Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
‘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.
The Korea Post cites UAE envoy for support for Special Report
On the afternoon of Dec. 23, 2021, The Korea Post media presented Ambassador Abdulla Saif Alnuaimi of the United Arab Emirates in Seoul with a Plaque of Citation for the valuable support given to The Korea Post media in the publication of a Special Report on the country in its December 2021 issue on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Unification of the Seven Emirates on Dec. 2, 2021. The occasion also marked the presentation of a separate Plaque of Citation to Interpreter Kim Su-jin at the Embassy who rendered a good measure of support for the successful publication of the Special Report.
Kahlua presents coffee cocktail menus at nine cafes in Seoul for 30 days
Pernod Ricard Korea’s coffee liqueur Kahlua, the number one of its kind in the world, announced on December 27, 2021 that it is once again conducting its “Coffee Goes Cocktails’ promotion presenting Kahlua coffee cocktail menus at nine cafes in Seoul for 30 days starting today. With the culture of ‘Home café’ becoming trendy, #coffee cocktails have recently been drawing attention on social media. More and more cafes are introducing coffee cocktails, boosting consumer demand, especially among Gen Z and Millennials. The leading global coffee liqueur brand Kahlua, which enjoys a huge fan base around the world, is conducting a special ‘Coffee Goes Cocktails’ promotion. The brand collaborated with nine trendy cafes in Seoul that are considered hot places on Instagram to develop a special Kahlua coffee cocktail menu to be offered for 30 days. Each reflects the unique characteristics of the café’s baristas.
N. Korea Convenes Major Party Meeting
North Korea reportedly opened a key party meeting on Monday. Ruling Workers' Party mouthpiece Rodong Sinmun said on Tuesday that the Fourth Plenary Meeting of the party's Eighth Central Committee was convened the previous day. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly presided over the meeting, which was attended by party and government officials. The paper said the plenary meeting would review the implementation of main party and state policies for the year 2021. It added the meeting would also discuss and decide strategic policies and tasks for guiding the struggle of the party and people to open a new period of the development of socialist construction to the next stage of victory.
Yoon Pledges to Better Protect Individual Investors
Main opposition People Power Party presidential candidate Yoon Suk Yeol has announced a set of pledges aimed at protecting individual investors, such as scrapping taxation on stock transactions. In a news conference at party headquarters on Monday, Yoon said one out of five South Koreans invest in stocks but have not fully enjoyed the fruit of corporate growth. He promised to build an advanced stock market that benefits both businesses and investors in a win-win strategy. This includes stronger tax support, improving rules on short selling stocks and making the capital market more fair and transparent. He also pledged to completely abolish the securities transaction tax, calling it double taxation, and also to lower capital gains tax on stocks to favor long-term investors.
Consumer Sentiment Worsens in December
Consumer sentiment worsened for the first time in four months in December due to enhanced social distancing amid a spike in COVID-19 infections. According to the Bank of Korea(BOK) on Tuesday, the Composite Consumer Sentiment Index(CCSI) came to 103-point-nine in December, down three-point-seven points from the previous month. It marks the first drop after rising for three straight months from September to November. A reading above 100 means optimists outnumber pessimists. A BOK official said that the worsened consumer sentiment is attributed to a spike in coronavirus infections and the spread of the new omicron variant.
N. Korean leader convenes key party meeting to discuss policy issues
North Korea has kicked off a key ruling party meeting to decide on "strategic and tactical policies," its state media said Tuesday, amid expectations the session could serve as a venue to unveil Pyongyang's major policy directions for the new year. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over the plenary of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee held the previous day, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "The plenary meeting is to review the implementation of main Party and state policies for the year 2021 and discuss and decide on the strategic and tactical policies," the KCNA said. The meeting "approved the agenda items and went into the discussion of them," the report said without further elaboration, indicating that the event may continue for multiple days.
Gov't to buy 200,000 tons of rice to stabilize prices
The government will buy 200,000 tons of locally produced rice this year to help stabilize the market price of the staple grain, the ruling party said Tuesday following a meeting with agriculture authorities. "Of the surplus amount of 270,000 tons of rice, the government will isolate 200,000 tons from the market in the near future," said Rep. Park Wan-joo, the chief policy maker of the ruling Democratic Party (DP). "The government will announce a detailed plan for the purchase of 200,000 tons in January following discussions with related parties." Park added the government will monitor market situations and rice reserves to determine whether and when it should buy the remaining surplus amount of 70,000 tons of rice.
Civic groups vent outrage over pardon for jailed ex-President Park
Civic groups vented outrage Monday over the recent special pardon for ex-President Park Geun-hye imprisoned on corruption charges, arguing that the decision is a blow to the country's democracy. Activists representing 1,001 civic groups, including the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, staged a press conference in front of Cheong Wa Dae earlier in the day, calling for the withdrawal of the amnesty. "President Moon Jae-in's unilateral pardon for ex-President Park, whom the people ousted through candlelit (rallies), constitutes a challenge to South Korea's democracy," KCTU chief Yang Kyung-soo said. "History will remember Moon as a sinner who flouted democracy and turned back the advance of the wheel of history."
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
New war plans don’t target China’s regional military activities: Seoul
South Korea’s Defense Ministry on Monday publicly dismissed a former US Forces Korea commander’s opinion that China’s growing military activities and presence in the region should be a key consideration in updating military operational plans. Boo Seung-chan, the ministry’s spokesperson, elucidated that the South Korean and US defense chiefs agreed on a new Strategic Planning Guidance, “reflecting changes to the strategic environment on the Korean Peninsula.”
Lee Jae-myung consolidates forces as rival suffers in controversies
South Korea’s ruling party presidential nominee Lee Jae-myung is consolidating forces with heavyweights and bringing together outside forces in the tight race to presidency. Lee's presidential election campaign committee on Monday launched a subcommittee tasked with establishing a national vision and bringing unity. The subcommittee is to be jointly headed by the presidential nominee and Lee Nak-yon, his closest rival from the primary race. "I sincerely thank former Chairman Lee for joining me amid difficulties to fulfill the historical duty of the Democratic Party," Lee Jae-myung said Monday in an opening address to an event held to celebrate the opening of the subcommittee.
Stable recovery forecast for Korea in 2022
South Korea is projected to see stable economic growth in 2022, driven by strong memory chips and electronic devices exports, despite lingering omicron and COVID-19 woes, experts in the US, UK and South Korea said. “We believe that sufficient vaccine supply and South Korea’s capacity to quickly rollout booster jabs will ensure a recovery in private consumption and business investment spending,” Fei Xue, an Asia analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit told The Korea Herald in an email interview earlier this month.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Moon urges conglomerates to create more jobs for youth
President Moon Jae-in emphasized the role of businesses in tackling the youth unemployment issue during a meeting with the chiefs of the nation's top conglomerates, Monday, asking the corporate leaders to create more quality jobs for young jobseekers. He invited chiefs of the country's top six business conglomerates including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong to Cheong Wa Dae to express his gratitude for their job creation efforts and to seek further efforts. Moon's meeting with Lee came just three days after the President pardoned his ousted and jailed predecessor Park Geun-hye. Given that the Samsung chief served a prison term and was released on parole in August due to his involvement in the 2016 influence-peddling scandal of Park, the meeting and Park's pardon combined are interpreted as Moon's move to help the ruling bloc gain the support of conservative voters ahead of next year's presidential election.
Conflict between Korea, USFK simmers
Deep-seated tension between the South Korean government and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) is coming into public view, as a former American four-star general has belittled the Moon Jae-in administration's security pledges, struck back by Cheong Wa Dae and the defense ministry. Robert Abrams, who led the USFK from 2018 to 2021, told Voice of America, Saturday (local time), that South Korea's military capabilities were not sufficient to take over wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean forces from the United States, while questioning the intentions of the Moon administration's push for an end-of-war declaration. In 2014, Seoul and Washington agreed upon a conditions-based OPCON transition, and President Moon had sought to complete the task before his term ends in May 2022, although the plan has fallen through due to a lack of adequate assessment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presidential candidates vow to revamp capital market
As the presidential election nears, rival candidates have each come up with their own election promises and views on how to improve local capital markets, aiming to attract votes from active retail investors. The main opposition People Power Party's (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to completely abolish the securities transaction tax by 2023. He made the comment during his capital market policy announcement held at PPP headquarters on Yeouido, Monday. "Although one in five people in the country is participating in the local stock market, the stock markets haven't yet functioned properly to share listed companies' growth with retail shareholders," Yoon said, adding that he pledges to focus on creating a fairer market system where the values of local companies are well-acknowledged, and both companies and investors can enjoy a win-win situation.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Ex-USFK Chief Calls for War Plan Against China
A former chief of the U.S. Forces Korea has called for South Korea and the U.S. to draw up a new war plan that takes in China as the U.S. intensifies its cold war against the world's most populous country. In an interview with Voice of America last Saturday, Robert Abrams, who was USFK commander until July this year, warned the Chinese People's Liberation Army has increased its presence around the Korean Peninsula since 2010 "significantly." Just in the last three years, there has been a 300-percent increase in China's incursions into South Korea's Air Defense Identification Zone and fleets of Chinese trawlers illegally fishing along the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea, he added. He insisted all these ought to be accounted for in a new war plan.
PPP Candidate's Wife 'Sorry' for Lying on Resume
The wife of People Power Party presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl apologized to the public on Sunday for revelations that she lied on her resume, which has damaged her husband hugely in the polls. "I'm responsible for everything and it was due to my negligence," Kim Keon-hee told reporters at PPP headquarters in Seoul. "I made mistakes while pursuing my studies and working at the same time. I exaggerated my credentials to look more appealing and even wrote wrong information." "I sincerely apologize to the public," Kim added. This was the first time she appeared in public since Yoon announced his presidential bid. "If I could disappear so that my husband could be evaluated based on what he is, I would do that," Kim said. "I am infinitely lacking compared to my husband. I am so embarrassed about my errors before my husband, whom I love and respect."
Korea's Gold Medal Hopes Slim for Winter Olympics in Beijing
Korea is aiming for only a couple of gold medals and a modest top 15 finish at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee announced the humble target at a press conference on Thursday and said achieving even that would not be easy. The committee is pinning its biggest hopes for gold medals on short-track speed skating, Korea's traditional stronghold, as well as women's curling and snowboarding. "We have faced many challenges while going through an overhaul of the Korea Staking Union, and athletes have suffered disruptions in training due to the coronavirus pandemic," it said. Short-track speed skating is getting fiercely competitive, as a number of Korean coaches are working for China and other rival countries.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Wife of presidential candidate publicly acknowledges padding resume, apologizes
Kim Keon-hee, the wife of People Power Party presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol, apologized Sunday for controversy over inflating her resume. There were instances where I inflated my qualifications and falsely listed things in order to make myself look better. All of this was my own fault and carelessness,” she said. Her apology came 12 days after allegations were first raised about discrepancies on her resume. But critics accused her of making an emotional appeal with little substance by devoting half of her apology to personal matters unrelated to the allegations — including her experience of a miscarriage — without providing any concrete explanation of the issue. Kim gave a press conference at the PPP headquarters in Seoul’s Yeouido neighborhood at 3 pm on Sunday.
Four questions about the CPTPP answered
Typing out the name of the agreement in full without error in one go is practically impossible — the task a tongue-twister for fingers that fills the person typing with quiet rage at the inconsiderate people who came up with such a long, convoluted name for one of the largest free trade deals in the world covering the Asia-Pacific: The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Aside from its peculiarly high-flown, lengthy name, the agreement boasts a peculiar history as well. Originally spearheaded by the US as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), it has since been cold-shouldered by the North American country, which withdrew from the CPTPP’s past incarnation during the Trump administration. Meanwhile, China — previously considered to be the unpronounced enemy of the TPP — recently placed its bid to join the CPTPP in an unexpected move that took place this past September.
Why the UN Command took issue with Yoon’s attire during his DMZ visit
The United Nations Command (UNC) sparked controversy recently with its response to People Power Party (PPP) presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol’s visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in military uniform, which it characterized as a “violation of the Armistice Agreement.” On Dec. 21, the UNC published a press release on its website declaring that it intended to investigate the incident to ensure that similar violations of the Armistice Agreement do not happen again. But after the response triggered controversy, the release was deleted the following day. On Dec. 20, Yoon visited an observation post of the 3rd Infantry Division, also known as the Baekgol Unit, which operates on the front lines in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province. At the time, the presidential nominee was in a combat uniform from the waist up and donned a military police armband.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Coronavirus can spread into brain and heart beyond lungs
A research finding has come out that the COVID-19 virus can spread into all human organs in a few days after communicated and it can stay in the system for months. The finding is drawing a lot of attention as it has long been a point of contention among researchers whether the coronavirus can infect the cells of other parts of the body than respiratory organs. The Bloomberg News reported on Sunday (local time) that the researchers at the NIH found the coronavirus can spread into the brains and the heart and can replicate in human cells well beyond the respiratory tract from the analysis of tissues taken during the autopsies of 44 Covid patients.
Main opposition candidate’s wife apologies for wrongdoings
Kim Kun-hee, wife of the main opposition People Power Party’s candidate Yoon Suk-youl, said that she is accountable for everything and asks for forgiveness. “I will only focus on supporting my husband if he becomes president,” she said. She partially admitted the allegations of her false career in 12 days after they surfaced by holding a press conference. “I made exaggerations and put down incorrect information about my career because I wanted to look better. I should not have done it and I feel very ashamed about what I did. I deeply apologize for my wrongdoings.
Park avoids meeting any political leader during hospitalization
Following a surprise amnesty granted to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, all political eyes are on her next moves in the run-up to the presidential election next March. With two major candidates from the ruling and main opposition parties in neck-and-neck competition, her message may carry a lot of weight with conservative voters, which can make a difference in the election. Lawyer Yoo Young-ha on behalf of Park spoke to reporters on Friday that she felt deeply sorry for causing public concern while expressing thanks to her supporters for endless support and encouragement.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
A Close Race Between Yoon Seok-youl, 40.4% and Lee Jae-myung, 39.7%
On December 27, a poll showed that the lead, which Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential candidate of the People Power Party, had over Lee Jae-myung, the Democratic Party of Korea’s candidate, has narrowed (0.7%) to within the margin of error, suggesting a very close race. Upon the request of OhmyNews, Realmeter conducted a survey of 3,090 people from December 19 to 24, and the results this day showed that 39.7% supported Lee Jae-myung, while 40.4% supported Yoon Seok-youl. Lee managed to obtain the support of 1.7% more voters from the previous survey (Dec. 12-17), while Yoon lost 4.0% of support. The difference between the two candidates was only 0.7%, 6.4% closer than in the previous survey. Lee Jae-myung lost 2.7% of support from the progressives, but managed to gain 2.4% more support among the moderates, which contributed to his overall rise in support. Meanwhile, Yoon Seok-youl’s approval rating dropped 5.8% among the conservatives and 2.6% among the moderates.
Yoon Seok-youl Goes to Honam and Says, “If You’re Poor and Uneducated, You Don’t Know What Freedom Is and Why It Is Necessary”
On December 22, Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential candidate of the People Power Party said, “People living in extreme poverty and lacking education not only do not know what freedom is, but they don’t feel the need for it because they don’t know why an individual needs freedom.” This day, Yoon met with college students at Jeonbuk National University in Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do during his two-day trip to the Honam (Jeolla provinces) region. In the meeting, Yoon argued, “Freedom exists only when there is a certain level of education and basic economic capacity.” Yoon made the comment while responding to a student who asked, “You said that even if someone had different views on ninety-nine things, you could still work with him if he shared the one goal of putting a new government in office.
Park Geun-hye Pardoned and Han Myeong-sook Exonerated, But Lee Myung-bak Excluded from Amnesty
The government granted former president Park Geun-hye a special pardon and exonerated former prime minister Han Myeong-sook in time for the New Year, however former president Lee Myung-bak was excluded in the latest amnesty. Minister of Justice Park Beom-kye gave a press briefing at the government office in Seoul at around 9:30 this morning and announced, “As of December 31, 2021, we will grant a special pardon for 3,094 people including former president Park and former prime minister Han in time for the 2022 New Year’s.” A special pardon is an action of the president that exempts a criminal from the execution of her sentence or annuls the criminal conviction.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Samsung chief Lee joins corporate guests to presidential year-end lunch
Samsung Group’s chief Jay Y. Lee paroled in August was among six invitees representing South Korea’s top business groups to a year-end luncheon by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to thank them for their cooperation to bolster jobs for young people. “I’d like to once again extend my gratitude for the six business groups to join the ‘Youth Hope ON’ project to contribute to youth job creation,” said Moon during a luncheon meeting with heads of Samsung, KT, LG, SK, Posco and Hyundai Motor groups on Monday. Tycoons’ gathering at the Blue House hosted by Moon could be the one of the last since Moon’s term ends in May.
Genencell readying to conduct late-stage clinical trials of plant-based Covid-19 cure
South Korea’s Genencell has drawn spotlight with a progress in the novel development of a plant-based antiviral against the Omicron variant. The company obtained a regulatory nod for local Phase 2 and 3 trials of ES16001, an oral Covid-19 drug candidate, at the end of October, and is preparing for site selection and institutional review board (IRB) review simultaneously. It anticipates subject randomization early next year and Phase 2 completion in the third quarter of next year, Genencell founder Kang Se-chan, Professor of Dept. of Oriental Medicine Biotechnology, Kyung Hee University, told Maeil Business Newspaper in a recent interview.
OLED fast turning into TV mainstream, with Samsung joining the bandwagon
The global OLED TV market is set to increase sharply with growth outlook for next year upgraded already four times this year as Samsung Electronics is ready to join competition for the premium TV line which has been led by home rival LG Electronics. According to sources on Monday, U.K.-based Omdia, one of the most credible display market trackers, recently raised its forecast on worldwide OLED TV shipment for next year to 8 million units in total, higher than previous forecasts of 7.4 million units in September, 6.9 million units in June and 6.7 million units in March. It is extremely unusual for a market tracker to raise its forecast four times in a year.
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