Friday, September 3, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“Malaysia, Korea share National Day in August, are headed for increased cooperation”
Charge d’Affaires Ahmad Fahmi Ahmad Sarkawi of the Republic of Malaysia in Seoul said, “The 31st day of August is the official National Day of Malaysia and it marks the day when Malaysia became free from British colonial rule.” It is the happy day for the people of Malaysia like the Korean people who enjoys the 15th of August when they won their independence in 1945. To mark the auspicious occasion, The Korea Post media (publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean news publications since 1985) recently had a special interview with CDA Sarkawi of Malaysia at his office in Seoul. Details of the interview follow: Question: Please introduce your National Day in full detail. Answer: The 31st day of August is the official national day of Malaysia. It commemorates the Malayan Declaration of Independence on 31 August 1957, marking the day Malaya is free from British colonial administration. This year's Independence Day is the 6th anniversary. 'Malaysia Prihatin' which literally means Malaysia Cares, is retained as the theme for this year's Independence Day.
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.
“Our independence will always be the brightest, unfading page in the glorious history of Uzbekistan”
Each year of independent development has left a significant mark on Uzbekistan’s history. Today the country is on the verge of the most important milestone--the 30th anniversary of independence. People of the country are celebrating this glorious day with great joy. This year’s main festive celebrations were held in the park created in honor of the anniversary, symbolically named “Yangi O’zbekiston” (New Uzbekistan). President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev delivered a speech and congratulated all people on the 30th anniversary of independence. “As is known, free life in a just society was the cherished dream of our people for centuries. In the name of achieving this sacred goal, they fought selflessly, courageously overcoming the most difficult trials on their way. No foreign yoke and violence could break the people in their noble striving for freedom. Our entire ancient history testifies to this. On 31 August 1991, a truly great historical event took place, which became a turning point in the fate of the country. Our people, always confidently looking into the future with great hopes, realized their age-old dream – gained state independence”, Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
Moderna Vaccine Shipments Resume with Arrival of 1 Mln Doses
Moderna vaccine shipments to South Korea have resumed starting with the arrival of more than one million doses on Thursday. According to the state vaccine task force that day, a Korean Air flight carrying around one-point-02 million doses landed at Incheon International Airport at 3:29 p.m. It is part of six million doses the U.S. pharmaceutical company has agreed to supply by the end of this week. Senior Health Ministry official Son Young-rae said earlier that these secured supplies will begin to arrive on Thursday, and may even exceed the initial amount. The remaining doses are expected to arrive by Sunday. Moderna previously notified Seoul that it could only send less than half of the eight-point-five million doses of the August shipment due to production glitches.
S. Korea's Prosecutor General Orders SPO to Validate Newsverse Report
Prosecutor-General Kim Oh-soo has ordered inspectors at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office to look into a media report that the prosecution under his predecessor Yoon Seok-youl impelled an opposition party lawmaker to file formal complaints against ruling camp figures ahead of the general elections last year. The SPO on Thursday revealed the order made earlier in the day in a text message to reporters. The report, by online media outlet Newsverse, said a senior prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, back in April of last year two weeks before the general elections, delivered an official complaint file to Kim Woong, who was running for a parliamentary seat as a nominee for the United Future Party(UFP), the precursor to the current main opposition People Power Party.
Uncertainties Loom over Disputed Revisions to Press Arbitration Law
Uncertainties loom over the fate of the disputed revisions to the press arbitration law, as rival political parties remain deeply divided despite having agreed to put it to a vote later this month. While the two sides have yet to form an eight-member consultative body to make further revisions, the ruling Democratic Party(DP) is seemingly pushing to package other media reform bills with the revision bill during the Assembly's regular session. Floor spokesperson Shin Hyun-young on Thursday said the DP plans to also handle bills aimed at reforming the governance of public broadcasters, preventing fake news by "one-person" media outlets, such as those on video sharing platforms and social media, as well as laws regarding algorithms used by search portals.
S. Korea renews toughened social distancing rules for 1 month: PM
South Korea will maintain toughened social distancing rules across the nation for one more month, the prime minister said Friday, as the country is bracing for a potential upsurge in infections in the runup to the traditional Chuseok holiday. Under the renewed plan that will be effective from Monday to Oct. 3, the greater Seoul area will remain under the toughest Level 4 social distancing, while the rest of the country will be under Level 3, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said during an interagency meeting on the government's coronavirus response. The government partly relieved the current 9 p.m. curfew on cafes and restaurants in the capital area, allowing them to open till 10 p.m. during the next month. Under the new social distancing scheme, a social gathering of up to six people will be allowed in the capital area after 6 p.m. if four of them are fully vaccinated.
S. Korea developing massive ballistic missile as powerful as tactical nuclear weapon
South Korea has been developing a massive ballistic missile as powerful as a tactical nuclear weapon, sources said Thursday, after the full lifting of U.S.-imposed restrictions on missile development. The surface-to-surface missile, which can carry a warhead of up to 3 tons with a flight range of 350-400 kilometers, is in the last stage of development and the timing of its deployment will be determined after several test-firings, according to the sources. Unveiling its defense blueprint for 2022-2026 earlier in the day, the defense ministry vowed to develop new missiles "with significantly enhanced destructive power," deploy new interceptors against long-range artillery threats and upgrade the Patriot system.
N. Korean troops observed at Pyongyang airfield in possible sign of military parade preparations: sources
Nearly 10,000 troops have been observed at a major airfield in North Korea recently, a possible sign that the communist country is preparing for a military parade to mark major anniversaries, sources said Thursday. The troops and military vehicles have been spotted at the Mirim Parade Training Ground in the country's capital city since a few days earlier, and the South Korean military is closely monitoring related activities, according to government sources. The Mirim airfield has been a venue for the North to conduct rehearsals for military parades organized to mark important anniversaries, such as the establishment of its communist government that falls on Sept. 9 and the Oct. 10 founding anniversary of the ruling Worker's Party.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Unification Ministry seeks to expand inter-Korean cooperation budget by 1.9%
The Unification Ministry on Thursday said it had proposed a 1.9 percent increase in its budget for cooperation projects with North Korea next year, despite escalated tensions and a stalemate in cross-border projects. A total of 1.27 trillion won ($1.09 billion) has been earmarked for the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund next year, up from this year’s 1.24 trillion won, according to the ministry. The fund, established in 1991 to facilitate humanitarian and economic exchanges between the two Koreas, makes up the bulk of the ministry’s 1.45 trillion won budget for next year. The budget increase largely reflects plans to revamp the Demilitarized Zone on the border with North Korea for peaceful use, in line with President Moon Jae-in’s proposal in 2019 to turn the heavily fortified DMZ into an international peace zone.
UN General Assembly: Moon’s next stage for peace efforts?
President Moon Jae-in is weighing whether to attend the UN General Assembly set to be held in New York later this month in his renewed push to resume stalled talks with North Korea, according to Cheong Wa Dae officials. “This is a significant year that marks the 30th anniversary of South and North Korea becoming UN members together,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said on condition of anonymity. “It would be very meaningful for the two Koreas to send a unified peace message on such a huge diplomatic stage.” The official, however, declined to confirm the president’s trip, citing the sensitivity of the issue and other factors like COVID-19. After last year’s gathering was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year more in-person meetings are expected to be arranged. The UN headquarters is still discussing the size and form of the event that kicks off on Sept. 21.
S. Korea lays out new approach to trade on five major sectors
South Korea will take a new approach to trade on five core sectors in a bid to maximize its national interests, the country’s trade minister said Thursday. Presiding over his first trade committee meeting at the government complex in Sejong, newly appointed chief negotiator Yeo Han-koo called for a differentiated, creative and vigilant trade strategy on supply chain, vaccine, carbon neutrality and climate change, technology-based trade and digital commerce. “Korea will take initiative and lead the new global trade order,” said the trade minister, adding that the paradigm is radically changing amid the pandemic. Under his leadership, Korea will seek to benchmark the US and bolster supply chains on chips, batteries, critical minerals and pharmaceuticals -- four key items mentioned in the Biden administration’s 100-day supply chain assessment report released in February, the Trade Ministry said in a press release.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Opposition contenders make diplomatic discourtesy to Duterte
With smear campaigns intensifying ahead of next year's presidential election, some presidential hopefuls are committing a diplomatic discourtesy by belittling the head of a friendly nation while criticizing other contenders. Critics urge them to hold their tongues to avoid damaging diplomatic relations with allies and hurting national interest. On Wednesday, Yoon Seok-youl, the leading contender of the conservative main opposition People Power Party (PPP), referenced Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in his criticism of pro-capital punishment remarks by Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the same party. Hong, a five-term lawmaker, had posted on Facebook that if he is elected president, he would call for the death penalty for a man accused of beating his 20-month-old stepdaughter to death. "Seeing a possible head of government mentioning law enforcement, it sounds like Duterte's style of governing a country," Yoon said.
USGov't to review cases of menstrual problems after COVID vaccine shots extends travel ban on North Korea for one year: report
A growing number of women in Korea are complaining about menstrual problems as well as metrorrhagia, or intermenstrual uterine bleeding, after receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Health authorities pledged to step up monitoring to determine if there is a causal relationship between the health problems and the vaccines. A woman posted a petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website, Tuesday, calling on authorities to include menstruation-related problems as possible side effects of coronavirus vaccines so they can be eligible for government support. "There are many cases of women experiencing irregular menstrual bleeding after getting coronavirus vaccine shots. But when they visit hospitals, they are only prescribed with contraceptive pills or advised to take Tylenol, and are unable to report this as an adverse reaction to the vaccine," the petitioner wrote.
South Korea developing ballistic missile as powerful as tactical nuclear weapon
South Korea has been developing a massive ballistic missile as powerful as a tactical nuclear weapon, sources said Thursday, after the full lifting of U.S.-imposed restrictions on missile development. The surface-to-surface missile, which can carry a warhead of up to 3 tons with a flight range of 350-400 kilometers, is in the last stage of development and the timing of its deployment will be determined after several test-firings, according to the sources. Unveiling its defense blueprint for 2022-2026 earlier in the day, the defense ministry vowed to develop new missiles "with significantly enhanced destructive power," deploy new interceptors against long-range artillery threats and upgrade the Patriot system. That suggests the new ballistic missile could be put into operation before 2026.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
UN's Scathing Letter over Press Gag Bill Revealed
The Office for the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights has blasted the ruling Minjoo Party's media reform bill as "utterly disproportionate" and limiting "a wide range of expression." The complaint came in a letter to the government that the ruling party tried to suppress until it became headline news on Wednesday. The letter was made available on Wednesday. It was sent as long ago as Aug. 27 by Irene Khan, the UN special rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression. Khan warned that even if the Korean government's intention is to "establish public confidence in the press," the bill "may just do the opposite if adopted without further changes." Khan voiced concerns that the media gag bill, which is ostensibly aimed at curbing "fake news," could "limit a wide range of expression that is essential to a democratic society" just as "access to information and the free flow of ideas will be particularly critical ahead of, and during the presidential election of March 2022."
N.Korea Sends Young Elite into Internal Exile
The North Korean regime has been sending elite young Workers Party functionaries into internal exile at remote construction sites to shore up crumbling discipline. The practice is being presented as "volunteering," but it appears they are not given a choice. One senior defector said, "One of the biggest problems leader Kim Jong-un faces is young people who have been influenced by South Korean culture and angry about the economic crisis. The aim appears to be to neutralize them so they can't foment internal dissent." The official Rodong Sinmun daily on Sunday published a statement from Kim to mark Youth Day the previous day. "What makes me especially happy is to see young people who have been left behind make the magnificent decision to sacrifice themselves for their country and start fresh by moving on to difficult and demanding areas," he said.
Gwangju Design Biennale Opens
The ninth Gwangju Design Biennale opened its doors in the southwestern city on Wednesday. This year's event is billed as an exploration of the world of design in the post-coronavirus pandemic era. It showcases design and technological advances inspired by the fourth industrial revolution -- a term used to describe the automation of manufacturing and industrial practices. The annual event runs until the end of October with more than 1,000 works from over 400 artists around the world. Noting the current depressing atmosphere due to the pandemic, the biennale's general director Kim Hyun-sun said one of the underlying themes of the event is the beauty of differences in "environment, disabilities, race, gender, ideology and culture," which goes beyond "notions of practicality and utility."
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
What Japan is trying to achieve with its Type 12 surface-to-ship missiles
South Korea and Japan both announced their 2022 defense budgets on Tuesday. While there may be some adjustments during their parliamentary passage process, South Korea’s budget is likely to total 55.2277 trillion won (US$47.6 billion), up 4.5% from this year, while Japan’s is likely to be 5.4797 trillion yen (US$49.8 billion), an increase of 2.6%. Within Japan, some analysts are saying that the two sides’ defense budgets are now at “more or less the same level.” Indeed, an article published by the Nikkei newspaper Wednesday quoted the Japanese government as claiming that in terms of purchasing power, South Korea’s defense budget had already surpassed Japan’s by 2018. With Japan’s economy still around 2.5 times larger than South Korea’s, this effectively means that South Korea’s per capita defense budget is around two times higher.
“Graveyard of Empires” or punching bag of empires?
The War in Afghanistan — which has been variously called “the forever war,” “the longest war,” and “the phantom war” — is over. The war that had lasted for 43 years, since the establishment of a socialist regime in Afghanistan in 1978, was declared over with the withdrawal of US troops on Monday. Poor and isolated Afghanistan was occupied first by the Soviets and later by the US, its allies, and NATO member states. There have also been interventions by Islamic states such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Muslims from around the Islamic world converged on Afghanistan to wage jihad, meaning “holy war.” South Korea sent troops as well, which led to the kidnapping of a group of Christian missionaries in 2007. Two were killed and the rest were released after more than forty days in captivity.
Time of deliberation has come for media reform
After forming an “eight-member discussion body” to discuss a potential amendment to the Press Arbitration Act, the Democratic Party and People Power Party (PPP) reached an agreement Tuesday to present the amendment at the National Assembly’s plenary session on Sept. 27, just after the long Chuseok holiday. Given how extreme the battle over this amendment was becoming, it’s fortunate that the two sides managed to buy some time to pass it on a consensus basis. This establishment of a broader discussion framework beyond the realm of the political establishment is also a welcome development. But there are also questions about whether this eight-member discussion body will have the right membership and enough time even to deal with this one contentious issue. There doesn’t seem to be any cause either for failing to reflect calls from civil society to form a special committee as a social discussion body within the National Assembly. That’s why additional discussions by the two sides will be so crucial.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
ROK military reveals strategic ballistic missile is nearing completion
The Korean military is reportedly in the process of building a ballistic missile capable of destroying enemy targets with a force of strategic nuclear weapons. The military embarked on developing a ground-to-ground missile on which a warhead weighing up to three tons may be installed, which is now nearing completion. If the plan can be completed as expected, the Korean armed forces will have possessed a ballistic missile stronger than the Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missile developed last year, which is capable of carrying a warhead weighing up to two tons.
Ready-made yukgaejang includes up to 97% of daily sodium intakes
Sodium content in ready-made yukgaejang (hot spicy meat stew) and seolleongtang (stock soup of bone and stew meat) products has turned out to be up to 97 percent of daily recommended intakes. As convenience food products have risen in popularity and consumption since the COVID-19 pandemic began, consumers are advised to stay cautious about selecting and eating such ready-made dishes. According to the Korea Consumer Agency’s study on the 15 most popular ready-made yukgaejang and seolleongtang products released on Thursday, sodium content per product reaches 48-97 percent of the daily recommended intake of 2,000 milligrams. Carbohydrates, protein and fats show a relatively appropriate level of zero to 36 percent.
U.S. should focus on countering China’s rise, says Biden
Addressing the nation on Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden defended his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, saying it was the “right decision, a wise decision and the best decision for America.” “The world is changing,” Biden said. “We have to shore up America’s competitiveness to meet new challenges in the competition for the 21st century.” He vowed to focus on new challenges, including China, Russia, cyberattacks, and nuclear proliferation. President Biden chose strategic competition against China as a major challenge, saying America is engaged in a serious competition with China. Although President Biden’s address served as a justification for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the key message of his speech was what the U.S. will focus on after the withdrawal.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Top 20% of Houses in the Greater Seoul Area Are Valued at Over 1.5 Billion Won: Prices Jumped 700 Million Won in the Moon Jae-in Government
Housing prices recently soared and the average price of the top 20% of houses in the Seoul metropolitan area exceeded 1.5 billion won for the first time. According to a time series analysis of the monthly housing price trend by KB Kookmin Bank’s Liiv Real Estate on September 2, the average price of houses located in the greater Seoul area that fell in the fifth quintile (top 20%) last month was 1,508,930,000 won. This was the highest price since KB began disclosing its statistics of the Seoul metropolitan area in April 2013. The price of fifth quintile homes in this area surpassed 1 billion won in September 2018, then increased by 100 million won in a year and three months, exceeding 1.1 billion won in December 2019. Seven months later in July 2020, the average price surpassed 1.2 billion won and just three months later exceeded 1.3 billion won. The price exceeded 1.4 billion won last February, only four months later. Finally, in just six months, the price jumped again from 1.4 billion to surpass 1.5 billion won.
The Sale of Namyang Dairy Fails to Go Through
On September 1, Hong Won-sik, chairman of Namyang Dairy announced, “We notified the other party in the contract, Hahn & Company, of the cancellation of the stock transfer contract due to its failure to implement prior agreements.” The announcement was made three months after Hong and his family signed a contract with the private equity fund to sell 53% of Namyang Dairy shares to Hahn & Co. for 310.7 billion won. Hahn & Co. immediately refuted and argued that the contract remained valid. This day, Hong released a statement and said, “After the sales contract was signed, we did not make any additional requests that were not agreed to at the time of the contract. We only requested that the buyer implement the details that both parties had agreed to before the contract was signed.” He further argued, “However, the buyer changed its attitude after the contract and refused to implement the details of the prior agreement.” Hong also said, “We worked to close the deal after signing a contract on the transfer of shares as well as the management of Namyang Dairy, but we were compelled to notify the cancellation of the contract after the buyer refused to implement the agreement.”
Debate over Yun Hee-suk’s Resignation Steals Attention from the Verification of Real Estate Allegations Concerning Public Officials
On August 29, the fifth day since People Power Party lawmaker Yun Hee-suk expressed her intention to give up her parliamentary seat following her father’s alleged violation of the Farmland Act, ruling and opposition lawmakers continued their debate on whether Yun’s resignation was appropriate. If the Democratic Party of Korea opposes, Yun’s resignation is not likely to be accepted. As attention shifts to the debate on Yun’s resignation, questions concerning irregularities linked to the real estate owned by elected officials and their families are getting less attention. This day in politics, the nation witnessed members of Yun’s party encouraging her to step down as lawmaker, while the members of the Democratic Party tried to stop her. This was an unusual scene that occurred after Yun expressed her intention to step down on August 25, the day after the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission announced officials with questionable real estate transactions.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
HMM avoids its first synchronized strike on ground and sea upon wage settlement
A shipping crisis from unprecedented strike at South Korea’s sea flag carrier HMM Co. has been avoided as the management and union reached a wage agreement Thursday after marathon talks. The shipper said Thursday that its management and unionized workers agreed on a 7.9 percent increase in wage, incentives of up to 650 percent of monthly salary and 2.7 percent increase in corporate welfare benefits. The management began the wage talk with land-based workers in June and sea crew in July. Both onshore and offshore workers voted in favor of mass strike, raising concerns of transportation disruption. “The deal is short of our demand but we conceded to resolve concerns on maritime logistics and contribute to recovery of the shipping industry,” said Kim Jin-man, head of the land-based workers’ union at HMM.
S. Korean economy gains 0.8% on qtr in Q2 on private and government spending
South Korea’s economy ran at a faster clip of 0.8 percent than the preliminary estimate of 0.7 percent in the second quarter versus earlier three months on stronger consumption and aggressive fiscal stimuli. According to preliminary data released by the Bank of Korea on Thursday, the country’s gross domestic product added 0.8 percent in the April-June period from the previous three-month period, up 0.1 percentage point from its preliminary estimate in July, although easing from 1.7 percent in the first quarter. The first-half growth went against contractions in the year-ago period on the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. Asia’s fourth largest economy sank 1.3 percent on quarter in the first quarter and 3.2 percent in the second quarter. It shifted to positive growths of 2.2 percent in the third quarter and 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter.
S. Korea’s inflation keeps up nine-year strong pace of 2.6% in August
South Korea’s inflation in August kept up strengthening above the mid-2 percent level on continual rise in food and commodity prices. According to Statistics Korea on Thursday, the country’s consumer price index (CPI) added 2.6 percent from a year ago to 108.29 in August. The headline inflation has picked up pace to above 2 percent in April and further to 2.6 percent, a level untouched for the last nine years, in May. After a brief easing to 2.4 percent, the gain accelerated back to 2.6 percent in July and again in August, the longest period of inflation above the target 2 percent since January-May in 2017. The central bank last week raised inflation estimate for this year to 2.1 percent from earlier 1.8 percent. The bank lifted the base rate from a record low of 0.50 percent to 0.75 percent in August and signaled further tightening to tame inflation and debt rise.
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