Monday, December 6, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
UAE holds gala event to celebrate its Golden Jubilee at Hotel Shilla in Seoul
Ambassador Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi of the United Arab Emirates in Seoul hosted a gala reception at the Hotel Shilla in Seoul on Dec. 2, 2021 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the UAE marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country on that day of 1971. It was one of the best-attended diplomatic functions in the last two years of COVID-19 padenic. Ambassadors and madams of many countries were present expressing congratualtions to the host. Delivering a welcoming speech, Ambassador Al Nuaimi of the UAE said, “Today we are here to celebrate a very special event for my country, the UAE. It is the Golden Jubilee of the unification of the seven Emirates in 1971.” Then he said, “The journey has continued with energy and determination under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Kahlifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE.”
Chairman Chung Mong-won of Halla wins the Order of National Friendship from Italy
Chairman Chung Mong-won of Halla Group received the Order of National Friendship from Italy on Dec. 3. According to the Italian Embassy in Korea, the award ceremony was held at the Italian Embassy's residence on Dec. 3 under the supervision of the Italian Ambassador to Korea Federico Failla. Chairman Chung Mong-won of Halla Group received the Order of National Friendship from Italy on Dec. 3. According to the Italian Embassy in Korea, the award ceremony was held at the Italian Embassy's residence on Dec. 3 under the supervision of the Italian Ambassador to Korea Federico Failla.
Samsung Electronics introduces 3 new logic solutions
Samsung Electronics has introduced three of its latest automotive chip solutions; the Exynos Auto T5123 for 5G connectivity, the Exynos Auto V7 for comprehensive in-vehicle infotainment systems and the ASIL-B certified S2VPS01 power management IC (PMIC) for the Auto V series. “Smarter and more connected automotive technologies for enriched in-vehicle experiences including entertainment, safety and comfort are becoming critical features on the road,” said Executive Vice President Park Jae-hong of System LSI Custom SOC Business at Samsung Electronics. “With an advanced 5G modem, an AI-enhanced multi-core processor and a market-proven PMIC solution, Samsung is transfusing its expertise in mobile solutions into its automotive lineup and is positioned to expand its presence within the field.”
DP Pres. Candidate Campaigns in Jeolla, Yoon Prepares for Launch of Campaign Committee
The ruling Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung is campaigning in North Jeolla Province for a third day. On the third and last day of his scheduled visit in the province, Lee visited a church in Jeongup for a Sunday service with his wife. After the service, Lee headed to a traditional market and gave a speech calling for voters' support, stressing his competence as a presidential candidate. He also targeted his rival Yoon Seok-youl of the main opposition People Power Party, saying that the prosecution regime is unacceptable as the military regime is. Yoon was prosecutor-general before he entered politics.
S. Korea's Food Price Inflation 4th Highest in OECD
South Korea's food price inflation in the third quarter ranked the fourth highest among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to data by the OECD and Statistics Korea on Sunday, prices for groceries and nonalcoholic beverages rose by five percent on-year in the period of July-September. The country's consumer prices rose by two-point-six percent on-year in the cited period, the largest quarterly gain in about nine years. South Korea's inflation ranked 20th highest, along with Belgium, among 34 states whose inflation data are released by the OECD.
S. Korea Enforces Tougher Anti-virus Measures
The government has started enforcing tightened caps on private gatherings for four weeks in order to contain the latest spike in COVID-19 cases. According to health authorities, starting Monday, up to six people can gather in Seoul, Incheon and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, while up to eight people can gather for private meetings in non-capital areas regardless of their vaccination status. The previous caps were set at ten in the greater metro area and 12 in non-capital regions. The COVID-19 pass system, which had applied to high-risk virus-prone facilities such as indoor gyms and bars, has been extended to most multi-use facilities, including restaurants, cafes, cram schools, internet cafes, concert halls and libraries.
S. Korea to focus on containing omicron variant with tightened anti-virus measures: PM
South Korea will focus on containing the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus till the end of this year as the country started to enforce tightened social distancing measures amid rising daily infections, Prime Minster Kim Boo-kyum said Monday. "The threat of the omicron variant is becoming apparent," Kim said during a COVID-19 response meeting in Seoul. "Although we do not have a clear grasp of the omicron variant, what looks certain is that it is highly contagious." So far, health authorities have confirmed 12 omicron cases in South Korea. Kim called for thorough quarantine inspections on arrivals to the country, while conducting swift contact tracing for the omicron variant.
Small merchants' sentiment dips for Dec. amid soaring coronavirus cases
South Korean small merchants' business confidence worsened for December in the wake of a surge in coronavirus infections, a poll showed Monday. The Small Enterprise and Market Service said its business survey index (BSI) for small merchants came to 85.4 for this month, down 2.2 points from the previous month. It marks the first time in four months that the small merchants' BSI has gone down from the previous month. A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists. The survey of 2,400 small merchants nationwide was taken from Nov. 18-22.
Seoul's daily COVID-19 cases hit new record
Seoul's new daily coronavirus cases hit an all-time high again Saturday amid growing concerns of the new omicron variant. The capital city reported a record high 2,273 new daily cases -- 2,266 local infections and seven from overseas -- bringing the total caseload to 163,146, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The daily caseload, counted Friday, marks the highest amount since the country reported its first COVID-19 case in January last year and is five cases more than the previous record of 2,268 set Wednesday. The latest tally was also up 174 from the 2,099 reported Friday and 385 from the 1,888 recorded a week ago.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Monthlong party strife resolved, Yoon vows ‘united efforts’ in presidential race
Resolving an internal conflict that delayed the launch of his election committee for about a month, Yoon Suk-yeol, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, vowed to unite efforts to win in the March presidential election on Sunday. In a Facebook post, Yoon of the People Power Party apologized for discord with party leader Lee Jun-seok after a dramatic reconciliation Friday. He also brought in Kim Chong-in, a veteran campaigner to lead his election committee. “I will show a unified power of our campaign team with our new election committee chief Kim Chong-in and co-standing committee leaders Kim Byong-joon and Lee Jun-seok, in the inauguration ceremony for our election committee,” Yoon said via Facebook.
Cyberattacks targeting S. Korea’s security strategies will increase during elections: NIS
Hackers with the backing of foreign governments will aggressively target information on Seoul’s national security strategies in the runup to the presidential election next March, the South Korean spy agency warned in its recent annual report. The National Cyber Security Center, under the auspices of the National Intelligence Service, last week released the annual report entailing cyber threat assessments and predictions, as well as its countermeasures. In the report, the NCSC predicted that nation-state threat actors backed by governments would “intensively steal information on South Korea’s pending security issues and government policies” next year, citing the March 9 presidential election as the reason.
SK, Swedish private equity chiefs discuss future industries
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won met with Conni Jonsson, founder and chairperson of Swedish private equity firm EQT Partners, and discussed expanding ties on future industries, such as green energy and health care, officials said Sunday. In the meeting held Friday in Seoul, Chey told Jonsson about the conglomerate’s efforts in reducing carbon emissions, improving transparency in governance and creating both economic and social values, they said. “South Korea is a leader in hydrogen, and we at SK Group intend to build a value chain that spans production, distribution and consumption,” Chey said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Presidential candidates show sharp contrast in foreign policy direction
In every presidential election, the candidates' vision for North Korea and their views on foreign policy have been among the most important issues. In particular, with North Korea continuing to modernizing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles arsenal, and U.S.-Sino rivalry intensifying, their foreign policy principles are carrying additional significance. With less than 100 days left until the presidential election, scheduled for March 9, 2022, ruling Democratic Party of Korea candidate Lee Jae-myung and main opposition People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol seem to be heading in different foreign policy directions.
Gov't balks at complete resumption of short-selling
The government remains uncertain about the complete resumption of short-selling on the Seoul bourse, despite plans to resume talks with the MSCI, for the Korean equity market to be classified by the American index provider as a "developed market." "We have yet to discuss the timing of the resumption of short-selling with the finance ministry," Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Koh Seung-beom said in a press conference, Friday. Korea's short-selling ban on small-cap stocks, which has continued since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, was mentioned in the MSCI's latest market reclassification review in June, as a reason for the index provider to keep the country's equity market classified as "emerging."
Revisit Korea Program held for US veterans
Nine U.S. veterans, who served in Korea following the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War, revisited the country last month along with their family members. The revisit program, the first of its kind by the Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) and the Korea-U.S. Alliance Foundation, was sponsored by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA). A total of 16 people made the five-day trip to Korea starting Nov. 29, visiting the Joint Security Area, Camp Casey, Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base, where they served, according to the KDVA.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
S.Korea, U.S. to Update War Plans Against N.Korea
The South Korean and U.S. militaries have agreed to update their wartime contingency plan for the first time in six years to respond to increasing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea. The decision, which comes after North Korea launched a battery of new missiles, was made by Defense Minister Suh Wook and his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin during the annual Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul on Thursday. The operational plan, or OPLAN for short, consists of various contingency scenarios based on an assessment of new North Korean threats over the next couple of years.
National Security Adviser Meets China's Foreign Policy Chief
National security adviser Suh Hoon met Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party's foreign affairs chief, in China on Thursday. They met in Tianjin about 140 km from Beijing at China's request amid fears about the Omicron variant of coronavirus. The two met in a hotel to discuss President Moon Jae-in's quixotic plan to declare a formal end to the Korean War, perhaps coinciding with the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. Before meeting Yang, Suh told reporters, "We're going to discuss bilateral relations in general, as next year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relationship." He added the two would have "broad discussions" including the end-of-war declaration.
Korea Tightens Travel Curbs over Omicron Panic
The government on Thursday tightened curbs on arrivals from African countries that it considers hotspots of the Omicron variant of coronavirus. As of midnight Friday, Nigeria joins eight southern African countries on a blacklist after several people who had visited the country tested positive for the variant here. Foreigners who spent time in the high-risk African countries as recently as two weeks ago are also barred. The son from a missionary couple, who had returned from Nigeria in late November, tested positive for the variant on Thursday, bringing total confirmed cases to six so far. Starting Saturday, the three weekly flights to Ethiopia will be halted until Dec. 17. Instead, the government will operate irregular flights to shuttle Korean nationals back home.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Moon discusses expedited OPCON transfer with Pentagon chief
South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the Blue House on Thursday afternoon to discuss the possibility of speeding up the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of armed forces in Korea, the Blue House said. The next step in the OPCON handover is an assessment of full operational capability (FOC). Moon and Austin also “agreed to keep working to find overlap between the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy and South Korea’s New Southern Policy as President Moon and President Biden have already agreed,” Blue House spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said in material distributed to the news media.
S. Korean security advisor pushes end-of-war declaration in talks with China
South Korea’s national security advisor Suh Hoon arrived in China on Thursday for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. It appears that during Suh’s two-day stay, he discussed various issues with his counterpart, including the end-of-war declaration Seoul is pushing for and industrial supply chain issues, among others. At a meeting held at a hotel in Tianjin that evening, Suh noted that international affairs are “going through a transitional period, which makes this time more important than ever for South Korea and China to maintain communication and cooperation for peace on the Korean Peninsula and the region.”
Private gatherings to be capped at 6 people in greater Seoul area for 4 weeks
With all metrics of disease prevention flashing warning signs, the South Korean government has decided to tighten disease control measures once again by limiting the number of people allowed to attend private gatherings to six in the greater Seoul area and eight elsewhere. These measures will go into effect on Monday and last for four weeks. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced the new measures during a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters meeting on Friday morning. Under the current stage of Korea’s gradual return to normal life, private gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed in the greater Seoul area, while elsewhere up to 12 people are permitted to gather.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Top 30 conglomerates to invest $129 billion in environment by 2030
The total amount of investment in environment-related areas pledged by Korea’s 30 largest conglomerates will exceed 153 trillion won (about 129 billion U.S. dollars), a new report showed. As major Korean conglomerates emphasize environment, social and governance (ESG) in the course of business reshuffles and investment, they have shown the keenest interest in environment. The Federation of Korean Industries said Sunday it published a “ESG White Paper” based on its survey and sustainability reports published by member companies of its K-ESG Alliance run by the federation.
Allies expressed concern over Washington’s revision of NPR
It has been confirmed that the South Korean government has communicated its message several times to the U.S. in opposition to the “no first use” and “sole purpose” policies. Washington is currently debating whether to include such nuclear policies in its Nuclear Posture Review for early next year. According to high-level officials from the government on Thursday, early this year, Washington surveyed its allies including South Korea to sound out their opinions on a potential shift of weapons policy, and the allies shared their stance on the matter and expressed their collective skepticism over the adoption of “no first use” policy several times to the Biden administration.
Seoul, Beijing push for virtual summit in January
Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, expressed Beijing’s strong support of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s bid to declare the end of the Korean War during his meeting with Suh Hoon, director of national security at the South Korean presidential office. The two sides agreed to push for a virtual summit meeting between Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping in January, and are discussing details. "China supports the push to declare the end of the war and believe that the end-of-war declaration will contribute to promoting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Yang was quoted by the National Security Office at the presidential office on Friday.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Government to Restrict Private Gatherings for 4 Weeks Beginning Dec. 6: Up to 6 People Allowed in the Greater Seoul Area and 8 People in Other Areas
The government decided to strengthen disease control measures beginning December 6 and will reduce the number of people allowed to come together for a private gathering--up to six people can gather in the Seoul metropolitan area and up to eight people in other areas. On December 3, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum presided over a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in response to COVID-19 and in his opening statement, he said, “To quickly contain the spread of the virus, which is increasing at a fast pace, we will tighten restrictions on the number of people attending private gatherings.” The new distancing measures will be enforced for four weeks beginning December 6.
Song Young-gil, “Cho Dong-youn Expressed Wish to Resign and Asked to Please Stop Attacking the Children”
On December 3, Democratic Party of Korea leader Song Young-gil spoke about Cho Dong-youn, co-leader of the Democratic Party’s election campaign who resigned following controversy over her personal life and said, “I received a call from Cho this morning saying that she wanted to step down.” He also conveyed Cho’s request to “Please stop attacking the children.”
This morning, Song spoke about Cho in front of his office in the National Assembly and said, “I couldn’t sleep last night, too worried after reading a post on Cho’s Facebook page, but fortunately, I was able to speak with her over the phone this morning. I was relieved.” He also said, “She told me she wanted to resign over the phone and expressed her wish to stop all attacks on her family and children.”
COVID-19: A Record-High 5,123 New Daily Cases and 723 Patients in Critical Condition
On December 1, authorities confirmed over 5,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 for the first time since the virus first landed in the nation. The number of patients in critical condition also jumped to 723, breaking the previous record. The Central Disease Control Headquarters announced that as of midnight this day, they confirmed 5,123 cases of COVID-19 from the previous day. This is the largest number of cases confirmed in a day and is over a thousand more than the previous record of 4,115. Among the newly confirmed cases, 5,075 were contracted in the local community, while 48 cases entered from overseas.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea’s ’22 budget scheme enlarged to $515 bn in another record-high spending plan
South Korea’s National Assembly on Friday passed 607.7 trillion won ($515.3 billion) budget scheme for 2022 Friday, a day after the legally-set Dec. 2 deadline after adding 3.3 trillion won onto the government’s budget outline to create another record-high fiscal spending to fight ongoing virus and economic challenges. The endorsed budget bill would be another largest-ever, increased by 8.9 percent from the original 2021 budget scheme excluding two sets of increases through supplementary budgeting.
Korea’s debt-to-GDP ratio to pass 50% threshold via supersized 2022 budget
South Korean government debt ratio against the gross domestic product (GDP) would top 50 percent for the first time next year after the country has packaged a record-sized budget for the second consecutive year to combat Covid-19 crisis. The country’s national debt was estimated at 1,064.4 trillion won in the 607.7 trillion won 2022 budgetary scheme the National Assembly passed on Friday.
Debt size and its ratio against the GDP would pass milestones of 1,000 trillion won and 50 percent. The debt-to-GDP ratio would be up from 47.3 percent this year.
LG Elec wins patent war with Chinese mobile group Tinno Mobile
South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. stocking up on mobile-related patents after folding its smartphone business has scored another victory in patent battle with a Chinese mobile phone maker. LG Electronics announced Thursday that it has signed an agreement to license its long-term evolution (LTE) standard essential patents (SEP) to Tinno Mobile, the Chinese parent company of European mobile phone brand Wiko. Under the deal, Tinno Mobile will have to pay royalties for using LG’s LTE patents in all Wiko-branded phones marketed worldwide.
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