Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Uzbekistan names 2022 a watershed year of reforms
In 2021, which is a turning point in the course of the ongoing transformations in Uzbekistan, a set of measures was completed to implement the Action Strategy in five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021. Reforms for the future are also determined, taking into account what has been done and what is to be implemented. The main tasks of the first stage of the economic reforms of the Strategy are to strengthen macroeconomic stability and maintain high rates of economic growth. How successfully it was solved is evidenced by the following data. During the pandemic, economic growth last year amounted to 1.6 percent, the volume of production in the agricultural sector increased by 3, the service sector - by 2.3, and industry - 0.7. Following the results of 9 months of 2021, GDP increased by 6.9 percent. Inflation continues to slow down: prices rose by 5.9 percent, down 6.3 percent from the same period last year.
Chief Abbot Wonhaeng of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order publishes a book
The Most Venerable Wonhaeng, the president of the Woljeong-sa Buddhist Temple of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order, hosts a meeting at the Press Center in Seoul on Jan. 25, 2022 to introduce the publication of his book entitled Seongin (聖人, The Saint). The book features the accomplishments of the first-term Chief Abbot Haneom. In connection with this plan, the Most Venerable Wonhaeng met with Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media and Editor-in-Chief Jimmy Kim at the Press Center in Seoul on January 6 and discussed ways to successfully host the most interesting event for the Korean society and the international community as well as for the Buddhist and other religious circles in Korea and around the world.
Woori Chairman Son says, "We will lead global ESG management practices"
Woori Financial Group, led by Chairman Son Tae-seung, announced on Jan. 10 that it is also taking the lead in global ESG management by urgently providing $100,000 (about 120 million won) to support the recovery of damage in the Philippines, which is suffering from the massive typhoon RAI in the Philippines. Typhoon RAI caused great damage to the region, with destruction of more than 500,000 buildings, over 400 deaths, more than 1,100 injured people, and more than 600,000 victims at the moment. Woori Wealth Bank Philippines, Woori Financial Group's local subsidiary in the Philippines, delivered news of damage by Typhoon RAI, which penetrated Cebu Island in the Philippines last month. Woori Wealth Bank Philippines was launched in 2015 and has expanded its network across the region with its headquarters in Cebu, currently operating 25 branches.
N. Korea Reports Another Hypersonic Missile Test, Kim Jong-un Oversees
North Korea has claimed it launched another hypersonic missile on Tuesday. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) said on Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the test-launch conducted by the Academy of Defense Science the previous day, calling it a success. The KCNA said Kim highly assessed the achievements of scientists, technicians and officials involved in the missile research sector and stressed the need to further strengthen the North’s strategic military force and enhance the modernization of its army. This was the third reported North Korean test of a hypersonic missile, after one on September 28 last year and another last Wednesday. Kim did not attend the previous launch.
White House Denounces Latest N. Korean Missile Launch
The United States has condemned North Korea’s second missile launch in less than a week. In a media briefing on Tuesday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the U.S. denounces the ballistic missile launch by the North, calling it a violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and a threat to the region and international community. She urged the regime to refrain from additional provocation and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue, adding that the U.S. will continue close cooperation with its allies and partners on the matter. Psaki also referred to an earlier assessment by the U.S Indo-Pacific Command that the latest launch does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory or to its allies.
Assembly Passes Bill to Lower Age Limit for Political Party Membership
High school freshmen will now be able to join political parties. The National Assembly approved a related bill during a plenary session held on Tuesday aimed at lowering the age threshold for joining political parties from 18 to 16. The legislation is a follow-up to a revision to the election law designed to allow those as young as 18 to be elected in parliamentary or regional elections. The revision passed the parliament on December 31. Previously, only those aged 25 or older were eligible to run in the political races. Even with the passage of the latest bill, however, those younger than 18 will still need to submit an approval letter from their legal guardians when applying for party membership.
S. Korea reports largest job growth in 7 years in 2021 amid economic recovery
South Korea added the most jobs in seven years in 2021 as the job recovery continued amid the improving economy despite the spike in COVID-19 cases, data showed Wednesday. The number of employed people reached 27.27 million last year, 369,000 more than a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea. It marked the largest number since 2014, when the nation reported an on-year increase of 598,000 jobs. Last year's number was larger than the government's earlier estimate of an increase of 350,000. The 2021 reading compared with a fall of 218,000 in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic pummeled the country's job market. It was the largest job loss since 1998.
Moon pledges to pursue 'irreversible path to peace' with N. Korea until his term ends
President Moon Jae-in said Monday he will pursue an "irreversible path to peace" on the Korean Peninsula until his term ends, calling for dialogue and cooperation with North Korea. In his final New Year's speech as president, Moon admitted South Korea still has a long way to go to improve inter-Korean relations, despite many achievements during his five-year term. "I will not stop efforts to institutionalize sustainable peace," Moon said in the nationally televised address, adding South Korea will make final efforts for normalization of inter-Korean relations and a path toward irreversible peace. By institutionalizing peace, Moon appeared to be referring to his initiative to adopt a declaration with North Korea and other countries of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War as part of efforts to kickstart long-stalled talks with Pyongyang.
Air Force pilot dies after F-5E fighter crashes in central S. Korea
An Air Force pilot died after an F-5E fighter jet crashed in central South Korea on Tuesday, the military said. The aircraft crashed into a mountain in Hwaseong, some 40 kilometers south of Seoul, at 1:46 p.m. minutes after taking off from an Air Force base in the nearby city of Suwon, they said. "An engine fire warning light turned on for the plane's left and right sides after the takeoff at a Suwon base at 1:44 p.m., and the plane shortly nosedived," the Air Force said in a statement. The pilot with the rank of captain tried to eject but failed, it added. The Air Force said it will form a task force to investigate the exact cause of the incident.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
North Korea’s provocations have little effect on presidential race: experts
North Korea’s recent missile launch, which would previously have been a variable in a South Korean presidential election, will have little effect on the upcoming election, as provocations become routine and receive less attention from the public and candidates, experts say. North Korea’s missile launch is unlikely to have a direct impact on the presidential election,” said Hong Min, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification’s North Korea research division. “I think the indirect impact is also very minimal.” He said when looking at public opinion and media trends, North Korea-related issues are not having much of an impact on the presidential election recently.
N. Korea tests second ‘advanced’ missile in less than a week: Seoul
North Korea on Tuesday test-fired an apparent ballistic missile from an inland area toward its east coast in its second weapons test in less than a week, while the South Korean military said the missile has “advanced” capabilities compared to the previous one. The United States Forces Korea said it was “aware of the DPRK’s most recent ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners” in a statement. DPRK refers to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea.
Yoon pledges 1 million won monthly subsidy for childbirth
Presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party pledged Tuesday to provide a monthly allowance to parents to encourage childbirth, and to come up with compensation measures for small business owners suffering financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As North Korea fired a projectile identified as a ballistic missile into the East Sea earlier in the day, the conservative party candidate also highlighted the importance of international sanctions, and said the only way to avoid a critical nuclear attack from the North would be to carry out preemptive strikes.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
North Korea says it successfully conducted final test-firing of hypersonic missile
North Korea said Wednesday it has successfully conducted the final test-firing of a new hypersonic missile a day earlier, as it continues to develop new weapons systems amid stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States. On Tuesday, South Korea's defense ministry said the North fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile into the East Sea which flew over 700 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 60 km and a top speed of Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound. "The test-fire was aimed at the final verification of overall technical specifications of the developed hypersonic weapon system," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Buddhist order goes all-out to criticize government, some monks criticize order
The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the largest Buddhist sect in Korea, has thrown all of its efforts into criticizing what they call the Moon Jae-in administration's "religious bias," pledging to hold a nationwide rally of monks from around the country at its headquarters in Seoul on Jan. 21 for the first time in 14 years to eradicate the bias and protect the independence of Korean Buddhism. Some monks, however, have fired back at the order-led decision, saying that it is "shameful" for the order to take these actions. "We decided to go over all the religious biases and Buddhist distortions that have occurred since the founding of the country, and to hold the nationwide monks rally," Ven. Wonhaeng, the president of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and the head of a special committee for the rally, said regarding the matter during the order's meeting on Jan. 6.
Gov't to introduce 'choice and concentration' strategy to brace for Omicron surge
The government will introduce new pandemic response strategies focused on containing the spread of the Omicron variant, bracing for a possible Omicron-led wave of the coronavirus in the coming weeks. The authorities plan to take a "choice and concentration" approach, utilizing its "3T" ― test, trace and treat ― tactics, while swiftly introducing antiviral pills for high-risk patients undergoing home treatment. The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said Tuesday that it is drawing up a new quarantine scheme in response to the Omicron variant, with details to be announced later this week. The move comes as the country is facing the increasing spread of the highly transmissible variant.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Omicron on Course to Becoming Dominant Strain in Korea
The Omicron variant has risen to over 10 percent of all COVID-19 infections in Korea over the past month. According to health authorities on Monday, Omicron made up a mere 1.7 percent of infections in the third week of December, rising to 4 percent in the fifth week of December and 12.5 percent in the first week of January. Accumulated Omicron infections jumped from 38 on Dec. 7 to a whopping 2,351 on Jan. 7. "Omicron infections will spread faster and faster," said Lee Sang-won of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. "There's a high chance of Omicron becoming the dominant variant in the country by the end of January."
N.Korea Fires Another Missile
North Korea fired another missile into the East sea on early Tuesday morning, military authorities here said. The launch comes less than a week after it fired what it claimed was a hypersonic missile last week. The Joint Chiefs of Staff here said they detected the launch at 7:27 a.m., and are analyzing it in cooperation with the U.S. The launch came only a day after UN Security Council on Monday discussed a fresh round of sanctions against North Korea for test-launching a supposed hypersonic missile on Jan. 5. It reviewed whether the North violated UNSC resolutions banning the launch of all kinds of ballistic missiles. But permanent members China and Russia are indifferent to further sanctions against the isolated regime.
Moon to Embark on Weeklong Tour of Middle East
President Moon Jae-in will leave for a weeklong visit to the Middle East later this week. He will visit the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The trip was originally scheduled for last year but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cheong Wa Dae said, "It is expected to strengthen trust and friendship with the leaders of the three Middle Eastern countries." Starting off his schedule in the UAE on Jan. 16, Moon will attend a business roundtable meeting and other events. He will then travel to Saudi Arabia for a two-day visit on Jan. 18. The final leg will take him to Egypt.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea mulls priority PCR testing for COVID-vulnerable amid Omicron spread
Health authorities are considering adopting a COVID-19 testing strategy that prioritizes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for older populations and those with underlying diseases to cope with the Omicron variant becoming the dominant form of the COVID-19 virus in Korea. In addition to increasing the testing capacity from roughly 750,000 tests per day to 850,000, health authorities are also considering introducing supplementary rapid antigen tests (self-diagnosis kits) for those who do not belong to this priority group. At a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Monday, Minister of Health and Welfare Kwon Deok-cheol said, “Around 10% of COVID-19 infections in South Korea are with the Omicron variant, but with its high transmissibility, experts predict that it will become the dominant variant within one to two months.”
N. Korea fires second missile in 6 days
North Korea launched what is thought to be a ballistic missile on Tuesday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. “We detected a projectile presumed to be a ballistic missile that North Korea fired from an inland location toward the East Sea at 7:27 am. South Korean and American intelligence authorities are conducting a detailed analysis of additional information,” the Joint Chiefs said in a statement sent to reporters on Tuesday. That analysis reportedly covers data including altitude and distance traveled. The launch on Tuesday came just six days after North Korea fired a ballistic missile — which it claimed to be a hypersonic missile — from the area of Jagang Province into the East Sea on Wednesday. That makes the North’s second show of force since the New Year.
Surging COVID-19 cases at US bases in S. Korea prompts emergency meeting with health authorities
South Korean disease control authorities announced that an emergency meeting was recently held with US Forces Korea in response to a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases at US military bases in the country. The authorities explained that they had held discussions with USFK on a stronger disease control response, with plans to step up disease management efforts within the community. On Jan. 6, we held an emergency meeting with USFK for sharing information regarding the situation of confirmed COVID-19 cases on military bases and to discuss measures to step up disease prevention and minimize transmission within the local community,” explained Lee Sang-won, head of the Central Disease Control Headquarters’ epidemiological investigation and analysis team, during a scheduled briefing Monday.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
UNSC fails to come up with a response regarding N. Korea’s missile launch
Two hours before North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile on Tuesday morning, an urgent, closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was underway at the UN Headquarters in New York. The UNSC members were discussing how to respond to North Korea’s firing of ballistic missile last week, which the country claimed to be a hypersonic missile. According to diplomatic sources, the UNSC meeting continued for an hour from 3 p.m. on Monday. North Korea launched another missile one and a half hour after the UNSC ended discussions.
Putin defends ex-Soviet allies in color revolution
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is expanding influence on previous Soviet Union nations, said that he will not allow government allied with Russia to be involved in color revolutions. Color revolutions refer to recent popular risings that have shaken former Soviet countries including Georgia (Rose Revolution in 2003), Ukraine (Orange Revolution in 2004), Kyrgyzstan (Tulip Revolution, 2005), Armenia (Velvet Revolution, 2018). The revolutions have been named after each country’s national flower and color, which Russia has claimed that have been driven from behind by Western nations.
COVID-19 pass system to start at superstores and department stores
Starting from Monday, the COVID-19 pass scheme is put in place at large-size supermarkets and department stores. When citizens use a quarantine pass that expires the valid duration of 180 days after the second vaccination is administered on their visit to restaurants and cafes, they are subject to a penalty. The quarantine pass system will be put in place starting from Monday at large-size stores of 3,000 square meters or larger as defined by the Distribution Industry Development Act such as super supermarkets, department stores and bookstores, said the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Sunday.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
“We Ran Toward the Overturned Car Without a Minute’s Hesitation When We Saw the Children’s Hands Inside.”
“We ran toward the overturned car without a minute’s hesitation when we saw the hands of the children.” The news of Army assistant directors who saved the lives of a mother and three children trapped inside an overturned car on the expressway was recently disclosed. On January 11, the 35th Infantry Division of the R.O.K. Army announced that Kim Tae-hyeon (34), Kim Yeong-min (32), and Yun Dae-gil (34), assistant directors at the Reserve Forces Training Unit in the Baekma (White Horse) Brigade of the division, saved a mother and three children after discovering a car overturned near the Osu Rest Area in Imsil on their way home to Jeonju after work from Namwon on the Suncheon-Wanju Expressway on January 7. As soon as the men saw the hands of the young children in the car window, they ran toward the car without a minute’s hesitation.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Announced, “North Korea Launched Ballistic Missile into the East Sea,” One Minute after the Japanese Government’s Announcement
On January 11, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced, “North Korea launched an unidentified projectile into the East Sea.” At around 7:30 this morning, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a text message with these details to the journalists assigned to the military headquarters. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent another text at 8:38 this morning and explained, “At around 7:27 this morning, we detected the launch of one projectile presumed to be a ballistic missile from the North Korean inland to the East Sea,” and added, “As for additional information, the intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are currently conducting a close analysis.” This day’s launch was the second demonstration of military power this year, following North Korea’s claim to have successfully test launched a hypersonic missile from Chagang Province into the East Sea six days ago on January 5.
Public Support for a Single Opposition Candidate: Ahn Cheol-soo 35.9%, Yoon Seok-youl 32.5%
On January 10, a poll on the presidential race showed that Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, was ahead of Yoon Seok-youl, the People Power Party candidate, with a lead that was bigger than the margin of error. Support for Ahn Cheol-soo, the People’s Party candidate also continued to climb recording 11.1%. Realmeter, upon request from OhmyNews, conducted a survey of 3,042 people on January 2-7, and the result showed that 40.1% of the respondents supported Lee Jae-myung, a drop of 0.8% from a survey conducted by the same firm a week before. Yoon obtained the support of 34.1% of the people, down 5.1% from the previous week.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korean public enterprises mandated to seat labor member on board
From as early as July, Korean public enterprises such as Korea Electric Power Corporation and National Pension Service will have to seat a labor representative on their managing board under a revised bill that passed the National Assembly on Tuesday despite concerns about the ramifications on the private sector in the longer run. Lawmakers from both left and right wing approved a controversial bill revising the Public Enterprise Management Act mandating labor representation at public companies as a bid to win over union votes in the presidential election in March. From the second half, 131 government umbrella and invested entities must seat one non-permanent member on the board.
S. Korea needs more major conglomerates to foster growth: KDI study
Multinational companies such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and POSCO have driven South Korea’s rise to a developed economy and Asia’s fourth largest economy should allow more to join the big conglomerate club by facilitating their growth through innovation, Korea’s state-run think tank concluded after months of research. “Simply put, the development of the national economy is the same as the enterprise growth. This is our conclusion,” said Koh Young-sun, Senior Vice President and Chief Research Officer of Korea Development Institute (KDI), during an interview with Maeil Business Newspaper on Tuesday.
Hyundai Eng gains exclusive EPC rights for micro nuclear reactor projects of USNC
Hyundai Engineering, a plant engineering affiliate of Hyundai Motor Group readying up to $1 billion IPO later this month, on Tuesday added stake in micro modular nuclear reaction business through an equity investment in Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC). The partnership includes the Korean engineer’s global exclusive rights to the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) for micro modular nuclear reactor (MMR) projects of the rising U.S. developer of the next-generation nuclear energy.
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