Monday, August 30, 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.
Samsung’s "The Terrace" welcomes visitors of Prado Museum in Spain
Samsung Electronics said on Aug. 25 that Samsung and the Museo Nacional del Prado have partnered to offer an all-new multimedia experience for the visitors of the Prado Museum, offering crisp and vibrant audiovisual content from the Museum in the Jerónimos Terrace using Samsung’s The Terrace. Visitors to the Museum can now view a selection of the Museum’s stunning audiovisual content while enjoying a break during their visit to the art gallery. Samsung’s The Terrace that is specifically designed to bring the full indoor entertainment experience outside has been installed on the terrace of Café Prado—a free access space next to the entrance of the Jerónimos Terrace. Designed with the weather in mind – with an IP55 rating, The Terrace’s display boasts weather-resistant durability against water and dust and comes fitted for easy installation outdoors across a variety of settings.
“The Daughters of the UAE”, partners in the UAE’s successful journey
The following article was contributed by the Embassy of UAE to the Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985, for publication. –Ed. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the UAE attained achievements in several areas at the national level as well as at the regional and international levels, and Emirati women were at the forefront, partners in a development process that reaps successes with unparalleled determination. The celebration of Emirati Women's Day this year comes in a distinctive context, to reaffirm the role of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, "may God rest his soul,” who laid the foundation to women’s outstanding journey in the UAE.
Gov’t. to Announce Revised Social Distancing, Measures for Chuseok on Friday
The government will announce revised social distancing rules on Friday, including quarantine measures for the upcoming Chuseok holiday. Son Young-rae, a senior Health Ministry official, said on Sunday at a press briefing that the government will make the announcement after reviewing various opinions. The government earlier said it would make the announcement before Tuesday, when sales of train tickets for the Chuseok holiday begins. The official said that the government plans to review any revisions to the current social distancing that will end on Sunday, as well as quarantine measures for the holiday, which falls later in September. He added that the government is cautiously reviewing the possibility of allowing gatherings of family members during the holiday in light of the rising vaccination rate.
S. Korea, US in Consultation to Enable Humanitarian Cooperation with N. Korea
The nation’s top nuclear envoy said Seoul is consulting with Washington to enable humanitarian cooperation with North Korea in various areas. Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk made the remarks to reporters on Sunday after arriving at Dulles International Airport in Washington for a four-day trip. Noh said that he believes it's a critical point to reactivate the Korean Peninsula peace process. The envoy hoped that once the South completes necessary preparations for cooperation in possible areas, it could begin discussions with North Korea when the opportunity arises. He dismissed speculations that U.S. foreign policy is focused on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, saying that he believes the North Korean nuclear issue remains a high-priority issue for the Biden administration.
Report: N. Korea Appears to Have Restarted Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor
North Korea appears to have restarted a plutonium-producing reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA). The UN atomic watchdog reportedly assessed that North Korea appears to have restarted the plutonium-producing reactor in Yongbyon in early July, citing indications, including the discharge of cooling water. The reactor is presumed to have been inactive since December 2018. The Journal said that the restart of the reactor will be a new challenge for talks on salvaging the nuclear deal with Iran and the Biden administration's foreign policy.
New cases under 1,700; number of critically-ill patients on rise
South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell below 1,700 Sunday due to fewer tests over the weekend, but the number of patients in critical condition stayed high, sparking concerns over more fatalities down the road. The country added 1,619 more COVID-19 cases, including 1,576 local infections, raising the total caseload to 248,568, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Sunday's tally compares with 1,793 on Saturday and 1,841 on Friday. Daily cases have stayed above 1,000 for 54 consecutive days. The country added 2,155 patients on Wednesday. The number of patients normally falls over the weekend and rises later in the week as more people get tested.
BOK delivers 1st pandemic-era rate hike amid rising inflation, household debt
South Korea's central bank delivered its first pandemic-era rate hike Thursday to fight rising inflation and rein in surging household debts, ending 15 months of record-low interest rates as the economy showed signs of improving. The monetary policy board of the Bank of Korea (BOK) voted to raise its key rate by 0.25 percentage point to 0.75 percent in this year's sixth rate-setting meeting. It marked the first rate hike since May last year, when the BOK cut the key rate to a record low of 0.5 percent. It is also the first time since November 2018 that the BOK has lifted the key rate. Raising the key rate, the BOK kept this year's growth outlook at 4 percent, while lifting its 2021 inflation outlook to 2.1 percent from 1.8 percent projected in May.
N. Korea to hold Supreme People's Assembly session next month: state media
North Korea will convene a meeting of its rubber-stamp legislature in Pyongyang next month to discuss adopting laws on youth education and modification to national economic plan, state media said Thursday. The standing committee of the Supreme People's Assembly met in Pyongyang on Tuesday and decided to convene an SPA session on Sept. 28, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. The KCNA said the session will discuss the issue of "adopting the law on developing cities and counties and the law on ensuring education of young people, the issue of modification and supplementation of the law on national economic plan, the issue of inspecting and supervising the enforcement of the law on recycling and the organizational issue." The SPA is the highest organ of power under the constitution, but it rubber-stamps decisions by the ruling party.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Parties lock horns over vote on ‘fake news’ bill
The floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and the main opposition People Power Party are expected to debate the contentious “fake news” bill one last time before Monday’s plenary session. National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug had arranged a meeting of the two sides on Sunday, for the second time in less than a week to help settle their differences over the bill that would impose drastically higher penalties on media organizations for “fake news.” Opponents have slammed the amendment to the Act on Press Arbitration and Remedies, saying it suppresses press freedom as it prevents journalists from shedding light on shady dealings of the powerful, some of whom could use lawsuits to get their way. The Democratic Party has rebuffed criticism.
Korea stretching vaccine supply to prioritize first doses over seconds
South Korea is stretching its COVID-19 vaccine supply to deliver first doses to as many people as possible at the cost of potentially running short of supply for second doses, as the deadline for the government’s vaccination goal looms. Hong Jeong-ik, heading the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s COVID-19 vaccination management team, admitted uncertainty in supply for people due their second doses in late September and October during a closed-door briefing Thursday. Hong told reporters that Korea has not yet been informed of delivery dates for the next supply after the new batch of 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine arriving between now and early September -- to be distributed as first doses -- are exhausted. “We’re not preparing for a scenario where vaccine supply for second-dose recipients falls short,” he said.
Assembly vote on 'fake news' bill delayed
South Korea’s National Assembly postponed a plenary meeting scheduled for Wednesday, preventing the ruling party from passing two controversial bills that have drawn fierce protests from opposition lawmakers. Early Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug notified the political party floor leaders that the plenary meeting scheduled later in the day would be postponed, since bills should not go through two legislative stages on the same day. At around 4 a.m. Wednesday, a controversial bill on “fake news” passed the Legislation and Judiciary Committee under the lead of the ruling Democratic Party -- the final stage before it is put to a final plenary vote. If it passes in the plenary session, journalists and media outlets will be penalized for producing news that is deemed fake.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
391 Afghans to arrive here Thursday in evacuation operation
A total of 391 Afghans, who helped the Korean government's activities in their war-torn country, will arrive in Korea today. They are being evacuated amid growing fears of possible Taliban retaliation against those who have aided the United States and its allies, the foreign ministry said, Wednesday. Upon arrival, they will stay at a government-run training facility in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, which also accommodated hundreds of Koreans airlifted from the Chinese city of Wuhan last year amid mounting fears over COVID-19. "Some 380 Afghans will be airlifted by military aircraft to Incheon International Airport, Thursday," Second Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-moon said in a briefing. The foreign ministry readjusted the number to 391 later in the day.
Korea, Colombia to strengthen partnership in defense
President Moon Jae-in and his Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in national defense, as part of their efforts to expand the two countries' relations to a comprehensive and future-oriented partnership, upon the latter's state visit to Seoul. During their summit, Wednesday, the presidents adopted a joint statement containing their visions on the future direction of bilateral relations, and both governments signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on medical cooperation, excavation of the remains of deceased Colombian soldiers who took part in the 1950-53 Korean War, cultural exchanges, an ecosystem for startups and agricultural cooperation.
S. Korea expresses 'strong regret' over Japan's Fukushima water release move without consultations
South Korea on Wednesday expressed strong regret over Japan's move to release contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant without consultations with neighbors, following new reports of an undersea tunnel construction plan to release radioactive water from the plant. The government convened a vice-ministerial interagency meeting in response to news reports that the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima plant, was planning to construct an approximately 1 kilometer-long undersea tunnel to release radioactive water from the suspended power plant into the sea.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Job Creation Stagnates as Big Business Salaries Rise
The average salary in the country's major conglomerates has surpassed W100 million (US$1=W1,168). According to the corporate reports of the top 30 companies, the average salary for the first six months of this year was W45.47 million, bringing the total for the year including bonuses to an estimated W100 million. Already last year, Samsung Electronics paid on average W127 million, SK Energy and SK Telecom W121 million, SK Global Chemical W117 million, and S-Oil W109.24 million. But that has led to stagnation in job creation, business groups warn. According to the Korea Industry Alliance Forum, Korea's hourly wage adjusted for purchasing power parity increased 20.1 percent over the last five years.
Dubious Cryptocurrency Exchanges to Be Shut down
One in 10 of Korea's burgeoning cryptocurrency exchanges will be shut down from Sept. 25 because they do not meet even the country's lax requirements to stay in business. The government published a list on Wednesday. Cryptocurrency exchanges must report their certificates for the information security management system (ISMS) and investors' real-name bank accounts to financial authorities by Sept. 24. But of the 63 exchanges in Korea, 24 including DOCOIN, COCOFX, Ellex, UKE, and GRNBIT, have not yet applied for an ISMS certificate from the Korea Internet and Security Agency and are unlikely to meet the deadline. "It normally takes at least three months to get an ISMS certificate, so those who applied after July won't get it before the reporting deadline," a government official said.
Household Debt Reaches Yet Another Alarming Milestone
Household debt has reached yet another alarming milestone by surpassing W1.8 quadrillion in the second quarter of this year (US$1=W1,167). It increased even faster than in the first quarter. The main reason is unremitting demand for housing loans as housing prices spiral out of control due to the government's failed real estate policy. The Bank of Korea on Tuesday said households' credit balance stood at W1.81 quadrillion at the end of the second quarter, up W41.2 trillion from the previous quarter. That was up W168.6 trillion or 10.3 percent on-year, the fastest increase since the second quarter of 2017. Financial authorities told banks in April to keep the increase in household loans at five to six percent a year, but it seems that has not been effective in curbing them so far.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea to airlift some 380 Afghans to Incheon airport
The South Korean government said it has launched an operation to bring locals who assisted government programs in Afghanistan and their family members to Korea. Those Afghans are likely to arrive in Korea very soon. South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced the move in a message to reporters on Tuesday. Three military transport aircraft have been sent to Afghanistan and neighboring countries to bring back local employees and family members who aided government activities in Afghanistan. These individuals worked for years at our embassy, our hospital and at an occupational training center,” MOFA said in the message. Suh Hoon, director of the Blue House National Security Office, addressed the issue of these Afghans during an appearance at a plenary session of the National Assembly House Steering Committee on the previous day.
S. Korea’s total household debt reaches new high at $1.54 trillion
South Korea’s total household debt balance topped 1.8 quadrillion won (US$1.54 trillion) for the first time during the second quarter of 2021, increasing by a quarterly high of 41.2 trillion won (US$35.2 billion), according to the Bank of Korea (BOK) on Tuesday. The rise was the result of an unabated trend of households incurring debt for public offering subscriptions and other investments amid continued demand for housing transactions. Observers are now watching to see whether government efforts to beef up loan regulations and raise the benchmark interest rate will have an effect in checking the increase in loans during the second half of the year. It was the highest-ever increase for a second quarter, propelling the total balance past 1.8 quadrillion won. Household credit — which could also be characterized as household debt — represents the sum of household loans combined with sales on credit, including credit card use.
Taliban’s latest enemy is internet
A photograph of the Taliban command occupying the president’s office in the Presidential Palace in Kabul sent the message that the group had regained control over Afghanistan after 20 years. The photograph, posted on Aug. 15, showed members armed with rifles, along with others filming the events by smartphone. Back in 2001, the Taliban were considered symbols of a backlash against “civilization,” with their demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, a UNESCO World Heritage, and their bans on education of and activities by women. Now they have returned as active users of the latest information technology. Twenty years ago, the Taliban banned the internet. Now they are sending messages out by smartphones and social media to demand the world’s acknowledgment.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
S. Korea sends chartered planes to evacuate Afghanistans
“When I was about to enter the airport in the morning, the Taliban stopped me,” said an Afghan man, who decided to escape the country and relocate to South Korea, recalling the morning of his departure. “I was able to get into another car and enter the airport through another distant gate,” the man described his dangerous journey into the airport. During an interview with the South Korean government at the Kabul Airport the previous day, the man explained the reason for his decision to head to Korea, saying he felt threatened as the Taliban could harm those who worked for a foreign government agency. But his face darkened for a while when he said his family including his mother is still in Afghanistan. A woman, who worked for the South Korean Embassy in Afghanistan for two years and four months, was fortunately able to get to the airport without passing Taliban checkpoints.
Asahi Shimbun denounces Korean ruling party’s media reform bill
“South Korea’s ruling party is set to revise a media law that will silence news organizations.” The Asahi Shimbun stated as above in its editorial published on Wednesday and criticized that the most detrimental effect of the amendment bill of the Act on Press Arbitration and Remedies, etc. for Damage Caused by Press Reports would be to allow the courts to order heavy damages on media outlets. “It is never easy to determine accuracy or prove actual malice of news reports,” the editorial argued. “Fake news is out of control not only in Korea but also across the globe. Some countries try to regulate it by law. Nonetheless, the amendment should not discourage journalism,” commented the newspaper.
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.”
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Hong Joon-pyo, “Yoon Seok-youl Should Apologize to the Nation for Investigation into Long-established Irregularities”
On August 25, lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo, a candidate in the People Power Party presidential primary said, “It was Yoon Seok-youl who led the investigation to root out the so-called long-established irregularities (believed by some to be an investigation targeting the conservative government and political party). He suddenly came to power with a promotion allowing him to skip five levels and become the chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. Then thanks to his investigation, he jumped another seven levels and became prosecutor general.” Hong asked, “If he came to our party after doing such a thing, shouldn’t he apologize to the nation?” In an interview on CBS radio this day, Hong said, “When Yoon conducted the investigation (into long-established irregularities) and our camp was being crushed by the opposition camp, I was the leader.”
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.
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/)
BOK lifts the base rate from record low to 0.75% amid undying household debt
South Korea’s base rate has been raised to 0.75 percent Thursday as the central bank moved ahead with normalization of its record loose policy to contain the unfazed gains in household debt and asset frenzy from cheap liquidity despite ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol had hinted in July that the monetary policy board would study rate liftoff within the year. Still, most had anticipated the action to come either in October or November as the country struggles with the worst flareup of Covid-19 and variants despite extended de facto lockdown. The accelerated rise in inflation and household debt would have persuaded the monetary board to take preemptive action.
Posco Chemical to invest $240 mn on key EV battery materials’ plants in China
Posco Chemical Co. will invest 281 billion won ($240.6 million) to build cathode and precursor plants in China, its first overseas production base for secondary battery materials business, to take the lead in the global markets for the two key electric vehicle (EV) battery materials. The Korean secondary battery materials maker said on Wednesday, the two plants will roll out high-nickel cathodes and precursors with an annual production capacity of 30,000 tons, each, from 2023. The new lines will be added to the company’s existing plants to produce the key EV battery materials under a joint venture run by steelmaker Posco and its local partner Huayou Cobalt in Zhejiang Province.
Facebook, Netflix, Google fined for disobeying Korea’s personal data act
Multinational online players Facebook, Netflix, and Google have been slapped with 6.7 billion won ($5.8 million) in combined fines by South Korea’s data protection body on Wednesday for violating the country’s personal information protection act. The Personal Information Protection Commission on Wednesday voted to issue remedial orders while fining 6.66 billion won along with surcharge of 29 million won on Facebook, Netflix, and Google. Facebook was given the biggest fine of 6.4 billion won for creating and storing facial recognition templates of local users without their consent from April 2018 to September 2019. Templates are a form of identification through information obtained from user photos and videos. Photos of individuals are automatically identified with their names.
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Ecuador Times http://www.ecuadortimes.net
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Budapest Times http://budapesttimes.hu
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