Monday, September 13, 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.
Naver Webtoon ranks first in sales and downloads in France
Naver Webtoon ranked first in sales and downloads in the Google Play cartoon category in France, respectively, according to App Annie, a global app research company, on Sept. 10. Naver Webtoon launched a French service in December 2019 and entered the European market in earnest. Since then, it has switched to paid services in November last year, and has proven its competitiveness by maintaining its No. 1 position in the cartoon category of Google Play in France for more than 200 days since the transition to paid services. It ranked 12th in the Apple App Store entertainment category in France and is competing with global OTT platforms such as Netflix and Disney Plus. Tappytoon of Contents First, invested by Naver Webtoon, is also active, ranking second in sales in the Google Play cartoon category in France.
Jusung Engineering to export solar cell manufacturing equipment to EnCore
Jusung Engineering said on Sept. 8 that it will export 47 billion won worth of solar cell manufacturing equipment to EnCore Group LCC, a European solar cell manufacturer. The equipment supplied by Jusung to the European company is PE CVD (Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition). PE CVD is a technology for depositing an antireflection coating on a solar cell substrate. It is the first time in nearly 10 years that Jusung has signed a contract to supply large-scale solar equipment at home and abroad. In other words, it signaled a comeback in the solar power business. Jusung recorded the highest annual sales of more than 400 billion won in 2010, with sales in the solar sector accounting for around 40%. However, since 2012, the solar power market has continued to stagnate, resulting in a drought of orders.
N. Korea Test-fires New Long-range Cruise Missiles
North Korea said on Monday that it carried out successful long-range cruise missile tests over the weekend. The North's official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) said on Monday that the country successfully test-fired a new type of long-range cruise missile on Saturday and Sunday. The KCNA said the missiles flew 15-hundred kilometers before hitting their targets and falling into the country's territorial waters in the tests conducted by the Academy of National Defense Science. The report claimed the development of the missiles provides strategic significance as it shows another effective deterrence that more reliably guarantees national security and strongly contains the military maneuvers of hostile forces.
Parliamentary Interpellation Session to Begin Monday
The National Assembly will hold a four-day interpellation session on government policies starting from Monday. The Assembly will hold interpellation sessions on politics on Monday, foreign affairs and national security on Tuesday, the economy on Wednesday, and education and social issues on Thursday. Each day, eleven lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties will question top government officials, including Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum. Allegations surrounding former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl are likely to dominate the question-and-answer session. Yoon, the leading presidential contender of the main opposition People Power Party, is accused of prodding the party to lodge criminal complaints against pro-government figures ahead of the parliamentary elections in April last year.
15 Public Firms Expected to Report Net Loss of 6.7 Tln Won This Year
The government expects fifteen public enterprises in the country will report a net loss of nearly six-point-seven trillion won this year. The government recently submitted to the National Assembly public firms' mid- and long-term financial management data. According to the data, 15 state-owned corporations and semi-government organizations are expected to report a net loss of six-point-67 trillion won in 2021. The expected loss is almost twice the comparable figure for last year, which posted three-point-39 trillion won. The deficit is largely due to the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and its six subsidiaries, which are projected to post a deficit of four trillion won this year. Railroad operator KORAIL and Incheon International Airport Corporation, both hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, are also expected to report a combined net loss of two trillion won.
New cases fall under 1,800; number of fully vaccinated tops 20 mln
South Korea's daily coronavirus cases dropped under 1,800 on Sunday as health authorities try to stem virus infections ahead of a major holiday amid persistent infections in the greater Seoul area. The number of fully vaccinated people surpassed the 20 million mark, representing 39 percent of the population, with a nationwide effort to boost vaccination rates. The country added 1,755 COVID-19 cases, including 1,725 local infections, raising the total caseload to 272,982, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The latest caseload was down from over 1,800 cases over the past two days. However, it was the second-largest figure for weekend days. Daily cases have stayed in the quadruple digits for more than two months amid the fast spread of the more transmissible delta variant nationwide.
Opposition party files complaint against CIO over alleged illegal raid
The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) on Saturday filed a complaint with the prosecution over what it called an illegal raid against one of its lawmakers in a snowballing political meddling scandal. The complaint accuses Kim Jin-wook, chief of the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO), and five investigators of abuse of power and an illegal raid on the office of PPP Rep. Kim Woong on Friday. Rep. Jun Joo-hyae, a PPP spokeswoman, delivered the complaint to the Supreme Prosecutors Office, along with a party's legal adviser, Kwon Oh-hyeon. The scandal centers on allegations that the state prosecution service asked the PPP to file criminal complaints against several ruling party figures ahead of the April 2020 parliamentary elections, when Yoon Seok-youl was the prosecutor general.
2.1 magnitude quake hits southeastern South Korea, no damage reported
A 2.1 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern South Korea early Sunday, but no damage was reported. The quake hit some 4 kilometers southeast of Changnyeong County, about 260 km southeast of Seoul, at 2:04 a.m. from a depth of 13 kilometers, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said. The epicenter was located at a latitude of 35.53 degrees north and a longitude of 128.53 degrees east. The maximum seismic intensity scale was 2, which means that the tremor can be felt only by a small number of people in a quiet state or on a higher floor. "There will be no damage from this quake," a KMA official said. It was the 29th quake to hit the Korean Peninsula this year, according to the KMA.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Assembly speaker returns after parliamentary summit diplomacy
National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug returned Saturday after meeting with his counterparts at the fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament in Vienna. They agreed to cooperate on issues concerning economics, business, defense and North Korea, officials said Sunday. During the two-day conference, which began Tuesday, he met with 24 parliamentary leaders and with the secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and expanded the horizons of South Korea’s parliamentary diplomacy, according to a statement released by his office. On Wednesday Park met with Mark Daly, chair of the Senate of Ireland, to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two countries and humanitarian assistance for North Korea.
Do I have to detour again to avoid the protest?
On July 3, streets in central Seoul were flooded with thousands of members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions giving voice to their cause. For the vast majority of people, however, the rally was a source of irritation and inconvenience. "They think they can take the street whenever they like, and I don’t know where that right comes from," said 41-year-old office worker Kim Seung-hye, who was in the area at the time to dine out with a friend. "I had to walk at least 3 kilometers more to find a cab, and even then the traffic jam was really bad, so in the end I think I got home like two hours later than I originally planned." Kim said she was annoyed that no support was given to people in central Seoul, where such rallies are often held. Police involvement is designed only to ensure that no violence starts during a rally, not for the benefit of citizens in the area, she added.
Lee consolidates landslide lead in ruling party's primary race
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung clinched two consecutive electoral victories Sunday in the ruling Democratic Party (DP)’s primary votes to pick its presidential candidate, solidifying his landslide lead. Lee finished first in one of the party‘s three rounds of electoral college votes, released in a regional primary event in Oak Valley Resort in Wonju, Gangwon Province, earlier in the day. The governor garnered 51 percent of the 496,672 ballots cast by in the first electoral college vote, running far ahead of runner-up, ex-DP Chairman Rep. Lee Nak-yon, who had 31.4 percent. In the same event, the governor was announced the winner of the regional primary vote in Gangwon Province with 55.3 percent of votes, sweeping all four of the party’s 11 regional primary votes held so far, including the vote in the Daegu-North Gyeongsang Province region a day earlier.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
North Korea test-fires new long-range cruise missiles: state media
North Korea has successfully test-fired a new type of long-range cruise missile over the weekend, state media reported Monday, a low-level provocation amid stalled talks with the United States. The test-firings, which took place Saturday and Sunday without leader Kim Jong-un in attendance, came right after the North held a scaled-down military parade, and appeared to be intent on demonstrating its military power in a low-level provocation without violating U.N. sanctions.
The North is banned from using ballistic technology under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. Cruise missiles, however, are not subject to the sanctions as they are considered less of a threat than ballistic missiles. "The development of the long-range cruise missile, a strategic weapon of great significance.... has been pushed forward according to the scientific and reliable weapon system development process for the past two years," the official Korean Central News Agency said.
'Discussions on inter-Korean humanitarian projects make progress'
South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Noh Kyu-duk said, Sunday, that discussions with the United States on inter-Korean humanitarian projects had made significant progress. He made the remarks at Incheon International Airport before traveling to Tokyo to hold a trilateral meeting with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts ― Sung Kim and Takehiro Funakoshi ― during a three-day visit there. Noh also plans to sit down with each of them one-on-one. Noh's trip is noteworthy given that he will meet the U.S. envoy for the fourth time in four months ― after once in June and twice in August ― as the Biden administration is firmly committed to providing its support for inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation projects. In addition, the trilateral meeting comes after a recent International Atomic Energy Agency report suggesting that North Korea has restarted its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon.
FSS in dilemma over court ruling favoring Woori CEO
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)
More Koreans Drowning in Debt to Join Stock Bonanza
More people are sinking deeper into debt as they join the stock market frenzy with borrowed money even after the Bank of Korea hiked the base interest rate. Households' credit balance increased W903.6 billion in August to W25.4 trillion (US$1=W1,169). According to the Korea Financial Investment Association on Thursday, the total balance of money borrowed for stock transactions stood at W25.4 trillion. An analyst said people are still betting on the stock market even as the bubble is deflating. "The recent increase in individual shareholders of Samsung Electronics verifies that," he added. The Korea Exchange said Thursday that individuals bought another W7.4 trillion worth of Samsung Electronics shares in the past month although foreigners and institutions dumped them.
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.
N.Korea Banned from Beijing Winter Olympics
North Korea has been banned from Olympics until the end of 2022 as punishment for refusing to field a team for the Tokyo Summer Olympics amid of the coronavirus pandemic. That means it will miss out on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics next February. This scuppers any residual hopes the South Korean government had to form a unified Korean team ahead of next year's presidential election here. A Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson only said, "We'll continue to look for ways to make progress towards peace on the Korean Peninsula." In a press conference on Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said that North Korea has been suspended through 2022 for its no-show in Tokyo. "The exclusion could be extended," he added. "They were violating the Olympic Charter and did not fulfill their obligation as stated in the Olympic Charter to participate." It stipulates that national Olympic committees have the obligation to "send competitors, team officials and other team personnel" to every games.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Global “serving class” made up of low-wage, migrant caregivers
All living beings, human and non-human alike, require care to survive. The giving and receiving of care are vital parts of life. But while caregiving is a worthwhile activity, care work is time-consuming and carries a physical, economic and emotional toll. Questions of who deserves to receive care and who should be performing care work have long been an area in which inequality has prevailed. For much of history, care work was not reciprocal or mutual; it was a duty forced on socially vulnerable groups such as slaves, servants, women and foreigners. This reflects just how strenuous, poorly remunerated and socially undervalued this labor is. Yet care work is now the most acutely sought-after form of human labor on a global level. Since the pandemic, crucial questions have arisen on who should take responsibility — and how — for the human lives that are at risk, and for the social caregiving that lockdowns and social distancing have brought to a halt.
S. Korean household debt ratio increase ranks 3rd among major economies, report finds
South Korea’s recent rate of increase in household debt ranked third highest among 43 major economies, a report shows. The Bank of Korea (BOK) attributed this less to negative impacts on the economic growth rate from a rise in the key interest rate and more to positive effects associated with reduced financial imbalances. According to a BOK monetary and credit policy report submitted to the National Assembly on Thursday, South Korea’s ratio of household debt to gross domestic product (GDP) was 105% as of the first quarter of 2021, making it sixth highest among the 43 countries (as of Q4 2020) examined by the Bank for International Settlements. Countries with higher debt-to-GDP ratios than South Korea were Switzerland (132.7%), Australia (123.5%), Norway (114.9%), Canada (112.2%), and Denmark (111.9%). The average household debt ratio for the 42 countries besides South Korea was 61.1%.
Following quarantine, Afghan collaborators begin adapting to Korean life
The Afghans who were airlifted to South Korea in a miraculous escape after Kabul fell to the Taliban are adjusting well to life in Korea during their temporary stay at the National Human Resources Development Institute in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province. The 390 Afghans, who landed in Korea on Aug. 26-27, completed their quarantines on Friday, and are now able to go for walks on the institute grounds. Korea’s Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for the Afghans, said that the 383 who’d been tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday had all tested negative and that seven others who’d tested positive upon arrival in the country had now tested negative following treatment. As of Friday, the Ministry said, quarantine had been lifted, allowing them to return to normal activities.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
S. Korea-US-Japan chief negotiators to discuss N. Korea’s denuke
The South Korean government will seek to resume inter-Korean dialogue that remains stalled again after Pyongyang’s shutting of inter-Korean hotlines through a slew of events this week, including a meeting among South Korea, U.S. and Japan’s chief negotiators for North Korea’s denuclearization, and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s visit to Seoul. Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea’s chief negotiator at the foreign affairs ministry, will meet with Sung Kim, U.S. special envoy for North Korea, and Takehiro Funakoshi, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at the Japanese foreign ministry, to discuss ways to resume talks on Pyongyang’s denuclearization in Japan on Tuesday. Prior to leaving for Japan, Noh told reporters, “I expect we will have productive talks to make progress in Korean Peninsula peace process.”
Americans commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks
Large-scale 9/11 memorial events will be held across the U.S. on Saturday (local time), commemorating the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks. U.S. President Joe Biden will visit all three 9/11 memorial sites including Ground Zero in New York City, the Pentagon in Virginia, and the memorial outside Shanksville in Pennsylvania. President Biden will visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum built on the site of Ground Zero at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. The names of the victims will be read by the bereaved families and a silent tribute will be paid to the victims at 8:46 a.m., the exact time when the first hijacked plane crashed into the northern façade of the World Trade Center’s North Tower 20 years ago.
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.
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).
“Appalled at the Extension of Distancing Measures,” Storeowners to Launch Nationwide Demonstrations in Cars Tonight
The National Emergency Committee for Small Business Owners will launch a demonstration in vehicles throughout the nation simultaneously on September 8. They are calling for disease control authorities to withdraw the decision to further extend the current distancing measures. The committee announced that from 11 p.m. this day until 1 a.m. September 9, storeowners would engage in a one-man demonstration in cars departing from the provincial government offices and city halls in each region. So far, the committee has decided to hold the demonstration in ten cities and provinces: Seoul, Incheon, Daejeon, Busan, Gwangju, Gyeonggi, Chungcheongbuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Jeollabuk-do and Gangwon. The group of small business owners are calling for the government to ease physical (social) distancing measures against COVID-19 on grounds of increasing damage due to restrictions. In a press release distributed on September 3, the group said, “We find ourselves appalled at the government’s unilateral notice (on distancing levels) without any consideration for improvements in the environment and of demands from each business, despite that the government had agreed to listen to the opinions of business owners.”
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Lotte Shopping tapped as the strategic partner for IMM PE’s Hanssem buyout
South Korea’s retail giant Lotte Shopping Co. has been chosen by IMM Private Equity (IMM PE) over industrial and interior material giant LX Hausys as the fund’s strategic partner for an estimated $1 billion buyout of the country’s largest furniture and home furnishing company Hanssem Co. IMM PE made its choice official on Friday. Although details of the terms have not been revealed, Lotte will invest in a fund created by IMM PE for the acquisition of Hanssem estimated from 1.3 trillion won ($1.1 billion) to 1.7 trillion won with a priority option to buy over the controlling stake should IMM PE decides to cash out of the furniture company. Lotte Shopping on Thursday disclosed that it would invest 299.5 billion won in a fund IMM PE fund devoted to the Hanssem buyout.
Korean stock market liquidity may be disturbed due to restrained market making
Following the unprecedentedly large fining decision on market-making brokerages, their role of creating market liquidity in the Korean bourses could be hampered due to restrained bid and offer quoting. Korea Exchange (KRX), the sole stock market operator in the country, announced it will temporarily exempt all 14 securities firms authorized as stock market makers from market-making liabilities without a penalty. The exchange operator will also suspend evaluation on the market makers during the waiver period. The rare move comes after the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) earlier this week warned nine market makers of slapping 48 billion won ($41.5 million) fines for their “inappropriate” practices.
EcoPro BM stock on a roll on $8.6 bn order from SK Inno, more may come
EcoPro BM Co., a South Korean battery materials manufacturer publicly trading for the third year, is under full limelight after it signed a three-year 10.1 trillion won ($8.6 billion) contract to supply high-nickel NCM cathode materials to SK Innovation Co. Kosdaq-listed shares of EcoPro BM rose 12 percent to close at 400,500 won on Friday, after touching a new 52-week intraday high of 405,000 won. The stock had finished previous session up 6.21 percent. Investors flocked to the unfamiliar name after it disclosed a 10.1 trillion won deal to supply high-nickel NCM cathode materials to SK Innovation for three years from 2024. In February last year, SK Innovation and EcoPro BM signed a 2.7 trillion won supply deal for cathodes until 2023.
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