Friday, December 10, 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.)
A seasoned Korean diplomat joins The Korea Post editorial entourage
A former senior Korean diplomat has joined The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985. His title of office at The Korea Post is Senior Editorial Writer but, in view of his lengthy service with the Korean Embassies overseas and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he is expected to cover a wide range of areas and topics related with the diplomatic community in Korea and around the world. In addition to Managing Editor Kevin Lee of The Korea Post (former editor of The Korea Herald and The Korea Times), Editorial Writer Kim is expected to extend a great helping hand to The Korea Post, especially in the area of its coverage of the diplomatic community in Korea and around the world.
LG Chem finds ‘Solution’ to maximize blood sugar lowering effects
LG Chem has demonstrated that the company’s product Zemiglo has a strong blood sugar lowering effect on patients with difficulty in controlling blood sugar levels. LG Chem announced on Dec. 7 that it participated in the IDF Congress held online as an abstract presenter and revealed the results of the phase 3 clinical trial of the Zemiglo additional triple-combination therapy. The clinical trial was named ‘Solution’ study, containing the meaning that it will present a new drug combination that can maximize the blood sugar lowering effects on diabetic patients.
Daily COVID-19 Cases at 7,102, Critical Patients Hit New High
Health authorities reported more than seven-thousand new COVID-19 cases for the second straight day on Thursday, with the number of critically ill patients hitting a new high. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) said Thursday that seven-thousand-102 new infections were confirmed throughout Wednesday, bringing the country's accumulated caseload to 496-thousand-584. The daily tally dropped by 73 from Wednesday, when it posted a record seven-thousand-175. Amid the continued spike, the number of critically ill patients also hit a new high of 857, replacing the previous record of 840 set the previous day. The figure remained above 800 for the second straight day. Senior patients aged 60 and older accounted for more than 83 percent.
Statistics Agency Sees Nation's Population Decline to 37 Mln by 2070
A South Korean agency has forecast the nation's population to drop to around 37 million by 2070, after peaking last year. According to Statistics Korea's median estimation of changes in population over the next 50 years on Thursday, the population, which stood at 51-point-84 million in 2020, is projected to drop by an annual average of around 60-thousand over the next decade. This means the population will decline to 51-point-two million by 2030, 47-point-36 million by 2050 and 37-point-66 million by 2070. The latest estimate, compared to the agency's 2019 projection, indicates that the decline will likely advance by eight years, and the amount of decline will likely increase by 728-thousand as of the 2030 forecast.
Seoul Expresses Regret over Japanese Lawmakers' Visit to Yasukuni Shrine
The government has expressed deep regret and concerns over a group of Japanese lawmakers visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. In a statement issued Tuesday, the foreign ministry said Seoul regrets that senior lawmakers, just a few months after the formation of a new Diet, visited the shrine which it described as a symbolic facility that glorifies Japan’s colonization and war of aggression. The ministry said it would like to reiterate that the international community can trust Japan once it directly faces history, humbly reflects on its past and shows true repentance through action. Earlier in the day, 99 lawmakers who are members of a group in the Japanese Diet that pays homage to the shrine, made the visit.
Samsung Electronics conducts major executive reshuffle
Samsung Electronics Co. conducted a sweeping executive reshuffle Thursday, promoting a score of young employees to senior positions. The "merit-based" personnel changes were made to "strengthen leadership positions to continue the company's sustainable future growth," the tech giant said in a statement. A total of 198 people were promoted in the regular shake-up, including 68 new vice presidents and 13 new managing directors. Among them were 17 foreign and female executives, the biggest number of promotions in the two groups in what the company said was for "diversity and inclusion."
Court suspends validity of answer to disputed CSAT question
A court on Thursday suspended the validity of the state-recognized answer to a bioscience question in this year's college entrance exam in a lawsuit filed by exam takers claiming the question has errors. The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of 92 examinees disputing question No. 20 of the bioscience part 2 section of this year's College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) developed by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE). The ruling means the state-designated answer to the question is not valid until a decision is made on whether the question is erroneous or not.
S. Korea to implement eased capital gain taxes on home sales on Wednesday
South Korea said Tuesday it will implement eased capital gain taxes on property sales for single-home owners this week amid growing public discontent over real estate-related tax burdens ahead of the presidential election. Last week, the National Assembly approved a revision to the income tax act that calls for raising a threshold of capital gains tax exemptions on real estate sales for single-house owners to 1.2 billion won (US$1 million) from the previous 900 million won. The government approved the act in a Cabinet meeting and will promulgate it on Wednesday, according to the finance ministry.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Next target in election campaign: COVID-wary voters
The leading presidential candidates are scrambling to draw up their own pandemic response plans as they try to reach out to COVID-19-wary voters, and to benefit for growing discontent against the current administration’s measures. As the number of COVID-19 cases hit daily highs over 7,000 on Tuesday and Wednesday, the election camps of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and the main opposition People Power Party both announced their respective launches of COVID-19 countermeasure teams.
Top regulator vows oversight of data monopoly by fintech firms
South Korea’s top financial regulator said Thursday that he is seeking consultation with related state offices to monitor big tech companies’ data monopoly scrutiny while promoting financial companies’ investment in financial technology. The remark came amid growing concerns that Naver Financial and Kakao Pay -- the fintech services of the country’s largest internal portal and messenger app operator, respectively -- dominate the market. Koh added that rules will be different for tech giants and smaller firms, saying the commission was not all about creating new regulations, but was planning to ease existing rules as well to reinvigorate investment in the sector.
N.Korea continues operating main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon: CSIS
North Korea is operating its main plutonium-producing nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon complex, a Washington-based think tank revealed Wednesday, citing thermal infrared imagery. The CSIS Korea Chair said in a report it found the “clear and conclusive evidence” that the 5-megawatt reactor was operating based on thermal image analysis. The 5-megawatt nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Complex is the core of Pyongyang’s proliferation efforts given that the reactor has been estimated to be able to produce around six kilograms of plutonium a year.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Democracy summit, Olympics boycott test Seoul's balancing act
South Korea's tricky balancing act between the United States and China is becoming ever more precarious, as the Washington-led democracy summit and Beijing Olympics boycotts have left the Moon Jae-in administration caught in the middle of the two superpowers. President Moon spoke at a U.S.-hosted summit aimed at countering China, Thursday (KST), just a day after Seoul took a step closer to Beijing's side regarding the Washington-led diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics. Moon participated in the leaders' plenary session of the virtual Summit for Democracy, which was hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden. In the two-day summit, more than 100 countries joined the U.S. campaign to "strengthen democracy and defend against authoritarianism," with China and Russia conspicuously not invited.
Fed's earlier end to tapering prompts call for Korea to increase dollar reserves
Korea should increase its foreign exchange reserves amid escalating fears over the rapid rise of the won-dollar exchange rate, with the U.S. Fed sending repeated signals to put an earlier end to tapering its asset purchase program, economists said Tuesday. As the world's largest economy is expected to increase its key interest rate soon after the end of tapering, there is also a strong chance that the monetary tightening by the U.S. will end up hastening the exodus of foreign capital as early as the beginning of 2022, they added. Some reports said that the Fed would complete tapering by the end of March next year, and the planned rate hike is scheduled to start sometime around the spring season.
Samsung replaces CEOs of 3 key business units
Samsung Electronics replaced the CEOs of its semiconductor, home appliances and mobile phone divisions, Tuesday, and also merged the latter two units in what is believed to be a move to accelerate future growth under Lee Jae-yong, the head of the conglomerate. Three executives of Samsung Electronics were promoted to vice chairmen in the tech giant's management reshuffle, Tuesday. They are, from left, Kyung Kye-hyun of the semiconductor division, Chung Hyun-ho at the business support task force, and Han Jong-hee of the newly-created SET division that merged the home appliances and mobile phone units. Courtesy of Samsung Electronics Kyung Kye-hyun, the president of Samsung Electro-Mechanics, was named to lead the semiconductor business, replacing Kim Ki-nam who was promoted to chairman of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. Kyung is an expert in semiconductor design, building his career on the Samsung Electronics' Flash Product and Technology Team and also its DRAM Design Team.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Tesla Now 3rd Most Popular Stock of Korean Retail Investors
Tesla is now the third most popular stock among Korean retail investors. At the top is Samsung Electronics, followed by Celltrion. According to the Korea Securities Depository, Korean investors owned US$14.6 billion worth of Tesla shares as of Dec. 3, almost doubling from the end of 2021. They snapped up $1.9 billion worth of shares this year alone, and Tesla's stock price has surpassed $1,000. Tesla is now the third most popular stock among Korean retail investors. At the top is Samsung Electronics, followed by Celltrion. According to the Korea Securities Depository, Korean investors owned US$14.6 billion worth of Tesla shares as of Dec. 3, almost doubling from the end of 2021. They snapped up $1.9 billion worth of shares this year alone, and Tesla's stock price has surpassed $1,000.
U.S. Republicans Oppose Declaring an End to Korean War
U.S. Republican members of the House of Representatives have come out to oppose President Moon Jae-in's quixotic plan to declare a formal end to the Korean War. Thirty-five Republican congressmen expressed their opposition in a joint letter they sent on Tuesday to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy. "We are gravely concerned that this declaration, instead of promoting peace, would seriously undermine and destabilize the security of the Korean Peninsula," they wrote. "Opening the door for considering for the removal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula before the North has fully denuclearized would have disastrous consequences for U.S. national security, erode our combined deterrence, and jeopardize the lives of tens of millions of Americans, Koreans, and Japanese," they added.
Mid-Sized Builder Hits Big League by Acquiring Daewoo
Mid-sized builder Jungheung Construction is jumping into the top league by acquiring Daewoo Engineering and Construction. Jungheung is signing a deal Thursday with state-run Korea Development Bank to buy a controlling stake in Daewoo after being chosen as the preferred bidder in July. Since signing a memorandum of understanding with KDB in August, Jungheung conducted due diligence, which did not reveal any contingent debt or insolvent overseas assets, so the purchase was made at the bidding price of W2.1 trillion (US$1=W1,178). Jungheung ranks a mere 17th among domestic builders in terms of construction capacity but will now rise to third place to rival top-ranked Samsung C&T and Hyundai Engineering and Construction.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Blue House says it is not considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics
The Blue House said Wednesday that it’s not considering a diplomatic boycott of next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics. South Korean officials seem to be prudently considering their relationship with China, which is Korea’s top trading partner, amid the confrontation between the US and China. For the moment, our government isn’t considering a [diplomatic] boycott of the Beijing Olympics. We haven’t made a decision about the attendance of a government delegation and will let you know when we do,” a senior official at the Blue House said in the press briefing room on Wednesday. The official was responding to a question about the South Korean government’s position on the US’ declaration of a diplomatic boycott of the games.
How big of an impact will China’s economic downturn have on Korea? It depends
The Chinese economy is on shaky ground. With China’s standing as Korea’s biggest export market, the shock of an economic downturn there could have major negative repercussions on the South Korean economy as well. Leading financial analysts say the shock to the Korean economy will depend on which area the crisis occurs in. The three major risks to the Chinese economy are real estate debt, a slump in the domestic market and an export slowdown. Crises arising in the real estate sector and the domestic market are expected to have less of an impact on the Korean economy than a crisis triggered by an export slowdown.
Among nations "living with COVID-19," only S. Korea has seen upswing in fatality rate
After most countries in the world began administering vaccines and easing restrictions through so-called living with COVID-19 campaigns, the virus’s case fatality rate dropped. Yet after pursuing the same path, Korea has seen an increase in the COVID-19 case fatality rate. Some are pointing to a lack of preparation on the part of the government in implementing its step-by-step recovery plan, which has now resulted in steps backward instead. According to an analysis by statistic site Our World in Data on Monday, Korea's COVID-19 case fatality rate as of Wednesday was 1.46% — the highest among major economies such as the US, Japan, Germany, UK and Singapore.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Lee, Yoon present blueprint for government overhaul
With the 2022 presidential election just about three months away, presidential candidates of the ruling and main opposition parties are drawing up blueprints for the next administration’s government structure. Ruling Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung and the main opposition People Power Party candidate Yoon Seok-youl have put forward “division” and “adjustment” as the keywords. Given that the Moon Jae-in administration inaugurated in 2017 without a transition period, a government reorganization has not taken place for almost 10 years, and both candidates propose a complete overhaul to eliminate organizational redundancy.
Burial ceremony for former Pres. Roh Tae-woo held in Paju
Former President Roh Tae-woo who passed away from a chorionic ailment on October 26 was buried in the Donghwa park in Tongil Dongsan, Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday. The burial ceremony was attended by over 200 people, including his eldest son and chief director of the East Asia Culture Center Roh Jae-heon and his other family members, as well as Interior and Safety Minister Jeon Hae-cheol, Kim Chong-in who served as the senior presidential secretary of economic affairs under Roh and is the current general chair of the People Power Party’s election campaign committee, and former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won.
Smartphone market share transformed after LG leaves the market
Since LG Electronics left the smartphone market, LG’s market share has turned out to have been replaced by Samsung Electronics in South Korea and by various Chinese companies, including Xiaomi, in Latin America. Motorola stood at the third spot in the North American market. In April, LG Electronics announced to withdraw from the smartphone business and completely exited the market by the end of July 2021. Market experts analyze that the Android bloc won in the competition over the market share of around 5-10% that was once taken up by LG in South Korea, the North America region, and Latin America, thanks to the same operating system (OS).
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Another Sexual Assault Incident that the Air Force Tried to Cover up
The military police tried to persuade a female officer who was sexually assaulted by a subordinate to drop a lawsuit asking, “Don’t you want to stay in the military for a long time?” The assailant admitted that he had touched the victim’s body, but the military police decided not to press charges claiming it was hard to say that there was any sexual intention.
The Military Human Rights Center held a press conference at its office in Mapo-gu, Seoul on December 8 and announced, “A case that closely resembled the case of the late Sergeant Lee Ye-ram occurred in the Air Force 10th Fighter Wing around that time.”
“Home Treatment” for the Homeless on the Street: No Treatment and No Travel Restrictions
A homeless man who tested positive for COVID-19 was neglected for nearly ten days without receiving any treatment and without being subject to any travel restrictions. The man frequently used the public bathroom at a subway station. After the number of COVID-19 patients surged, forcing authorities to struggle with securing hospital beds, the government decided to have patients with light symptoms receive treatment in their homes. However, the homeless living in the streets were exposed in the blind spot of such at-home treatment. When we met Gim Jang-su (alias) near Seoul Station on December 7, he had been receiving “home treatment” in the streets for the nineth day since he was confirmed COVID-19-positive. During that time, Gim never received treatment necessary for COVID-19 patients and was never subject to any travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.
Noh Jae-seung from the People Power Party Election Campaign, “May 18 Uprising Is the No. 1 Holy Ground in the Republic of Korea”
On December 6, it was confirmed that Noh Jae-seung (37), appointed co-leader of Yoon Seok-youl’s election campaign by the People Power Party, in the past wrote, “The no. 1 holy ground in the Republic of Korea” when sharing a video that claimed that the May 18 Democratic Uprising could be seen as a riot on his social media account. The Democratic Party of Korea criticized saying that Noh’s words resembled the reckless comments of Yoon Seok-youl. On May 18, Noh shared a YouTube video titled, “Mini Documentary: The May 18 Spirit” on his Facebook account and wrote, “The no. 1 holy ground in the Republic of Korea, a movement that has led to the enactment of a special act blocking even debates.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea’s population thins for the first time this year, to lose nearly 30% by 2070
South Korea’s total population including non-Koreans residing in the country would fall for the first time this year and lose fast to stop at 37 million by 2070, nearly 30 percent off from current level, according to the national statistics office. Statistics Korea on Thursday projected the total population would drop by 90,000 to 51.84 million this year from 51.75 million last year owing to fewer foreign addition amid pandemic. A half a century later, the number will shrink to 37 million.
Seoul to create economic intelligence bureau under spy agency
South Korea is mulling to install a division devoted to economic security at the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in line with the global competition to enhance stability in resourcing of strategic goods amid global supply instability. The new economic intelligence bureau to be set up as early as within the month or early next year would be responsible for gathering information at home and abroad to back governance for economic security, a high-level government official told the Maeil Business Newspaper requesting anonymity.
Korea’s Oct C/A surplus in black for 18th mo, likely meet annual target of $92 bn
South Korea is expected to deliver a current-account surplus close to targeted $92 billion this year as it was able to maintain surplus for the 18th consecutive month in October as bulging shipping revenue helped to offset surge in import cost from strong commodity prices, data showed Tuesday. The country’s current account in October showed a surplus of $6.95 billion in October, keeping the black streak for the 18th straight month since May last year.
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