Monday, December 13, 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.
Moon to Hold Summit with Australian Prime Minister
President Moon Jae-will hold summit talks with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday in Canberra. Moon, who arrived in Australia on Sunday for a four-day state visit, is expected to discuss cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and supply chains for resources such as rare earth and lithium, which are abundant in Australia. The presidential office said the state visit will serve as an opportunity to stabilize supply chains of raw materials and key mineral resources, stressing the need to diversify import channels of key products.
Study: Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Provides Strong Protection against Omicron
A new study finds that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech have no neutralization ability against the omicron variant, but a third shot provides significant protection. According to Reuters on Saturday, Israeli researchers at Sheba Medical Center and the Health Ministry's Central Virology Laboratory released the findings. Researchers reportedly said that people who received the second dose five or six months ago do not have any neutralization ability against the omicron variant, while they do have some against the delta strain. However, the booster dose increased the ability about a 100-fold, although it is about four times lower than the neutralization ability against the delta variant.
Gov't Recommends Emergency Security Update for Critical Vulnerability in Logging System
The government has recommended an emergency security update for a critical vulnerability discovered in a widely used logging system. The Ministry of Science and ICT said on Sunday that it was calling for an immediate security update via the website "bohonara," which is affiliated with the Korea Internet and Security Agency. The recommendation comes after foreign media reported that a serious code execution vulnerability was found in Log4j, an open-source Apache logging system framework used by developers for recordkeeping within an application. The flaw is considered highly dangerous as it can enable remote code execution, giving an attacker the ability to completely control and compromise affected machines.
Moon, Morrison hold summit to deepen ties, secure supply chain
President Moon Jae-in and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday held summit talks expected to focus on deepening bilateral ties and securing a stable supply chain of raw materials and core minerals. Moon, who arrived in Canberra on Sunday, is the first South Korean president to pay a state visit to Australia in 12 years. He is also the first foreign leader that the country has invited since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said. A senior presidential official said that Moon's visit to Australia is expected to help South Korea secure key mining products, such as rare earth and lithium, amid the pandemic-hit disruption of global supply chains.
Yoon to seek revision to 'Nth room prevention law' amid allegations of censorship
A revision to the Telecommunications Business Act and a related law went into effect on Friday, requiring large internet platforms with annual sales of 1 billion won or the number of daily users 100,000 or more to remove illegal content from their servers. The revision was made last year amid public outrage over revelations that underage girls were coerced into obscene acts in front of cameras and the footage was shared in pay-to-view online chat rooms in what was dubbed the "Nth room" incident. The law revision is also called the "Nth room prevention law."
S. Korean economy forecast to grow 2.8 pct in 2022: think tank
The South Korean economy is expected to expand 2.8 percent on-year in 2022, slower than this year's projected 3.9 percent growth, amid weaker private consumption and global demand, a local think tank said Sunday. The projection by the LG Economic Research Institute (LGERI) is lower than that by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of 3.3 percent and the 3.0 percent estimate by both the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Bank of Korea. "The export-led growth is likely to lose steam next year, as global demand boosted by a post-pandemic recovery is expected to get weakened," the institute, affiliated with South Korea's fourth-largest conglomerate LG Group, said.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
New NK sanctions could put brakes on Seoul’s hopes of diplomacy with Pyongyang: experts
The announcement of fresh US sanctions against North Korea might deal a blow to Seoul’s attempts to revive diplomacy with Pyongyang, experts said Sunday. The US on Friday declared extensive sanctions and visa bans on human rights grounds against officials and entities in eight countries, including China, Russia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and North Korea. The action, coinciding with international Human Rights Day and a two-day summit on democracy led by Washington, is a tool to “draw attention to and promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses,”
Two recall risks hanging over LG Energy Solution after IPO
With LG Energy Solution about to go public in January, investors are asking two vital questions. One is, “Should I buy its stocks?” The other is, “But what if there’s another recall?” These questions are perfectly legitimate, considering the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars LG Energy Solution had to cough up to compensate automakers every time its batteries exploded. But whether LG Energy Solution is capable of containing recall risks is the wrong question. The right question is, “What are the risks it can’t control?”
Moon leaves for Australia, eyeing mineral partnerships
President Moon Jae-in left for Australia on Sunday for a four-day state visit at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The two nations are expected to discuss economic, technology and defense cooperation. It is the first time since 2009 that a South Korean leader has visited Australia as a state guest. Moon is the first foreign leader to visit the country since the pandemic started in March last year. On Monday, Moon and Morrison are expected to host a summit in Canberra. They are to talk about strategic and practical cooperation in various fields such as political affairs, national defense, the economy, energy and technology. The two leaders will also have a joint press conference.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
New US sanctions on North Korea to dampen momentum for end-of-war declaration
A fresh set of U.S. sanctions against North Korea is feared to dampen the momentum for South Korean President Moon Jae-in's proposal to declare an official end to the Korean War, as it comes as a virtual rejection of Pyongyang's demand for the U.S. to withdraw its "hostile policies" against it, which is a precondition that the bellicose regime set for end-of-war declaration talks. The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Friday (local time) that it has designated 15 individuals and 10 entities "for their connection to human rights abuse and repression in several countries around the globe, pursuant to multiple sanctions authorities."
Hawkish Fed set to widen KOSPI fluctuation
The benchmark KOSPI is expected to widen the level of fluctuation throughout this week, as the U.S. Federal Reserve is set to leave a stronger market signal for faster tapering during the upcoming Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. With Fed Chairman Jerome Powell taking a hawkish turn last month amid growing inflationary fears in the world's largest economy, economists predicted the Fed would double the speed of its tapering and finish its bond-buying campaign by the end of next March. Wall Street analysts said the Fed is inclined to increase its key rate three times in 2022 after ending its tapering, in a move to curb the increasing inflationary pressure. Some were saying investors should be wary of Omicron variant concerns even if inflation has emerged recently as a more critical factor driving the ups and downs of the financial market.
Korea's strict asylum policies and unkind officials
I once flew in an Airbus A380. It's a big plane, so big that it actually has two decks; in fact, it's the largest passenger plane in the world. The Airbuses operated by Korean Air have 409 seats. Picture that plane full of people sitting in their chairs: upstairs in the posh section where they all have cocktail glasses, down below where they clutch their plastic cups ― everyone waiting idly for take-off. Look down the aisles at all the faces, some smiling and chatting, some dozing, but all waiting, all facing the same way, all with the same destination.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Drive-In Cinemas Boom Thanks to Pandemic
Suburban drive-in movie theaters are experiencing a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic as multiplex audiences dwindled. Central Seoul no longer has any drive-in theaters -- the last two closed in 2019 and earlier this year. But on the outskirts and in the provinces, multiplex chains have opened new ones to make some money in the pandemic. CGV opened a drive-in theater in Incheon and another one in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province in September this year, and Lotte Cinema also opened a drive-in theater in Busan last summer and Cine Q is operating one in Ulsan. "I haven't been to a proper cinema since the pandemic started, but I go to drive-in theaters once every two months," says a woman in her 30s.
Most Young Couples Live in Straitened Circumstances
Most newly married couples live in straitened circumstances even though they have no children, according to the latest government data. Nine out of every 10 young couples are in debt, and half of them owe banks more than W100 million (US$1=W1,177). Also, five out of 10 have no children and six out of 10 do not own their home. Statistics Korea said Thursday there were 1.18 million couples in Korea as of November last year who had been married for less than five years, and numbers are dwindling. The drop was especially marked last year, reflecting a decline of weddings in lockdown. Some 87.5 percent of the couples had taken out bank loans. Their median loan balance was W132.6 million, up 18.3 percent from the previous year, but their average annual earnings rose only 4.9 percent to W59.9 million.
Korea Faces Dramatic Population Decline
Korea's population will halve over the next 100 years unless the birthrate makes a drastic recovery or immigration brings about a reversal, Statistics Korea said in a biennial projection Thursday. The current fertility rate of 0.8 children born to a Korean woman in the course of her lifetime will not recover to one until 2030, so the population will decline naturally by 100,000 a year in 2030 and by over half a million by 2070. That means the population of children under 14 will halve from 6.31 million last year to 2.82 million in 2070, but the elderly population over 65 will more than double from 8.15 million to 17.47 million.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Some healthcare advocates say that S. Korea’s medical system has already collapsed
Korea has reached 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day, prompting the analysis that the country is nearing capacity at its hospitals. But some are arguing that the country’s medical system has already collapsed. “There’s widespread criticism on the front lines about a ‘cycle of death’ in which new patients can’t be brought in until someone dies of COVID-19 and frees up a bed,” said Jeong Hyeong-jun, a member of the group Association of Physicians for Humanism. The public health system and civic groups say that vulnerable groups such as the homeless and migrant workers are effectively being neglected by the government’s adoption of “home care” as its standard policy.
Why have only 9.4% of Koreans have received a COVID-19 booster shot?
As the COVID-19 situation in South Korea worsens, with more than 7,000 new cases reported for three consecutive days, the nation’s booster inoculation rate turns out to be the lowest among the world’s leading countries. Korea’s Central Disease Control Headquarters announced that as of the end of the day on Thursday, 4,843,497 people had received their COVID-19 booster shot (a third round of vaccination), accounting for 9.4% of the total population. That means that 11% of the population aged 11 and above and 28.5% of the population eligible for booster shots through Dec. 31 have completed their vaccination course.
For an affluent but unequal society like S. Korea, redistribution is the answer
Income levels on par with affluent Western European countries, but worse inequality.
That was the assessment of South Korea that appeared in the World Inequality Report 2022, published Tuesday by the World Inequality Lab. The message is that while Korea has joined the ranks of advanced economies in terms of income, social unity remains extremely weak due to a failure to effectively achieve distributional justice. The latest report was the second published in four years (after a previous one in 2018) by the World Inequality Lab, with researchers such as Paris School of Economics professor Thomas Piketty taking part. According to this year’s report, the wealthiest 10% in the world accounted for 52% of all income and 76% of assets this year.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
KAIST to build New York-based business-like campus
"The difference between KAISTians and students at Harvard and MIT is not their level of academic competence but how big dreams they pursue,” said KAIST President Lee Kwang-hyung at an online press conference held at New York U.N. Plaza Building in New York City on Thursday to announce the signing of an MOU on KAIST’s campus in New York – the first overseas campus of the national research university located in Daejeon, South Korea. KAIST President Lee emphasized that students and professors at the university should not stay complacent with the title of the nation's best but pursue studies and research to help bring innovations to businesses from a global standpoint.
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.
Washington considers shift to ‘sole purpose’ use of nuclear arms
The United States has reportedly considered a shift in its nuclear policy to restrict use of nuclear arms to the “sole purpose” of retaliation, according to The Financial Times (FT) from Britain on Thursday (local time). Amid a growing opposition from its alliances, the Biden administration has decided not to adopt the “no first use” policy but to include the sole purpose principle in the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). An anonymous source was quoted as saying that the U.S. government will show President Joe Biden options for declaratory policy called “sole purpose” sooner or later, reported the FT, adding that it aims to increase some clarity about when nuclear weapons could be put in practice.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
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.
Yoon Seok-youl Leads Lee Jae-myung, 45.3% to 37.1%: The Difference Lies Outside the Margin of Error
The People Power Party’s presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl enjoyed an 8.2% lead, which was bigger than the margin of error, against the Democratic Party of Korea’s presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung in a latest survey. Upon request from YTN, the polling firm, Realmeter conducted a survey of 1,036 adults ages 18 and older on December 6 and 7, and the results (confidence level 95%, margin of error ±3.0%) showed that Yoon secured the support of 45.3% of the voters, up 1.6% from the previous poll (Nov. 26-27). Lee gained the support of 2.0% more voters from the previous poll and received the support of 37.1%. The gap between the two candidates was 8.2%.
Inconsistent Stance on the Vaccination of Teenagers Fuels Distrust in Government
On December 6, the government argued that protecting teenagers from the risk of contagion had more value when it came to the vaccine pass and announced that it would implement the policy according to schedule, despite the heated debate on expanding the vaccine pass to teenagers. When the government included study areas, such as private academies (hagwon), study rooms and libraries, among the facilities where the vaccine pass would be required, more students and parents began opposing the government policy claiming that it was discrimination against people not receiving the vaccine and a violation of their right to learn and that the government was practically forcing vaccination.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Posco to shift to holding structure with steelmaker as unlisted unit
South Korea’s top steelmaker Posco is starting anew as two separate entities – a holding parent responsible for seeking new growth in non-steel areas and a business unit in mainstay steelmaking – on March 1, 2022. The demerger scheme placing another Korean conglomerate in a holding structure to better manage sprawling businesses for new growth beyond traditional manufacturing or service passed the board meeting on Friday. The plan is subject to approval by shareholders in January. The biggest structural change since the steelmaker was privatized in October 2000 was decided for sustainable growth in corporate and shareholders’ value, the company said in a disclosure.
Seoul revs up campaign to upgrade Korean shares to MSCI developed market index
Seoul officials revved up longstanding campaign to upgrade Korean shares to the developed category of the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) by approaching key institutions with influential say in the weighting of the international index.
Sovereign fund Korea Investment Corp. and other trust funds have begun tapping opinions from key MSIC stakeholders at the order of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, one senior government official knowledgeable on the matter told the Maeil Business Newspaper.
S. Korea’s overly ambiguous emission target may do more harm than good: FKI
South Korean companies are putting up multibillion dollars under the whipping by the government on migration to renewables for carbon neutrality goal, without assurance on long-term returns due to complicity in the untested technologies beyond new energy sources. The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) in a report published on Thursday gave five reasons for the unfeasible nature in reducing carbon emissions under state mandate – Korea’s overreliance on manufacturing sector, overly rash timetable for reductions, inefficiency in additional actions as most producers have cut emissions to their limit, lagging development in new technologies, and lack of competitiveness in renewable energy and green hydrogen.
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