Thursday, August 19, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Korea, Kazakhstan bolster business cooperation in automotive, plant and resource sectors
South Korea and Kazakhstan have decided to strengthen cooperation in a total of 23 economic sectors, including automobiles, plants and resources. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said on Aug. 17 that Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Moon Sung-wook attended the “Korea-Kazakhstan Business Round Table” held at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on the day to discuss future economic cooperation with Kazakhstan leaders as a representative of the Korean government. The event is the first state-invited businessmen's event to be held since COVID-19, and was organized in the wake of President Kassym Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan's state visit to Korea. On the Kazakh side, 22 government leaders and businessmen, including President Tokayev and the chairman of the Samruk-Kazyna, the National Wealth Fund, participated in the event, whereas the Korean side was attended by 22 government officials and business leaders, including Minister Moon and Korea International Trade Association Chairman Koo Ja-yeol.
“Kenya tops in quality of life in Africa, 4th largest economy in Sub-Saharan area”
Ambassador Mwende Mwinzi (MBS) of the Republic of Kenya in Seoul said, “Kenya ranked the fourth largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa with a GDP of US$60 billion.” Speaking with The Korea Post media in a recent interview, the lady ambassador of the Central African country said, “The World Economic Forum’s country competitiveness report ranks Kenya number one in Africa in quality of human capital and availability of research and innovation.” Ambassador Mwinzi discussed a wide range of topics with Publisher Lee Kyung-sik and his reportorial team at the Embassy of Kenya in Seoul in a recent interview with her at the Embassy in Seoul on Aug. 3, 2021. Details of the interview follow:
President Moon releases Vice Chairman Lee of Samsung in Liberation Day parole
Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong of Korea’s top business conglomerate, Samsung, was released on parole on August 13 on the occasion of the Liberation Day of Korea on August 15 after his internment for two years and six months on charges of involvement in “Kukjeong Nongdan” (which translates “abuse of authority, unauthorized use of state power, coercion, fraud, monopoly,” etc.). President Moon Jae-in said, “We know that there are different opinions on the release of Mr. Lee but we thought that it is appropriate to share the view that Mr. Lee’s contribution to the healthy economy of Korea is very important.” Former President Madam Park Geun-hye is in prison on similar charges. Many people are wondering what would happen in case of the government’s change in the future, and hope that the unfortunate happening would stop.
Parliamentary Subcommittee Passes Tougher Bills against Fake News
A parliamentary subcommittee has passed a set of media reform bills despite resistance from the opposition bloc. The agenda coordination committee under the National Assembly's Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee convened a meeting on Wednesday to discuss revisions to the press arbitration act which would increase penalties for false reporting. The six-member coordination committee voted for the bills with Rep. Kim Eui-kyeom from the Open Minjoo Party, one of three members from the opposition bloc, joining forces with the ruling Democratic Party(DP) which has championed the changes. Two members of the main opposition People Power Party(PPP) walked out in protest. The Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee plans to hold a plenary session on Thursday to pass the revisions.
S. Korea's Own Surface-to-Air Missile System Poised to Enter Mass Production
A South Korean agency has successfully conducted quality certification tests for a locally developed mid-range surface-to-air missile system, paving the way for possible mass production. The Defense Agency for Technology and Quality said on Wednesday that several of the mass production model of the M-SAM system, also known as Cheongung-2, performed up to standard and hit their targets, similar to its success in tests held during its development stage. With the success of the latest round of tests, the locally developed missile is ready to enter the mass production stage, the agency said. Developed in 2017, Cheongung-2, also dubbed as Korea's version of the Patriot missile, is a mid-range, medium altitude ground-to-air interceptor system. In June 2017, a Cheongung missile flew around 40 kilometers and accurately hit a mock target in a live-fire test.
Justice Minister Positive about Samsung Leader's Immediate Role despite Work Restrictions
Justice Minister Park Beom-kye has indicated Samsung’s de-facto leader Lee Jae-yong, who was recently released on parole, will be able to immediately participate in the management of the tech giant despite a five-year parole restriction prohibiting him from taking up managerial duties. In a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Park said he sees the current conditions of Lee’s parole and employment restrictions would satisfy the public's sense of justice. He said a majority of the people who supported the early release of the Samsung Electronics vice chairman had done so on expectations regarding his role in addressing COVID-19 vaccine shortages and growing global competition in the semiconductor industry.
Appellate court rules against license revocation for Jeju for-profit hospital
An appellate court on Wednesday reversed a local court's approval of the Jeju provincial government's revocation of the business license of what would have been the nation's first for-profit hospital. The Jeju branch of the Gwangju High Court ordered the Jeju government to cancel its decision in 2019 to nullify the business license of the Chinese-owned Greenland International Medical Center as South Korea's first for-profit hospital. The appellate court ruling came after the Jeju District Court ruled in favor of the Jeju government over the invalidation of the hospital license in October last year.
America's chaotic exit from Afghanistan sows doubts over U.S. security commitment.
America's chaotic exit from a war-torn Afghanistan is offering a sobering reminder to South Korea and other U.S. allies that its decades-old security commitments should not be taken for granted, analysts said Wednesday. The ongoing pullout of U.S. troops has led to the collapse of the Western-backed government in Kabul, the Taliban's return to power and a frenzied exodus of Afghans -- an unsettling saga that reflects the U.S.' apparent tendency to engage only where vital interests are at stake. The withdrawal to end 20 years of war has cast doubts over President Joe Biden's "America is back" mantra -- synonymous with its stronger global leadership -- and left observers here examining implications of the exit on Seoul's reliance on Washington for security.
U.S. service member participating in combined exercise tests positive for virus
An American service member participating in an annual combined exercise with South Korea has tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said Thursday. The South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) "confirms that one individual recently tested positive for COVID-19 while working in a combined headquarters location supporting CCPT," its spokesman Col. Lee Peters said in a statement. CCPT refers to the computer-simulated Combined Command Post Training, an annual exercise between South Korea and the United States that kicked off Monday for a nine-day run. The individual was found to have contracted COVID-19 after coming into contact with another person who tested positive earlier. It was not immediately clear how many people came into contact with the newly confirmed patient. Despite the case, "CFC will continue with its combined training as scheduled while continuing to enforce its mitigation measures that protect our force and out mission," Peters said.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
No plan to pull troops from Korea: US
The White House said it does not intend to pull out troops from either South Korea or Europe, as the US exit from Afghanistan calls into question the credibility of Washington’s security commitment to its allies. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday in the US made the remark when asked whether Washington would withdraw troops from its allies, including South Korea, like it has done in Afghanistan. “So, the president, as he has said repeatedly, has no intention of drawing down our forces from South Korea or from Europe, where we have sustained troop presences for a very long time -- not in the middle of a civil war, but to deal with the potential of an external enemy and to protect our ally against the external enemy,” said Sullivan. “So, it is a fundamentally different kind of situation from the one we were presented with in Afghanistan.”
Cheong Wa Dae confident of reaching vaccination target despite Moderna delay
Cheong Wa Dae is confident of reaching its vaccination target for COVID-19 as planned, despite delayed vaccine shipments from Moderna, President Moon Jae-in’s senior public communications secretary Park Soo-hyun said Wednesday. "We can reach the goal if the already secured vaccines are well controlled,” he said in a radio interview earlier in the day, referring to Moon’s Liberation Day speech on Sunday, when the president said the nation was on track to inoculating 70 percent of the population by October. Because that speech was delivered just days after the US vaccine developer notified South Korea of another delay in its vaccine shipments, skepticism surrounds the government’s herd immunity pledges.
White House rebuts Chinese claim that Afghanistan withdrawal suggests weakening support for Taiwan
The White House dismissed criticism from Chinese state media on Tuesday that the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan also signaled a weakened commitment to Taiwan and other American allies and partners around the world. "When it comes to Taiwan, it is a fundamentally different question, in a different context," US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said at a White House briefing. "We believe that our commitments to our allies and partners are sacrosanct and always have been," he said. "We believe our commitment to Taiwan, and to Israel, remains as strong as it's ever been." The comments come as US President Joe Biden faces a storm of criticism over the US military pull-out from Afghanistan. At the end of two decades of US troop presence and fighting there, the Taliban swept across the country and took control of the capital city of Kabul on Sunday, leading to chaotic scenes at the airport of Afghans scrambling to flee the Taliban's rule - images that have rattled policymakers across Washington.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
HLB to supply Vietnam's Nanocovax COVID-19 vaccine
Domestic pharmaceutical company HLB signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Nanogen to acquire the rights to supply the Vietnamese biosimilar company's COVID-19 vaccine, Nanocovax, across the globe, except for in Vietnam and India, it said Wednesday. According to HLB, the two companies agreed to the transfer of technology for the Korean firm to produce and sell the Vietnamese partner's vaccine, as well as to carry out global marketing campaigns. They plan to finish their negotiations once scientists representing each company finish reviewing the clinical data on Nanocovax within the next three months. Nanocovax is the only Vietnamese COVID-19 vaccine candidate conducting phase 3 clinical trials. At this moment, around 13,000 people in Vietnam are participating in the phase 3 trial, and Nanogen is awaiting the Vietnamese health ministry's emergency use authorization to use Nanocovax.
Main opposition party leader facing crisis
Conservative main opposition People Power Party (PPP) Chairperson Lee Jun-seok is facing a leadership crisis while the party is preparing for its primary to select its candidate for the presidential election, slated for next March. The PPP is planning to select eight among the current 14 presidential contenders on Sept. 15 through a first-stage cut-off, and then four from those eight on Oct. 8. The PPP's presidential candidate will be selected on Nov. 9 at the party convention.
Lee, who was elected the party chairman two months ago, is tasked with running the primary to lead it to a victory in the presidential election, but his leadership is already being questioned, as his conflicts with the party's presidential contenders are deepening over the details of the primary. With his election, there were high expectations that Lee would bring a wind of change to political circles, as he is the youngest leader ever of a mainstream political party in Korea's modern political history.
Revered independence fighter awarded medal 78 years after death
South Korea awarded a posthumous medal of honor Tuesday to Hong Beom-do, a historic independence fighter, whose remains returned from Kazakhstan two days earlier. President Moon Jae-in conferred the Order of Merit for National Foundation on Hong in a ceremony attended by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at Cheong Wa Dae. Hong, who served as commander of Korea's independence army, is revered for leading victories in the troops' battles against Japanese forces during the 1910-45 colonial rule, especially the Battle of Fengwudong in Manchuria, China, in 1920. He died in 1943 at the age of 75 in the Kazakh region of Kyzylorda. In 1962, the South Korean government bestowed on him the Presidential Medal of the Order of Merit for National Foundation.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
More Foreigners Snap up Korean Real Estate
Chinese were the top foreign real-estate buyers in Korea for the ninth year in a row as more foreigners invest in the overheating Korean property market. According to data released by real estate app Zigbang on Tuesday, a total of 19,368 foreigners bought real estate here last year, up more than four times from 2010. The proportion of foreign buyers increased from 0.2 percent to 0.63 percent in the previous decade, and in the January-July period this year they made up 0.69 percent. Chinese have topped the list since 2013, taking up about 62.5 percent of foreign purchases this year. This year they bought most of their real estate in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, followed by Bupyeong in Incheon, Hwaseong in Gyeonggi, Siheung in Gyeonggi, and Namdong in Incheon -- mostly areas southwest of Seoul where Chinese enclaves exist. American investors bought most property in the vicinity of U.S. Forces Korea headquarters in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, followed by Asan in South Chungcheong Province, Yangpyeong in Gyeonggi, and Gangnam and Yongsan in Seoul.
Gov't's Contract with Moderna Revealed as Shambles
The government's contract with Moderna was so sloppy that it failed to specify delivery dates for coronavirus vaccines, it was revealed Tuesday, contradicting its claims that the drug maker did not deliver on time. The government has been suspiciously cagey about the terms and cited alleged confidentiality clauses even while putting the blame for delays squarely on Moderna, but it turns out that Korean negotiators failed to specify when deliveries were to be made. A Health Ministry official admitted the contract does not hold Moderna to specific delivery dates. "The contract specifies the delivery of 40 million doses a year," the official told reporters. "But it also stipulates that specific monthly or quarterly shipments are subject to negotiations." In other words, it would be no violation of the contract for Moderna to deliver shipments later than Korea hoped.
Ex-President Chun Hospitalized for 'Cancer Treatment'
Former putschist President Chun Doo-hwan has been hospitalized after collapsing during his trial for defamation last week. Chun (90) apparently suffers from multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, but Yonsei University's Severance Hospital in Seoul is conducting follow-up tests to be sure, sources said Sunday. On Aug. 9, Chun appeared in a Gwangju court in an appeals trial for defaming the late activist priest Cho Chul-hyun but left the courtroom after 25 minutes complaining of breathing difficulties. Prosecutors are appealing a suspended sentence given to Chun for defaming the priest, who gave an eyewitness account of the 1980 Gwangju massacre of democracy activists that happened at Chun's orders.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Roh Moo-hyun’s dream of becoming a “strong middle power”
The remains of Hong Beom-do, a hero in the war for independence from Japan, were recently repatriated on Sunday, South Korea’s National Liberation Day holiday.
On July 2, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) changed South Korea’s status from “developing country” to “developed country.” On June 11 to 13, the South Korean president was invited to attend the G7 summit for the first time ever.
These three recent developments, each taking place roughly a month apart, encourage us to look back on the superlative achievements realized by this newly independent Northeast Asian nation over the 76 years since its liberation.
Hong’s hometown was Pyongyang. He was also a leader of socialist independence forces and joined the Soviet Communist Party in 1927.
Taliban return to power in Afghanistan after two decades of war
Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban, promised that his group of militants would survive and defeat the US invasion in a press conference on Sept. 26, 2001, shortly before American forces arrived in Afghanistan. “I am considering two promises. One is the promise of God, the other is that of Bush. The promise of God is that [. . .] if you start a journey on God's path, you can reside anywhere on this earth and will be protected [. . .] The promise of Bush is that there is no place on earth where you can hide that I cannot find you. We will see which one of these two promises is fulfilled.”
Twenty years later, the Taliban have not only survived, as Omar said, but it’s back, and stronger than ever. After Omar founded his group of militants in 1994 after claiming to have received a vision from Allah, the Taliban have seen good times and bad. They came to power only to lose it and endure terrible sacrifices until the American military began to withdraw, paving the way for their glorious return this year. This article will look back on that winding road.
What US defeat in Afghanistan teaches us
The Taliban, a group of armed insurgents in Afghanistan, declared the civil war over after its capture of the presidential palace in the capital of Kabul on Sunday. That concludes the war that began 20 years ago, when the US military invaded in October 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now the Taliban are on the verge of returning to power in Afghanistan after twenty years in the wilderness. There are lessons the international community needs to learn about why the US was defeated in Afghanistan after consuming so much blood and treasure. Republican members of Congress harshly criticized US President Joe Biden for the defeat, comparing it to scenes of Americans riding helicopters out of Saigon — now known as Ho Chi Minh City — after the defeat of South Vietnam in the Vietnam War in 1975.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
U.S. has no plans to pull troops from S. Korea, says US official
“President Biden, as he has said repeatedly, has no intention of drawing down our forces from South Korea or from Europe,” said U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “It is a fundamentally different kind of situation from the one we were presented with in Afghanistan,” Sullivan said in a briefing, signaling that the U.S. did not intend to withdraw troops from South Korea as concerns and criticism from allies grew over the situation in Afghanistan. However, given President Biden’s words that the U.S. would no longer fight a war that is “not in our national security interest,” there are some observations that the U.S.
Rep. Hong Joon-pyo declares presidential bid
Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) announced his presidential bid on Tuesday, saying a novice cannot manage a country. This is his second presidential bid following 2017. The five-term lawmaker held a virtual press conference at his camp office in Seoul on Friday to announce his bid to run in next year’s presidential election. Rep. Hong expressed his desperation to run for presidency for the last time in his political career. “I will give every ounce of my soul to take back power with a determination to return the country’s favor,” he said. “When it comes to presidency, cramming will not work,” said Rep. Hong, who had served as the chairman and the floor leader of the Hannara Party (currently PPP), and governor of South Gyeongsang Province, targeting former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl and former Board of Audit Inspection Chair Choi Jae-hyung, his rivals within the party.
Big firms’ first-half revenue doubles that of last year
Compared to last year, some 250 big firms have more than doubled their revenue in the first half of this year. With factors including the expansion of COVID-19 vaccination in the global markets, the slowly recovering economy has allowed for better performing exports. According to corporate evaluation site CEOscore on Wednesday, 255 out of the 500 domestic companies earned a revenue of 105.13 trillion won in the first half of this year. And sales have increased by 10.4% to 1,127.42 trillion won, from last year’s 1,020.98 trillion won. Exporting companies in the international market, whose progress has stagnated and undergone recession from COVID-19, are finally starting to recover. The electric and electronics sector observed sales increase from 185.54 trillion won last year to 225.794 trillion won.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
At the Center of a Controversial Appointment “to Repay Past Favors,” Hwang Gyo-ik Claims to “Concentrate on Ending Lee Nak-yon’s Political Career”
Hwang Gyo-ik, a food columnist is at the center of controversy after Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung, a candidate in the Democratic Party of Korea’s presidential primary, appointed him as president of the Gyeonggi Tourism Organization, a decision criticized as one made to repay previous favors from Hwang. Hwang responded to the criticism and said, “Don’t tell me to step down.” He further said, “From today until the day before my confirmation hearing, I will concentrate on ending the political career of Lee Nak-yon.” Hwang expressed these thoughts on social media on August 18. Hwang said, “I applied to a public announcement seeking a person to serve as president of the Gyeonggi Tourism Organization and became a nominee for the position after a review of documentation and interviews.” He added, “Some politicians are claiming I should withdraw my application or resign from the position.”
Kim Moo-sung and His Brother, Fraud Victims or Bribery Suspects of a Fake Fisheries Businessman
In 2019, Kim Moo-sung, former Liberty Korea Party (current People Power Party) lawmaker and his older brother visited Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, where Kim (43, arrested), a fake owner of a fisheries business, was based. The brothers went to review an investment project Kim suggested and the three men spent the time building their relationship. The police are considering a possible violation of the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act by former lawmaker Kim, who borrowed a luxury car from the fake fisheries businessman for free when he served as a lawmaker. According to the coverage by the Kyunghyang Shinmun on August 16, the Kim brothers visited Pohang-si to inspect the status of a frozen-at-sea squid business, which the fraudulent Kim had suggested that they invest in, in July 2019. At the time, the supposed businessman took former lawmaker Kim in his yellow supercar and had his acquaintance take a picture.
Kim Jae-won “Lee Jun-seok Told Won Hee-ryong that Yoon Seok-youl Could Be Resolved Soon”: The People Power Party About to Blow
Kim Jae-won, a member of the People Power Party’s Supreme Council criticized the party leader, Lee Jun-seok claiming that Lee’s words and actions were threatening the fairness of the party’s primary. Kim then said he personally checked with former Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong and confirmed that the press coverage mentioning that Won heard Lee Jun-seok say that the former prosecutor general, Yoon Seok-youl would be sorted out soon was fact. Kim appeared for an interview on A Closer Look with Kim Jong-bae on MBC radio on August 17 and said, “The problem is so serious that our party supporters including me, who have witnessed him (Lee Jun-seok) stir quite a problem with the number one candidate (Yoon Seok-youl) in terms of approval ratings, wondered if he really was determined to turn over the political power in office.”
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Large Korean companies’ income doubles on year to $86bn H1
South Korea’s 255 big companies raked in more than 100 trillion won ($85.6 billion) in combined income in the first half, doubled from a year ago. A report published by Seoul-based corporate tracker CEO Score on Wednesday showed 255 out of the country’s top 500 companies that have made first-half earnings report earned combined operating income of 105.1 trillion won from January to June this year. The figure is more than doubled from a year earlier and up 65 percent compared to the first half of 2019, before the Covid-19 crisis. Their combined revenue amounted to 1,127.4 trillion won, up 10.4 percent on year.
Affinity sells its all stakes in Hyundai Card amid IPO delays, Fubon buys 20%
Hong Kong-based buyout fund manager Affinity Equity Partners cashed out of its entire 24 percent stake in Hyundai Card Co. amid delays in the South Korean credit card issuer’s initial public offering that is now set as the company’s mid-to-long term goal. In a regulatory filing on Tuesday, Hyundai Commercial Inc. announced that it has purchased a 4 percent Hyundai Card stake for 86.85 billion won ($74.08 million) from its former largest shareholder Affinity Equity Partners. It purchased 6,418,611 shares of Hyundai Card from five special purpose vehicle companies under Affinity, including Consumer Preferred Choice Ltd.
LX Hausys sues KCC Glass for patent infringement on home appliance coating film
LX Hausys Ltd. has started a legal fight against its local rival KCC Glass Corp. over alleged patent infringement on its home appliance coating film solutions. LX Hausys, a Korean industrial materials company, said on Wednesday it filed a compensation lawsuit against KCC Glass with the Seoul Central District Court, claiming that KCC’s two hairline VCM (vinyl coated metal) home appliance film products infringe on its two patents related to product structure and method. VCM films are used for steel sheet surface materials to mimic an expensive natural metal finish in home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. VCM films are processed in a particular way to express various patterns such as grid and whirling patterns while retaining the metal texture.
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