Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“Bangladesh, Korea have great potential for deeper mutually beneficial collaboration”
The year of 2021 is a special moment for Bangladesh. This year, the nation is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the independence and also in the midst of celebration of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The year also marks the official endorsement of the graduation of Bangladesh from the status of a Least Development Country to a developing one, as the country fulfilled all three eligibility criteria of the United Nations by substantial margins for the second time. The founding father Bangabandhu dreamt of ‘Sonar Bangla’ (Golden Bengal)-a prosperous, happy, and exploitation-free Bangladesh.
‘New envoy of R.P. shows signs of excelling her top-rated predecessor’
Newly accredited ambassador of the Republic of Philippines in Seoul, Madam Maria Theresa B. Dizon-De Vega, reminds the Korean people of one of the most active Philippine ambassadors in Seoul, Ambassador Francisco L. Benedicto who served in Korea from June 14, 1993 to May 16, 1995. Many Koreans agree that during that period of his service in Korea bilateral relations, cooperation and friendship flourished in the highest degree. And 16 years later today, it appears that the two countries are in for another Golden Time of win-win cooperation and friendship—with the newly accredited lady ambassador, Mme. De Vega in place. All in all, Korea and the Philippines are in for another period of most active cooperation in all areas between the two countries.
Lawyer Baek Jae-heum of Kim & Chang becomes chairman of the Tax Law Association
Lawyer Baek Jae-heum of the law firm Kim & Chang took office as chairman of the Tax Law Association (TLA) on Dec. 17, 2021. Newly appointed Chairman Baek, who majored in tax law at Harvard and New York University law schools and earned a doctorate in law from Seoul National University, served as the head of the Korean Bar Association's Bar Training Institute, the head of the Seoul Bar Association Tax Training Institute, and a member of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance's Tax Development Review Committee. Delivering his inauguration speech, Chairman Baek said Dec. 17, "The Tax Law Association has established itself as a representative academic society in the tax field over the past 35 years thanks to its members’ passion and hard work," adding, "I will do our best to strengthen academic activities for local tax and customs duties and create a place for mutual exchanges of young experts.”
Presidential Poll: Lee, Yoon in Neck-and-Neck Race
With less than 80 days until next year's presidential election, a new poll shows that the ruling Democratic Party's Lee Jae-myung and main opposition People Power Party's Yoon Suk Yeol are in a fierce neck-and-neck race and within the margin of error. The KBS poll, conducted from Friday to Sunday, asked one-thousand people which candidate they would vote for if the election was held the next day. In the hypothetical race, Lee received 33-point-seven percent, while Yoon garnered 34-point-two percent. Sim Sang-jeung of the progressive Justice Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People's Party both secured four-point-eight percent, each.
Producer Prices Jump 9.6% in November, Largest Growth in 13 Years
Producer prices jumped nearly ten percent on-year in November to post the largest growth in about 13 years. According to the Bank of Korea(BOK) on Tuesday, the producer price index for all commodities and services stood at 112-point-99 in November, up zero-point-five percent from a month earlier. The index, a key barometer of future inflation, posted growth for the 13th straight month since November last year. It also replaced new highs for eight consecutive months since April. Compared to a year earlier, the index jumped nine-point-six percent, the largest on-year gain since October 2008 when it rose ten-point-eight percent.
Moderna: Third Booster Dose Increases Antibodies against Omicron 37-Fold
U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna claims that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine increased neutralizing antibodies against the omicron variant 37-fold in laboratory testing. Moderna on Monday released the results of laboratory tests which used blood serum from 20 booster recipients for each dose. The company said in a statement that a 50 microgram booster dose, which is half the dose used for primary immunization, increased antibodies by 37-fold after 27 days. A 100 microgram booster dose reportedly increased antibody levels 83-fold compared to the primary two-dose course.
S. Korea ups 2022 economic growth outlook to 3.1 pct
South Korea's finance ministry on Monday revised up its 2022 growth outlook for the country's economy to 3.1 percent, saying that exports and private spending will likely gain ground despite heightened economic uncertainty. The government's latest projection is higher than the 3 percent growth forecast made in June, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The ministry's outlook is more upbeat than the 3 percent growth estimates by the Bank of Korea (BOK) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The International Monetary Fund expects the South Korea economy to grow 3.3 percent next year.
Moon orders hospitals to focus on critically ill COVID-19 patients
President Moon Jae-in instructed national university hospitals on Monday to focus their medical resources on caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients. Moon's order came as hospitals have struggled to secure beds for these patients amid a surge in their numbers, with the daily count hitting an all-time high of 1,025 on Sunday. "I ask national university hospitals to focus their medical capacities on treating critically ill COVID-19 patients," Moon said during a meeting with his aides, according to his spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.
S. Korean gov't cautious on possible change in political status of N. Korean leader's sister
South Korea's unification ministry responded cautiously Monday to reports of a possible change in the stature of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, days after she was seen standing alongside members of the powerful politburo of the North's ruling party during a memorial event last week. Kim Yo-jong, apparently influential in the secretive regime, was spotted between members and alternate members of the politburo during a memorial event for her father and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang on Friday, indicating she may have been named a member or an alternate member of the organ, according to footage aired on the North's state media.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Korea seeks economic normalization next year via tourism boosting, new tech
South Korea has publicized its goals of attaining full-fledged normalization of the economy beyond the pandemic crisis in 2022, alongside taking the lead in global competition to occupy future businesses. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki highlighted these dual goals during the government’s unveiling of economic policy directions for next year at the Government Complex in Seoul on Monday. In a bid to maximize the economic normalization, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has decided to carry out policies to boost private consumption -- particularly promoting the tourism sector, which was severely hit by COVID-19.
Ruling party concentrates fire on opposition candidate’s wife
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea is concentrating fire on Kim Keon-hee -- People Power Party presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol’s wife -- raising one allegation after another related to her career history. Adding on to the allegedly inaccurate information on Kim’s resume that she sent to universities while applying for teaching positions, the Democratic Party is raising suspicions on Kim’s claims to have studied at New York University. The ruling party claims that while Kim had visited New York University as part of her six-month Global Leadership Association program at Seoul National University, she portrayed as if she completed a regular program at the New York institution.
LG chairman urges customer-centric innovation
LG Group chairman and Chief Executive Officer Koo Kwang-mo urged its staff and executives across the world to focus on creating a “valuable user experience” for customers in his New Year’s speech for 2022. Koo, who serves in the top post of South Korea’s fourth-largest family-owned conglomerate, stressed in the mission statement that its staff should think outside the box and explore what is beyond the quality of goods and services, provided by the group dedicated to electronics, components, batteries and telecommunication services.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Biden administration puts North Korean nuclear issue on backburner
The North Korean nuclear issue appears to have lost priority with the U.S. government, which is focusing heavily on ending China's control of global supply chains, cross-strait relations and other issues. As Washington shows signs of preserving the status quo with the Kim Jong-un regime, which has in recent years refrained from testing nuclear and long-range missiles, the issue, described as "unproductive," is feared by some to remain shelved. In April, after its months-long policy review of the totalitarian state, the Joe Biden administration came up with a "calibrated practical approach" to North Korea's decades-long nuclear problem. However, combined with Pyongyang's nonresponse to U.S. overtures and U.S. refusals to offer enticements to engage the reclusive state, negotiations on denuclearizing the North have made little progress.
KEPCO to freeze electricity rate for Q1 of 2022
South Korea's state power firm Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) said Monday it will freeze the country's electricity rates in the first quarter of 2022 amid rising inflation. KEPCO said it has decided to set the adjusted unit fuel cost at zero won per kilowatt-hour for the January-March period of next year, the same as that three months earlier. Late last year, KEPCO adopted a flexible electricity rate system linked to global fuel prices in a move to improve its profitability. It previously charged an electricity rate under a fixed-rate electricity billing system. Under the new system, the billing system of electricity is adjusted every three months, depending on global prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG), coal and crude oil.
Korea to maintain expansionary fiscal policy in 2022
The government will continue to maintain its expansionary fiscal policy next year, to provide the impetus for an economic recovery in the first half by frontloading 63 percent of the massive 608 trillion won ($509.8 billion) annual budget, the finance ministry said Monday. The decision comes as part of the 2022 Policy Directives unveiled by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, aimed at spurring growth momentum and revitalizing Asia's fourth-largest economy, which has been underpinned by exports. Under the plan, the government will place a priority on supporting the recovery of domestic demand, by expanding tax incentives on credit card use and extending discount coupon schemes.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Koreans Own More U.S. Stocks Than Chinese
Korean retail investors now own more U.S. stocks than their Chinese counterparts. NH Investment and Securities analyzed U.S. Federal Reserve data and found that Korean investors owned US$315.1 billion worth of American stocks at the end of October, surpassing the amount $285.3 billion owned by Chinese investors. The Japanese are the only Asians who owns more with $908.2 billion. Korean investors increased their U.S. stock holdings by a whopping 30 percent this year, second only to India's 39 percent and surpassing Taiwan (23 percent), Hong Kong (20 percent), Japan (13 percent) and China (nine percent).
U.S. Without Ambassador in Seoul for Nearly a Year
The post of U.S. ambassador to South Korea has been vacant for 11 months and the delay is causing tension between Seoul and Washington, NBC reported last Thursday. A former senior U.S. government official called it "insulting." Even if U.S. President Joe Biden appoints a new ambassador right now, the process will probably take so long that he or she will not arrive before President Moon Jae-in leaves office in May. "There has been a drumbeat about this for the past several months, and it is now growing louder," a former senior administration official told NBC. "It's becoming an issue."
Kim Jong-un's Sister Resurfaces After 2 Months' Quiet
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong has resurfaced after disappearing from the radar 67 days ago. But instead of a rumored demotion she seems to have been promoted to the presidium of the politburo. One intelligence source said Sunday, "This heralds her entry into the heart of power." Brother and sister took part in a ceremony last Friday at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang marking the 10th anniversary of the death of their father Kim Jong-il. The last time Kim Yo-jong had been seen in public was on Oct. 11 when she attended an arms expo.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
China’s southern railway expansion is not all good news for Laos
On Dec. 3, a railroad running for a total length of 1,035 kilometers (642 miles) began operations between Kunming, capital of China’s Yunnan Province, and Vientiane, capital of Laos. It’s a distance comparable to that between the South Korean port city of Busan and the Russian port city of Vladivostok. The railway’s construction and operation are being handled by the Laos-China Railway Co., a joint venture in which the China Railway group controls a 70% share and a Lao state company has a 30% share. Laos is famous for its rugged jungles and mountains.
Democratic presidential nominee's campaign marred by scandal-embroiled son
On Thursday, Lee Jae-myung, presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, admitted that his son had engaged in illegal gambling, and issued an immediate apology. But ongoing allegations about visiting a massage parlor for sex are making party members nervous about the potential fallout if the claims about Lee’s 29-year-old son blow up. “It’s true that my son signed up for a card game website and wrote posts on the website as reported in the press. My son appears to have fallen into temptation for some time,” Lee said in a statement released on Thursday morning.
Japanese think tank predicts S. Korea’s per capita GDP will surpass Japan’s in 2027
South Korea is poised to pass Japan in per capita gross domestic product six years from now, analysts are predicting. The prediction is drawing even more attention for coming not from South Korea, but from Japan itself. Japan’s Nikkei newspaper published an article Thursday quoting data from the Japan Center for Economic Research predicting that in terms of per capita GDP — an indicator of individual prosperity — Japan would be surpassed by South Korea in 2027 and by Taiwan in 2028. The center cited delayed digital reforms in Japan’s government and stagnant labor productivity as informing its predictions.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Moon wishes successful implementation of LAC project for future
“I wish for a successful implementation of the project with the aircraft carrier of the future in mind,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Monday regarding the navy’s light aircraft carrier (LAC) project to be implemented by the government. President Moon said the South Korean aircraft carrier project, which is included in the next year’s budget, will take more than 10 years during a conversation, following a ceremony to name new Navy Chief of Staff and Vice Admirals held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Monday. Navy Chief of Staff Kim Jeong-soo said he will do his best to ensure a smooth implementation of the LAC project.
Hanwha Q Cells kicks off operation of low-carbon panels in France
Hanwha Q-Cells, the green energy spinoff from Hanwha Solutions, announced Monday that it began the operation of a 55MW-capacity solar photovoltaic power plants in France. Located in the premises of 75 hectares in Gien, the central-northern part of France, the power plant has been installed by TotalEnergies, a French energy company. Its maximum power generation capacity, 64GWh, is comparable with the amount of power spent by 20,000 South Korean households over the span of one year. Over the next 30 years, the power plant is expected to reduce around 550,000 tons of CO2.
Lee, Yoon race to attract moderate voters
With the presidential election some 80 days away, ruling and opposition party standard bearers are scrambling to attract moderate voters. Ruling Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung is demanding the government to reconsider the policy to reflect actual transaction prices of real estate in taxation in a move to differentiate himself from the Moon Jae-in administration, continuing so-called ‘realty power game.’ Countering this move, People Power Party candidate Yoon Seok-youl said, “The next administration will have a number of ministers who are in their 30s,’ attempting to lure voters in their 20s and 30s.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Kim Dong-yeon Establishes a New Political Party, the New Wave, “Lee Jae-myung and Yoon Seok-youl Discuss Governing the State Without Cultivating Oneself”
On December 19, Kim Dong-yeon, former deputy prime minister for the economy, a presidential candidate of the “third zone” held a party congress and established the New Wave. This day he was also chosen as the party’s founding leader. He criticized the presidential candidates Lee Jae-myung (Democratic Party of Korea) and Yoon Seok-youl (People Power Party) saying, “They are talking about governing the state without even cultivating themselves and putting their family in order.” At the founding party congress held at the FKI Tower in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul this day, party members agreed to elect Kim Dong-yeon as the party leader.
Starting Dec. 18 Restaurants and Cafes to Close at 9 p.m. and Only 4 People Allowed for Private Gatherings
The government will enforce strong physical (social) distancing measures allowing up to four people per private gathering and restricting business hours of restaurants and cafes to 9 p.m. beginning December 18. On December 16, in a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters to discuss the government’s response to COVID-19, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, “We believe that we can overcome the latest challenge only by suppressing the spread of the virus as soon as possible with strong social distancing measures.” The prime minister announced, “We will reduce the number of people allowed for private gatherings to four and this will be applied equally nationwide.”
New Government Package for Business Owners Struggling with Tougher Distancing Measures
The government will hand out a disease control support fund of one million won, aside from the compensation for losses, to 3.2 million small business owners whose sales dropped due to stronger distancing measures in the wake of another COVID-19 wave. The government will also provide 100,000 won worth of supplies to 1.15 million owners of restaurants and cafes where the vaccine pass (vaccination certificate, certificate of negative test result) will be mandatory. The latest compensation for losses will be given to 120,000 businesses, previously not eligible for compensation, including barber shops, hair salons and other businesses with quotas or restrictions in the use of facilities.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea to remove cap on duty-free shopping, targets 3.1% GDP growth in 2022
South Korea will target 3.1 percent growth despite the setbacks of ongoing Covid-19 threat and uncertainties from a presidential election in March by propping up domestic demand through extended special sale tax break and lifting in duty-free purchase cap on nationals while supporting exporters with enhanced financing, according to the government’s economic policy outline for 2022. The outgoing government under President Moon Jae-in whose term ends in May will aim to “completely normalize the economy” from the Covid-19 havoc through “aggressive fiscal management and stimuli measures,” the Ministry of Finance and Economy reported to the president on Monday.
KEPCO loss may top $3 bn this year and worsen in coming years on coal phase-out
South Korea’s state-run utility company Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) may endure loss-making streak after this year’s estimated record loss of over $3 billion against multiple whammies of surge in international fuel prices and freeze in utility rates on top of hastened roadmap to phase out of coal-fired generation and migrate to renewables. KEPCO’s operating loss is expected to reach 3 trillion won in the fourth quarter and minimum 4 trillion won ($3.4 billion) for full 2021 as it was unable to raise power rates despite spike in import prices amid Covid-19 hardship and inflationary pressure, according to market consensus.
Korean direct-to-consumer players bulking up via social media influence
Online commerce players in South Korea leveraging on the direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model are bulking up through active mergers and acquisitions and new funding as both investors and consumers increasingly prefer their competitiveness without intermediary retailers. D2C business model has been in fashion as it not only can save costs for online players but also allows full command over customer data by bypassing third-player retailers or wholesalers. According to market research agency Statista, D2C sales in the United States are projected to increase from $76.6 billion in 2019 to $174.9 billion in 2023.
What’s ticking around the world at this second?
See what the world media around the world have to report:
Le Monde www.ilemonde.com
Sydney Morning Heraldwww.smh.com.au
Colombia Reports http://colombiareports.com
El Universal http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english
Ecuador Times http://www.ecuadortimes.net
The Jordan Times https://www.jordantimes.com
Philippine Daily Inquirer https://www.inquirer.net
Daily News Hungary http://dailynewshungary.com
Budapest Times http://budapesttimes.hu
The Korea Post is running video clips from the different embassies.
And many other countries.
What are you waiting for?
The Korea Post media are more than eager to be used, and to serve you—with the following five news outlets, 36 years old this year!
Korean-language Internet edition: http://www.koreapost.co.kr
English-language Internet edition: http://www.koreapost.com
Korean-language print newspaper:
English E-daily: http://www.koreapost.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=10690