Headlines, March 20, 2020
Headlines, March 20, 2020
  • Lee Kyung-sik
  • 승인 2020.03.20 09:58
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Friday, March 20, 2020

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

The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)

Cabinet passes laws to fight COVID-19 outbreak
According to Cheng Wa Dae, The Cabinet on March 3 passed three laws on the novel coronavirus in response to the nationwide spread of COVID-19. The laws were promulgated in accordance with Article 53 of the Constitution. President Moon Jae-in chaired an expanded meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters that was also the ninth Cabinet meeting.

European media laud Korea's response to COVID-19 outbreak
According to Korea Net on March 18, European dailies have hailed Korea's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The leading Spanish newspaper El Pais on March 16 cited Korea's fast and resolute response in the article "Korea, a good example of coping with COVID-19 that Spain could not follow." The daily quoted Miguel A. Hernan, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at Harvard University, as saying, "All countries should have responded to COVID-19 like Korea," adding, "In Korea, no areas were blocked."

Over 80 new COVID-19 cases reported from nursing hospitals in Daegu
According to Arirang News on March 19, South Korea's southeastern city of Daegu reported 87 new coronavirus cases early on Wednesday from five nursing hospitals. The city said it has confirmed that 74 of the new cases came from a cluster infection at a nursing hospital for seniors. Among them include 57 patients and 17 staff.


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

S. Korea-US Talks on Defense Cost Sharing End Without Agreement
A threatened furlough of South Korean workers at U.S. bases in South Korea is one step closer after a seventh round of talks between Seoul and Washington on cost sharing once again failed to produce an agreement. South Korea and the United States wrapped up three days of talks in Los Angeles on Thursday to renew the Special Measures Agreement(SMA), which determines Seoul's share of the costs of stationing U.S. troops in the country.

Two Evacuees from Iran Moved to Hospital After Showing COVID-19 Symptoms
Two of the 80 passengers on a chartered flight that carried home Korean evacuees from COVID-19-stricken Iran have been moved to a hospital after showing symptoms of the virus. The flight, which arrived in South Korea on Thursday afternoon, carried 70 South Korean nationals and ten Iranian family members. While the two were moved to a hospital after showing symptoms such as a fever immediately upon arrival at Incheon International Airport, the remaining passengers were moved to a government facility in Seongnam for a day or two to undergo testing.

Foreign Minister Holds Conference Call to Discuss COVID-19 Response
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha took part in a conference call with the foreign ministers of several major countries on Thursday to discuss cooperation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Also taking part in the roughly 70-minute phone call were the foreign ministers of Canada, Australia, Brazil, Italy and Turkey and Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.


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

S. Korea sees uptick in new virus cases as new clusters pop up
South Korea saw an uptick in daily new infections of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, as new clusters of infection continued to pop up in the virus-hit southeastern city of Daegu as well as Seoul and neighboring areas. The 152 new cases, which were detected Wednesday and reversed four days of double-digit daily new infections, brought the nation's total number of infections to 8,565, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said. Wednesday's number is similar to the 100 or more daily infections reported throughout last week but much lower than the 500 or more daily infections in the first week of this month.

S. Korea, U.S. sign $60 bln currency swap deal
South Korea and the United States have signed a US$60 billion bilateral currency swap agreement, Seoul's central bank said Thursday, a move expected to relieve liquidity crunch caused by the global spread of the new coronavirus. The currency swap line will be in place for at least six months, according to the Bank of Korea. "The Bank of Korea (BOK) plans to immediately supply U.S. banknotes it secures via the currency swap arrangement and this is expected to help stabilize the local foreign exchange market that is showing a rapid change in the exchange rate due to a recent shortage of dollars," the BOK said in a press release.

Seoul shares open sharply higher tracking Wall Street gains, currency swap
South Korean stocks opened sharply higher Friday tracking overnight gains on Wall Street as investors were buoyed by Washington's currency swap lines with nine economies around the globe, including Seoul. The Korean won surged against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rebounded 40.76 points, or 2.80 percent, to 1,498.40 as of 9:15 a.m. Both the KOSPI and the Korean won had closed at 11-year lows in the previous session.


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

S. Korea, US sign a $60b currency swap deal
The Bank of Korea and the US Federal Reserve Board on Thursday signed bilateral currency swap arrangements totaling at $60 billion, to be effective for the next six months, South Korea's central bank said. "The latest (US-Korea) currency swap deal seeks to reduce the strain upon the recently struggling global dollar currency market," the BOK said in a late night release. The US Fed conventionally had permanent currency swap deals with five other central banks -- Canada, Britain, Japan, Switzerland and the European Central Bank.

Government rolls out W50tr aid package for small businesses
Deadlines on corporate loans will be extended, and a fund to stabilize the country’s stock markets will be established as part of Seoul’s efforts to deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the measures, deadlines for loans taken out by small and medium-sized enterprises and small merchants will be extended by more than six months. In addition, debtors will be given six-month extensions on their interest payments.

US weighs warning against all overseas travel
The Trump administration is considering an upgrade to its already dire warning to Americans against all international travel as the coronavirus outbreak spreads. US officials said Thursday the State Department could soon issue a new alert urging Americans not to travel abroad under any circumstances. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because a final decision has not been made and the warning could be tempered, even if approved.


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

New virus cases climb as new infection clusters emerge
Korea continued to see a daily increase in new COVID-19 cases as cluster infections appeared in Daegu, the epicenter of the outbreak here, and other regions, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), Thursday. There were 152 new cases reported Wednesday, a number back up to three-digit figures after infections had been tallied in double-digits for three days, bringing the total number of infections to 8,565, with 91 fatalities, the KCDC said. Daegu alone added 97 new cases involving people staying in 11 elderly care centers including Hansarang in Suseong District.

W50 trillion emergency aid package set for small firms
President Moon Jae-in announced a sweeping financial aid package worth around 50 trillion won ($39 billion) during an emergency meeting convened at Cheong Wa Dae, Thursday. The inaugural meeting of the so-called Emergency Economic Council (EEC), consisting of the heads of relevant ministries and institutions, focused on measures to relieve the problems of small- and medium-sized firms, small business owners and the self-employed.

Changwon festivals canceled, visitors asked to stay away
The southeastern city of Changwon and its residents are asking tourists to refrain from visiting the region amid concerns that many people will visit during peak cherry blossom season even after the city called off its signature cherry blossom festival due to COVID-19 fears, city officials said Thursday. On Feb. 27, Changwon City in South Gyeongsang Province announced the cancellation of this year's Jinhae Gunhangje Festival, scheduled for March 27.


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

S. Korea has performed over 270,000 novel coronavirus tests in 2 months
As of Mar. 17, South Korea has tested over 270,000 people for the novel coronavirus throughout the past two months. The number is noticeably higher than the 138,000 tests performed as of Mar. 16 in Italy, which has experienced a steep rise in diagnoses. The cumulative number of patients who had tested positive as of the same day stood at 8,320 for South Korea and over 28,000 for Italy. Indeed, while other countries have been scrambling to restrict arrivals from abroad, South Korean disease prevention officials have focused more on swift testing for those with apparent symptoms and populations with a high risk of cluster infections.

S. Korea issues Level 1 travel advisory for all countries
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced on Mar. 18 that it is issuing a Level 1 travel advisory (blue alert/take precautions) for all countries and regions not covered by previous advisories, with the new advisory taking effect on Mar. 19. As the novel coronavirus spreads around the world, many countries have taken steps to restrict entering and exiting their borders, making it harder for Korean travelers to return home and provoking fears about their safety, MOFA said. Another reason for issuing the travel advisory is because of increasing concerns that Korean citizens will be infected overseas.

More local governments in S. Korea introduce basic disaster allowance in wake of COVID-19
An increasing number of local governments are introducing a “basic disaster allowance” for those whose livelihoods have been jeopardized by COVID-19, the disease resulting from the novel coronavirus. Following similar programs in Gangwon Province and the city of Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has decided to pay an emergency livelihood allowance to people who are facing difficulties because of the outbreak. While local governments have been the first to take such steps in response to the unprecedented economic downturn caused by the spread of this infectious disease, some are also calling for the central government to issue a basic disaster allowance.


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

Korea, U.S. Agree $60 Billion Currency-Swap Deal
Korea and the U.S. have agreed to sign a US$60 billion currency-swap agreement that will allow Korea to raise dollars more easily during a crisis. The deal is double the size of a $30 billion agreement the two allies signed during the 2008 global financial crisis. It will be binding until Sept. 19. The Bank of Korea and the U.S. Federal Reserve announced the decision on Thursday evening.

Gov't Urged to Ban Travelers from Europe
Deaths from coronavirus in Europe have now surpassed those in China. As of Tuesday 3,439 people had died from the virus in Europe, compared to 3,237 in China. The number of confirmed cases in Europe is 77,332, hard on the heels of China's 80,894 but with a population of only 750 million or half of China's 1.38 billion. The 27 member states of the EU held a video summit on Tuesday and decided to ban the entry of all non-EU nationals into the EU for 30 days. A considerable number of member states had already put their own bans on travelers from abroad.


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

World leaders step up emergency response against COVID-19
World leaders labeled the COVID-19 pandemic a crisis on a scale of World War ll and started stepping up their emergency response. During a news briefing on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump described himself as “wartime president,” and invoked the Defense Production Act to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Under the law, the U.S. president can request private companies to make needed supplies in a time of national crisis. The law provides grounds to increase the production of medical equipment, such as face masks and ventilators to respond to the coronavirus.

Concern mounts over security of military PCs amid hacking attacks
Operational problems occurred including temporary freezing of TACS, a core security program of the PCs used by the South Korean military, it has been revealed. Experts raise concern that the project to construct the PC security management system, which followed the 2016 defense network hacking incident, might not have been conducted sloppily. The South Korean Defense Ministry operated the TACS on all military PCs for about two months since it set up the security program in December last year, according to military officials on Thursday, The TACS program has integrated functions from individual security programs.

Samsung expands 2020 QLED 8K TV lineup
Samsung Electronics is launching its new line of TV models, including QLED 8K. In particular, the South Korean IT giant expanded its TV lineup almost twice as last year, introducing nine QLED 8K TV models. Samsung plans to start popularizing QLED 8K TV in earnest this year by offering a wide variety of choices to consumers. Reflecting the popularity of super-sized TVs, Samsung has greatly increased the number of models with screens larger than 75 inches.


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

Local Governments Trying to Resolve Impending Threats of an “Income Cliff” with Temporary Cash Support
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, a string of local governments have opted for immediate cash payment policies in the nature of a “basic income for disaster relief.” Discussions about a universal “basic income for disaster relief” to all citizens had been underway, and local governments decided it would be difficult to put out the immediate fire with the sporadic measures released by the central government so far. Seoul announced on March 18 that it would provide emergency disaster relief funds to cover living expenses--300,000-500,000 won to 1,177,000 households that earn less than the median income in Seoul.

Buddhist Orders Postpone Buddha’s Birthday Celebration One Month for the First Time in History
Major religious events are being postponed due to COVID-19 including the celebration of Buddha’s Birthday. The Association of Korean Buddhist Orders made up of thirty Buddhist orders including the Jogye Order held a press conference at the Korean Buddhist History and Culture Center on March 18 and announced, “To support efforts to overcome COVID-19, we will postpone the Buddhist rituals in celebration of Buddha’s Birthday, originally scheduled on April 30, to May 30, and the Yeondeunghoe (lotus lantern festival) scheduled on April 25 to May 25.”


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

Seegene completes FDA pre-sub meeting for COVID-19 sampling kit
Kosdaq-listed Seegene, a South Korean point-of-care diagnostic company, said on Thursday it has completed a pre-submission meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a preliminary step to export the company’s coronavirus sampling kit to the United States. Welcoming the news, shares of Seegene soared 13.51 percent to close at 67,200 won on Thursday, outperforming the secondary Kosdaq market that plunged 11.71 percent to 428.35 on the same day.

Korean pres orders $38.7 bn worth aid package for SMEs and merchants
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday gave an executive order on a 50 trillion won ($38.7 billion) worth relief package to help small- and mid-sized companies, merchants and self-employed people who have been hit hard by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. During the first emergency economic meeting held at the presidential office Chung Wa Dae, he said it is a support package on an unprecedented scale aimed at stabilizing the public livelihood.

Abclon grabs patent on new antibody drug to control cytokine-driven inflammation in U.S.
South Korean biotech company Abclon said on Monday it has been granted a U.S. patent on AM201, a next-gen bispecific antibody drug to treat patients with autoimmune diseases. The new antibody was derived from the company’s bi-antibody platform AffiMab. An antibody is a molecule that specifically binds to a foreign antigen and removes it from the body.


What’s ticking around the world at this second?
See what the world media around the world have to report:

USA Today www.usatoday.com aallman@gannett.com
The New York Times www.nytimes.com inytletters@nytimes.com
Wall Street Journal www.wsj.com support@wsj.com, service@wsj-asia.com
Financial Times www.ft.com ean@ft.com
The Times www.thetimes.co.uk help@timesplus.co.uk
The Sun www.thesun.co.uk talkback@the-sun.co.uk
Chinese People's Daily www.people.com.cn kf@people.cn
China Daily www.chinadaily.com.cn circulation@chinadaily.com.cn
GwangmyeongDaily www.gmw.cn webmaster@gmw.cn
Japan's Yomiuri www.yomiuri.co.jp japannews@yomiuri.com
Asahi www.asahi.com customer-support@asahi.com
Mainichi www.mainichi.jp
Le Monde www.ilemonde.com
Italy LaRepubblica www.quotidiano.repubblica.it vittorio.zucconi@gmail.com
Germany Frankfurter AllgemeineZeitung www.faz.net anzeigen.ausland@faz.de
SüddeutscheZeitung www.sueddeutsche.de forum@sueddeutsche.de
Australia Brisbane Times www.brisbanetimes.com.au syndication@fairfaxmedia.com.au
Sydney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au
Colombia Reports http://colombiareports.com
Bogota Free Planet http://bogotafreeplanet.combfp@bogotafreeplanet.com
El Universal http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english
Andes http://www.andes.info.ec/en
Ecuador Times http://www.ecuadortimes.net
The Jordan Times https://www.jordantimes.com
LSM.lv http://www.lsm.lv/en
The Baltic Times http://www.baltictimes.com, lithuania@baltictimes.com,
estonia@baltictimes.com, editor@baltictimes.com

El Pais http://elpais.com/elpais/inenglish.html
Philippine Daily Inquirer https://www.inquirer.net
Daily News Hungary http://dailynewshungary.com
Budapest Times http://budapesttimes.hu
The Korea Post is running video clips from the different embassies.
Azerbaijan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR8CBpcQ4WM
Sri Lanka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hByX92Y2aGY&t=22s
Morocco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfFmp2sVvSE
And many other countries.
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Korean-language Internet edition: http://www.koreapost.co.kr
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English E-daily: http://www.koreapost.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=20487

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