Wednesday, January 25, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)
KEPCO supports energy valley companies to enter overseas markets using ODA
KEPCO signed an agreement with the Korea Institute for Advancement of Techn ology (KIAT) and Naju Innovation Industrial Complex's corporate council at the KEPCO Art Center in Seoul on Jan. 22.
KEPCO CEO Kim Jong-gap, KIAT President Seok Young-chul, and Lee Nam, chairman of the council, attended the signing ceremony.
This agreement is aimed at supporting energy valley companies to enter overseas markets and win orders for overseas projects through the energy industry cooperation and development support project (ODA) in cooperation with each institution.
"Korea secures COVID-19 vaccines for 20 million people more with the Novavax-SK deal”
President Moon Jae-in said on Jan. 20, “With the recent purchase contract between Novavax and SK Bioscience, the possibility of securing vaccines for 20 million people in addition to 56 million people has been opened.”
President Moon made the remarks while visiting SK Bioscience factory in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, to check the production site of the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) vaccines.
“It has been exactly one year since Korea reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case. Our people have come together to overcome the virus and help make our country’s response a model for the world. With vaccines and treatments being developed one after another, the hope of prevailing over COVID-19 continues to grow and we can look forward to a quick return to our normal lives. Korea, too, will begin vaccinations in the coming month,” he said.
Uzbekistan continues to help Uzbek citizens return home from Syria
Recently, Uzbekistan has been pursuing a purposeful policy to provide an opportunity to take the path of correction for people who have fallen under the influence of destructive ideas. As a result of a consistent policy to ensure human rights and freedoms, special attention is paid not only to those living inside the country, but also to Uzbeks who have found themselves in difficult life situations in other countries. All measures are being taken to protect their interests, honor and dignity.
The ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan in this direction are receiving worldwide support. A significant event was the adoption on December 12, 2018 by the UN General Assembly of the resolution "Enlightenment and Religious Tolerance", initiated by Tashkent. It was unanimously supported by all UN member states.
Parliament to Hold Confirmation Hearing for Justice Minister Nominee
The National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee is set to hold a confirmation hearing for Justice Minister-nominee Park Beom-kye on Monday.
Park's hearing is likely to focus on allegations that he failed to report his property properly and recommended a lawyer at a law firm in which he held shares to a post on the National Election Commission.
Lawmakers are also expected to examine ethics issues, including allegations that he overlooked his aides taking bribes during the 2018 local elections and assaulted a person who approached him for help in 2016.
S. Korea Urges Japan to Show Sincere Efforts to Resolve Wartime Sex Slavery Issue
South Korea has urged Japan to show "sincere efforts" to heal the wounds of the victims of its wartime sexual slavery after Japan's top diplomat called on Seoul to act against a recent court order for Tokyo to compensate the victims.
Seoul's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that the government will continue efforts to resolve the issue, but Japan will also have to show sincere efforts to restore the honor and dignity of the victims and heal their wounds based on the spirit of responsibility, apology and remorse it expressed earlier.
The ministry acknowledged that a 2015 bilateral agreement on the comfort women issue was an official one and thus, the Seoul government will not seek any additional claims against Japan at the government level.
Defense Chiefs of S. Korea, US Reaffirm Alliance in Phone Talks
South Korea's Defense Minister Suh Wook held phone talks with his United States counterpart Lloyd Austin on Sunday and reaffirmed the importance of their alliance.
Seoul's Defense Ministry said on Sunday that in the phone talks, which were held upon Washington's request, Austin described the South Korea-U.S. alliance as a "linchpin" for the peace and stability of Northeast Asia.
The ministry said that the defense chiefs shared the view that the Seoul-Washington alliance is more important than ever and agreed to closely cooperate on further developing it.
New virus cases under 400 again, alert in place against potential upticks
SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back below 400 on Sunday, following a brief rise a day earlier, but health authorities remain vigilant against possible upticks amid an apparent slowdown.
The country added 392 more COVID-19 cases, including 369 locally transmitted infections, raising the total caseload to 75,084, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Sunday's daily caseload was down from 431 cases reported the previous day.
The third wave of COVID-19 infections here reached its peak on Dec. 25, with the daily tally reaching a record high 1,241 but has been showing signs of a slowdown since then.
Moon to receive policy briefing on vaccine, antivirus efforts
SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in is set to receive a policy briefing on the country's vaccination plans and ongoing efforts to fight the new coronavirus this week, a presidential official said Sunday.
Moon will hold a teleconference at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday with relevant ministers -- including Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-cheol, Food and Drug Safety Minister Kim Ganglip and Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency chief Jeong Eun-kyeong, according to the official.
The officials are expected to report on the third wave of the pandemic and its outlook, as well as plans on adjusting the country's social distancing scheme. They are also forecast to address the country's antivirus vaccination plans.
Seoul urges Tokyo to show sincere efforts to heal wounds of sex slavery victims
SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministry urged Japan to show sincere efforts to heal the wounds of its wartime sexual slavery victims after Tokyo's top diplomat railed against a recent Seoul court ruling on the issue that was finalized Saturday.
Earlier this month, the Seoul Central District Court ordered Tokyo to make reparations of 100 million won (US$91,300) each to 12 "comfort women" who were dragged away from their homes to work in front-line military brothels for Japanese soldiers during the World War II.
As the ruling was confirmed earlier in the day without Japan's appeal, the ministry said Seoul will not seek any additional claim at the government level but noted that it has no authority to stop the victims from raising the issue
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
‘Lost decade’ possible for South Korea as employment prospect dims among young job seekers
Landing a full-time job, climbing up the corporate ladder, complaining about higher-ups and being constantly bothered by team dinners is what 28-year-old Jang Hyeon-seok has dreamed of since graduating college in 2017.
But the closest he has ever been to these dreams was just a three-month-long internship at a marketing startup last summer. Jang said he has submitted applications to hundreds of companies for a full-time job, but all he received were emails starting with “We are sorry to inform you.”
SK Holdings to invest in advanced materials, green, bio, digital sectors
SK Holdings, an investment-focused holdings firm within SK Group, said Sunday that it will focus its investment on four business areas: advanced materials, green, bio and digital.
For investment expertise and efficiency, the company has reorganized its operations according to the four sectors, it added.
“2021 will be a meaningful year for SK Holdings in this four-way investment drive,” CEO Jang Dong-hyun said via a press release.
Korea’s COVID-19 numbers fall, but risks still loom
The number of official cases of the novel coronavirus in South Korea is so far on a downward slope, but risks of a fresh flare-up are still imminent, health officials and experts say.
Korea on Sunday confirmed 369 locally transmitted and 23 imported cases of COVID-19, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency situation report, bringing the cumulative total to 75,084. Twelve more people died, pushing the death toll to 1,349.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Biden's security team raises hopes for rapid North Korea policy review
With the new U.S. administration busy finalizing the roster of its national security team, questions are arising in South Korea over when President Joe Biden will unveil his policy toward North Korea.
As the team features many experts on Pyongyang, some believe that Washington could complete a review of its North Korea policy within a couple of months. However, others claim that issues involving the Kim Jong-un regime still rank below other diplomatic agenda items involving Iran, China and Russia, so it is still expected to take some time before the Biden team comes up with a new strategy. The consensus here on the estimated length of time for the policy review is up to six months
Tightening loan regulations drive market into further confusion
Households' fear is expected to escalate over the government's implementation of additional loan regulations. Experts argue this will keep distorting the loan market amid the leveraged investment boom in an era of ample liquidity.
Households have for years shown a pattern of taking out excessive loans right after financial authorities announce plans to impose tougher loan restrictions.
This year was no exception, with the Financial Services Commission (FSC) hinting at introducing a new non-collateral (credit) loan regulation in the name of stabilizing the housing market. Watchdogs view households' rising credit loan balance as a sign of overheating in the housing and stock markets.
Seoul City reviewing effectiveness of suicide prevention warnings on bridge handrails
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) will review whether to keep messages on the handrails of the Hangang Bridge aimed at discouraging people from attempting to kill themselves, amid questions over the effectiveness of the messages in suicide prevention.
According to the city government, Sunday, metropolitan authorities initially planned to remove all of the messages on the bridge when it removed one written by former Mayor Park Won-soon, who killed himself last July amid sexual harassment allegations raised against him. But the Seoul Metropolitan Council requested a review of the effectiveness of the entire campaign.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Moon instructs diplomatic, foreign security lineup to reinvigorate inter-Korean, US-N. Korea dialogue
President Moon Jae-in directed government agencies involved in foreign affairs and national security to come up with new ways of breaking North Korea-US and inter-Korean dialogue out of their deadlock.
While receiving operational reports at the Blue House on Jan. 21 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Unification (MOU), and the Ministry of National Defense (MND), Moon urged them to “do your best to get the peace clock turning again by quickly bringing an end to the long impasse we’ve experienced since the Hanoi summit [in February 2019 between North Korea and the US] broke down.” Moon also urged them to develop new methods to achieve breakthroughs in North Korea-US and inter-Korean dialogue.
Have we ever seen the true face of North Koreans?
“Have we ever really seen the face of North Koreans? As Ri-sol said, haven’t we only ever seen people struggling, hardened expressions, and the faces of people grimacing because of poverty?”
“A Photo Journey toward Peace” starts with these questions. Writer Im Jong-jin, who visited North Korea six times as a photojournalist between 1998 and 2003, shares pictures with the reader — and with his own 10-year-old daughter Ri-sol — to show the “real faces” of North Korea, a side that has not often been presented in the past.
Iran criticizes S. Korea for withholding money that “could be spent on food and medicine”
The Iranian foreign minister publicly criticized the South Korean government, claiming that the Iranian funds that are currently tied up in South Korea because of US sanctions represent money that would be spent on buying food and medicine for the Iranian people.
“We told South Korean officials that they had frozen the money of the Central Bank of Iran which is spent on [Iranian] people’s food and medicines,” Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying in an article on Iran Front Page, an Iranian news website, on Jan. 20.
“We said that they had held Iranian people’s food and drugs upon US orders,” Zarif added.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Luxury Labels Help Malls Weather Coronavirus Pandemic
Department stores have managed to weather some of the devastation of lockdown with sales of luxury labels, for which Koreans' appetite is undiminished.
Only nine out of 67 department stores managed to increase their profits amid the coronavirus pandemic. The others suffered because a growing preference for online shopping was exacerbated by lockdown. But those that sell luxury labels fared well, with customers forming long lines even before opening to indulge in socially distanced spending sprees.
Parents Plead for Schools to Reopen
Parents are pleading with the government to let their children go back to school after almost a year of disruption due to coronavirus.
About a half of Korea's schools are expected to open after the winter vacation next week, but parents want more schools to open when the new semester starts in March.
The pleas coincide with a paper published by Jeong Eun-kyeong, the director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, which said school closures had a nugatory effect on preventing the spread of coronavirus.
False Blizzard Warning Wastes Billions
Warnings of a snowstorm that never materialized cost the Seoul Metropolitan Government a massive amount of money.
Data show that the city spent W4.38 billion on gritting to clear the roads of snow and ice this month alone but wasted the money due to inaccurate weather forecasts (US$1=W1,098).
The capital spread W2.79 billion on 13,590 tons of calcium chloride, salt and eco-friendly ice melt between Jan. 6-10 and another 6,211 tons worth W1.21 billion between Jan. 12-13, and 2,000 tons worth W367.2 million on Jan. 17 and 18.
That totals W4.38 billion or half the city's stockpiles.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
‘S. Korea-U.S. alliance is a lynchpin of Indo-Pacific,’ says Sullivan
Suh Hoon, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae, discussed solutions for the North Korean nuclear issues and cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. with his counterpart Jake Sullivan in a phone call on Saturday. Sullivan said that the South Korea-U.S. alliance was a “linchpin” of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, which is interpreted as an emphasis on the need to keep China in check. The White House stated that Sullivan highlighted the importance of coordinating the North Korean nuclear issue between South Korea and the U.S.
‘Exports to US seen promising in five areas including renewable energy’
A new report suggests renewable energy, electric vehicles, bio health, digital conversion and home living as areas that will be promising in the wake of the inauguration of the Joe Biden administration. The report also singles out the trend of protectionist trade policy being eased to switch back to a multilateral trade regime as a potential area of significant change in global trade.
Comfort women victim says all she wants is apology
“Japan ruined the lives of innocent people like us but refuses to take responsibility,” said Lee Ok-seon who was forced into sex slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, speaking to The Dong-A Ilbo in a video interview. “Who did it to us then?”
Lee, who is staying at the “Nanum House,” is one of the 12 comfort women who brought a case against Japan. The Seoul Central District Court ordered the Japanese government to pay 100 million won to each victim, which was confirmed at midnight on Saturday as it had not been appealed.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Why Lee Jae-yong Is Backing the Compliance Committee with a Message from Prison
Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, in prison for his involvement in the abuse of state authority, supported the company’s compliance committee with a message from prison.
On January 21, Samsung Electronics conveyed that through his lawyer, Lee “expressed his determination to continue supporting the activities of the compliance committee” and sincerely asked “the committee chairman and members to be faithful to their roles in the future.” This day, the compliance committee held its regular meeting at the Samsung Electronics Seocho office in Seoul.
Kim Jin-sook Marches to Cheongwadae, “The State Too Is Responsible for Unfair Layoffs”
“We can’t put it off any longer. We urge the president, the government, Hanjin Heavy Industries, and the Korea Development Bank to acknowledge their responsibility and take immediate action.”
A debate was held to reinstate and restore the honor of Kim Jin-sook (61), an executive member of the Busan chapter of the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions who was laid off by Hanjin Heavy Industries, at the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy in Jongno-gu, Seoul on January 21. The debate was co-organized by ten lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties including vice speaker of the National Assembly Kim Sang-hee and civic groups. Kim Jin-sook, who passed her retirement age without being reinstated at the end of last year, is currently marching in protest from Busan to Cheongwadae wearing the blue uniform worn by the workers at Hanjin Heavy Industries. She argued, “I cannot retire without being reinstated.”
President Moon Determined to Restart the Process for Peace on the Korean Peninsula
The replacement of Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, the only cabinet member from the first days of the Moon Jae-in government, with Chung Eui-yong, former chief of the Cheongwadae National Security Office shows the president’s determination to accelerate efforts to revive the process for peace on the Korean Peninsula. The latest reshuffle shows that the government will concentrate all its diplomatic ability into creating momentum and restarting the process for peace on the peninsula, which had been suspended along with the stalled talks between North Korea and the United States.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea wins WTO case over U.S. AFA provision
The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday ruled in favor of South Korea in a lawsuit against the United States concerning high tariffs imposed on Korean steel and transformer products under the “adverse facts available (AFA)” provision.
According to Korea`s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Thursday, a WTO panel found that the eight cases of high anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the U.S. on steel and transformer products from Korea under the AFA provision violated its rules.
Naver, CU to jointly develop O2O commerce platform for convenience stores
South Korea’s internet giant Naver Corp. that has recently emerged as a major player in the country’s retail sector has joined hands with convenience store chain CU to develop a next-generation Online-To-Offline (O2O) commerce platform to bring innovation to convenience store operation.
Naver and BGF Retail Co., the operator of CU convenience stores, on Thursday signed a business partnership agreement to promote O2O service platform business.
Cash-deprived SsangYong Motor employees unlikely to get full salary in Jan-Feb
Liquidity-short SsangYong Motor Co. will be unable to pay full salary to its employees in January and February, the company announced in a letter to its labor union on Thursday.
The management and union are planning to meet on Friday to discuss the matter.
SsangYong Motor filed for court receivership on Dec. 21 due to liquidity crisis. The court gave a three-month stay on the reorganization plan until Feb. 28.
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