Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)
Woori Investment Bank surpasses 2019 annual operating profit in three quarters
Woori Investment Bank recorded a cumulative operating profit of 56.3 billion won and a net profit of 50.1 billion won in the third quarter of this year, the bank said on Oct. 26.
It surpassed its annual operating profit of 53.9 billion won in just three quarters.
"In keeping with the rapidly changing environment, we have increased assets mainly on short-term high-yield loans, and as a result of strategically increasing high-yield assets such as Project Financing (PF), net interest income increased 49.5% year-on-year," said an official at Woori Investment Bank.
"Non-interest income also went up by 20.6% year-on-year due to the income from IB business fees and good growth in securities management performance," the official explained.
Samsung SDS achieves the highest quarterly sales in the third quarter
Samsung SDS attained its highest quarterly sales ever in the third quarter thanks to the expansion of IT strategic business and logistics BPO business and steady growth in external business.
Samsung SDS’s consolidated sales reached 2.9 trillion won ($2.5 billion) in the third quarter of this year, up 11.7 percent from the same period last year, the highest ever, the company said on Oct. 27.
Compared to the second quarter, sales and operating profit went up by 15.6% and 11.8% respectively. Compared to the same period last year, sales increased 11.7 percent and operating profit rose 6.4 percent. Operating profit reached 219.8 billion won, up 6.4 percent from last year.
“Businessmen are No. 2, bureaucrats No. 3, politicians No. 4!”
The late Chairman Lee Kun-hee of the Samsung Business Group in Seoul is well known for his witty remarks: “Politicians are No. 4, bureaucrats No. 3 and politicians No. 4!” Then who is “Number 1”?
The answer came on April 11, 2020 when Chairman Lee Nak-yon of the ruling Democratic Party said, “We should all try to correct this situation where there is an expression, ‘The people are No. 1 and politics are No. 3!”
The late Chairman Lee died at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul on Oct. 25, 2020 at the age of 78. The late Chairman Lee was treated for lung cancer in the late 1990s and was tested again for cancer in 2005 at the MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston, Texas, with no subsequent concerns being announced. The late Chairman Lee was hospitalized in Seoul in May 2014 after suffering a heart attack, and lapsed into a state of coma, where he remained until his death on October 25.
S. Korea's Consumer Sentiment Posts Steepest Growth in over 11 Years
South Korea's consumer sentiment rebounded and grew at the fastest pace in eleven years and six months in October.
According to the Bank of Korea on Wednesday, the composite consumer sentiment index(CCSI) came to 91-point-six for October, up 12-point-two points from a month earlier.
The reading marks the largest on-month gain since April 2009 when it jumped by 20-point-two points. A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.
Gov't Unveils Plans to Raise Official Price of Real Estate to 90% of Market Price
The government has unveiled possible plans to raise the official prices of all types of real estate including apartments and land to up to 90 percent of their real prices.
The Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements and two other institutes on Tuesday disclosed the results of a study on ways to reflect the market price of real estate in the official prices for taxation.
The institutes, commissioned by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, have conducted the study since February.
Moon to Address Parliament on 2021 Budget Plan
President Moon Jae-in will deliver a parliamentary speech on Wednesday to call for bipartisan cooperation on passing next year’s budget plan.
Presidential spokesperson Kang Min-seok on Tuesday announced Moon’s plan to visit the National Assembly for his first parliamentary address in over three months. His previous speech was made on July 16 when the 21st Assembly opened its first regular session.
The spokesman said the president will express his appreciation for the public's support amid the protracted COVID-19 crisis and chart out the government’s plan to overcome the pandemic and its economic fallout with the 555-point-eight-trillion won budget.
New virus cases fall back below 100, sporadic cluster infections still worrisome
South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back below 100 again Tuesday, but concerns over a potential spike in infections still linger over sporadic cluster infections at risk-prone facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes.
The country added 88 more COVID-19 cases, including 72 domestic infections, raising the total caseload to 26,043, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The latest increase marks a sharp drop from 119 reported Monday but a rise from 61 posted Sunday.
State pension fund to vote against LG Chem's spin-off plan
South Korea's National Pension Service (NPS) decided Tuesday to oppose LG Chem Ltd.'s plan to spin off its battery business at a shareholders' meeting later this week.
In September, LG Chem, the country's leading chemical company, announced a plan to separate the battery business to better cope with growing demand for electric vehicle (EV) batteries. The company plans to hold a shareholders' meeting for approval on Friday.
The state pension fund, the second-largest shareholder of LG Chem with a 10.2 percent stake, said it decided to vote against the plan at the meeting.
Drug ministry to fast-track AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate
South Korea's drug safety agency said Tuesday that it is reviewing whether to grant fast-track approval of a vaccine candidate developed by British-Swedish bio giant AstraZeneca Plc.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it has formed a team of officials dedicated to evaluating whether to give the green light to the vaccine candidate.
Pharmaceutical companies from both home and abroad have joined the global race to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 virus, with 27 of them having approval for clinical trials.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Faster changes, greater chances in post-COVID-19 era
South Korean business representatives, policymakers and government officials gathered at the annual The Korea Herald Biz Forum in its third iteration Tuesday to share insights on changing consumer patterns, business regulations and new economic growth engines in the post-COVID-19 world.
Under the theme “Contact less, connect more,” this year’s forum was held at The Shilla in Seoul and was livestreamed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the speakers were Kim Jae-shin, vice chairman of the Fair Trade Commission; Kim Ran-do, a Seoul National University professor and author of bestselling series “The Trend Korea”; Lee Sung-han, head of Amazon Global Selling Korea; Jamie Choi of Samsung Electronics; and Choi Yoon-sup, managing partner of Digital Healthcare Partners.
US presidential election to bring changes, challenges for Seoul
The fate of US President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will be decided in a week, but for South Korea difficulties lie ahead regardless of the winner.
For South Korea, Special Measures Agreement issue -- the negotiations over Seoul’s share of the cost of maintaining US Forces Korea -- will be the most immediate issue, experts say.
The talks began late 2019, but the two sides have so far failed to narrow their differences. The US is said to be requesting an increase of 50 percent from the current 1.04 trillion won ($923 million), while Seoul remains firm on its counteroffer of a 13 percent increase.
Korea readies for winter without COVID vaccine
South Korea’s health authorities on Tuesday urged members of the public to refrain from attending social gatherings to survive the coronavirus winter without an available vaccine, amid rising cases linked to in-person gatherings and increased autumn activities.
Korea reported 88 new coronavirus cases --72 cases locally transmitted and 16 imported from overseas -- in the 24 hours ending Monday at midnight, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
“Ahead of a full-blown winter, the coronavirus situation here is being contained and controlled at a steady level. But there is always a possibility of the exponential surge in virus cases,” KDCA Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook said at a briefing.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Will Moon's support for trade minister Yoo Myung-hee's WTO chief election bear fruit?
Attention is being paid on whether President Moon Jae-in and other top government officials' diplomatic efforts to seek international support for Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, the Korean finalist in the race for the new director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), will lead to the desired result.
The situation for the Korean candidate is not entirely favorable, according to foreign media reports, but Moon is making last-ditch attempts to produce the first head of an international organization since former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon more than a decade ago.
President Moon spoke on the phone with Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau, Tuesday, to ask for the support of Canada, the leader of the Ottawa Group comprised of 10 WTO member states and the EU that discusses responses to specific challenges to the multilateral trading system. Korea is a part of the group, along with New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Norway and Brazil.
What will Korea's public diplomacy look like in next 70 years?
Korea of the past 70 years has been an unprecedented model in the world, rising from one of the world's poorest countries to a wealthy nation.
This marks Korea's rapid economic growth and democratic transition of government as selling points when it comes to public diplomacy with developing nations.
What makes Korea's promotion of its national image to foreign publics more intriguing is its pop culture and quarantine measures, which not all industrialized nations are necessarily capable of.
US election becomes inflection point for LG-SK battery feud
The looming U.S. presidential election is becoming an inflection point for the legal battle between LG Chem and SK Innovation over patents for electric vehicle (EV) batteries at the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), as the case comes with heavy consequences for the country's automotive industry and the jobs in Georgia.
Industry officials said the clash between the two battery giants is now becoming a political issue, as Georgia, the state where SK Innovation is building its battery plants, is increasingly classified as a "swing state" in the election. If SK Innovation loses the battle, the USITC can put a stop to the plants' operation, but the U.S. president, who will be elected on Nov. 3, can step in and veto the decision, meaning the battle now largely hinges on the outcome of the election.
According to LG Chem and SK Innovation, the USITC delayed its decision until Dec. 10 on LG Chem's 2019 complaints that SK Innovation had stolen trade secrets. In the complaints, LG Chem sought the U.S. blocking SK Innovation from producing battery cells in the country and importing components required for the cells.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea faces economic uncertainty no matter who wins US presidential election
With the US presidential election just a week away, South Koreans are wondering how the election results will impact their economy. If US President Donald Trump, the candidate for the Republican Party, is reelected, he’s expected to continue his trade dispute with China, creating more uncertainty for the Korean trade environment. If Democratic candidate Joe Biden wins the election, he’s likely to implement tougher environmental regulations, which would also require a response from Korea.
Analysts at public and private research institutions told the Hankyoreh on Oct. 26 that the adversarial relationship between the US and China will probably continue regardless of who is elected president. Biden and Trump both believe that the rise of China threatens the US’ national security and that China’s unfair trade practices need to be corrected. No matter who wins, therefore, Korea’s trade environment will face increasing uncertainty.
Japanese director confronts Japan’s war crimes in “Wife of a Spy”
One of the films presented at the 2020 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), which began on Oct. 21, is “Wife of a Spy,” a Japanese film confronting the country’s legacy of war crimes. The subject hardly ever comes up in contemporary Japanese films.
With the Japanese government still obsessed with sweeping war crimes under the rug and refusing to make official apologies to countries it has brutalized, making such a film must have required quite a bit of courage.
But Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the film’s director, described his work more modestly. “My film only adds elements of entertainment to the framework of historical facts. It didn’t require any amazing determination or bravery,” Kurosawa said in a digital press conference on Oct. 26.
How will Samsung’s chaebol family deal with inheritance taxes exceeding US$8 billion?
How do you come up with the money to pay inheritance taxes amounting to some 10 trillion won (US$8.87 billion)? The issue of the inheritance coming to surviving family members of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee after his death on Oct. 25, and the associated taxes, is drawing attention in and around the South Korean business community. The reason has to do with potential changes to the Lee family’s control over the group and its governance structure depending on how the inheritance tax issue is handled.
The exact scale of Lee’s assets remains unknown. But the value of his shares of four Samsung affiliates -- Samsung Electronics, Samsung Life, Samsung C&T, and Samsung SDS -- total around 18 trillion won (US$15.97 billion) alone. The financial community is estimating that inheritance taxes for these shares will come out to roughly 10-11 trillion won -- the highest such tax bill in South Korean history. Market observers are predicting three possible scenarios, which reflect possible “moves” more than questions of likelihood. Their prediction is that Samsung could try some unexpected plays.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Coronavirus Checks on Foreign Arrivals Stepped up
Travelers from countries where coronavirus infections have surged will be subject to tougher quarantine measures, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency chief Jung Eun-kyeong said Monday.
Since April, all visitors from abroad have been required to spend two weeks in self-quarantine, but Korea has lately seen increasing cases among arrivals from abroad, mostly Russians and Chinese, so visitors from certain countries will be subject to more stringent health checks.
For instance, the new cutoff body temperature for suspected infections will be 37.3 degrees Celsius instead of 37.5 degrees as before.
Japan Campaigns Against Korean Candidate for WTO
The Japanese government has launched a campaign against Yoo Myung-hee, Korea's candidate for the top job at the World Trade Organization.
The government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga believes that Yoo's election as director-general of the WTO would be detrimental to Japan's national interests.
The fears are not unfounded. Yoo was in charge of Seoul's complaint to the WTO last year after Tokyo restricted exports of high-tech materials to Korea in retaliation against a Supreme Court ruling ordering Japanese businesses to compensate forced wartime laborers.
Elderly Line up for Flu Shots Despite Rising Death Toll
Elderly people started lining up for free seasonal flu vaccinations despite careless handling of vaccines and a rising death toll.
President Moon Jae-in urged people not to dodge the flu shots because of fears surrounding the vaccines.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, 261,786 people aged 62-69 already got their flu shots as of Monday.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
S. Korean economy grows by 1.9% in third quarter
The South Korean economy has recorded positive growth for the first time since COVID 19. The government said the recovery is in full swing whereas the central bank said it is not a V-shaped recovery.
According to the Bank of Korea (BOK), the real GDP of South Korea increased by 1.9 percent to 456.86 trillion won in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter according to the Bank of Korea on Tuesday. It is the first positive growth of the year and the biggest quarterly growth since the first quarter in 2010 (2.0%).
The rebound is largely attributable to an increase in export. After a 16.1 percent decrease in the second quarter, the export figures jumped by 15.6 percent in the third quarter with growing demand for cars and semiconductors. Export’s net contribution to the economic growth that subtracts import was 3.7 percent, up from ―4.1% in the second quarter.
Seoul City, police launch COVID-19 inspection team around Halloween
The Seoul Metropolitan Government and the police are forming a special inspection team to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in highest risk communities, including Itaewon and Gangnam, where young people are expected to gather to enjoy the Halloween festival on Oct. 31.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said on Tuesday that it will form an inspection team of 800 people jointly with the Seoul Metropolitan Government to ramp up enforcement efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 around Itaewon, Hongdae, and Gangnam areas from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. The police are also mobilizing a large number of officers from the Yongsan, Mapo, and Gangnam stations for the special crackdown.
The police will also deploy six police squads during the same period to monitor violations of COVID-19 regulations and maintain public order. In particular, the special inspection team will crack down on unlicensed bars and nightclubs operating as restaurants. The police said they will closely monitor unlicensed businesses as they can become the blind spots for crackdowns.
Barrett is confirmed as Supreme Court justice by Senate
U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate on Monday (local time). With her confirmation, the U.S. Supreme Court glaringly lopsided with six Republican-nominated justices and three Democratic justices. With the Supreme Court largely dominated by Republican justices, President Donald Trump will have an advantage in the case of any lawsuit regarding the upcoming presidential election.
After over 30 hours of discussions, the Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm the nomination of Barrett. Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican who voted against the nomination, along with all Democratic members. This is the first Supreme Court nomination in 151 years with zero votes from an opposition party.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Disease Control and Prevention Agency, “We Examined Cases Involving the Same Influenza Vaccines. No Causation of Death”
This year, 59 deaths have been reported following influenza vaccine injections. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (Agency) reviewed the deaths, including those newly reported, but they concluded a very low possibility that the flu shots led to the deaths and decided to continue with the vaccination as scheduled.
On October 26, the Agency released the reports of influenza vaccination and abnormal reactions. As of midnight this day, over 13.6 million people have received flu shots. Among them 1,231 cases reported abnormal responses following the injection, such as a fever and pain in the area where they received the shots. Of these abnormal responses, 59 were fatal, an increase of eleven from October 24. A look at the age of the patients showed that most were in their seventies and eighties, with 26 patients respectively from both age groups, followed by two in their sixties and five below the age of sixty.
Seoul’s Public Wi-Fi May Be Grounded Before It Is Launched
In November, the Seoul metropolitan government will begin demonstrating its telecommunications welfare policy, free Wi-Fi in public places, such as parks, squares and traditional markets, using the city’s own network. As people of all age groups watch YouTube videos on their mobile devices, demand for data to acquire information and to communicate with other people has surged. So the city aims to supply a telecommunications network built by the public sector.
However, Seoul must overcome the immediate opposition from the central government and private telecommunications service providers. Some people believe that the city’s policy violates current law. They also believe it is unfair competition, for a local government is jumping into an area for private businesses.
On October 26, the city of Seoul announced, “On November 1, we will launch a trial run of Ggachion, which will give everyone access to free public Wi-Fi that is four times faster than the existing network, without any concern over the cost of data,” and added, “People can use the public Wi-Fi in all public spaces, such as parks, trails, traditional markets and streets.”
Lee Jae-yong, Soon to Become Chairman of Samsung: An Era of Young 40/50 Leaders Steering Major Groups
The death of Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Group on October 25, is expected to bring into focus the succession of Lee Jae-yong (52), vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, as chairman of the group. When Lee becomes chairman, all four major business groups in South Korea will be led by young third or fourth-generation chairmen in their forties and fifties. The generation shift in the business world is accelerating as other major groups place the reins in the hands of third or fourth generation members of the founding family.
When Lee Jae-yong steps up as chairman, he will become the third chairman of the Samsung group in his early fifties. Previously, his father, Lee Kun-hee became the second chairman of the group at the age of 45 shortly after the group’s founder, Lee Byung-chul died in 1987.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea GDP up 1.9% Q3, recovering better than expected from H1 recession
South Korea shook out of a recession in the first half with a bigger-than-expected rebound in the third quarter to raise expectations for less severe annual negative growth in the pandemic-battered 2020, owing to a recovery in exports and improvement in domestic demand from unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimuli.
The real gross domestic product added 1.9 percent to 456.9 trillion won ($404 billion) in the July-September period, returning to the positive in the biggest jump since the first quarter of 2010 after contractions of 3.2 percent and 1.3 percent in the previous two quarters, preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK) showed Tuesday.
LG Chem shares lose and SK Innovation up as ITC puts off ruling once again
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Monday (local time) put off its final ruling on patent dispute between LG Chem Ltd. and SK Innovation Co. for the second time, giving the two Korean battery majors more than a month to work possibly on an out-of-court settlement.
The ITC scheduled to announce its final decision on the alleged industrial theft case involving the two Korean battery rivals on Monday suspended its ruling to Dec. 10 after a delay earlier this month.
Although it did not specify its reason, the resurgence of the Covid-19 in the United States could be a factor behind the delay.
S. Korea allows duty-free operators to sell goods to local consumers until further notice
South Korean duty-free operators will be allowed to offer tax-free stocks at home until the government decides otherwise.
The Korea Customs Service said on Tuesday that it will allow import clearance of duty-free goods in stock for six months until further notice in a move to help support the duty-free industry that has been struggling from Covid-19 impact amid a plunge in the number of overseas travelers.
In April, the customs authority decided to allow duty-free products to be sold in the domestic market until Oct. 28. The scheme will be extended until further notice, the office said.
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