Friday, August 20, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“Trade, economic relations continue to grow significantly between the two countries”
Ambassador Carlos Victor Boungou of the Republic of Gabon in Seoul said that the volume of trade between Gabon and Korea has increased significantly over the last decade from US$41 million in 2010 to US$71.2 million in 2018.
Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 Engish and 2 Korean-language news publications on the occasion of the Indepednence Day of Gabon on August 17, Ambassador Boungou said added, “Gabon and Korea also cooperate closely together through e-government implementations project that has been conducted by Samsung C&T Corporation and KT Network Corporations since 2008. Details of the interview follow: Question: The Republic of Gabon celebrates her Independence Day on August 17. What is the significance of the National Day? Answer: August 17, 2021 marks the 61st anniversary of the independence of Gabon, officially known as the Gabonese Republic when the country became independent from France colonization on 17 August 1960.
‘Our Independence Day is a truly significant day approved by over 90% of our people’
Charge d’Affaires Igor Denissuk of the Republic of Ukraine in Seoul said, “The Independence Day of our country on August 24 marks a truly significant day when Ukraine declared its independence on 1 December 1991 after holding a referendum in which over 90% of voters approved it.” Speaking at an interview with The Korea Post media on the occasion of the Independence Day of Ukraine, CDA Denissuk said, “Aside from state-supported festivities, Ukrainians attend outdoor concerts, parties, and reenactments of Kyivan Rus traditions. Vyshyvankas, Ukrainian flags, and the Ukrainian coat of arms are all commonly seen on this day.” Details of the interview follow: Question: Please introduce your National Day in detail. Answer: This year August 24 marks the 30th Anniversary of Ukraine's Independence--a momentous occasion when all Ukrainians as well as Ukraine’s friends worldwide will celebrate the birthday of a sovereign Ukrainian state. As a part of celebration, more than 150 festive events will take place throughout the country. All of them will be united by the slogan "You are my only one", which symbolizes the vision of Ukraine's independence as a dream that many generations of Ukrainians have sought to achieve.
“Uzbek people won their independence patiently overcoming all types of challenges”
Question: Mr. President, first of all, we express our gratitude to you for agreeing to give an interview to our newspaper. As it is well-known, in the past five years, the large-scale democratic transformations have been taking place in our country. The “New Uzbekistan” concept is becoming a reality. In what exactly do you, as the Head of the State, the initiator of these socio-political processes and the leader-reformer at their center, first of all see the essence of these reforms? Answer: It should be noted first and foremost that any nation, any people with the great goal of building a free and just life of a just society in its country, is going through a difficult, thorny and complex path of development. The Uzbek people, always looking at the future with great hope and confidence, living and patiently overcoming all challenges, on August 31, 1991, realized their sacred dream--our dear Motherland gained independence.
Biden: S. Korea Fundamentally Different from Afghanistan
U.S. President Joe Biden said that allies like South Korea and Taiwan are fundamentally different from Afghanistan. Biden made the remarks on Thursday in an interview with ABC when asked about criticism by allies and adversaries of the U.S. over the rushed withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Biden said that Taiwan, South Korea and NATO allies are fundamentally different from Afghanistan as they have a unity government that is trying to keep “bad guys from doing bad things to them.” Biden then reaffirmed the U.S. security commitment to allies, saying that the U.S. made a sacred commitment to Article Five of the NATO treaty.
S. Korea's Producer Prices Rise for 9th Month in July
Producer prices rose for the ninth consecutive month in July due to the rising prices of farm products, crude oil and raw materials. According to the Bank of Korea(BOK) Friday, the producer price index for all commodities and services stood at 110-point-02 in July, up point-seven percent from a month earlier. The index, a key barometer of future inflation, posted growth for the ninth straight month since November last year. From a year earlier, the index jumped seven-point-one percent, the largest on-year gain since June 2011. The rise was led by prices of agricultural and livestock products, crude oil and raw materials. The prices of agricultural and livestock products both rose two-point-four percent on-month in July.
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.
Biden says S. Korea, Taiwan fundamentally different from Afghanistan
U.S. President Joe Biden said that allies like South Korea and Taiwan are fundamentally different from Afghanistan when it comes to U.S. security commitment. Biden made the remarks in a media interview on Thursday (U.S. time) as the U.S.' pullout of its troops from Afghanistan has raised doubts over Washington's security commitments to allies. "There's a fundamental difference between Taiwan, South Korea, NATO," Biden said in an interview with ABC. "We are in a situation where they are entities we've made agreements with, based on not a civil war they're having on that island or in South Korea, but on an agreement where they have a unity government that, in fact, is trying to keep bad guys from doing bad things to them," he said.
New cases at over 2,000 again; toughest curbs likely to be extended
South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases topped 2,100, the second-largest number recorded here during the COVID-19 outbreak, on Thursday following an extended weekend, as the country will likely again extend the toughest virus restrictions in the greater Seoul area and the enhanced restrictions across the country. The country added 2,152 more COVID-19 cases, including 2,114 local infections, raising the total caseload to 230,808, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Daily infections reached a record high of 2,222 cases on Aug. 11 as people increased their gatherings and activities in the summer season despite the toughest virus curbs.
Samsung heir Lee attends trial over alleged fraud, stock manipulation following parole release
Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong made his first public appearance Thursday since his release on parole to attend a trial over a suspected fraud and stock manipulation case. The vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. was charged in September with unfair trading, stock manipulation and breach of trust in relation to the controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, Cheil Industries Inc. and Samsung C&T, seen as a key step toward his succession, and suspected accounting fraud at the pharmaceutical unit of Samsung Biologics. He was released Friday after serving seven months in prison for a separate bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye, after the Ministry of Justice granted him parole citing the impact of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic on the country's economy and "social sentiment, and (the prisoner's) behavior and attitude."
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Korea, Colombia to hold summit in Seoul next week
President Moon Jae-in and Colombian President Ivan Duque will hold summit talks next week in Seoul to further boost bilateral ties between the two nations, Cheong Wa Dae announced Thursday. The Colombian president will visit Seoul for three days, from Aug. 24-26. The summit talks will be held Aug. 25 and a dinner banquet will follow later in the day. The upcoming visit will be the second state visit to Seoul since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, following this week’s visit by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. For Duque, it will be his first overseas trip outside Latin America amid the pandemic.
JeongSeon Forum 2021 sheds light on living together with sustainable Earth
In search of solutions to achieve carbon neutrality, the JeongSeon Forum 2021 kicked off its three-day journey Thursday at High1 Grand Hotel Convention Tower in Jeongseon, Gangwon Province. Back for its fourth edition this year, the forum, hosted by Gangwon Province, Jeongseon County and Gangwon Tourism Organization invited experts, scholars, and business representatives from both in and outside of Korea. The event has been designed to be a forum for eco-friendly culture and ecological civilization in line with the P4G Seoul Summit and G-7 summit both recognizing climate crisis as a global problem, the organizing committee said in a press release.
Coupang slapped with W3.3b fine for unfair trade practices
Coupang on Thursday has been slapped with fines totaling 3.29 billion won ($2.8 million) for unfair business practices, losing a case which pitted decades-old consumer goods brands against the e-commerce platform operator. The Fair Trade Commission, in announcing the decision, said Coupang has abused its position as a major online marketplace to coerce vendors, including LG Household and Healthcare, to slash the prices of products sold on its platform. Coupang violated several terms of the Fair Trade Act and the Act on Fair Transactions in Large Retail Business between 2017 and 2020, the watchdog said. Along with the fines, the agency ordered Coupang to take corrective measures.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Healthcare workers poised to begin strike amid prolonged pandemic
Nurses and other healthcare workers across the nation are warning of going on strike early next month, calling for expanded public health services and infrastructure as well as improved working conditions. The warning comes as they have been struggling with burnout and fatigue due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic that has lasted for more than a year and a half since the country reported its first virus case in January last year. The government said it is coming up with appropriate countermeasures to reduce the burden on healthcare workers, mindful of concerns that their strike will pose a serious threat to the country's fight against the ongoing fourth wave of infections. The Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union, associated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, said Wednesday that its members will go on strike on Sept. 2, if its negotiations with the government do not reach a settlement in the next 15 days.
Ruling party ignores protests against 'fake news' law
The supermajority ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is railroading the process for revising a law to punish media outlets for producing what it calls "fake news," with its members of the National Assembly Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee endorsing a revision to the Act on Press Arbitration at the committee's plenary meeting, Thursday. Nine members of the 16-member committee are from the ruling bloc, so it was impossible for the opposition to block the endorsement. While the committee's endorsement of the revision bill came despite strong protest from opposition parties and media and civil organizations, the ruling bloc is planning to finally pass the bill at an Aug. 25 Assembly plenary session. The ruling bloc takes up nearly 60 percent of the 300-seat Assembly.
Gyeonggi governor's presidential bid marred by rough-spoken nominee
Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung, a leading presidential contender of the ruling liberal Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), is being criticized over his nomination of renowned food columnist Hwang Gyo-ik as chief of the province's tourism body. Hwang is now clashing with former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, the main rival of Governor Lee in the DPK primary, who raised questions over Hwang's expertise and relationship with the governor. While refuting allegations against him, Hwang responded with stern comments for former Prime Minister Lee, referring to some of his close allies as "not humans but animals" and promising to "focus on ending former Prime Minister Lee's political career."
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Apartment Price Bubble Keeps Inflating
The housing market is growing volatile as the average apartment price in Seoul surpassed W1.1 billion even in government statistics and in the entire capital region W700 million (US$1=W1,176). According to the Korea Real Estate Board on Tuesday, the average price of apartments in Seoul was W1.19 billion in July, an all-time high and up a whopping W181.17 million from just a month earlier. Across the entire capital region, the average was W721.26 million, a jump over W100 million in just a month. But the rapid increase was partly due to a drastic increase in samples used in the latest survey by KREB. Until recently, it had been criticized for failing to properly reflect the market because the sample size was too small and its estimates were always much lower than actual figures. Now KREB has doubled samples from 17,190 households to 35,000, which led to sharp increases in the average, which now more or less dovetails with KB Kookmin Bank's W1.16 billion in Seoul and W724.06 million in the capital area.
IPI Slams Planned Changes to Korean Media Law
The International Press Institute on Tuesday expressed serious concerns that revisions to the media law that the ruling Minjoo Party is pushing will discourage critical reporting. The proposed bill would allow people to sue the media for punitive damages caused by "fake news." The IPI warned that "the bill could be used to silence critical reporting of those in power, particularly ahead of the presidential election next March, thus endangering press freedom in [Korea]." "At a time when authoritarian governments are increasingly adopting so-called 'fake news' laws to stifle criticism, it is disappointing to see a democratic country like [Korea] follow this negative trend," IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen was quoted as saying. Other domestic and overseas organizations are also opposing the bill, from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and the Korean Society for Journalism & Communication Studies to the Korean Bar Association.
N.Korea Sulks Again
An expected rapprochement between the two Koreas heralded by the reconnection of communication lines has proved a flash in the pan as North Korea refused to answer daily routine calls from South Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong the same day denounced South Korea as "perfidious" for going ahead with joint military drills with the U.S. The phone lines were only restored two weeks ago after unspecified behind-the-scenes negotiations. It is not known what if any promises President Moon Jae-in made to Kim Jong-un in letters they exchanged, or whether they could be interpreted as misleading. The South and the U.S. on Tuesday started four days of preliminary training, for which Kim Yo-jong warned "a dear price should be paid."
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Court orders seizure of Mitsubishi Heavy’s assets in S. Korea to pay forced labor victims
With Mitsubishi Heavy Industries having yet to comply with a ruling ordering it to provide compensation to victims of forced labor mobilization during the occupation, a court has seized cash for a South Korean company that was meant to go to the Japanese corporation. Some observers say that this could mean a greater likelihood that forced labor mobilization victims receive their compensation. An investigation by the Hankyoreh on Wednesday found that the Anyang branch of Suwon District Court ruled on Aug. 12 to accept a seizure and collection order request submitted against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries early this month by one forced mobilization survivor and family members of three other victims who have died. The plaintiffs were demanding the confiscation of bonds related to the payment that the corporation was meant to receive from a South Korean company for items.
S. Korean ambassador to Afghanistan recounts escape from Kabul
It was around 11 am on Sunday that Choi Tae-ho, South Korea’s ambassador to Afghanistan, was informed by a security firm that Taliban units were only 20 minutes away from the capital of Kabul.
Choi had thought there would be a little more time since the government troops were supposed to mount a defense of the city but South Korea’s allies viewed the situation differently. They urged him to evacuate the embassy immediately. When Choi briefed Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong about the critical developments on the ground, he was instructed to evacuate. Staff proceeded to quickly destroy sensitive documents at the embassy according to evacuation protocol. Choi gave the press pool at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) a video interview from his current location in Doha, Qatar, at 10 am on Wednesday.
S. Korean delegation returns from meeting with Moderna with no results
After Moderna announced a disruption in its supply of the COVID-19 vaccine to South Korea, a government delegation visited the company's headquarters in the US but returned without confirming the vaccine delivery in August and September or finding a way to stabilize the supply. The two sides also discussed having some of the Moderna vaccines that are supposed to be produced by Samsung Biologics distributed domestically, but Seoul said that would "take a considerable amount of time," suggesting that won't be an option in the third quarter of this year. "We strongly requested Moderna to send us the undelivered vaccine by August or early September if at possible, to accelerate the timetable for the scheduled vaccine, and to quickly give us a concrete delivery schedule," Second Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae, a member of the government's delegation, said in a press conference on Tuesday.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Minjoo pushes forward with press arbitration unilaterally
The ruling Minjoo Party of Korea took a unilateral action on a revised bill to the Act on Press Arbitration and Remedies, etc. to apply punitive damage compensation to media outlets in a plenary meeting of the National Assembly’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee. The party plans to make its way through the Legislation and Judiciary Committee next Tuesday and the plenary session of the legislative body next Wednesday. With the March 9 presidential election 200 days away, the ruling party is making another uncontrollable legislative rush. Bringing an agenda coordination subcommittee under the culture, sports and tourism committee into complete control in coalition with the Open Democratic Party on Wednesday, the ruling party convened a plenary meeting at 11 a.m. next day.
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.
I never thought the Taliban would come back, says Afghan reporter
“Afghan women have achieved so much, but we are back at the starting point. We have gone back to the past.” Ariana TV reporter Nazira Karimi from Afghanistan, with tears in her eyes, despaired about the situation of her country seized by the Taliban at the briefing room of the U.S. Department of Defense on Monday (local time). “I am from Afghanistan. I never thought the Taliban would come back overnight,” she said while asking the Pentagon spokesperson questions. “This is the flag of my country. The Taliban took the flag and put up their own flag.” She pointed at the Afghanistan flag on her mask. She wept throughout her speech.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Army Major General Removed from His Position for Alleged Secondary Victimization of Sexual Assault Victim
Major General A, a division commander of an Army frontline unit, was discharged for allegedly engaging in secondary victimization of a sexual assault victim. The military appears to have taken a strong measure--removing a division commander suspected of secondary victimization from his position--due to a series of incidents in the military, where secondary victimization of sexual assault victims led to the suicide of the victims. On August 19, the Army announced, “Army Headquarters decided to remove A, a division commander, from his position on August 18.” A was removed from his tasks after the military authorities launched an investigation following a report by B, a female noncommissioned officer who was a victim of sexual assault, that A engaged in secondary victimization early this month. Earlier, the victim reported A for secondary victimization and explained that word on her unfortunate incident spread throughout the base after A cited her as the victim of a sexual assault case during a lecture on accident prevention for officers in the unit last month.
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.”
Police Secured Circumstantial Evidence Suggesting Yoo Deok-yeol, chief of Dongdaemun-gu, Received Bribes in Exchange for Promotions
Yoo Deok-yeol (67, pictured), the chief executive of the Dongdamun-gu Office, is a Democratic Party of Korea member who is currently serving his fourth term as the head of a local government. The police have circumstantial evidence suggesting that Yoo received a significant amount of money from his employees in exchange for promotions. According to the Kyunghyang Shinmun coverage on August 17, the Anti-Corruption and Public Crime Investigation Division at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency has launched an investigation into Yoo, suspected of receiving bribes worth tens of millions of won in exchange for favorable personnel transfers and promotions from the civil servants at the gu office. He is also suspected of using the goods purchased with public funds to assist the socially vulnerable in his jurisdiction for personal uses (embezzlement). Yoo was elected as the chief executive of the district four times in 1998, 2010, 2014, and 2018.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Hyundai, Kia out of Covid-19 woods in terms of factory activity rate, income
South Korea’s two auto majors Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp. have mostly normalized from disruptions of Covid-19 in terms of factory activity and income. The factory operation rate of the two carmakers averaged at 89 percent in the January-June period, gaining 19.6 percentage points from a year ago, according to half-year financial reports of the two sibling companies on Thursday. Hyundai Motor’s utilization rate averaged at 92.7 percent (93.2 percent at home) after adding 20.7 percentage points from a year earlier, while that of Kia was improved by 18.0 percent to 84.3 percent (92.8 percent in Korea). Factory normalization was fastest in the United States.
LG Elec sets new milestone in 6G test with successful 100m data exchange
LG Electronics Thursday announced its successful demonstration of the transmission and reception of wireless 6G terahertz (THz) data over a distance of more than 100 meters in an outdoor setting. The milestone was achieved in collaboration with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany, with the data traveling between Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute and Berlin Institute of Technology buildings, the Korean electronics giant said in a press release. The THz wireless transmission/reception technology, which enables data transmission at a rate of up to 1 terabit per second in a frequency band between 100 gigahertz and 10 terahertz, is a key technology to meet the needs of 6G mobile communications.
Samsung finally exiting from car venture with Renault, putting remaining stake on sale
Samsung Group is formally putting an end to its 26-year auto venture with Renault by selling its remaining stake and removing the name from the consigned finished carmaker based in Busan, southern port city of South Korea. According to investment banking sources on Wednesday, Samsung Card has named Samsung Securities as the lead financial advisor for the sale of a 19.9 percent stake in Renault Samsung Motors. The card issuer is said to have sent out invitations for a tender to private equity funds and other financial investors at home and abroad. The trademark contract between Samsung Card and Renault Samsung Motors has already expired last year. The carmaker must remove ‘Samsung’ from its corporate name after a two-year grace period in 2023.
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Le Monde www.ilemonde.com
Sydney Morning Heraldwww.smh.com.au
Colombia Reports http://colombiareports.com
El Universal http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english
Ecuador Times http://www.ecuadortimes.net
The Jordan Times https://www.jordantimes.com
Philippine Daily Inquirer https://www.inquirer.net
Daily News Hungary http://dailynewshungary.com
Budapest Times http://budapesttimes.hu
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