Wednesday, December 22, 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.”
Another Official Involved in Seongnam Development Project Found Dead
A senior official of Seongnam Development Corporation who was involved with the controversial Daejang-dong project has been found dead in a suspected suicide. According to the police, the body of Kim Moon-ki, the head of the development division at the city-funded company, was discovered at an office of the company in Bundang, Seongnam, at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Police said they found no signs of foul play and are looking into the circumstances of death, adding whether the deceased left any note is also under investigation. Kim had been in charge of working-level issues regarding the development project until early this year and was summoned by the prosecution and police several times for questioning as a person of reference on the case.
PPP Chief Resigns as Election Committee Co-Head amid Internal Feud
Main opposition People Power Party(PPP) chair Lee Jun-seok has expressed his intent to step down as standing co-head of the party’s presidential election committee amid an internal feud with Supreme Council member Cho Su-jin. Lee held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon and said he will resign from all his posts within the election committee. He has also doubled as chief public relations strategist for the committee. Directing his criticism at Cho, who heads the committee's task force on press, Lee said if committee members do not feel the need to follow their representative, it is equivalent to denying the necessity of the committee's raison d'être.
Yoon: Current COVID-19 Situation a Disaster Brought on by Moon's Miscalculation
Main opposition People Power Party(PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk Yeol described the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic as nearly at a national crisis, and that the disaster was brought on by President Moon Jae-in’s miscalculation. Yoon made the remark on Tuesday when he chaired the first meeting of the party’s emergency committee on tackling COVID-19 at the National Assembly in Seoul. Yoon said the president - who is the nation's top decision-maker - brought about a disaster by pushing forward a transition to living with the virus without fully preparing and by consistently failing to accurately assess the pandemic situation, including vaccine supplies and securing sick beds.
PPP chief offers to step down from presidential campaign leadership amid internal feud
The chief of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) said Tuesday he will quit all his positions in the party's presidential campaign committee following a dispute with a senior member of the committee. Lee Jun-seok announced his departure at a press briefing at the National Assembly after Rep. Cho Su-jin, the PPP campaign's communications chief, disobeyed his order and said she would listen only to the party's presidential nominee, Yoon Suk-yeol. Later in the day, Cho also offered to resign from the campaign.
FSS chief warns of action if loan-deposit margin widens beyond 'reasonable' levels
South Korea's chief financial regulator said Tuesday that his agency will take "necessary" action if the spread between interest rates on loans and deposits widens beyond "reasonable" levels. Jeong Eun-bo, chief of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), made the remarks during an online press conference amid criticism that banks and other financial firms are quicker to increase their loan rates than raise rates on deposits. The rate hikes are in line with the central bank's push to increase borrowing costs to tame inflation.
Presidential race kicks off but winner remains elusive
The presidential race got under way in 2021, setting up a competition between two leading candidates whose lack of political experience proved to be both a liability and an asset. Lee Jae-myung, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) nominee, is an outspoken and aggressive former governor of the country's most populous Gyeonggi Province, who previously served as the mayor of a city in the suburbs of Seoul and before that, as a lawyer. Yoon Suk-yeol, the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) nominee, was the Moon Jae-in government's prosecutor general until the start of the year before a major falling out with the administration caused him to bolt and join hands with the opposition.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Ending the Korean War: Risky gambit, with little chance of payoff
Will an end-of-war declaration bring us one step closer to a peaceful and nuclear-free Korean Peninsula? In Washington, there is a divergence of opinion on the utility of an end-of-war declaration as a means to reboot nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. But the majority sees more risk than opportunity, with adverse ramifications for the security of the Korean Peninsula, the South Korea-US alliance, American deterrence and the status of the United Nations Command.
Senior presidential aide resigns over son’s job search blunder
Kim Jin-kook, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, on Tuesday tendered his resignation after it was found that his son had attempted to use Kim’s position to find employment, officials said. “President Moon accepted Kim Jin-kook’s resignation,” said Park Soo-hyun, senior Cheong Wa Dae secretary for public communication. “There is no discussion on the successor yet.” Kim issued an apology, saying, “Above all, I deeply apologize for causing concern to the people.” “I was lacking as a father. I think it’s my fault that my son acted inappropriately,” he added.
Posco International to invest W162b in Mexico EV parts factory
In a bid to penetrate the US electric vehicle market, Posco International said Tuesday it is opening a Mexico office to oversee the production plant of a core component. The component, the rotor motor core, is used to generate electricity in electric motors. The decision has been approved by the board, the trading arm of Korea’s leading steelmaker said. Some 52 billion won ($43.6 million) will be invested in building the facility, of which 80 percent will be funded by Posco International and the rest from its subsidiary Posco SPS.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Carbon neutrality, electricity bill freeze exacerbating KEPCO's snowballing debt
The price freeze on electricity announced earlier this week is set to add to the snowballing debt of the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), at a time electricity generation has become increasingly expensive as the government has accelerated the shift to eco-friendly power. KEPCO announced its decision on Monday to freeze electricity rates for the first quarter of next year, due to inflation rates and the COVID-19 pandemic that have increasingly placed a burden upon the public. But the government came under fire as the latest price freeze is seen as a measure to cling to support ahead of the presidential election to be held in March next year.
Rival candidates resort to tax delays, feminism to woo voters
With less than three months to go until the presidential election, Korea's major presidential candidates have been slammed for compromising their political consistency for votes, as the ruling party candidate churns out short-term pledges while the main opposition candidate has tapped into feminism despite his party's resistance to it. The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and the government announced on Monday that they will consider using this year's officially assessed land prices in calculating next year's property taxes for homeowners.
Umbrella union opposes ex-FM's bid for ILO leadership
One of the nation's two largest umbrella labor unions has voiced its disapproval of a former Korean foreign minister who is running for the top post of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The stance of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) is expected to sway the prospects of former Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in the election slated for March 25 of next year. The KCTU said, Tuesday, it recently sent a letter to Catelene Passchier, the chair of the Workers' Group in the ILO, and Sharan Burrow, secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), saying it does not support Kang's bid for the ILO director-general post.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea's Real Estate Tax Doubles over Last Decade
The ratio of Korea's property tax to GDP has nearly doubled over the last decade and risen exponentially as the Moon Jae-in administration struggled to curb skyrocketing home prices. In a report on Monday, the Korea Economic Research Institute said the ratio of Korea's real estate tax to GDP is expected to jump from 0.78 percent in 2017, when the current administration was inaugurated, to 1.22 percent in 2021. "This is higher than the OECD average of 1.07 percent," KERI said, "and nearly double the 0.7 percent of 2010." The institute called for a reduction of real estate-related taxes, which are levied on buying and selling properties, to stabilize the property market.
Top Presidential Candidates Hampered by Family Shenanigans
Korea's lackluster presidential candidates are slipping in the ratings as the shenanigans of their families cast them in an even dimmer light to many voters. With around 80 days left before the presidential election, opinion polls vary widely which of the candidates is ahead. A Real Meter poll from Dec. 12-17 showed main opposition People Power Party presidential candidate Yoon Suk-youl ahead with 44.4 percent while Minjoo Party candidate Lee Jae-myung trails him with 38 percent. That was down 0.8 percentage points for Yoon from last week, but Lee slipped even further with 1.7 percentage points. At the same time, both changes are well within the margin of error of such polls.
Venture Capital Firms Drive Change in Korea
Venture capital companies that invest in promising start-ups are becoming the key drivers of economic change in Korea. According to start-up database the VC, start-ups in Korea were given W12.55 trillion in investments by venture capital firms so far this year, surpassing W10 trillion for the first time (US$1=W1,193). The growth of venture capital companies is changing the landscape of the capital market. According to the Korean Venture Capital Association, 61.4 percent of 70 companies that were listed on the tech-heavy Kosdaq from January to September of this year had received investments from venture capitalists.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Candidates, stop the mudslinging and show us your vision for Korea
Over the years, I’ve lived through a lot of presidential elections, and I can safely say I’ve never seen one as disappointing as this. As a contest between one candidate whose support ratings go up every time he flip-flops on one of his many election pledges and another whose presidential run appears solely motivated by a sense of vengeance toward the current administration, it remains mired at the level of mudslinging over family members instead of policies.
KSOI poll: Lee Jae-myung polling at 40.3%, Yoon Suk-yeol at 37.4%
The latest presidential candidate poll by the Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI) found that presidential nominee for the Democratic Party Lee Jae-myung and People Power Party presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol were within the margin of error for the fifth week in a row. The KSOI announced on Monday that Lee was preferred by 40.3% of respondents and Yoon by 37.4% in a poll of 1,008 adults around the country that asked them on Dec. 17-18 which presidential candidate they supported. Conducted at the request of the broadcaster TBS, the poll had a confidence level of 95% and a sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Former S. Korean President Park Geun-hye’s hospital stay extended into new year
Former President Park Geun-hye, who is serving a 22-year prison sentence for influence peddling, was hospitalized in November for treatment of a chronic illness and will continue receiving additional medical care requiring hospitalization until early next year. The Ministry of Justice said on Monday that Park had been scheduled to receive inpatient treatment for about a month, but now requires an additional six weeks of treatment according to various medical specialists. Accordingly, Park is expected to be discharged from the hospital by the end of January next year “unless she is released [sooner] due to amnesty or suspension of her sentence,” the ministry noted.
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.
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.
Enshrinement ceremony held for 370 Korean soldiers killed in Korean War
A joint enshrinement ceremony for 370 Korean soldiers killed during the Korean War was held at the Seoul National Cemetery in Seoul on Monday. The 370 remains were uncovered from battlefields across the country this year. High-ranking officials who attended the ceremony include Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min, Veterans Affairs Minister Hwang Ki-chul and National Police Agency Deputy Chief Jin Kyo-hoon. The ceremony included a report on the progress of excavation works, religious rites, flower tributes and incense offering for the dead, and sending off the dead.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Kim Boo-kyum Says, “Hard to Agree” to Lee Jae-myung’s Suspension of Sale Tax for Multiple-Home Owners
On December 21, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum shared his position on deferring the real estate sale tax for people who own multiple homes, a measure that Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, is currently promoting, and said, “It is hard for the government to agree, because it weakens the credibility of government policies.” This morning, the prime minister appeared on the CBS radio show, Kim Hyun-jung’s News Show for an interview and said, “When we introduced the real estate sale tax, we already gave homeowners a grace period until the end of May. If we further delay imposing the tax, the homeowners who trusted the government and sold their homes would suffer losses.” Prime Minister Kim also said, “It is hard to accept the argument that people who had not agreed to the government policy would suddenly sell their homes now if the government gave them more time.”
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.
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/)
Korea’s exports keep up 26% gain to set record for ’21, prospects for ’22 less positive
South Korea’s exports kept up double-digit growth in the first 20 days of December, set to achieve an annual record with a gain of over 26 percent, but facing murky 2022 on unfavorable external trade conditions on slowdown in chip demand and the Chinese economy, data and survey showed. According to the Korea Customs Service on Tuesday, outbound shipments totaled $36.9 billion from Dec. 1 to 20, up 20 percent from a year earlier. Daily exports also grew 20 percent based on the same 15.5 working days.
Seegene airlifts diagnostic reagents to Europe as new Covid cases spike
Korean assay and reagent manufacturers have been flooded with new orders from Europe grappling with the surge of Omicron variant Covid-19 cases. Seegene, the country’s leading multiplex diagnostic assay developer, has hired a special charter flight to fly 2.8 million test kits to Europe over the weekend. It is the first time that the company used a chartered plane for shipment since the arrival of the pandemic in spring of last year.
`Test & Go` country list to change
The government is expected to revise its list of "Test & Go" countries following the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 as details on Monday emerged of the country`s earliest recorded local case of the strain. Gen Supoj Malaniyom, chief of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration`s (CCSA) operations base, said the list of of low-risk countries eligible for the tourism opening scheme will be reviewed and Covid-19 screening measures will be intensified.
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