. Held at a time of increasing economic cooperation between South Korea and ASEAN, the summit culminated in the agreement to create a “human-centered community of peace and prosperity.” The leaders also reaffirmed that establishing a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula is important for the development and prosperity of East Asia. It’s particularly notable that South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the ASEAN leaders stressed that the North Korea-US denuclearization talks and inter-Korean dialogue are necessary for advancing the cause of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Japan favorably considers ‘1+1+α’ initiative
Amidst continuing disputes between South Korea and Japan after the extension of the GSOMIA, it has been reported that Japan is positively considering the ‘‘1+1+α” approach proposed by South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang to resolve the issue of Japan’s forced conscription of Koreans during colonial rule. Also dubbed as the Moon Hee-sang Initiative, the idea proposes to voluntarily raise funds from businesses and people from both countries. How the top-down approach will be addressed in the bilateral summit next month is drawing much attention.
SK Chemical wins FDA approval for dementia patch
SK Chemicals announced on Wednesday that it received final approval from the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S. to commercially launch sales for “SID710,” a dementia treatment patch. It is the first time for a dementia treatment patch developed by a Korean pharmaceutical brand to win approval from the FDA. Patch products are known to administer medication through the skin for patients who find it difficult to keep count of medication administration or swallow pills. Regarding its dementia treatment patch, which is applied for one day, SK Chemicals said that the effectiveness is equal to pills but has less side effects such as nausea or infection and less burdensome to the stomach and liver.
Worst earthquake hits Albania
“I can talk to my daughter over the phone. She is trapped but alive in a collapsed apartment building. She asked for a quick rescue,” a resident in Durrës, a port city in Albania on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, urgently asked for help on Tuesday. Reuters and other media reported that the residents of Albania are joining rescue operations after the worst earthquake in 93 years hit the country. The 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck 34 kilometers north-west of the capital, Tirana, at 3:54 a.m. on Tuesday, causing at least 23 deaths and 650 injuries. Albania located on the earthquake belt of the Mediterranean Sea experienced a 5.8 magnitude quake two months ago. The repeated earthquakes weakened the steel structure of buildings, which led to the collapse of several hundreds of buildings as a result of the Tuesday quake.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
514 Trillion Won Budget: Hasty and Ill-informed Decisions Made Behind Closed Doors Again
As of November 26, the deadline to review next year's budget is only a week ahead (Dec. 2). However, the confrontation over major budget items continues between the ruling and opposition parties, triggering concerns of a poor and rushed review. It seems likely for next year's budget to also pass the legal deadline. The budget adjustment subcommittee under the parliamentary Special Committee on Budget and Accounts received the results of the preliminary review of each standing committee and has completed the first review for budget cuts as of this day. The government's budget for next year submitted to the National Assembly is over 513 trillion won. Reportedly, during the preliminary screening, the standing committees called for an increase of 13.6 trillion won and cuts of 3 trillion won.
The Best Alley in Korea Is Haeridan-gil in Haeundae
Haeridan-gil (pictured) in Haeundae-gu, Busan won the grand prize in the National Alley Best Practices. The Ministry of the Interior and Safety held an event to stimulate alley businesses for the first time this year in order to support the sustainable growth of commercial communities in alleys by sharing best practices. On November 26, the ministry announced the selection of six alleys nationwide, including Haeridan-gil in Busan. Following the grand prize, a prize of excellence was awarded to the "Gohan Alley, Where the Alley Is the Hope and the Residents Are the Future" in Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do and the "Sajik Acoustic Guitar Street Renewed with the Melody of Acoustic Guitars" in Nam-gu, Gwangju.
Maeil Business News Korea ( http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
LG Elec Vice Chairman Jo to step down for generational change in leadership
Jo Seong-jin, vice chairman and chief executive of South Korea’s tech giant LG Electronics Inc., is expected to step aside to make way for younger leaders to steer the company to the next phase of growth in the fast-changing technology industry. Kwon Bong-suk, president of LG Electronics’ home entertainment and mobile communications businesses, is being mentioned as Jo’s possible successor as part of the company’s top executive reshuffle planned today.
Korea Inc. debt-servicing ability weakens this year amid tumbling profits
Even big Korean companies are struggling to meet their interest payments this year due to a sharp fall in profits, data showed. The interest coverage ratio for 241 out of the country’s top 500 companies averaged 5.08 in the first nine months of the year, halved from 10.01 a year ago, according to corporate tracker CEO Score on Wednesday. The interest coverage ratio, used to determine a company’s ability to service its debt, is measured by dividing a company’s operating profit by its interest charges. A reading of below 1 means the firm’s earnings are not enough to cover its interest expenses.
Longer-dated corporate debt issues in Korea surge amid favorable market conditions
Longer-dated corporate debt issues took up more than half of new offerings in Korea this year as companies used the low-interest environment to secure long-term funding against increasing risks in the economy at home and abroad. According to the securities issues data from the Financial Supervisory Service, corporate debt issue dated six years or longer reached 23.43 trillion won as of October this year, taking up 54 percent of offerings so far.
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