Headlines, December 22, 2020
Headlines, December 22, 2020
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Friday, December 22, 2020


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

The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)
Ahn Cheol-soo declares his bid for Seoul mayoral by-election
Ahn Cheol-soo, head of the minor opposition People's Party, declared on Dec. 20 that he would run for the Seoul mayoral by-election, which is slated for April next year.
“I thought that I should throw myself into the race to prevent a Presidential power change from becoming impossible with a defeat in the Seoul mayor election," he said during a press conference at the National Assembly.
Ahn declared, "I decided to run in the by-election for Seoul mayor with the determination of “gyeoljahaeji” (solving problems I myself created) and to truly develop and innovate Seoul." In the Oct. 26 by-election for Seoul mayor in 2011, Ahn, the strongest candidate at the time, gave up his candidacy to the late former Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.

Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae wins the French gold medal of merit for foreign affairs
Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae received a gold medal from Frank Riester, France's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, at the Korea Furniture Museum in Seongbuk-gu, Seoul on December 17.
Chairman Cho said at the gala event, "It is a great honor to be awarded the French Medal of Merit for Foreign Affairs. I will take this as an encouragement to work harder for the development of bilateral relations between Korea and France."
The French Medal of Merit for Foreign Affairs is an honorary medal established in 2010 to express gratitude to those who have contributed to France and its people and is divided into three phases, gold, silver and bronze, according to their contributions.

Hanwha Energy sign a contract to sell 50MW solar power plant in Spain
Hanwha Energy concluded a contract to sell a 50MW solar power plant located in the Sevilla area of southern Spain on Nov. 27, the company said on Dec. 12.
After completing the development by acquiring the right to develop solar power in Sevilla, Spain in December 2018, Hanwha Energy began construction of the power plant in February this year and is set to start commercial operation in December.
The solar power plant is expected to produce energy that meets the power needs of 13,997 households, causing a reduction of 51,977 tons of greenhouse gases (CO2) emitted by 10,192 vehicles.
KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)
Court to Deliberate Top Prosecutor's Injunction Request
A local court will hold a hearing on Tuesday to deliberate an injunction filed by Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl to halt the two-month suspension he received from a Justice Ministry disciplinary committee.
The hearing comes five days after Yoon lodged the suit, calling for the withdrawal of the disciplinary measure and an injunction.
The top prosecutor will not attend the hearing set for 2 p.m. at the Seoul Administrative Court, while his lawyers will be present.

EU Greenlights Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
The European Commission(EC) has reportedly given official approval for the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
According to Reuters and other foreign media outlets, the EU's executive commission gave the green light just hours after the European Medicine Agency(EMA) said the vaccine meets safety and quality standards.
EC President Ursula von der Leyen announced the move, saying the vaccine will be available for all EU countries at the same time on the same conditions.

S. Korea Replaces Chief Nuclear Negotiator
South Korea replaced its chief nuclear negotiator on Monday, who is tasked with getting North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons.
The Foreign Ministry said Noh Kyu-duk, the presidential secretary for peace planning, has been named the new special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, overseeing diplomacy surrounding North Korea's nuclear issue.
Prior to his current post at the presidential office, Noh, a career diplomat, served as the Foreign Ministry's spokesperson and the presidential secretary for security strategy.
Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)
Capital area bans gatherings of 5 or more people to stem COVID-19 spread
Gatherings of five or more people will be banned in the greater Seoul area, beginning Wednesday, in a new hard-line measure to combat the spread of the coronavirus, local governments said Monday.
The governments of Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi Province and Incheon announced the strident assembly restriction measure in time for the upcoming peak season for year-end gatherings and events.
The new administrative order for the restrictions on freedom of assembly will take effect at midnight Tuesday and end on Jan. 3.

Police review cases similar to vice justice minister's unpunished assault
Police are looking into past cases that are similar to the new vice justice minister's unpunished assault against a taxi driver to determine whether officers took appropriate steps at the time of the incident, a police official said Monday.
Vice Justice Minister Lee Yong-gu has come under fire after it was reported late last week that he got away free following the altercation in early November.
Lee, who was a lawyer at the time, allegedly grabbed the driver by the collar in an intoxicated state when the man tried to wake him up after arriving at his home in southern Seoul. He was appointed vice minister on Dec. 2.

S. Korea's courts advised to shut down for 3 weeks amid surging COVID-19 cases
The National Court Administration on Monday advised courts nationwide to shut down for three weeks to slow down the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
"We advise judges to actively consider being flexible in delaying and rescheduling hearings and sentencing dates for three weeks starting Dec. 22," Kim In-kyeom, head of the pandemic response team of the agency, wrote on the judiciary's internal bulletin board.
The recommendation by the agency under the Supreme Court in charge of the general administration of the judiciary came as the country has been grappling with the third wave of the pandemic, with the number of daily new cases breaking record after record.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Private gatherings of 5 or more banned in Seoul area until Jan. 3
Seoul officials said Monday that nonessential gatherings of five or more people would be banned before Christmas and through the New Year’s holiday.
The metropolitan government told a virtual news briefing that “all gatherings of a private nature involving five people or more both indoors and outdoors” would be banned between Wednesday and Jan. 3. An exception is being made for weddings and funerals, where up to 50 people will still be allowed.
Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital, and nearby Incheon followed up later in the day to ban gatherings of five or more people in the same period. Greater Seoul, which encompasses the three districts, has been the main center of COVID-19 spread in South Korea after the initial wave in the spring, with cases there accounting for over 60 percent of all local cases to date.

Seoul reviewing second chance for medical students to sit licensing exam
The government is considering allowing fourth-year medical students another chance to take the state medical licensing exam, as the country anticipates a shortage of medical personnel next year.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said in a radio interview Sunday that “there is a possibility” that medical students who boycotted the licensing exam this year could be given the opportunity to take the state-run test soon.
“We were really cautious in concern of public opinion, but the government will soon put together a measure in light of a number of realistic situations,” Chung said.

Korea pins hope on exports in post-COVID-19 era
Exports could be a breakthrough for the South Korean economy in the post-coronavirus era, a state-run trade agency said Monday.
Despite numerous uncertainties that are expected to linger in 2021, the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency raised its exports forecast for next year, saying semiconductors and biotech products, among others, are likely to lead the gains.
Overseas shipments would grow 6-7 percent in 2021 to reach $540 billion-560 billion next year, from around $510 billion this year, the KOTRA projection shows.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Seoul, Gyeonggi to ban gathering of more than 4 people
Gatherings of five people or more will be banned in the greater Seoul area in an effort to curb the ongoing spread of COVID-19 which has been showing no signs of abating.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government and neighboring local governments in Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, Monday, the stricter social distancing measure will take effect from Wednesday and last until to Jan. 3, the period when many Christmas and year-end gatherings and events are expected to take place.
The ban on gatherings of more than four people is a stronger measure than restrictions that could be applied under the highest Level 3 social distancing, in which gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited.

Anti-leaflet law highlights differences between Seoul, Washington on North Korea's human rights
The Dec. 14 passage of a revision bill by the South Korean National Assembly to criminalize the sending of balloons and broadcasts with messages against the North Korean regime through the inter-Korean border is triggering concerns it will cause a rift in Korea-U.S. relations.
The issue has shown how Seoul and Washington are viewing the issue differently, calling for the need for the two nations to narrow ideological differences.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), which pushed ahead with the passage of the so-called anti-leaflet law despite protests from the opposition and the international community, denounced the U.S. for excessively meddling in Korea's internal affairs.

Will Ahn Cheol-soo bring anti-Moon big tent?
Minor opposition People's Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo's bid for the Seoul mayoral post and his plan to form a "big tent" from the opposition bloc have brought different reactions in the political circle.
Attention is paid on whether the bid will provide momentum to bring solidarity among the conservative and centrist blocs, or whether it will rather bring about a division of the opposition.
After announcing his bid to run in next April's by-election, Sunday, Ahn rolled out a plan to form a coalition government for the capital with people from different opposition parties appointed to the city administration's main posts, during a party meeting the following day.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea bans gatherings of 5 or more people in Greater Seoul starting Dec. 23
South Korea will ban gatherings of five or more people in the Seoul Capital Area (SCA) starting Dec. 23. The ban is expected to last until Jan. 3, 2021.
The cities of Seoul and Incheon and Gyeonggi Province announced this joint measure on Dec. 21. The aim is to curb celebrations around Christmas and New Year’s amid the country’s third wave of COVID-19.
The ban applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Any type of holiday celebration or gathering among friends and colleagues that exceeds four people is prohibited. Exceptions will be granted for certain ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, which will be limited to 50 persons or less. Business and individuals that violate the ban will be fined and face other “strict measures.”

Infection cluster of over 200 inmates discovered at detention center in Seoul
Fears of infection clusters at correctional facilities are growing after 185 inmates at the Seoul Eastern District Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19. The situation has also triggered alarm for courts after it was discovered that infected inmates visited the Seoul Eastern District Court and the Seoul Northern District Court for trials.
On Dec. 20, the Seoul Eastern District Court said there had been “a proposal to change the dates for all criminal trials.” Some detained defendants who were infected with the virus at the Seoul Eastern District Detention Center were confirmed to have visited criminal courtrooms between Dec. 8 and 18, the court said.
“Most of the defendants who appear in court come from the Seoul Eastern District Detention Center. We’ve recommended rescheduling hearings for all criminal trials on the assumption that [infected individuals] have attended nearly all of them, and we’ve particularly requested the rescheduling of trial hearings planned for the next day,” said an official with the Seoul Eastern District Court.

S. Korea unlikely to secure supplies of Pfizer, Janssen and Moderna vaccines in Q1 2021, Chung Sye-kyun says
While South Korea has signed a contract for supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, vaccines developed by Pfizer, Janssen, and Moderna are unlikely to be supplied during the first quarter of 2021, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said while explaining the country’s inoculation schedule.
Chung also reaffirmed that inoculations with the AstraZeneca vaccine would “begin as soon as February and no later than March” as previously announced by health authorities.
Appearing on Dec. 20 on the KBS program “Sunday Diagnosis,” Chung said, “In terms of the three companies Pfizer, Janssen, and Moderna, we’re on the brink of signing contracts with two of them, and we’ve been able to agree on most of the conditions for the third.”
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Coronavirus Infections Spike to New Record
Coronavirus infections reached a daily record of 1,097 early Sunday as more than 1,000 people tested positive for five days in a row.
The accumulated number of patients crossed 50,000 that day, only 10 days after it surpassed 40,000, and deaths are expected to exceed 700 soon. Some 14.8 patients died on a daily average for five days since Dec. 15. About two dozen patients died overnight, bringing the total number of deaths to 698 as of Monday morning.
Fewer than 40 hospital beds for seriously ill patients are available nationwide, and none in Seoul.

No Vaccinations Expected for Months
Prospects are becoming increasingly murky of a coronavirus vaccine becoming available to Koreans before the middle of next year.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Sunday admitted that Pfizer, Janssen and Moderna vaccines will not become available here in the first quarter of 2021. So far the government has only signed a pre-purchase agreement with AstraZeneca.
On a TV show on Sunday morning, Chung said, "Contracts are expected to be signed soon with those drugmakers, but we haven't received any promises of supplies in the first quarter."

White Christmas Expected
A white Christmas Eve is expected for most parts of the country this year. The Korea Meteorological Administration said Sunday that snow or rain is expected in central parts as well as North Jeolla and North Gyeongsang provinces on Thursday.
South Jeolla and South Gyeongsang provinces and Jeju are expected to see rain.
Morning temperatures are forecast to be colder than usual at -5 degrees on Christmas Day, Friday, and skies will be clear in most parts.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Countries shut down entry from U.K. where mutant virus is found
Countries are quickly shutting down entry from the U.K. as a mutant COVID-19 virus that is more contagious than the existing virus seems to be spreading beyond its origin, the U.K.
According to the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Sunday (local time), the mutant virus was found in the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, and Australia, besides the U.K.
Countries around the world are banning entry from the U.K. France suspended all transportation from and to the U.K. for 48 hours from midnight on Monday. The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Turkey, etc. also shut down air travels from the U.K. The European Union is discussing joint responses among 27 member countries, Agence France-Presse reported quoting a German senior official.

Tokyo urges revisiting N. Korea leaflets prohibition law
Following the United Nations and the U.S., the U.K., Japan has weighed in denouncing the passing of the North Korea Leaflet Prohibition Act, which was railroaded by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, intensifying the call of the international community to revisit the enforcement of the controversial law. But concerns are fueling that the South Korean ruling party is risking international isolation with Lee Nak-yeon, the ruling party’s favorite for the next presidential election in South Korea, squarely refuting the denouncement. It is expected President Moon Jae-in will likely approve the law in question as early as in a Tuesday cabinet meeting.
In an editorial titled “The need to keep consistency of principles of freedom” published Monday, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun argued that Seoul must reconsider the measure that is to succumb to an unreasonable demand from North Korea and put restrictions on civil rights. “President Moon is pressing ahead with a highly divisive bill against the backdrop of an overwhelming majority seats in the National Assembly,” the editorial said, adding the bill contains content that can infringe upon the freedom of citizens and principles of liberal democracy.

Hyundai Construction breaks record for urban project contracts
Hyundai Engineering & Construction announced Monday it has won the biggest cumulative orders for urban regeneration project this year since the company’s foundation in 1947.
According to the company announcement on Monday, its cumulative orders for urban regeneration projects this year stood at 4.74 trillion won, up 100 billion won from the existing record of 4.65 trillion won in 2017.
From the urban environment refurbishment project in Beomcheon 1-1 District in March to the Hyundai Sungwoo Complex 8 remodeling project in Yongin on December 19, Hyundai Engineering & Construction has won a total 17 projects this year.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Hospital Beds Are Full, While the Number of COVID-19 Cases Continue Record-Breaking Climb: Another Patient Dies While Waiting to Be Hospitalized
The number of new cases of COVID-19 continued its record-breaking climb, remaining over a thousand for five consecutive days. The government is worried that authorities will continue to confirm new cases at the current rate for some time, but drew the line and said that it was not considering any inter-regional travel restrictions, such as a lock down. Instead, the government plans to secure more hospital beds by issuing executive orders on private general hospitals.
The Central Disease Control Headquarters announced that as of midnight December 20, authorities confirmed 1,097 new cases of COVID-19. This was the largest number of daily new cases since the novel coronavirus was first detected in Korea on January 20. The previous day, a cluster of positive test results (185 cases) were confirmed at the Seoul Eastern (Dongbu) Detention Center, and more cases were confirmed in connection to cluster transmissions nationwide. This pushed the number of new cases over a thousand since December 16.

“Reinstate Kim Jin-sook,” Hope Bus Parade
Compact cars, sports utility vehicles, full-size taxis, large trucks, mixer trucks, and more, hundreds of vehicles rolled down the street in a long line. These vehicles all had the same banners and flags in the front and in the back. “Enact the Act on the Punishment of Businesses for Serious Industrial Accidents, So People Won’t Die Working!” “A World Without Layoffs!” Decorated with these words, the vehicles headed toward their destination, Yeongdo, Busan. In front of the Hanjin Heavy Industries’ Yeongdo shipyard hung a huge banner with the words, “There Is No Retirement Without Reinstatement” along with a picture of a woman wearing a white baseball cap backwards. The woman was Kim Jin-sook (pictured), a senior member of the Busan headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. Kim was laid off by Hanjin Heavy Industries and engaged in a sit-in atop a construction tower crane in the shipyard for 309 days nine years ago. This day marked 12,578 days since she was fired for participating in pro-democracy movements in 1986.
On December 19, the Hope Bus, an event which called for Kim’s reinstatement, was held in Busan. The Hope vehicles that came to Busan from all corners of the nation at the time of Kim’s sit-in in front of Hanjin Heavy Industries in 2011, came together again after nine years just ten days before the date Kim would have retired. The Hope Bus was an event that was held on five occasions in support of Kim, who engaged in a sit-in on top a construction crane at Yeongdo shipyard to protest the massive layoffs by Hanjin Heavy Industries in 2011.

Who Will Lead the Investigations on the Government in the Absence of Yoon? Eyes on Personnel Transfers of Senior Prosecutors Early Next Year
How will the two-month suspension of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl affect the prosecutors’ investigation of the Moon Jae-in government? The regular personnel promotions and transfers early next year are expected to replace many of the senior officials in the Prosecution Service, and experts expect this to hinder investigations linked to the government. However, some experts believe the disciplinary action against Yoon will not have any significant impact, for the suspension period is relatively short.
One investigation that is likely to be interrupted is the one on the alleged manipulation of a profitability evaluation of Wolsong Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1. On December 4, the Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office arrested two officials at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy suspected of deleting or being involved in the deleting of massive data on the nuclear power plant--on charges of damaging public electronic records and violating the Board of Audit and Inspection Act--ahead of an audit by the Board of Audit and Inspection in November 2019.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
SsangYong Motor under bankruptcy court has 3 months to settle debt issues
SsangYong Motor Co., the South Korean unit of Indian carmaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., is going under court management for the second time after defaulting on debt from major creditors.
SsangYong in a statement on Monday said it applied for court receivership after foreign creditor banks, including JPMorgan, BNP Paribas and Bank of America, refused to roll over debt of 60 billion won ($55 million) due on Dec. 14.
SsangYong also failed to pay back the 90 billion won due Monday to its main creditor, the state-run Korea Development Bank. It owes another local lender Woori Bank 15 billion won.

Hanwha Solutions to issue $1.09 bn new shares for green investments
South Korea’s Hanwha Solutions Corp. is issuing new shares worth 1.2 trillion won ($1.09 billion) to its existing shareholders and employee union to raise funding for solar energy and green hydrogen investments.
Its board on Monday okayed a plan to offer 31,414,000 new shares at 38,200 won apiece on Feb. 24-25, 2021. Of the total, 20 percent will be assigned to the employee union. The forfeited shares will be offered to the general public at the same price on Mar. 2-3.
The new shares will be listed on Mar. 18, increasing the equity capital of the company by 1.2 trillion won. The proceeds will be used raise capital for investment in new growth areas.

Korean shipyards see their order book swell in year-end
South Korean shipbuilders are enjoying a year-end harvest in their order books, pushing them closer to meet their annual targets.
Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co., the holding company of Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, said Monday it received 10 orders from European shipping companies worth a combined 1.2 trillion won ($1.09 billion). The orders include three LNG carriers, four large 132,000-TEU containers, two midsize 40,000-square-meter LPG carriers, and one small 17,000-ton petrochemical carrier.
The vessels would be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co. and Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co.


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  www.colombiareports.com
Bogota Free Planet  www.bogotafreeplanet.com  bfp@bogotafreeplanet.com
El Universal  www.eluniversal.com.mx/english
Andes  www.redaktionstest.net/andes-info-ec/
Ecuador Times  www.ecuadortimes.net/
The Jordan Times  www.jordantimes.com/
LSM.lv  www.lsm.lv/
The Baltic Times  www.baltictimes.com lithuania@baltictimes.com, estonia@baltictimes.com, editor@baltictimes.com
El Pais  https://english.elpais.com/
Philippine Daily Inquirer  www.inquirer.net/
Daily News Hungary  https://dailynewshungary.com/
Budapest Times  www.budapesttimes.hu/
The Korea Post is running video clips from the different embassies.
Sri Lanka:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=hByX92Y2aGY&t=22s
Morocco:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfFmp2sVvSE
And many other countries.
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