Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“Today, we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of unification of the 7 Emirates”
Ambassador Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi of the United Arab Emirates in Seoul said, “Today we are here to celebrate a very special event in my country, United Arab Emirates. It is the Golden Jubilee of the unification of the seven Emirates in 1971.” Speaking to the guests at a gala reception he hosted at Hotel Shill in Seoul on Dec. 2, 2021 in celebration of one of the most auspicious occasions of his country, Ambassador Al Nuaimi then added, “Over the past 50 years, the UAE has made remarkable achievements in all fields thanks to the vision laid by the founding father Sheikh Zayed and his fellow members of the Federal Supreme Council.” (See details of his speech at the end of this report.)
Google’s Stadia cloud gaming now on latest LG Smart TVs
LG Electronics announced the availability of Google’s cloud gaming service Stadia on its Smart TVs running webOS 5.0 and webOS 6.0 in 22 countries, the company said on Dec. 8. Native support of Stadia gameplay on LG Smart TVs helps deliver instant access to high-end games with support for exceptional graphics and frame rates on cutting-edge displays. Available now to download on the LG Content Store in all 22 countries where Stadia is currently available, the Stadia store features over 200 popular games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Resident Evil Village, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Hitman 3, Baldur’s Gate 3 as well as access to a growing list of free games and demos, all playable with just a compatible controller, no downloading required.
Samsung Electronics ranks 4th in WBA’s 2021 Digital Inclusion Benchmark
Samsung Electronics ranked fourth out of 150 companies in the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA)’s Digital Inclusion Benchmark in 2021, the company announced on Dec. 8. Samsung’s consistent, multifaceted efforts to be digitally responsible have earned the achievement from global tenth place in 2020 to fourth in this year. The WBA represents an alliance forged among more than 200 global, regional and local organizations to shape the private sector’s contributions to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Samsung was recognized for its efforts on digital responsibility as the company had established its artificial intelligence (AI) ethics principles.
KDCA Chief Hints at Strengthening Social Distancing in December
Amid a continued spike in COVID-19 infections, the head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) said on Monday that authorities are considering tightening social distancing measures. Appearing on KBS, KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong said that authorities are reviewing possible measures that will be effective at the moment, including tightening caps on private gatherings, restricting business hours of multi-use facilities and expanding at-home treatment. Jeong cited the need to strengthen social distancing rules to buy some time until the nation immunizes a sufficient number of seniors with booster shots, secures enough hospital beds for patients and establishes an at-home treatment system.
Finance Minister: S. Korea to Launch Process to Join CPTPP
After years of consideration, the government has officially confirmed it will join an Asia-Pacific free trade agreement known as the CPTPP. Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki in a meeting of economy-related ministers said on Monday that the government will launch a process to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership(CPTPP). It will begin the process by collecting public opinion and launching social discussions with parties concerned on the matter.
Glitch in COVID-19 Pass App Causes Mass Confusion during Lunch Rush
The country's main digital vaccination authentication system momentarily shut down on Monday, inciting significant confusion among users who could not pull up their vaccination or PCR test records. Monday marked the first day of the expanded COVID-19 pass system after a week-long grace period expired, enabling fines to be issued for rule-breakers. Reports began to pour in nationwide of people unable to access COOV, a smartphone app operated by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) that offers vaccination certification, from around 11:40 a.m.
Moon says S. Korea not considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics
President Moon Jae-in said Monday that South Korea is not considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics and has not been asked by any nation to do so. Moon addressed the issue for the first time after the United States announced last week that it will not send an official delegation to the Olympics in February over concerns about China's human rights abuses. "The South Korean government is not considering (a boycott)," Moon said at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison after bilateral summit talks in Canberra.
U.S. holds no hostility, awaits positive response for dialogue from N. Korea: State Dept.
The United States has no hostile policy toward North Korea while it continues to wait for a positive response from the reclusive state to its outreach, a state department spokesperson said Monday. Jalina Porter, principal deputy spokesperson for the state department, also reiterated the U.S. remains ready to meet with North Korea any time without any preconditions. "We remain committed to achieving a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy with the DPRK, and to that end, of course, we will seek to engage with the DPRK as a part of a calibrated and practical approach in order to make more tangible progress that increases the security of not only the United States, but as well as our allies and our deployed forces," she said in a telephonic press briefing.
Ruling party's presidential candidate raps Japan for meddling in Dokdo issue
The ruling Democratic Party's presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung on Monday criticized Japan's excessive reactions to the South Korean police chief's recent trip to Dokdo for "meddling in another country's policy." The comment came during a telephone call with officers from Dokdo Security Police as part of his nationwide election campaign. Last month, National Police Agency Commissioner-General Kim Chang-yong visited Dokdo to encourage officials working on the country's easternmost islets. But his visit has drawn strong protest from the Japanese government, including a boycott of a vice ministerial joint press conference held in Washington.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Seoul not considering Beijing Olympics boycott: Moon
President Moon Jae-in said during a state visit to Australia Monday that the Korean government is not considering a diplomatic boycott of next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics in a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. When a reporter asked whether Moon’s visit to Australia could give China a bad signal while Australia is in conflict with China and has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, Moon said, “We have not received any recommendations to participate in (the boycott) from any country, including the US, and the Korean government is not considering it.”
At G-7, FM Chung discusses peninsula issue with US, remains apart with Japan
South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong stressed the partnership with Washington, but remained apart on key sticking points with Tokyo, in a brief meeting with his US and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the Group of Seven session in the UK. Chung joined the in-person gathering of G-7 foreign and development ministers meeting in Liverpool, England, over the weekend, the Foreign Ministry said Monday. South Korea was invited as a guest -- along with Australia, India, South Africa and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- to this year’s session of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies.
Could he have been saved? Questions ensue in death of 6-year-old
South Korea’s second known child to die of COVID-19 had a chronic health condition, and he was considered to be at risk. He had been sick for about a week before he was officially diagnosed on Dec. 2. And yet he was not immediately given a bed at a hospital, instead isolating at home for two days until he was taken to the emergency room. When he got to the ER on Dec. 4, he had breathing difficulties and a fever that wouldn’t go down. He was placed on a respirator immediately in an isolation ward. Despite showing warning signs of severe COVID-19, he could not be admitted for intensive care.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
South Korea not considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics: Moon
President Moon Jae-in maintained a cautious approach toward China during a press conference after a summit with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Monday, saying South Korea was not considering a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, something Australia and other U.S. allies have already announced. During the conference, Moon also stressed that his state visit to Australia and subsequent signing of raw material and defense MOUs also have nothing to do with China, in order to downplay anticipations that Korea's strengthening of ties with the key U.S. ally, which has been in a deepening diplomatic and economic row with China, would give a negative signal to Beijing.
Bank of Korea to address need to tame inflation
Bank of Korea (BOK) Governor Lee Ju-yeol will ramp up the rhetoric to combat inflation by reiterating his determination to again hike the central bank's key rate, during his upcoming year-end press conference. The BOK's monetary policy board has repeated its hawkish gestures over the past few months, increasing the key rate in August and November. The central bank is moving to raise it once more sometime in January or February, addressing the need to get escalating inflationary concerns under tighter control. But this raises woes because a set of preemptive rate hikes will come at the cost of some financially vulnerable groups, such as the self-employed and small business owners, hit hard by the pandemic. With Korea reporting 5,817 daily coronavirus infections for Monday, they are feared to continue falling victim to the pandemic shock.
Samsung SDI CEO vows to lead battery market
Choi Yoon-ho, who took office recently as CEO of Samsung SDI, vowed to keep focusing on the technological gap with other competitors based on its quality batteries, the company said Monday. The battery maker said Choi had his first meeting with employees at the company's Giheung headquarters in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. During the meeting, the CEO stressed that the EV battery maker "needs to develop next-generation batteries and materials and achieve a super gap in technology with innovative and safety methods." Stating that "opportunities for growth are open no matter what difficult business environment we face, and only prepared companies capture the chances," Choi said that "the real No.1 is a company that achieves profitable qualitative growth based on super-gap technology competitiveness and the best quality."
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
COVID Infections Surge Despite High Vaccination Rate
Some 92.1 percent of all adults in Korea are fully vaccinated against coronavirus but daily infections still hover at around 7,000, straining hospitals to breaking point. More than 20,000 COVID-19 patients have been told to self-isolate and nearly 900 people are in serious condition. As of last Saturday, 80.9 percent of ICU beds across the country have been filled, and over 90 percent in Seoul and Incheon. Some 1,739 people in the Seoul metropolitan area are waiting for ICU beds to become available, and a record 80 people died. The arrival of the Omicron variant exacerbates worries of an unprecedented surge in new cases. Ninety people have now tested positive for the highly infectious variant.
N.Korea's Army Minister Blacklisted for Rights Abuses
North Korea's armed forces minister and two state-run entities are among individuals and bodies newly blacklisted "for their connection to human rights abuses and repression in several countries" by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control last Friday. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said, "On International Human Rights Day, the Treasury is using its tools to expose and hold accountable perpetrators of serious human rights abuse" in Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and North Korea. In North Korea, the office blacklisted People's Armed Forces Minister Ri Yong-gil, the Central Public Prosecutors Office, and the animation studio SEK Studio.
Moon Arrives in Australia for 4-Day State Visit
President Moon Jae-in arrived in Australia on Sunday for a four-day state visit. He is the first foreign leader to visit the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the first Korean president to make a state visit there in 12 years. The two countries mark 60 years of diplomatic ties this year. On Monday, Moon held a summit with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and signed a US$1-billion defense deal, which is the largest contract ever between the two countries. Under the deal, Korea's Hanwha Defense will provide its K-9 self-propelled howitzers to Australia. Morrison said the two countries "share a view about the role of liberal democracies in today's world and particularly in the Indo-Pacific."
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea records its deadliest week of the pandemic with 401 deaths
With South Korea’s daily COVID-19 caseload hovering around 7,000, the country has set new records for both the weekly number of COVID-19 deaths and the daily number of serious and critical patients. There are also more COVID-19 patients on the waiting list for hospital beds than ever before. With Korea’s medical system essentially malfunctioning, on Saturday, the government inquired about imposing additional COVID-19 restrictions to the government panel in charge of aiding the return to normal routines. The government is expected to announce special disease control measures by the middle of this week at the earliest.
Biden imposes first new sanctions on N. Korea over human rights
The US President Joe Biden’s administration marked Human Rights Day on Saturday by including 10 entities and 15 individuals in North Korea, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh as targets for sanctions, citing human rights abuses. These are the first new sanctions the US has imposed against North Korea since Biden took office. The targets listed for North Korea included Defense Minister Ri Yong-gil and the Central Public Prosecutors Office. Ri is a former minister of social security, the North Korean equivalent to the South’s National Police Agency commissioner.
A world divided by the Summit for Democracy
A two-day Summit for Democracy was held on Thursday and Friday of last week, with the administration of US President Joe Biden inviting 110 countries around the world to take part via videoconference. Biden had been preparing for the event since his inauguration early this year, declaring his aim of rescuing democracy from its current imperiled state around the world. In reality, the event has prompted more worry and concern than anything else. In his remarks at the summit’s opening session, Biden said that democracy and human rights around the world were being faced with “sustained and alarming challenges.” He added the trend was being exacerbated by, among other things, “outside pressure from autocrats.”
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Moon says he is not considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Monday that the South Korean government is not considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. During his state visit to Australia. Moon drew a line while Australia and the U.K. have joined the boycott by the U.S., which is in sharp conflict with China. “We haven’t received any requests from any countries, including the U.S., to participate,” said President Moon at a joint press conference following a summit meeting with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison in Canberra on Monday.
Biden administration imposes its first sanction against Pyongyang
The U.S. has imposed a new sanction against North Korea, including the North’s Defense Minister Ri Yong Gil and the Central Public Prosecutors Workplace, citing their anti-human rights acts. The Joe Biden administration previously only extended sanctions against Pyongyang imposed by the Trump administration, but it is the first time the incumbent administration has levied a new sanction. Watchers say that the Biden administration’s North Korea policy might be shifting from “unconditional dialogue” to pressure.
South Korea applies to join CPTPP after China’s bid
The South Korean government has officially announced to begin the application process to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a massive free trade deal taking up 15% of the world economy. While the deal is expected to serve as an opportunity to lower trade dependency on China and diversify Korea’s trade partnership, it is also feared to fuel steep opposition from local farmers and fisheries industry who are concerned about a fiercer competition against expanded imports.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
The “Vaccine Pass” Goes into Effect This Day: Get Your Vaccine Certificates Ready
Starting this day, December 13, the “vaccine pass” will be implemented and citizens will have to prove that they received the COVID-19 vaccine to enter restaurants and cafes. If a customer enters a business without presenting his/her vaccine pass, they will be fined 100,000 won, and if a business owner fails to check the vaccine pass, she will be subject to a fine of 1.5 million won and a 10-day suspension of business. The government had designated a week from December 6 as an introductory period for facilities where the vaccine pass would be mandatory, such as restaurants, cafes, hakwon (private academies), movie theaters, performance halls, study rooms, study cafes, Internet cafes, museums and libraries. The introductory period ends on December 13 and now if customers and business owners fail to present or check the vaccine pass, they will both be fined.
President Moon at Summit Hosted by the U.S., “Democracy Is Challenged by Fake News and We Need to Discuss Ways to Protect Democracy”
On December 9, President Moon Jae-in attended the Summit for Democracy hosted by the U.S. and said, “Despite that humanity has achieved prosperity at a level never experienced before in history along with democracy, we face challenges such as populism and fundamentalism, inequality and polarization, fake news and hatred.” In a written briefing, Cheongwadae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee conveyed that this day, President Moon attended the first plenary session of the virtual Summit for Democracy hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden and argued that it was now necessary for serious discussions on ways to protect democracy.
In 2070, South Korea Will Have the Highest Life Expectancy but Lowest Fertility Rate among OECD Countries
Fifty years from now, South Koreans may live the longest among citizens of OECD countries, while the average South Korean woman is expected to bear the smallest number of children during her lifetime. The burden on the economically productive population (ages 15-64) is also expected to be the heaviest in South Korea compared with other OECD member states. According to Population Projections for Korea: 2020-2070 recently released by Statistics Korea on December 13, in a basic scenario, the life expectancy of South Koreans in 2070 is expected to reach 91.2 (89.5 for men, 92.8 for women), meaning that a person born in 2070 would be expected to live until 91.2 years of age.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
HHI-DSME merger at risk of collapse on EU’s possible disapproval
Hyundai Heavy Industries Group’s grand plan to own its local rival shipyard Daewoo Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (DSME) under its arm is likely to fall through as the European Union concerned about HHI’s dominance in the global market is expected to deny approval. According to a report from Reuter on Sunday, the deal between Hyundai Heavy Industry (HHI) and DSME “is set for an EU antitrust veto after the companies declined to offer remedies to allay competition concerns,” and the European Commission “is concerned the deal would create two large players from the current three.”
Hyundai Motor rumored to replace R&D and design chiefs
Hyundai Motor Group is rumored to review an option to let its long-time foreign-national chiefs Albert Biermann and Peter Schreyer during a year-end executive reshuffle later this week and add younger-generation executives in response to the fast shift toward future mobility technologies. The Korean automaker may replace Albert Biermann, president and head of R&D division at Hyundai Motor, and Peter Schreyer, president and chief design officer at Kia, with new executives, possibly auto experts from outside, according to industry sources on Sunday.
Nearly half of large firms in Korea without investment plan for next year
About half of major companies in South Korea have not come up with investment plans for next year yet amid lingering economic uncertainty, a poll found Monday. According to a survey commissioned by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) to Mono Research on top 500 Korean companies by sales, 49.5 percent of 101 responded companies said they have no investment plans or yet to decide on their investments for 2022. Of the companies who said they have set an investment plan for next year, 62.7 percent said they will maintain the similar level of investment with this year. Around 31.4 percent said they will increase their investments, while 5.9 percent will cut back on spending.
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