Friday, July 9, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“Gyeongsangbuk-do makes a strong push for large projects to strengthen the competitiveness of traditional industries”
“Damyang-gun makes a successful completion of the Dambit Cultural District, which started construction with the aim of creating a luxury eco-friendly residential complex,” said Choi Hyung-sik, governor of Damyang-gun. In n interview with The Korea Post media, owner and publisher of three English and two Korean-language news media publications since 1985, Gov. Choi said, “During my tenure since 2002, I made many achievements. In particular, the completion of the sale of industrial land in the eco-high-tech industrial complex, and the end of the legal dispute in Meta Provence, France-inspired tourist village with colorful buildings & art installations, plus shops & eateries in Damyang-gun, are very impressive.”
The followings are main contents of the Korea Post interview with Choi Hyung-sik, governor of Damyang-gun.
Yoon Seok-youl and Lee Jae-myung are ahead, but Lee Nak-yeon is supported by ruling camp
Who is going to take over the government of incumbent President Moon Jae-in? At present, the front runner is former Attorney General Yoon Seok-youl followed closely by Governor Lee Jae-myung of the Gyeonggi Province and then by former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon who presently remains in a single digit figure support while his contenders are winning more than 30% each. Korea has Presidential election coming on March 9 next year, which will decide the fate of the ruling political camp now headed by President Moon Jae-in. The latest polls on the Presidential hopefuls conducted by Real Meter on June 21-22, 2021 show Yoon leading the survey winning 32.3% of the votes followed by Governor Lee with 22.8% support. Former Chairman Lee N.Y. of the Democratic Party scored 8.4%.
However, things can change. There are predictors who insist, “Well, finally the winner will be Mr. Lee Nak-yeon!”
“Damyang-gun makes a success in creation of Dambit Cultural District”
“Damyang-gun makes a successful completion of the Dambit Cultural District, which started construction with the aim of creating a luxury eco-friendly residential complex,” said Choi Hyung-sik, governor of Damyang-gun. In an interview with The Korea Post media, owner and publisher of three English and two Korean-language news media publications since 1985, Gov. Choi said, “During my tenure since 2002, I made many achievements. In particular, the completion of the sale of industrial land in the eco-high-tech industrial complex, and the end of the legal dispute in Meta Provence, France-inspired tourist village with colorful buildings & art installations, plus shops & eateries in Damyang-gun, are very impressive.” The followings are main contents of the Korea Post interview with Choi Hyung-sik, governor of Damyang-gun.
S. Korea to Impose Strictest Level 4 Distancing in Greater Seoul Area for 2 Weeks
South Korea has decided to impose the strictest Level Four social distancing scheme in the greater Seoul area for two weeks from Monday amid a spike in infections. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced the decision on Friday in a government meeting on COVID-19 responses in Seoul. The prime minister said the government will maintain the assembly ban on nighttime entertainment facilities such as clubs and bars and hold off easing quarantine curbs for vaccinated people. Under the highest Level Four in the new four-tier distancing scheme, private gatherings of over four people are banned in the evening after 6 p.m. After 6 p.m., private gatherings of more than two people will be banned. All events and demonstrations will be banned except one-person protests, while participants in events such as weddings and funerals will strictly be limited to immediate family and relatives.
State Department: N. Korea's Malicious Cyber Activities Pose Threat to US, Allies
The U.S. State Department said on Thursday that North Korea poses a significant cyber threat to the United States and other countries, particularly to financial institutions. Department spokesperson Ned Price made the remarks during a press briefing when asked to comment on an alleged North Korean cyberattack on South Korea's state-run nuclear research institute. Price said that North Korea's malicious cyber activities threaten the United States, its allies and partners, and countries around the world, adding the North "poses a significant cyber threat to financial institutions. " The spokesperson then stressed that it's vital for the international community, for network defenders and the public to stay vigilant and to work together to mitigate the cyber threat posed by North Korea.
Supreme Court Upholds Prison Sentences for 3 Ex-NIS Chiefs
The Supreme Court has upheld prison sentences issued by a lower court for three former chiefs of the National Intelligence Service(NIS) who were accused of providing billions of won from the spy agency’s special activities budget to former President Park Geun-hye. The top court sentenced Nam Jae-joon to one-and-a-half years in prison, Lee Byung-kee to three years and Lee Byung-ho to three-and-a-half years. The three former chiefs were indicted in December 2017. Nam was accused of handing 600 million won to Park while Lee Byung-kee was accused of providing 800 million and Lee Byung-ho two-point-one billion won while heading the nation’s spy agency. Earlier on January 14th, the Seoul High Court handed down sentences for the three former chiefs after the Supreme Court quashed an original ruling and sent back the defendants' cases to the high court in November 2019.
S. Korea to announce new virus curbs for greater Seoul area on Friday
South Korea's health authorities said Thursday they will announce new social distancing measures for the greater Seoul area soon, amid expectations that the capital area may be placed under the highest level in the four-tier system. South Korea reported 1,275 new COVID-19 cases on the day, setting a new daily record. The government will announce a readjusted level of social distancing Friday after a COVID-19 control meeting in the morning, officials said. South Korea earlier planned to ease virus-related restrictions in July as the country gained confidence after providing at least one COVID-19 jab to around 30 percent of the population.
Main opposition candidates' presidential campaign pledges to abolish gender ministry spark major backlas
Campaign pledges to abolish the gender equality ministry by two presidential contenders of the main opposition party are sparking a major backlash from in and outside the party. Former four-term lawmaker Yoo Seong-min and three-term lawmaker Ha Tae-keung, both competing to win the People Power Party (PPP)'s ticket to run in the March 9 presidential election, pledged to dissolve the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family earlier this week as part of their campaign promises. Posting a message on his social media account Tuesday, Yoo said, "There's no reason to maintain a separate ministry on gender equality and family when half of the population are female and all the other government ministries are (already) related with women's issues."
S. Korea to impose toughest Level 4 distancing scheme in greater Seoul area amid virus resurgence
South Korea announced Friday it will place the greater Seoul area under the toughest social distancing rules of Level 4 as concerns of a fourth wave of new COVID-19 outbreaks over the summer grow stronger. The decision to implement Level 4 guidelines in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, 40 kilometers west of the capital, Monday for two weeks was reached in an interagency COVID-19 response meeting chaired by Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum. Under Level 4 rules, gatherings of more than two people will be banned after 6 p.m. Demonstrations will also be restricted, although the government will allow one-person protests. Weddings and funerals can only be joined by relatives. Entertainment establishments, including night clubs, will be ordered to shut down, while restaurants will be allowed to have dine-in customers until 10 p.m.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Cheong Wa Dae piles pressure on Japan over summit talks
Cheong Wa Dae is upping pressure on Japan over summit talks as it has started discussions about President Moon Jae-in’s possible attendance at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics later this month. Until last week, the presidential office had remained mum about the president’s Tokyo visit amid a flurry of news reports from Japan. But this week there has been a shift in tone as Moon’s key aides are starting to speak out that the ball is in Japan’s court. “We are waiting for Japan to join related talks with dignity and respect,” Moon’s senior secretary for public communication, Park Soo-hyun, said in a radio interview Wednesday, criticizing Japan on the allegation of it going through the media without using official diplomatic channels.
Majority of PPP supporters back Yoon Seok-youl as president
Some 6 in 10 supporters of the main opposition People Power Party think Yoon Seok-youl is fit to be the next president of South Korea, dwarfing support for the established politicians of the party, a recent poll showed Thursday. The survey was conducted with 1,006 eligible voters by Realmeter and commissioned by OhmyNews, a left-leaning internet news outlet. According to survey results, the ex-prosecutor general received a 58 percent support rating among 383 respondents who said they support the main opposition party. Compared to Yoon, the support rate for other contenders in the opposition were relatively low. Rep. Hong Joon-pyo came second with support of 10 percent and former lawmaker Yoo Seung-min came third at 6 percent.
Korea pledges W40tr investment for battery leadership
South Korea on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to consolidate its leadership in the white-hot battery industry, which included a plan by companies to inject over 40 trillion won ($34.9 billion) by 2030 as well tax incentives and other support from the goverment. Dubbed the “K-battery strategy,” the public-private plan resembles one announced in March for the chip industry as Asia’s fourth-largest economy looks to sharpen its competitive edge in the face of growing challenges, including a global tug-of-war over strategic products. “The K-battery industry is an essential industry that will open the door to the future. It’s an industry where we have been taking the global initiative, and it’s a field where we have to a secure a greater initiative,” President Moon Jae-in said at LG Energy Solution’s battery plant in Ochang, North Chungcheong Province, Thursday afternoon.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Presidential hopefuls' outfits are more than just fashion
While the presidential hopefuls are busy promoting their campaign pledges, they are also trying to appeal to voters with their fashion and style, which play a role in showing who they are, as well as in helping make a good impression on voters ― which is often nearly as important as what the politicians say. Currently, the liberal ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is going through a preliminary primary to pick its candidate for the presidential election in March next year, while the conservative main opposition People Power Party (PPP) is scheduled to start its selection process in August. Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung, one of the leading presidential contenders from the liberal ruling bloc, appears to be seeking stability in his fashion. The 56-year-old is refining his "fighter" image and instead displaying a polished and hard-working appearance by not dyeing his hair black as he did in 2017 but instead leaving it grey, and by wearing tight-fitting suits and metal-rimmed glasses, versus horn-rimmed ones.
North Korea issue ignored by presidential hopefuls
The issues of handling North Korea's nuclear program and improving inter-Korean relations are losing prominence among presidential hopefuls in South Korea, as heavyweight candidates have not offered specific policy roadmaps in their bids to run in the election slated for next March. Experts said Thursday this is because inter-Korean relations are currently at an uneasy moment for contenders to roll out their policies, and the South Korean public's interest in North Korea has been drained as the Moon Jae-in administration has shown no concrete outcomes lately despite multiple inter-Korean summits and Washington-Pyongyang talks during its tenure. In his official declaration to run in the presidential race, Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung addressed the North Korea issue only in a single sentence under a subcategory of his economic pledges. He said: "The establishment of the Korean Peninsula Peace Economy System and revitalization of the northern economy will become a big boost for new growth."
Olympics bans spectators after Tokyo declares COVID-19 emergency
Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Thursday agreed to hold the Games without spectators, after Japan declared a coronavirus state of emergency for the capital that will run throughout the event. The widely expected move was made following talks between the government, Tokyo organizers and Olympic and Paralympic representatives. It was "regrettable" that the Games were going to be held in a limited format, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told a briefing, adding her apologies to those who had bought tickets. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said it was essential to prevent Tokyo, where the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant was spreading, from becoming the source of another wave of infections. The ban all but robs the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled to run from July 23 to Aug. 8, of their last hope for pomp and public spectacle.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Teens Easily Exposed to Vaping Ads
Korean adolescents start to vape when they are just 13 or 14 years old, a study suggests, often lured by advertising for slick vaping devices. The Chosun Ilbo interviewed children in an elementary school in Suwon south of Seoul last week and found that some kids associate the aesthetics of e-cigarette ads with virtual-reality games or futuristic devices. After being presented with an ad claiming that e-cigarettes emit 95 percent less hazardous substances than traditional cigarettes, most kids said they believe the claim. But some experts dispute it, saying the long-term effects of vaping -- which administers a vapor of nicotine-laden droplets rather than smoke to the lungs -- have not been sufficiently studied. But a bigger worry is that vaping is a gateway habit to smoking harmful cigarettes, and that teenagers are equally vulnerable to tobacco advertising. For example, five convenience stores within a 500 m radius of the school advertise e-cigarettes. Children said they noticed the flashy cigarette ads rather than the warning signs that are also displayed.
2 Dead, Hundreds Homeless in Monsoon Downpours
At least two people have died and around 100 were evacuated after South Jeolla Province was pounded by heavy monsoon rains on Monday and Tuesday. The torrents were concentrated at night and the early morning hours when people are more vulnerable. The reason is a low-level jet system, or winds traveling more than 13 m/s at an altitude of just 1-3 km. The jets form on the edges of a North Pacific high-pressure system and approach the Korean Peninsula from the south carrying lots of condensation from the warm ocean. They grow stronger after sunset, when they are no longer deterred by hot air rising from the earth's surface. Most of Korea, including the Seoul metropolitan area, is expected to see heavy rains on Thursday and Friday.
German Cars Overtake Smaller Korean Brands
Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi sold more cars between them here in the first half of this year than Korea's own three smaller carmakers, suggesting that the era of patriotic motorists is well and truly over. The three German brands sold 89,076 cars while GM Korea, Renault Samsung and Ssangyong sold just 88,625, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association on Tuesday. Mercedes-Benz sold 42,017, BMW 36,261 and Audi 10,798 cars, a substantial increase for all of them. Koreans bought 147,757 imported cars in the first half, up 15.2 percent on-year and an all-time As recently as 1995 only about 6,900 imported cars were sold here, accounting for a mere 0.6 percent of the market. But waning consumer patriotism, lower tariffs and greater affluence changed all that. Their market share grew to 17 percent last year. GM Korea, meanwhile, sold 33,160 cars, Renault Samsung 28,840 and Ssangyong 26,625, down a dramatic 19 to 48 percent on-year. Their poor performance was due to rumors of their imminent demise and lack of new models.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea reports over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, sees threefold increase in Delta variant cases
South Korea reported more than a thousand new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, signaling that the fourth wave of the outbreak has begun. Since about 10% of the people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Korea over the past week are presumed to have been infected with the highly infectious Delta variant, there are concerns that the surge will get even worse in the coming days. According to sources from Korea’s Central Disease Control Headquarters (CDCH), the city of Seoul, and Gyeonggi Province, 568 new cases were identified in Seoul on Tuesday by nine that evening. That tops the South Korean capital’s previous daily record of 552, reported on Dec. 25, 2020. As of 6 pm on Tuesday, Gyeonggi Province tentatively announced 313 new cases of COVID-19 for the day, which also broke the previous record of 303 cases on Jan. 7. Since new cases were soaring with three to six hours left before midnight, when the daily caseload is finalized, the CDCH said the final national tally is expected to be over a thousand.
S. Korean general arrested on charges of sexual misconduct
A general serving in a unit under the direct control of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense has been arrested on charges of sexual misconduct against a subordinate. This is yet another sexual misconduct incident to occur while a major investigation is underway into the suicide of an Air Force master sergeant who was the victim of sexual harassment. The latest incident is likely to raise questions about the extent to which Defense Minister Suh Wook should be held responsible. The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that its Office of Investigations had arrested a brigadier general on Friday on the charge of committing sexual misconduct against a female subordinate at the end of last month. The brigadier general reportedly made inappropriate physical contact with the woman in a karaoke room that he and his subordinates had visited following dinner and drinks. The incident came to light after the woman filed a report with military investigators on June 30.
NIS director is trying to get Pope Francis to visit Pyongyang
National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Park Jie-won announced during a Catholic event Monday in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province, that he is working to organize a Pyongyang visit by Pope Francis.
Park’s remarks came while he was attending a mass at Mokpo’s Sanjeongdong Catholic Church that day in appreciation of the church’s designation as a minor basilica. In a celebratory message for the mass, Park said, “The three of us — Archbishop of Gwangju Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, Vatican Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, and I — are working to organize a Pyongyang visit by Pope Francis.” He also urged the attendees to “pray for this to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.”
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Moon urges officials to advance efforts to trace COVID-19 infections
The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae appears to be flustered as the country is seeing a spike in new COVID-19 cases only nine days after President Moon Jae-in said the administration would boost domestic demand through supplementary budget, such as issuing discount coupons.
During a meeting on COVID-19 response on Wednesday, President Moon said “special measures are required” to curb the ongoing spread of COVID-19. He instructed officials to advance efforts to swiftly trace the route of infections and called on local governments to strengthen their capacity to identify contacts. He also ordered health authorities to expand treatment centers and check the capacity of hospital beds. President Moon vowed zero tolerance for businesses violating COVID-19 guidelines.
LG posts operating profit of over 1 trillion won for two quarters
LG Electronics has recorded an operating profit of over 1 trillion won for the two straight quarters for the first time. The Home Appliance & Air Solution business division of LG Electronics has widened its revenue gap with rival Whirlpool as consumers continued to open their wallet for high-end home appliance products. LG Electronics said, in a preliminary earnings release for the second quarter released on Wednesday, it posted sales of 17.11 trillion won and an operating profit of 1.1128 trillion won. The tech company’s sales jumped a whopping 48.4 percent compared to the same period of last year, reporting the best second-quarter performance. This is the first time in 12 years since 2009 (1. 2438 trillion won) that the company’s operating profit exceeded the 1 trillion won in the second quarter. LG Electronics is expected to exceed 2 trillion won in half year operating profit for the first time with its Q2 operating profit reaching over 1 trillion won following Q1 (1.7673 trillion won).
U.S. takes on new COVID-19 vaccination approach
The United States has set out to expedite domestic vaccinations amid rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. In the nation, the spread of COVID-19 has varied depending on vaccination rates. “The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to get vaccinated,” said U.S. president Jo Biden (photo) in a White House speech. “We have been fighting against the virus, have made progress but should not remain complacent.” President Biden unveiled a new vaccine supply plan. The United States will wind down mass vaccination sites and instead reach out to people individually, going door to door, to help people get vaccinated. Instead of providing vaccines at mass vaccination sites, the government will distribute the vaccines in facilities closer to local communities such as pharmacies, clinics and pedestrian’s offices. Under the new plan, medical staff will visit door to door to give vaccines or visit people at offices.
Disciplinary Measures Under Review for Special Warfare Commander Who Changed Course to Give a Civilian a Helicopter Ride
Authorities confirmed circumstantial evidence that the Army Special Warfare Command, currently the subject of an internal investigation for carrying a civilian on a UH60 helicopter, changed course to provide the service despite a notice from Army Headquarters denying permission the very same day. After receiving a report on this incident, the chief military commanders are currently contemplating the level of disciplinary measures against A, a special warfare commander and a three-star general, as well as his future course of action. According to the Kyunghyang Shinmun coverage on July 5, Commander A changed the helicopter route to provide services to B, a national defense advisor of the Democratic Party of Korea who visited the Special Warfare Command unit in Icheon, Gyeonggi for working-level budget discussions between the ruling party and government.
Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo, “I Received King Crabs and Gwamaegi from Kim, a Marine Products Dealer, on 3-4 Occasions”
Park Young-soo (69, 10th class of the Judicial Research and Training Institute), the special prosecutor who led the team that investigated Park Geun-hye and Choi Seo-won (formerly Choi Soon-sil) and their abuse of state authority admitted that he received gifts of king crabs, etc. on 3-4 occasions from Kim (43, arrested), a businessman selling marine products suspected of bribing prosecutors, police officers, journalists, and politicians. Park released a statement on July 5 and said, “I received king crabs and gwamaegi as gifts on 3-4 occasions during the holidays, but I did not think the gifts were expensive or problematic.” He further said, “It was my mistake for being careless and simply thinking of him as an acquaintance of Song, who is well trusted by those who know him. I apologize for stirring trouble due to my lack of caution.” According to the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, a public servant is not allowed to receive any money or goods exceeding one million won at a time or three million won in a fiscal year from the same person. A special prosecutor is a public servant.
Lee Nak-yon Officially Declares His Bid for the Presidency and Presents Vision on 5 Major Areas: New Welfare, Economy of the Middle Class, Cultural Superpower
On July 5, Lee Nak-yon (Lee Nak-yeon), former leader of the Democratic Party of Korea announced his official bid for the presidency. He was the last to announce his bid among the potential candidates in the Democratic Party’s primary. Lee stressed the efforts of President Moon Jae-in and the people in the nation’s fight against COVID-19 and presented his vision on five major areas including new welfare, economy of the middle class and a cultural superpower, saying, “I will make it happen.” At 10 a.m. this morning, Lee released two videos on YouTube: an epilogue and a video announcing his presidential bid. The video announcing his bid for the presidency was 8 minutes and 40 seconds long and throughout the video, Lee stood before a computer graphic background and gave a speech announcing his presidential bid. The epilogue titled, “Lee Nak-yon Is Coming,” which ran for 3 minutes and 30 seconds, traced Lee’s steps from his days as prime minister, the 21th parliamentary elections last year, his inauguration as leader of the Democratic Party and his achievements after he stepped down as party leader. The video showed Lee engaging in election campaigns, speaking as the representative of a negotiation group, and meeting young people and residents.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Samsung Elec preliminary Q2 OP $11 bn on quarterly record sales on chip boom
Samsung Electronics Co. has revisited its heyday in 2018, reaping $11 billion in operating income on quarterly record sales for the second quarter ended June, riding on the renewed super cycle in the global chip industry. In a disclosure on Wednesday for second-quarter guidance, the South Korean tech giant estimated it raised 12.5 trillion won ($11 billion) in operating profit, up 33.3 percent on quarter and 53.37 percent on year. Sales were down 3.65 percent on quarter but up 18.94 percent on year at 63 trillion won, the largest for the second quarter. Operating profit was the best since the third quarter of the peak year of 2018.
Late Samsung patriarch’s art troves creates nationwide sensation
The gallery community across South Korea is full of life despite Covid-19 as it shares the near $3 billion worth rare art and treasure troves of late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee entirely donated to a number of state and private museums with the public. Four artworks of contemporary Korean painters will be on display at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) at Deoksu Palace in central Seoul from Thursday, the first exhibition from Lee’s collection in the capital city. As part of MMCA exhibition under the title “DNA: Dynamic & Alive Korean Art” from July 8 to October 8, the first four of 1,488 pieces of art donated by Lee’s family to the museum will be displayed – two works of Korean realist painter To Sang-bong including “Still Life A (1970),” Lee Jung-seop “Eunji-hwa (1950s)” and Park Young-sun.
Korean C/A surplus fattens by five-fold from a year ago in May on 50% jump in exports
South Korea’s current account surplus stretched by more than fivefold from a year ago in May after extending the positive streak for the 13th month on record exports and fatter dividends payouts by overseas companies, central bank data showed Wednesday. The country’s current account surplus was tallied at $10.76 billion in May, the largest on record for the month and $8.52 billion greater than a year ago.
The stretch owed to $3.75 billion on-year addition in the goods account balance, generating a surplus of $6.37 billion in May. Exports jumped 49 percent to $50.35 billion on revived global demand with faster recovery in the major economies, while imports climbed 41.1 percent to $44 billion.
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