Wednesday, December 8, 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.)
Vice Chairman Kim Ki-nam of Samsung Electronics promoted to chairman
Samsung Electronics announced its new leadership on Dec. 7 for the next phase of the company’s future growth and to strengthen its business competitiveness. Kim Ki-nam Kim, vice chairman and head of the DS Division, was promoted to chairman of Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. Han Jong-hee was promoted to vice chairman and CEO, and will lead the newly merged SET Division as he continues to head the visual display business. President Kyung Kye-hyun was also named CEO and will lead the DS Division. Han is a leading expert in TV research and development and has played a major role in the company achieving the top position in global TV sales for the 15th consecutive year.
Samsung Electro-Mechanics wins the "Best Corporate Award" in the Philippines
Samsung Electro-Mechanics' Philippine production corporation has received the Best Environmental Management Company Award from the Philippine government, the company said on Nov. 26. The Philippine subsidiary explained that it has obtained ISO14001 certified by the global standardization organization ISO, systematically managed the corporate environment, reduced energy consumption and chemical use, and complied with standards to prevent water quality and air pollution.
White House Coordinator: US, S. Korea Seeking Best Way to Engage N. Korea
White House policy coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Tuesday that the United States is closely working with South Korea to engage North Korea. The National Security Council coordinator for the Indo-Pacific made the remarks in a forum hosted by the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies, a think tank run by South Korean conglomerate SK Group. Asked if the U.S. government has plans to engage North Korea, Campbell said the U.S. and South Korea continue to seek the "best way" to do so. He added that dialogue between Seoul and Washington is very strong, and the two sides continue to be joined at the hip with respect to their outreach to Pyongyang.
Eased Capital Gains Tax on Home Sales Implemented Wed.
The government has started implementing eased capital gains tax on property sales for those who own a single home. The Ministry of Finance and Economy said revisions to the income tax act, which passed a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, has been promulgated and implemented on Wednesday. Under the revised law that passed parliament last week, the threshold for capital gains tax exemptions on real estate sales for people who own a single home will be raised from the previous 900 million won to one-point-two billion won.
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.
Moon pledges S. Korea will do more for U.N. peacekeeping missions
President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday that South Korea will do more for U.N. peacekeeping operations around the world to help war-torn nations build lasting peace. "The Republic of Korea knows the importance of U.N. peacekeeping operations for peace and reconstruction better than anyone," Moon said in congratulatory remarks to a virtual U.N. peacekeeping ministerial conference, citing the nation's development story from the 1950-53 Korean War. Moon said South Korea will dispatch more medical personnel to the nation's peacekeeping units and provide more equipment to U.N. peacekeeping operations around the globe.
S. Korea's daily COVID-19 cases surpass 7,000 for 1st time: PM
South Korea's daily COVID-19 cases have surpassed 7,000 for the first time, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Wednesday, amid concerns over the omicron variant and the rising number of critical virus patients. "In the capital area, where 80 percent of total cases are reported, we continue to add hospital beds with active cooperation from the medical community, but still it is tough to catch up with the pace of rising virus cases," Kim said at the government's COVID-19 response meeting. The country's average daily number of coronavirus cases stayed in the 5,000s over the past week.
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)
Leaving Lee Jae-yong's position unchanged, Samsung Electronics replaces CEOs
Samsung Electronics has replaced all its CEOs and combined its mobile and home appliance business divisions in a surprise move, ditching the decade-old system that landed the South Korean tech giant in the top position in smartphones, TVs and semiconductors. In a year-end leadership reshuffle announced Tuesday, the company said it was reorganizing its operational structure, which will now consist of a consumer business unit called the SET division and a chip business unit called the device solutions division.
Moon faces dilemma over Beijing Olympics boycott
The US decision to have its diplomats boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics is posing a dilemma for South Korea, as Washington could prod allies to follow suit, while Seoul hopes to use the games as an opportunity to restart dialogue with Pyongyang. Amid the struggle between the two global superpowers, South Korea has taken an ambiguous diplomatic position, as it values both its security alliance with the US and its economic ties with China. But with Washington’s recent announcement, South Korea is increasingly in a position where it may have to choose a side.
Kim Jong-un urges to nurture ‘absolutely loyal’ military officers, improve education
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un urged the military to improve its education system and nurture commanding officers with “absolute loyalty” to the ruling party, in a move in line with the regime’s ongoing ideological campaigns. According to the North’s state media on Tuesday, Kim made instructions at the Eighth Conference of Military Educationists of the Korean People’s Army, which was held at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang over the weekend. North Korean state media reported that the two-day meeting was held to make a “radical turn in military education as required by the changing times and revolutionary situation.”
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Korea faces tougher dilemma over Olympics, peace initiative
South Korea, long sandwiched between the United States and China amid their flaring tensions, finds itself newly cornered into a choice between the two powerhouses, with the fate of the outgoing Moon Jae-in administration's last-ditch peace initiative lying in their hands. South Korea has been continuing a difficult balancing act, trying to juggle economic ties with China and its much-needed security alliance with the U.S. In addition, given Seoul needs help from both Washington and Beijing to formally declare an end to the Korean War, the intensifying strategic competition between them is further thrusting the South Korean government into a dilemma.
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)
More Young People Move to Satellite Cities
More young people are moving to the hi-tech satellite cities surrounding the capital like Hwaesong in Gyeonggi Province as older industrial towns are emptying out. Hwaesong saw the greatest influx of people aged 20 to 39 in the country over the last four years, while Changwon in South Gyeongsang Province saw the biggest exodus of people in that age group. Hwaseong is home to factories and research centers by big tech employers like Samsung and Hyundai, while the industrial town of Changwon suffered the double whammy of the government's nuclear phaseout and a depressed automotive parts and heavy industry.
Chip Shortage Pushes up Car and Phone Prices
Surging prices of steel, computer chips and other parts are taking their toll on the price tags of cars and phones, and the inflationary pressure is expected to spread to other consumer goods. As Hyundai started selling the new Santa Fe SUV on Monday, it upgraded the cheapest diesel version and hiked the price by 7.6 percent or W2.4 million (US$1=W1,181). The price of the most popular Prestige version of the diesel also increased by W1.07 million, while gasoline Santa Fe prices increased by W1.81 million and W480,000. So far the automaker had kept price increases to a minimum even after adding new features, but now that seems no longer tenable. "The recent increase in raw material costs is affecting the prices of new cars," a Hyundai spokesman said. "Prices of diesel models rose sharply due to the addition of more exhaust-reduction devices to meet tougher emissions limits."
Kim Jong-un's Sister Disappears from Public Eye
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong, who acts as his diplomatic attack dog-in-chief, has not been spotted in public for 54 days. Intelligence officials here have no idea where she is and speculation is swirling, ranging from health problems to a strategic demotion as North Korea prepares tentative overtures to the international community. Kim Yo-jong's last public appearance was on Oct. 11, when she showed up at a weapons expo in Pyongyang marking the 73rd anniversary of Workers Party.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Egyptian activist wins in court after S. Korean immigration officials falsified his asylum interview
“The defendants are collectively ordered to pay 37,473,257 won to the plaintiff.”
Given his limited understanding of Korean, 29-year-old Darwish Musab wasn’t able to fully understand the judge when he read his decision in a Seoul courtroom at 9:50 am on Friday. But he got an idea of what was happening from the smiles that appeared on the faces of his attorney and of activists from NANCEN, a refugee rights group: his legal battle that had gone on for three years and two months had ended in victory.
Fauci says Omicron variant does not look to be greatly severe
Initial analyses of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 suggest it may be less dangerous than the Delta variant. But considering that it’s still too early to make a final conclusion about Omicron, countries around the world will have to remain diligent about vaccination campaigns and other precautionary measures. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN on Monday that the Omicron variant, which was first reported in a COVID-19 patient in South Africa, has shown an “almost a vertical spike” and has “a transmission advantage.” “It’s too early to make any definitive statements about it. Thus far, it does not look like it has a great deal of severity to it,” Fauci said.
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/)
U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics
The U.S. announced on Monday (local time) a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics to be held in February. It was a diplomatic measure based on the judgment that defined the Chinese authorities’ crimes against humanity in Xinjiang as genocide. While New Zealand and others announced to join the boycott despite China’s open warning for countermeasures, the South Korean government is leaning to sending an Olympics diplomatic mission.
Dress code for 2022 presidential election is hoodies
The Democratic Party of Korea’s presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung, who is in a race to win over millennials, showed up in a hoodie and sneakers at a meeting with young voters. As young voters are expected to have a casting vote on the 2022 presidential election scheduled to be held on March 9, hoodies, a symbol of millennial fashion, emerged as a trendy outfit for the 2022 election. The main opposition People Power Party’s candidate Yoon Seok-youl was also clad in a red hoodie and met with voters.
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/)
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.
Police Specify 3 Security Firms that Managed Wallpads Hacked with the Same Method Used to Hack Auction 13 Years Ago
Wallpads, a smart device including cameras that capture the homes in apartment complexes, were penetrated using web shells, a beginner-level hacking method. The method was the same as the one used to hack into the information of 10 million clients at Auction, an e-commerce firm thirteen years ago. The police believe wallpads of 704 homes were hacked and are investigating three firms overseeing the security and management of the apartments. According to the information that the office of Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Jeon Yong-gi received from the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) on December 5, the police cybercrime investigation unit and KISA conducted a site inspection of three apartment complexes, where the wallpads were hacked, and found traces of web shells in one apartment complex in Gangnam-gu and one urban residential housing in Jongno-gu, Seoul.
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/)
Samsung Elec replaces commanders of chip, home appliance and mobile biz
Samsung Electronics on Tuesday in a stunning reshuffle replaced heads responsible for the company’s mainstay chip, consumer electronics, and smartphone operations to cut out fresher identity for Korea’s top technology company. Vice Chairman and Co-CEO Kim Kinam of Device Solution Division who had overseen global operations of memory, system chip and foundry for more than a decade was replaced by chip design expert and Samsung Electro-Mechanics CEO Kyung Kye-hyun.
Korean game and tourism stocks projected as biggest winners on earnings gain outlook
Tourism and game stocks are projected to become the biggest winners among Korean issuers in terms of earning prospects for 2022. Operating incomes of 278 publicly trading companies in Korea are expected to grow 8.2 percent in 2022 from this year, according to data compiled by local financial data tracker FnGuide on Monday. Their sales are projected to expand 8.5 percent, although net incomes after taxes are estimated to lose 1.8 percent. Among them, tour, leisure and hospitality business operators are expected to deliver a sharp rebound in operating income next year, gaining a whopping 713 percent compared to this year on normalization of international travel after a two-year standstill.
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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