Friday, September 10, 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.
Simone to be listed on the stock market in October
Simone will be listed on the Seoul stock market early next month. Simone said on Sept. 9 that it plans to invest the funds raised through listing on the stock market to expand a new plant in Indonesia. Simone is the world's No. 1 luxury handbag ODM manufacturer. Simone's global market share is about 10%, more than double that of its competitors. Its U.S. market share is close to 30%. Its customers include 20 luxury brands including Donnakaran New York (DKNY), Michael Kors, and Marc Jacobs, the three major American designer and fashion companies. Chairman Park Eun-kwan of Simone, who established a company with annual sales of 1 trillion won with a single handbag brand, said, “Simone’s power comes from the fingertips of the craftsmen who work hard in the company’s workshop.” CEO Park said, “There are more than 220,000 bag designs that we have researched and developed on our own.”
Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung says, “We will achieve a hydrogen society by 2040”
Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Eui-sun said on Sept. 7, “We will achieve a hydrogen society in which hydrogen energy can be used by anyone, everything, and anywhere by 2040.” It is an official declaration that 2040 will be the first year of the popularization of hydrogen. There is an observation that Hyundai Motor Group's hydrogen move will be more aggressive. Chairman Chung unveiled the group's hydrogen business vision and world-class hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen mobility plans at the “Hydrogen Wave” global online event on the same day. He emphasized, “It is impossible to respond to climate change without hydrogen energy. The transition to a hydrogen society is not something that individual companies can do, but Hyundai Motor Group has decided that it can no longer watch it.”
N. Korean Leader Visits Kumsusan Palace on Founding Anniversary
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on the 73rd anniversary of the nation’s founding. The North's official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) reported on Friday that Kim visited the palace along with his wife Ri Sol-ju on Thursday on the occasion of the anniversary. Ri's public appearance is the first since May 5 when she attended a concert. Kim has paid tribute on major anniversaries at the palace in Pyongyang, where his father Kim Jong-il and the North's founder Kim Il-sung lie in state. Kim was accompanied by senior North Korean officials, including Choe Ryong-hae, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly, Jo Yong-won, the secretary of the Workers' Party and Premier Kim Tok-hun.
Annual Regional Security Forum Seoul Defense Dialogue Opens on Thurs.
An annual multilateral security dialogue for vice defense ministers opened in Seoul on Thursday. Speaking at the opening of the 2021 Seoul Defense Dialogue(SDD), Defense Minister Suh Wook said a range of topics are on the agenda, such as establishing lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, climate change and space security. Referring to the adverse effects of climate change on military operations and emerging threats to space security, the minister said such unconventional hazards call for a multilateral response through close coordination within the international community. On the peace process, Suh pledged to continue South Korea 's efforts to achieve denuclearization and the establishment of a peace regime on the peninsula based on the Seoul-Washington alliance and global relations.
IAEA to Include S. Korea in Evaluation of Fukushima Water Discharge Process
The International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) will reportedly include South Korea and China on a team to evaluate the release of treated but still radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. Lydie Evrard, IAEA Deputy Director General and head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, issued the position in an online press conference in Tokyo on Thursday after visiting the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Evrard said that the IAEA will send an eleven-member team of experts to Japan in December for a review of the planned release. She added that the team will have members from multiple countries including South Korea. A three-member IAEA team led by Evrard made a three-day visit to Japan to prepare for years of monitoring by the IAEA.
IOC suspension of N. Korea latest wrinkle in inter-Korean sports cooperation
A recent decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend North Korea until the end of 2022 for skipping the Tokyo Olympics has added another wrinkle to inter-Korean sports cooperation and exchanges, which have been dormant for the past couple of years. North Korea announced in early April it would not take part in the Tokyo Games, citing the need to protect its athletes from the raging coronavirus pandemic. The decision had been reached in late March. And it has cost North Korea a chance to compete at the next Winter Olympics, scheduled for February 2022 in Beijing. The IOC announced Wednesday its Executive Board made the decision to suspend North Korea's national Olympic committee (NOC), to deny the country any assistance from the IOC during the suspension and also to forfeit financial support that had been due to be provided to the country but had been withheld due to international sanctions.
N. Korea holds midnight military parade without Kim's address, new weapons
North Korea held a midnight military parade to mark the 73rd anniversary of its founding, but leader Kim Jong-un did not deliver an address and no new strategic weapons were displayed, according to state media and South Korean officials. The parade, which began at midnight Thursday, was watched closely by South Korea and others because the North could show off state-of-the-art weapons systems or leader Kim could make a speech about inter-Korean relations or nuclear talks with the United States. But the parade at Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square featured artillery-carrying tractors and military search dogs rather than intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other strategic weapons. Also seen were fire engines looking like the same model produced by German carmaker Mercedes Benz.
Chinese Embassy denies campaign against celebrity fandom targets S. Korea
The Chinese Embassy in Seoul has denied growing speculation that Beijing's campaign against what it calls "chaotic" celebrity fandom partially targets South Korean entertainers, saying it would not undermine "normal" cultural exchanges. The embassy issued a statement Wednesday to address the issue, after the Chinese social media platform Weibo imposed 30-day suspensions on some 20 fan club accounts of South Korean celebrities, such as K-pop sensation BTS. The perceived cultural crackdown came as Beijing has apparently been striving to curb the influence of entertainment and cultural industries following a series of controversial issues involving celebrities. "(The campaign) targets words and deeds that run counter to public order and good manners, and violate laws and rules," an embassy spokesperson said in the statement. "This would not get in the way of normal exchanges with other countries."
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
NK holds parade without missiles amid nuclear standoff
North Korea held a military parade Wednesday at midnight to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of its founding, the official Korean Central News Agency said. Similar midnight parades took place in January this year and in October last year. But this time, leader Kim Jong-un did not make a speech or reveal the latest missile, amid a nuclear standoff with the US. Pyongyang has refused to reopen dialogue with Washington. The parade, attended by Kim, saw a show of force by the regime’s paramilitary and public security forces at Kim Il-sung Square. The South Korean government and experts believe the event has more to do with North Koreans than with those on the outside.
IOC suspends North Korea from Beijing Olympics
North Korea has been banned from the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics as punishment for skipping the Tokyo Games this summer, thwarting Seoul’s hopes of using the occasion as an opportunity for rapprochement with the reclusive regime. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Wednesday announced that the North’s national Olympic committee would be suspended from the IOC until the end of 2022 as a result of the regime’s “unilateral decision” to not participate in the Tokyo Olympics, which ended last month. “They were violating the Olympic Charter and did not fulfill their obligation as stated in the Olympic Charter to participate,” Bach told a press conference after an IOC executive board meeting, noting that North Korea’s was the only one of over 200 national organizing committees not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.
Moon to receive W166.9m annual pension after retirement
President Moon Jae-in will receive an annual pension of 166.9 million won ($142,500) along with other benefits after his retirement in May next year, according to the government’s budget plan for 2022 on Thursday. Under the Honorable Treatment of Ex-Presidents Act, a former president is entitled to a pension worth 95 percent of presidential salary. Based on his current salary of over 175.56 million won this year, his monthly payment after retirement will be 13.9 million won. Moon is expected to be the only living former president receiving a presidential pension, as the law does not grant a pension to presidents who are impeached or serve time in prison. All the current living former presidents -- Park Geun-hye, Lee Myung-bak, Roh Tae-woo and Chun Doo-hwan -- are not entitled to the pension, while wives of late Presidents Kim Young-sam and Roh Moo-hyun receive a pension for the bereaved family.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Gov't moving to preemptively secure COVID-19 treatments
The government is working to preemptively secure oral COVID-19 treatments that are expected to be commercialized within the year. The authorities are moving fast, bracing for fierce competition between countries around the world, as seen in the cutthroat race to secure COVID-19 vaccines. The government said closed meetings with a global pharmaceutical company have been held to pre-purchase COVID-19 treatments. "What has been discussed is confidential for now. We will unveil several details after a contract is completed," Koh Jae-young, a senior official from the Central Disease Control Headquarters, told reporters Wednesday. Among global pharmaceutical companies, Merck has been ahead of its competitors in developing oral COVID-19 treatments, with the firm expected to seek the emergency use authorization of its Molnupiravir (MK-4482) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within the year.
Woori Financial's privatization feasible by end of 2021
Woori Financial Group is expected to be fully privatized no later than the end of 2021, after two decades of "public ownership," if the government acquires a buyer for its remaining 10-percent stake in the bank holding company. The Financial Services Commission (FSC) said Thursday it would finish receiving letters of intent to purchase the shares, Oct. 8, hoping to close a deal as early as the end of November after finding a successful bidder. As of Sept. 9, Woori Financial's largest shareholder is the state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC) which holds a 15.25 percent stake in the financial holding firm. The National Pension Service (NPS), which owns 9.8 percent, is the second-largest shareholder. Any investor which purchases at least a 1 percent stake from the KDIC is able to join the competitive bidding. The FSC plans to offer an incentive to an investor that buys more than a 4 percent stake from the organization, allowing it to hold the right to recommend Woori Financial's outside directors.
Moon only living president to receive monthly pension of 14 million won after retirement
After retirement, President Moon Jae-in will get 13.9 million won ($11,875) a month as a pension. He will be the only living former president of Korea who is allowed to receive the presidential pension, as the other four former presidents who are still alive were deprived of this right after being impeached and removed from office, or jailed. According to Ministry of Interior and Safety data submitted to Rep. Lee Young of the main opposition People Power Party, Moon will be paid around 166.9 million won annually following retirement, or 13.9 million won a month. His term ends in May of next year. Moon's annual salary, meanwhile, is expected to be 250.1 million won next year, which is a 5 percent increase from this year. However, he has been freezing his own salary since 2019 by voluntarily returning any pay raises.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Millions of Jobs for Young People Vanish
Jobs for young people have been declining ever since President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017 even as the government created more employment for senior citizens with taxpayers' money. In 2016, there were 3.88 million jobs for people between 15 and 29 and 3.68 million for senior citizens. But in 2017, jobs for the elderly overtook those for young people for the first time at 3.93 million versus 3.9 million, and the gap has since widened further. Korean society is aging, so jobs for the elderly are a growing necessity. But the jobs created for them by the government are mostly menial sinecures and part-time positions, and the young are losing out. Rigid labor regulations make it difficult for the private sector to create jobs for younger people. "Not only state-run companies but also private businesses were forced to turn temporary positions into permanent employment and simply stopped hiring new workers," one executive in a big company said. "And due to the rapid automation, some businesses just don't need any new assembly-line workers."
How N.Korea Manipulates S.Korean Governments, Public Opinion
Psychological warfare is one of North Korea's most effective weapons, but how has it been able to manipulate South Korean governments and public opinion so effectively even though its official propaganda seems so laughable? O Hye-son, the wife of North Korean defector and lawmaker Thae Yong-ho, explains some of leader Kim Jong-un's manipulations in a master's thesis she wrote at Ewha Womans University. "North Korea's method of criticizing South Korea differs according to the disposition of the South's government, but the content largely remains the same," she remarks. The North is of course hostile to both conservative and liberal governments here but understands that they need to be handled differently. Pyongyang typically takes a more openly hostile approach to conservative South Korean administrations to bring liberal public opinion here on its side, but liberal governments like the current Moon Jae-in administration are more likely to be patronized and taunted.
Korean Chicken Chain Among Fastest-Growing Restaurant Brands in U.S.
Korean fried-chicken chain BB.Q was ranked fifth on the list of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the U.S. compiled by Nation's Restaurant News, its operator Genesis BB.Q said Wednesday. The trade publication ranked the 25 restaurant chains "that saw the biggest year-over-year domestic unit growth in 2020." BB.Q Chicken, the only Korean brand on the list, had 51 stores in the U.S. in 2020, up 45.7 percent, according to NRN. It opened its first store there in 2006 and plans to open 150 more in the near future. During the coronavirus pandemic, the chain successfully introduced BB.Q Smart Kitchen in the U.S., offering deliveries and takeaways only, while launching a grab-and-go section at its store in Manhattan, New York.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Definition of “normalcy” must precede return to normalcy, disease expert says
As the South Korean government gears up to gradually return to normalcy its handling of COVID-19 in November, when 70 percent of the populace will have been completely vaccinated, disease control officials have started working on defining the concept of a “gradual return to normalcy” and toward refocusing the COVID-19 management scheme on severe symptoms and the fatality rate. Since 70 percent of the Korean public will have been fully vaccinated by the end of October, we expect to be able to consider plans for a gradual return to normalcy in November, following the two-week period [when antibodies form]. We think it’s extremely important to keep COVID-19 under control in September given the substantial importance of disease control [in November],” said Son Young-rae, director of strategy and planning at Korea’s Central Disaster Management Headquarters, during a press briefing at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Wednesday.
Gradual return to normal life anticipated by end of October, officials say
The head of South Korea’s disease control agency said that South Korea would begin a gradual return to normal in late October on Tuesday, noting that masks would still be required indoors until the final stage of easing social distancing. Jeong Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), was asked if Korea would allow a return to regular routines at the end of October during a plenary session of the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Budgets and Accounts on Tuesday. “Right now, we’re assuming that’s an option we can consider,” Jeong said. She said that the government will be able to begin gradually reestablishing ordinary routines at the end of October, when 70 percent of the total populace is expected to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Once that target is hit, it should be possible to control the outbreak and reduce serious cases while easing some restrictions.
Definition of “normalcy” must precede return to normalcy, disease expert says
As the South Korean government gears up to gradually return to normalcy its handling of COVID-19 in November, when 70 percent of the populace will have been completely vaccinated, disease control officials have started working on defining the concept of a “gradual return to normalcy” and toward refocusing the COVID-19 management scheme on severe symptoms and the fatality rate. “Since 70 percent of the Korean public will have been fully vaccinated by the end of October, we expect to be able to consider plans for a gradual return to normalcy in November, following the two-week period [when antibodies form]. We think it’s extremely important to keep COVID-19 under control in September given the substantial importance of disease control [in November],” said Son Young-rae, director of strategy and planning at Korea’s Central Disaster Management Headquarters, during a press briefing at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Wednesday.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
North Korea holds late-night military parade again
North Korea held late-night military parade on Thursday to mark the 73rd anniversary of the nation’s founding. Strategic weapons such as ICBM and SLBM, which were rolled out October 2020 and January 2021 were nonetheless not showcased this time. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, wearing a grey suit, overlooked the military parade but did not deliver a speech. The military parade was featured for about an hour starting midnight Thursday, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. North Korea has held three nighttime military parades in just a year—including a military parade held to celebrate the eighth congress of the North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, which started 6 p.m., and a military parade held on Oct. 10, 2020 to commemorate 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party, which started at midnight.
Samsung to receive tax incentives on condition of building a semiconductor plant
The City of Taylor in Williamson County, Texas passed a bill to provide tax incentives to Samsung to bring a 17-billion-dollar (approximately 20 trillion won) worth semiconductor plant to Taylor. The local broadcast network KXAN reported on Thursday that Taylor City and Williamson County held a joint meeting where participants unanimously voted in favor to provide property tax exemptions to Samsung on condition of building its semiconductor plant in Taylor. According to agreements signed by Samsung and Williamson County, the county will give a 90% tax rebate for the first 10 years, then a 80% for the next 10 years on condition of building an over 560,000 square meters semiconductor plant facilities and create 1,800 new jobs by January 31, 2026. KXAN reported that up to 10,000 new jobs will be created for the construction of the plant only.
Restarting Yongbyon nuclear reactor is not violation of inter-Korean agreements, says Seoul official
South Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong-kun said North Korea restarting its nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex in early July is not a violation of inter-Korean agreements. At a plenary session of the National Assembly's foreign affairs and unification committee on Tuesday, Choi was asked if the North’s restarting of nuclear facilities in Yongbyon is a violation of the agreements made at the inter-Korean summit held at Panmunjom in 2018. Choi answered that he does not think so. “There are visible measures taken by North Korea, which are still in progress, from the agreements reached through the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration and the September 19 Pyongyang Joint Declaration,” he said, citing the closing of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the Dongchang-ri missile test site as examples.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Oh Se-hoon Tried to Sell Yangjae-dong Land to Phi-City When He Was the Mayor of Seoul in 2010
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon sent a letter to Phi-City attached with a contract to sell land located in Yangjae-dong, Seocho-gu in December 2010, when he serve as the city’s mayor. In a parliamentary inspection in 2008, Oh said that he was paying great attention to the Phi-City project. However, in a TV debate of mayoral candidates for the by-election in April, Oh referred to the Phi-City project and said, the project “had nothing to do with the city of Seoul when I was in office.” The police are currently investigating him for distributing false information based on the Public Official Election Act. On September 8, the Kyunghyang Shinmun obtained the contract between the Seoul metropolitan government and Phi-City drawn up on December 16, 2010 through the Democratic Party of Korea advisor Kim Wu-cheol. The contract was a private contract (not open to bidding) signed by the city of Seoul, which promised to sell 1,089 pyeong (3,600 m2) of land in Yangjae-dong at 27.26 million won per pyeong (approx. 3.3 m2) for a total of 28.6 billion won.
Poll Results of Presidential Candidates: Lee Jae-myung 27.0%, Yoon Seok-youl 24.2% and Hong Joon-pyo 15.6%
On September 9, the results of a poll showed a close race between Democratic Party of Korea’s candidate, Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung and People Power Party candidate, former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, with a slight difference in support that lies within the margin of error, and People Power Party lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo tracing them in third place. According to the polls on future presidential candidates released by OhmyNews and the polling firm, Realmeter this day, Governor Lee was the most popular candidate with 27.0% of support. He managed to gain 2.1% more support from a survey conducted two weeks ago when he came in second. The latest result was a record high for Lee. Yoon was backed by 24.2% of the respondents, a 2.3% drop from the previous survey. However, the difference between the two candidates remains within the margin of error. Realmeter conducted a national survey of 2,019 people ages 18 and older on September 6-7 (The firm contacted 36,916 people of which 5.5% responded to the survey. The survey had a confidence level of 95% with a 2.2% margin of error).
“No Circumstantial Evidence So Far. If Necessary, the Investigation Should Be Conducted by the CIO,” Lee Jun-seok Responds to Allegation of Instigating Prosecution
People Power Party leader Lee Jun-seok responded to the allegation that former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl instigated prosecution and said, “When the results of the inspection (by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office) comes out, they should release it to the people. And if there are some questionable areas, an investigation could be conducted.” He also named the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) as the agency suitable to conduct the investigation. Lee appeared on Kim Hyun-jung’s News Show on CBS radio this morning and said, “When the Prosecution Service put its mind to it, they could conduct an inspection in a day or two (when Choo Mi-ae served as the justice minister). Even now, if they clearly identify the truth swiftly, they could avoid unnecessary arguments.” According to Lee, the most important issue is whether the person that created the document was a Prosecution Service insider.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
South Korea’s Hanwha, NH Investment jumped on Relativity Space’s Series E funding
South Korea’s Hanwha Aerospace and a consortium of NH Investment & Securities and Consus Asset Management were among the new investors in the latest $650 million Series E funding round of U.S. 3D-printed rocket startup Relativity Space that closed in June. According to industry sources on Thursday, Hanwha Aerospace, the aviation unit of Hanwha Group, contributed $10 million and the investment consortium $40 million. The California-based venture is the first company to 3D print an entire rocket and build the largest metal 3D printers in the world. It creates almost the entire rocket in-house and provides space launch and orbiting services for payloads.
Hydrogen stocks gain heat in Korea amid accelerated hydrogen drive
Hydrogen stocks are gaining heat after Korean household corporate names formed an alliance for initiative and leadership in achieving hydrogen economy. Shares of Hyosung Advanced Materials Corp. closed Thursday up 1.97 percent at 674,000 won ($576.56) after closing the previous day at a record high of 661,000 won with 9-percent gain. Those of Kolon Industries Inc. finished 0.22 percent higher at 92,400 won, extending gains from the previous day’s close of 92,200 won, which was a 52-week high. The last time Kolon Industries stock traded above 90,000 won was in January 2018. Other hydrogen stocks, like plastics and others in fuel cell value chain, took a breather on Thursday from previous day’s sharp gains. EcoPlastic Corp.
Korean fried chicken franchise BBQ becomes 5th fastest-growing restaurant chain in U.S.
South Korea’s chicken takeout franchise BBQ was named one of the fastest-growing food brands in the United States thanks to its successful localization and rising popularity of Korean culture. Genesis BBQ, the operator of the brand, said Wednesday that BBQ ranked fifth in the list of ‘the 25 fastest-growing restaurant chains by unit count’ released by Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN), the leading provider of foodservice industry news and information founded in 1956. NRN selected top 25 fastest-growing food brands in the U.S. based on year-over-year growth in unit count, annual sales and sales per store. BBQ opened 51 new restaurants in the country in 2020, up 45.7 percent on year. It is the only Korean food brand to make the list.
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