Thursday, July 8, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“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 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!”
Participation of international organizations and foreign observers is essential
Participation of international organizations and foreign observers is essential for the conduct of open and transparent democratic elections. Election observation in most countries is an important aspect for promoting political rights of people. The Election Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan stipulates that observers from other countries and international organizations can participate in all activities implemented during preparation and conduct of elections, as well as be present at polling stations and counting of votes on election day. Over the past years, there has been an increase in the number of foreign and international observers in elections: if in the 2016 presidential election was observed by 555 (296 in 2015) foreign observers, then in the 2019 parliamentary elections their number was 825 (331 in 2014). This indicates that the elections in Uzbekistan are taking place in the context of cardinal changes and democratic reforms, a new political environment which is attracting more attention of the international community.
S. Korea Set to Report over 1,000 New COVID-19 Cases for 2nd Consecutive Day
South Korea is set to register over one-thousand new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row amid a recent spike in infections in the capital region. According to health authorities and regional governments, one-thousand-113 people have been newly diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday as of 9 p.m. The official daily tally, which is scheduled to be announced at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, is expected to be around one-thousand-200 or more. One-thousand-212 COVID-19 cases were reported on Wednesday, the second-highest daily figure since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. The highest tally was reported on December 25 last year when it peaked at one-thousand-240. As the greater Seoul area accounted for over 80 percent of the new cases for the eighth consecutive day through Wednesday, the attention is being drawn to the number of local infections in the capital city to be announced on Thursday.
N. Korean Leader Visits Mausoleum to Mark Death Anniversary of Late Grandfather
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited the mausoleum of his late grandfather and founder Kim Il-sung to mark the anniversary of his death, dispelling rumors about his health. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) said that Kim visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at 12 a.m. Thursday. His public appearance came after rumors surfaced that Kim suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and that a coup was underway in the North. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service had dismissed the rumor as groundless. According to the KCNA, Kim was accompanied by senior North Korean officials, including Choe Ryong-hae, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Jo Yong-won, the secretary of the party secretariat, and Premier Kim Tok-hun.
Leaders of S. Korea, Netherlands Agree to Strengthen Cooperation
President Moon Jae-in and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in areas related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including semiconductors and renewable energy industries. During a virtual summit meeting held on Wednesday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of their countries' diplomatic ties, the two leaders assessed trade expanded by more than 20 percent last year on-year despite the pandemic. They agreed to further grow bilateral trade and investments. They also noted potential synergy in semiconductors, given South Korea's strength in the sector and the Netherlands' strength in manufacturing and equipment sectors. They agreed to solidify their cooperation on chip supply chains. Moon and Rutte also agreed to strengthen cooperation on low-carbon green economy, including renewable energy, hydrogen economy and solar and wind power, as well as innovation.
Seoul to reduce public transport, expand testing as COVID-19 cases reach new high
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said Wednesday the city will reduce bus and subway schedules and expand COVID-19 testing to fight the recent resurgence of the virus amid a record high number of cases. At a press briefing, Oh said bus schedules will be scaled back starting Thursday and subway schedules starting Friday. For both buses and the subway, schedules will be reduced by 20 percent after 10 p.m. Oh ordered the owners and employees of private cram schools, restaurants, cafes, karaoke establishments and internet cafes to take preemptive COVID-19 tests, while announcing plans to increase the number of temporary testing centers from 26 to 51 across the city. "We are asking people to refrain from non-essential travel as much as possible," he said. "The city of Seoul will do everything to stop the spread (of COVID-19)." Earlier Wednesday, health authorities decided to extend current distancing curbs in the greater Seoul area for one week but warned of further tougher measures unless the current situation is brought under control.
53 newly enlisted soldiers at Army boot camp test positive for COVID-19
More than 50 newly enlisted soldiers at an Army boot camp have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the defense ministry said Wednesday, amid fears of a fourth wave of infections across the country. After one conscript at the Korea Army Training Center in the central city of Nonsan was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, 35 others who had contact with him were also found to be infected as of 10 a.m., according to the ministry. The ministry announced 16 more cases were confirmed as 6 p.m., as virus tests were underway on 400 others. The infections set alarm bells ringing at the country's largest boot camp as the infected people had all gone through the mandatory two-week quarantine period and two coronavirus tests upon joining the military.
Competition with China already requires Cold War era measures: U.S. intelligence officer
Growing U.S. competition with China may lead to a second Cold War, a U.S. military intelligence officer said Wednesday. Rear Adm. Mike Studeman, director for intelligence at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, also argued other U.S. adversaries such as North Korea consider every day a war with the U.S. for the upper hand. "You can avoid the word 'Cold War' and that's fine, but the degree of action that we need to take is of the magnitude of what we applied in the previous century," Studeman said of the U.S.-China rivalry. He, however, said the U.S. has yet to assess how to best deal with the growing competition from China. "We are not there yet as a nation in understanding how to best employ our energy, our treasure to be able to grapple with it," he said in a webinar hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Virginia.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Critics dismiss ruling party’s olive branch to North Korea
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea is desperately seeking to carry on President Moon Jae-in’s legacy and revitalize inter-Korean ties, but with North Korea still unwilling to engage, its last-minute attempt at diplomacy stands little chance, critics say. ecently, the party has said it will seek parliamentary approval of the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration -- the first of Moon’s two peace deals with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un -- to rekindle talks. At the 2018 summits, Moon and Kim agreed to end inter-Korean hostilities and work for Pyongyang’s denuclearization. But Pyongyang, which demolished an inter-Korean liaison office in June 2020 to protest Seoul’s handling of anti-North Korea activists, has demanded sanctions relief for nuclear talks to resume. The North has rebuffed entreaties from the South and the US for diplomacy since President Joe Biden took office in January.
Moon, Dutch PM vow to bolster partnership on chips
President Moon Jae-in and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday pledged to further bolster cooperation on semiconductor production, a crucial partnership in the global supply chain for the most cutting-edge chips. Their virtual summit came as the two nations celebrate the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties this year. It is the third summit between the two leaders, following their two in-person talks held on the occasions of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and a G-20 summit, both in 2018. The Netherlands is one of Korea’s key trading partners, with direct investments totaling $588 million last year, the largest among EU nations. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, trade volume between the two nations surged more than 20 percent from $8.43 billion in 2019 to $10.21 billion in 2020.
Government action needed to help local firms catch up with global transition to clean energy
Carbon neutrality is likely to act as a virtual trade barrier for South Korean companies to approach global markets and the government should act more proactively to help local firms not to fall behind the global trend toward cleaner energy, a POSCO executive said Wednesday. Speaking at a forum held by the Federation of Korean Industries in Seoul, Kim Hak-dong, the head of POSCO’s steel business unit called for governmental support to help Korean companies to catch up with global competitors. “Carbon neutrality is becoming a new trade barrier,” he said, before adding, “We need more support that matches that in other rival countries and global companies in fields such as hydrogen reduction steel.” The European Union has pledged one trillion euros ($1.1 trillion) in funding until 2030 while the United States will spend $2 trillion by 2025, with Japan spending 30 trillion yen ($271 billion), the FKI said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Gov't to discuss easing gaming curbs on children
Debate is being reignited over Korea's so-called shutdown law that blocks children under the age of 16 from playing online games after midnight, after a version of "Minecraft," one of the world's bestselling games, effectively became unavailable for children here due to the controversial law. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, which led the enforcement of the law, said Wednesday that it will discuss measures to improve the regulation, acknowledging that the gaming environment has changed rapidly. "A variety of questions have been raised over the law, with some having called its effectiveness into question," a ministry official said. "We acknowledge that the ministry has failed to respond to changes in the gaming environment, though we have made several attempts." The law, also called the "Cinderella law," was introduced in 2011 to block children under the age of 16 from playing online games between midnight and 6 a.m., in a bid to guarantee their sleeping hours and health.
Korea, Netherlands pledge stronger ties in chip industry
President Moon Jae-in and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have agreed to expand bilateral ties in semiconductors, renewable energy and other key industries that are emerging in the Fourth ndustrial Revolution. According to Cheong Wa Dae, the two leaders held a virtual summit, Wednesday, marking the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. During the summit, they shared views on expanding economic cooperation and on the global diplomatic stage, based on their "comprehensive future-oriented partnership," which was established in 2016. "Since the establishment of bilateral ties, the two countries have been cooperating in various fields," Moon said during the summit. "The Netherlands has become the largest European investor in Korea and Korea's third-largest investment destination in Europe. … Based on the spirit of innovation, the two countries are pioneering advanced industries including semiconductors and renewable energy."
Gov't to change visa rules to attract 'highly skilled' foreign workers
The number of foreign workers whose E-9 visas can be changed to longer-term E-7-4 visas will be increased to 2,000 by 2025 from the current 1,250, the government said Wednesday. Highly skilled foreign workers who meet related requirements will be granted an F-2 visa immediately, and requirements for academic backgrounds of a certain level or experience will be waived if they have a certain income level. However, the income requirements for foreign nationals seeking employment will also be raised, to dispel concerns that the change could reduce the number of jobs that otherwise would have been given to Koreans. Workers of foreign nationality with a proven record of skills and capabilities in what the government recognizes as growth engine industries will be granted employment, even if they belong to a job category that was previously not given the opportunity to get a visa. These measures were announced by the finance and justice ministries Wednesday, as part of efforts to expand long-term visa programs in order to utilize skilled workers of foreign nationality amid Korea's rapid population decline.
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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