Thursday, August 26, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Is President Moon turning a bit business-friendly for the Korean economy?
This is the first installment in a series of special feature articles of The Korea Post media on the leading business conglomerates of Korea, which sheds light on the past, present and future prospects of the company.—Ed.
In Korea whenever a new political party comes into power, big businesses called Jaebeol, all but invariably, undergo the ordeal of having to adjust themselves to the new surroundings under the new government. Here in the ‘Land of the Morning Calm,’ there is a very often-used old adage, “When you dust a person, there is not a single one who is clean!”
However, President Moon Jae-in seems to be trying to differentiate himself from some of his predecessors, and recently released Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong of Korea’s top business conglomerate, Samsung, in a parole measure for a number of prison-term servers on the occasion of the Liberation Day of Korea on Aug. 15, 2021. This day is in celebration of Korea’s winning freedom from the yokes of colonial rule of the then Imperialist Japan on that historical day.
“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.
PPP Pres. Contender Yun Hee-suk Resigns after Link Found to Alleged Speculation
Main opposition People Power Party(PPP) presidential contender Yun Hee-suk offered to step down from her parliamentary seat after the state anti-corruption agency found a connection to an alleged illegal property transaction. At a press conference on Wednesday, Yun said she plans to return the seat representing Seoul's Seocho-A district to the constituents and general public. She also dropped out of the PPP primaries set to begin later this month. On Monday, the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission announced the results of a two-month inquiry into the PPP, saying it found suspicious property deals involving 12 lawmakers. Yun's father faces allegations of violating the agricultural land law. Calling the agency's outcome "ridiculous" and "unwarranted," the single-term lawmaker, however, said she couldn't risk the allegations undermining the justification for an administrative change.
Daily COVID-19 Cases Surpass 2,000 Again; Second Largest Tally
Daily COVID-19 infections surpassed two-thousand again after five days, marking the second highest tally to date. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) reported two-thousand-155 new cases on Wednesday, raising the accumulated caseload to 241-thousand-439. It is only the fourth time there were more than two-thousand infections in a day, all within this month. Of the new cases, two-thousand-114 were local transmissions while 41 were from overseas. By region, the Seoul metropolitan area accounted for one-thousand-369 local cases, or 64-point-eight percent of the total. Non-capital regions added 745 cases, including 102 in South Gyeongsang Province and 99 in Daegu, taking up 35-point-two percent of domestic cases.
Leaders of S. Korea, Colombia Seek to Expand Post-COVID-19 Economic Cooperation
The leaders of South Korea and Colombia discussed expanding economic cooperation in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era. Summit talks between President Moon Jae-in and Colombian President Ivan Duque were held in Seoul on Wednesday, during Duque's three-day state visit at Moon's invitation. The South Korean president proposed that the two sides further expand exchanges and cooperation in both the public and private sectors, covering digital transition and environment-friendly areas. Moon sought support for South Korean companies to take part in Bogota's digital and eco-friendly infrastructure projects. Duque welcomed such participation, citing South Korea's development based on science, technology and innovation.
S. Korea, Colombia agree in summit to bolster digital, environmental, cultural cooperation
The leaders of South Korea and Colombia agreed during their talks here Wednesday to strengthen cooperation between the two countries especially in the digital, environmental and cultural fields. The summit between President Moon Jae-in and his Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque came as the two sides commemorate the 10th anniversary of forging a "strategic partnership." As the only Latin American country to have dispatched troops to help South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War, Colombia is a traditional ally that shares the values of democracy and peace, according to Moon's office. Moon and Duque agreed to develop the "comprehensive and forward-looking cooperative" relationship, it said.
S. Korea, Colombia eye closer economic ties to overcome pandemic fallout
South Korea's industry ministry vowed Wednesday to forge deeper economic ties with Colombia by expanding cooperation in emerging industries and further utilizing their bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). The two countries held a business forum in Seoul in line with Colombian President Ivan Duque's three-day visit to South Korea, which started on the previous day, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. During the forum, South Korea suggested to its counterpart that the two should make joint efforts to find new business opportunities in the field of artificial intelligence, clean energy and future cars.
S. Korea looks set for legislation to curb Google, Apple's in-app billing system
A parliamentary committee on Wednesday passed a bill to ban Google and Apple from forcing app developers to use the platforms' payment systems, clearing the last remaining hurdle before a final vote. The legislation and judiciary committee of the National Assembly approved the revision of the Telecommunications Business Act, which seeks to bar app market operators from requiring developers to use certain payment systems by unfairly using their positions. If the bill is approved in a plenary session, South Korea will be the first country to introduce such curbs on global tech giants' in-app billing policies, which have been increasingly under scrutiny around the world.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Top financial regulator nominee rejects cryptocurrency as financial asset
The nominee for South Korea's financial regulator said Wednesday that it may be difficult to recognize cryptocurrency as a financial asset in light of international trends. "I understand that the Group of 20, the International Monetary Fund, other international agencies and a considerable number of experts find it difficult to see virtual currencies as a financial asset, and think they could not function as a currency," Koh Seung-beom, the nominee for the Financial Service Commission (FSC), said in a meeting with journalists. His comment came as South Korean investors have been heavily buying virtual currency, considering it as a lucrative asset amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 380 Afghan evacuees to be airlifted to S. Korea Thursday: foreign ministry
South Korea is set to airlift some 380 Afghans to the country this week in a frantic operation to evacuate people who aided Seoul's efforts to help rebuild the war-torn Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said Wednesday. Military planes carrying the evacuees were expected to depart from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and land at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Thursday, Second Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-moon said. "Taking into account the moral responsibility for the serious situation those people who had worked with us are facing, the responsibility as a member of the international community and our international stature as a leading nation that upholds human rights, as well as the fact that many other countries have also been transporting the Afghans, we decided in August to bring them in to our country," Choi said.
S. Korea to prioritize supplying homes to stabilize prices: minister
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Wednesday the government will focus on supplying homes as planned in the second half in a bid to curb high-flying home prices. The minister said a tight supply for homes has somewhat eased since August as more people have begun to move into newly built apartments. "Increasing housing supply sufficiently is a key to stabilizing the property market," Hong said at a government meeting on the housing market. "The government will do its best to provide quality homes as planned in the second half," he added.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Busan mayor violates social distancing rules by attending dinner party
Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon violated social distancing rules in June by attending a dinner party with more than four people hosted by Lee Woon-kyung, wife of Namyang Dairy Products Chairman Hong Won-sik, according to the police, Wednesday. Lee held the party at her home in Seoul on June 19, with 14 people attending, including herself. At the time, a ban on private gatherings of more than four people was in place in the Seoul metropolitan area as a part of the government's social distancing measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. The dinner party was reported to the police by a woman who was working as housekeeper at the chairman's house at the time. She submitted photos of the gathering as evidence, according to police.
Samsung to invest $205 bil. in bio, foundry, memory businesses
A few days after Justice Minister Park Beom-kye said his ministry's decision to parole Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong was due to concerns related to the "national economic situation and the global economic environment," Samsung said it will massively invest into businesses designated as "nationally important." On Tuesday, Samsung said it plans to invest up to 240 trillion won ($205 billion) over the next three years. Capital expenditure will be focused on contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs), foundry and memory chips ― areas in which Samsung has competitive edge over its chief international rivals. It aims to become the global CDMO leader by 2023. "Samsung targets 30 percent global market share in the CDMO segment," the statement added.
North Korea's foreign ministry defends Cuba's capture of American, boat seizure as 'legitimate measure'
North Korea said Wednesday that Cuba has captured an American attempting to smuggle people from Havana to the United States, calling it a "legitimate measure." The North's foreign ministry made the claim in an article on its website, saying the American approached the eastern coast of the Cuban capital on a speedboat on Aug. 7 in an attempt to take several Cubans to the U.S. "The Cuban Coast Guard seized the speedboat and captured the American who had violated the territorial waters of Cuba," the article said. "This is a legitimate measure taken by Cuba to defend its national sovereignty," it added. According to the article, the Cuban Interior Ministry announced on Aug. 22 that it had seized the speedboat and captured the American.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea Airlifts Afghan Allies out of Kabul
Korea has sent military planes to Afghanistan and neighboring countries to rescue Afghans who have helped Korean occupying forces or the government, the Foreign Ministry here said Tuesday. Three military aircraft were deployed to bring out Afghans who helped Korea and their families now that the country has fallen to the Taliban. This is the first time Korea has sent military aircraft and troops to a conflict area to rescue foreigners. The ministry said the Afghans had worked at the Korean Embassy or hospitals and job training centers run by Korean engineering and reconstruction forces for years. Some 380 Afghans are arriving here on Thursday and will be housed in a shelter in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province. The government will also grant special stay permits on humanitarian grounds to 434 Afghans who are already in Korea.
Samsung Biologics Poised to Start Moderna Vaccine Production
Samsung Biologics starts to produce prototype Moderna mRNA vaccines this week. The company's factory in Incheon will package mRNA ingredients in lipid shells, which Moderna provides, and bottle them. A three-month test run has already been completed, but the prototype will have to go through Moderna's own quality control process and win approval from the Korean government. "It normally takes about two months from prototype production to actual product manufacturing," an industry insider said. "It's up to Samsung Biologics to shorten this period so mass production can start as early as October."
Hezbollah 'Digging Tunnel with N.Korean Technology'
The armed insurgents group Hezbollah in Lebanon has dug a network of tunnels for military purposes with North Korean technology, a report claims. In the report published on Aug. 12, the Alma Research and Education Center, an Israeli think tank, claims Hezbollah signed a US$13 million technology transfer contract with Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID), a North Korean state-owned entity that specializes in tunneling. Based on this technology, Hezbollah has dug a 45-km network of tunnels that connects its three strongholds from the Bekaa Valley in the east to Beirut and Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, which is an Iranian-funded group of Shia Islamists, had help supervising the project from Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the report claims.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea purchases 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for next year
South Korea will have 170 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines available to use next year, the Blue House said. The total includes 90 million doses that are being newly purchased for use in 2022 — up from the originally planned 50 million — and the remaining unused vaccine doses from this year.
Speaking at a plenary session of the National Assembly Steering Committee on Monday, Blue House Chief of Staff Yoo Young-min said, "Even after all vaccinations have been completed as planned, we will have a total of 80 million doses left over until next year." "For next year, we are planning to purchase a total of 90 million additional doses. The 170 million doses that will be available for use next year amounts to more than triple the population," he said.
US doesn’t have hostile intent toward N. Korea, Sung Kim says
US special representative for North Korea Sung Kim said Monday that joint South Korea-US military exercises were “purely defensive” and that the US “does not have hostile intent” toward North Korea.
Kim’s remarks came while he was meeting with reporters after discussions at a hotel in Seoul that morning with Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk as the two sides’ senior representatives on the North Korean nuclear issue. The ongoing combined military exercises are longstanding, routine, and purely defensive in nature and support the security of both our countries,” he said.
Recognize Taliban, help them rebuild Afghanistan
The Taliban occupied Kabul even before the US had finished withdrawing from Afghanistan. That outcome has made several things clear. First, the Taliban emerged victorious from two decades of war against the US. Second, the Taliban achieved victory despite their inferior military power because they had the support, albeit passive, of a large number of Afghans. Third, the Taliban are left with the task of recovering from the wars that have racked Afghanistan for more than 40 years since the Soviet invasion in 1979. That doesn’t mean that Taliban rule is desirable or that the Taliban have the absolute support of the Afghan people. The Taliban aren’t a good alternative for the Afghan people; at best, they’re the lesser evil. But if we refuse to recognize that Afghanistan has chosen the lesser evil of the Taliban, our only option is going back to war.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Afghan refugees could be accommodated at overseas US bases
The U.S. government is considering accommodating Afghan refugees at its overseas military bases including those in South Korea, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. The measure is being reviewed because U.S. military bases near Afghanistan including Qatar have already exceeded their capacities to accommodate refugees. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Defense Department is considering military bases not only in the U.S. including Virginia, Indiana, California and Arkansas but also those in foreign countries including South Korea, Japan, Kosovo, and Italy as stations for housing Afghan refugees.
Samsung to invest 240 trillion won and hire new 40,000 employees
South Korean conglomerate Samsung plans to invest 240 trillion won by 2023 in having a competitive edge in future strategic industries such as semiconductors, biotechnology and next generation communications. In particular, it will spend a total of 180 trillion won on the domestic market while directly hiring more than 40,000 employees over three years. Samsung’s regular public recruitment system stands to be in place for the sake of employment stability and predictability whereas other major domestic businesses have abolished or plan to remove the system. Samsung published the largest ever investment and recruitment plan on Wednesday. “We plan to prepare us for a series of major changes in industries, international order and social structures that will happen after the COVID-19 pandemic is over,” Samsung said. “Samsung will make the investment decision to make sure that it fulfills its corporate roles for large investments and job creation for next generations.”
U.S. does not have hostile intent to N. Korea, says Sung Kim
Amid ongoing ROK-U.S. joint military drills, Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, discussed possible humanitarian aid to North Korea with the South Korean government during his four-day visit to South Korea. Kim said the joint military drills are routine and defensive in nature, stressing that the U.S. does not have hostile intent toward North Korea. In particular, South Korea and the U.S. announced that health, quarantine against infectious diseases, and safe drinking water are the areas of humanitarian aid to the North, drawing attention to the North’s response. “This is an important moment on the Korean Peninsula,” Special Representative Kim said during talks with his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk on Monday. Kim reaffirmed his willingness to talk with North Korea without preconditions, saying he is ready to meet with North Korea anytime, anywhere.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Government to Review Readjusting the Time Between First and Second Doses Following Supply of Moderna Vaccine
The government decided to consider readjusting the time between the first and second vaccine shots after it confirmed that Moderna, a U.S. pharmaceutical company, would supply 7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this month. On August 23, when the press asked the COVID-19 vaccination response team on possible adjustments to the time between the first and second Moderna vaccine shots, authorities said, “We will comprehensively review any adjustments to the time between the two doses along with our vaccine rollout plan for September and October.” Previously on August 6, when Moderna notified the government that the company could only deliver less than half of the 8.5 million doses scheduled to arrive in August due to problems in its laboratory, the government temporarily extended the time period between the first and second shots for messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines from four to six weeks on August 9.
Hong Joon-pyo in Hot Pursuit of Yoon Seok-youl in Polls, “Golden Cross around Chuseok”
People Power Party lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo is drawing a rising curve and fiercely pursuing former prosecutor general Yoon Seok-youl in the opposition’s race for the presidential election. Hong appears to be benefiting as Yoon’s approval ratings wavered due to a series of slips of the tongue and his confrontation with the party leader Lee Jun-seok. However, Hong still needs to find a way to overcome the doubts in his party on his competitiveness in the presidential race against the ruling party. According to a TBS survey on the suitability of conservative presidential candidates conducted by the Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI) and released on August 23 (1,007 people ages 18 and older, 95% confidence level with a ±3.1% margin of error), Hong Joon-pyo recorded 20.5%, tracing Yoon (28.4%) by only 7.9%. Hong’s approval ratings increased by 3.9% from the same survey conducted in the previous week and surpassed 20% for the first time, while Yoon’s support only increased 1.7%.
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.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea set to ban Google and Apple’s global in-app billing system
South Korea is poised to become the first state to disallow Google and Apple’s global in-app purchase systems as the bill proposing the rare action is put to a legislative vote after passing the related committee. The National Assembly’s legislation and judiciary committee on Wednesday passed the revised Telecommunications Business Act that includes a ban on app market operators such as Google and Apple from forcing their billing systems on local app developers. The plenary vote to the bill has been postponed as the National Assembly failed to open Wednesday due to strong protest from the opposition party against other a string of contentious bills including revision to the Media Arbitration Act.
Big companies in Korea add jobs in H1 on earnings recovery from virus crisis
According to a study on 460 companies out of the country’s top 500 companies by CEO Score, a Seoul-based corporate data tracker, the number of employees subscribed to the state pension fund reached 1,503,643 as of the end of June, up 13,667 from the same period last year. Net gain stood at 5,259, with 130,328 newly covered by the employer-supported pension versus 125,069 losing the coverage. In the first six months in 2020, the number of state pension holders declined 3,930 as companies cut their workforce due to the impact from Covid-19. The number increased by 10,180 in 13 sectors out of total 22 industries surveyed.
Korea’s top 3 shipyards enjoying heyday unready to expand workforce
South Korea’s shipbuilding majors have shed some 1,500 jobs on their payrolls during the first half despite their record-breaking order book this year as higher commodity prices ate into their income while it usually takes couple of years for new orders to fatten their coffers. Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. (KSOE), Samsung Heavy Industries Co., and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME) had a total of 378,845 employees on payrolls as of June 30, according to their first-half reports. The combined workforce count is about 1,500 fewer from a year-ago period.
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Ecuador Times http://www.ecuadortimes.net
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Budapest Times http://budapesttimes.hu
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