Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
National Defense Control Center opened in Uzbekistan
On January 13, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited the National Defense Control Center of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The center, organized in the Ministry of Defense and incorporating the most modern forms of command and control, is designed to coordinate the activities of all the power structures of the country. The complex provides the possibility of operational control and real-time monitoring of the air border of the country, the process of combat training in training centers and training grounds, as well as control over the actions of units through trunking communications.
Yoon Suk-yeol 40.6%, Lee Jae-myung 36.7%, Ahn Cheol-soo 12.9%
A poll showed on Jan. 17 that Yoon Suk-yeol, the Presidential candidate of the opposition People Power Party, leads his counterpart Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party outside the margin of error. As a result of Realmeter's poll to 3,031 people aged 18 or older nationwide from Jan. 9 to 14 at the request of Ohmynews, Yoon's approval rating rose 6.5 percentage points from a week ago to 40.6 percent. Meanwhile, the approval rating of Lee fell 3.4 percentage points to 36.7 percent. Ahn Cheol-soo of the People Party rose 1.8 percentage points to 12.9 percent in the approval rating, and Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party fell 0.8 points to 2 percent.
CEO Kim Bo-young of the Italian Tourism Organization named chairman of ANTOR Korea
The Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives in Korea (ANTOR Korea), a group of representatives of foreign tourism agencies operating in Korea, held a general meeting late last year, and appointed Kim Bo-young, CEO of the Italian Tourism Organization in Korea, as its new chairman. ANTOR Korea also selected a group of executives who will lead ANTOR Korea for the coming two years until December 2023. Chairman Kim Bo-young said, "I am grateful to the members who trusted me and entrusted me in difficult times for the entire tourism industry, and on the other hand, I feel a great sense of responsibility."
KCNA: N. Korea Tested Tactical Guided Missiles
North Korea's state media said on Tuesday that the country test-fired tactical guided missiles the previous day. The Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) said the missile test was conducted on Monday according to the plans of the Academy of Defense Science and other organizations. A photo of the test carried by ruling Workers' Party mouthpiece Rodong Sinmum indicates the missiles are likely to be KN-24 short-range ballistic missiles. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not attend the latest test. The paper said the test-fire was aimed to selectively evaluate tactical guided missiles being produced and deployed and to verify the accuracy of the weapons system.
Justice Party Pres. Candidate Resumes Campaign, Vows to Fulfill Duty
Minor opposition Justice Party's presidential candidate Sim Sang-jung said Monday that she will seek the people’s confidence in herself and her party through the March presidential election. In a press conference in parliament, Sim said she will fulfill her duties to the very end to help the next generation of liberals engage in future politics. She said that amid rising inequality and vested interests, the Justice Party's role is becoming more imperative and promised not to give up no matter how challenging the journey may be. In a surprise move, Sim suspended her campaign last Wednesday amid low poll ratings, saying she will take some time for introspection. The party also disbanded the election committee and has been waiting for her return.
HDC Group Chief to Resign for Gwangju Building Collapse, Pledges Proper Fix
Hyundai Development Company(HDC) Group Chairman Chung Mong-gyu says he will step down from his post as head of the construction firm after an apartment building being constructed in Gwangju partially collapsed, for which five workers still remain missing. In a press conference held on Monday at the group’s headquarters in Seoul, Chung extended his deep apologies to the families of the victims and the general public. He also said he would fulfill his responsibilities as a major shareholder, indicating he intends to retain the position of chairman of HDC's holding company.
N. Korea says it confirmed accuracy of tactical guided missiles in test-firing
North Korea said Tuesday that it conducted the test-firing of a tactical guided missile a day earlier to confirm the accuracy of the weapons system under production. On Monday, South Korea's military said the North fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles eastward from the Sunan airfield in Pyongyang, marking its fourth show of force this month. "The test-fire was aimed to selectively evaluate tactical guided missiles being produced and deployed and to verify the accuracy of the weapon system," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not attend the firing.
Polls show mixed results for rival presidential candidates
Three opinion polls released Monday showed mixed results for rival presidential candidates Lee Jae-myung and Yoon Suk-yeol. In a survey conducted by Realmeter, Yoon of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) overtook Lee of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) as frontrunner with 40.6 percent vs. 36.7 percent. Two other polls, released by Next Research and Embrain Public, showed Lee maintaining his lead over Yoon. In the Realmeter poll conducted on 3,031 adults from Jan. 9 to 14, Yoon gained 6.5 percentage points from the previous week, while Lee lost 3.4 points. Their gap of 3.9 percentage points was outside the margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
Another N. Korean cargo train arrives in Chinese border city: sources
A North Korean freight train crossed a border bridge into the Chinese city of Dandong on Monday, sources said, following another train's return to the North apparently with daily necessities and emergency relief items aboard. The empty second train arrived in the Chinese border city earlier in the day, shortly after the first train departed the city at around 7 a.m. to return to the North's Sinuiju, they said. The first train had arrived in Dandong the previous day, marking the first such train operation in 1 1/2 years after the North shut down its borders to stave off the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
HDC chairman resigns over series of Gwangju accidents
Hyundai Development Company Chairman Chung Mong-gyu stepped down Monday, apologizing for two fatal accidents at the builder‘s construction sites in Gwangju. I apologize deeply to the family members of the victims in the accident in Gwangju and to the public,” he said during a press conference at its headquarters in Yongsan, Seoul. I promise to give all effort and support to amend the situation at the accident site and regain public trust.” The HDC chief said the legal period of safety guarantees on all HDC buildings would be extended from the current 10 years to 30 years, to protect customers from losses in the value of their assets caused by safety issues.
N.Korea launches two apparent ballistic missiles eastward from Pyongyang
North Korea launched two apparent short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea from an airfield in Pyongyang on Monday morning, in its fourth weapons test this year. “We are aware of the ballistic missile launches and are consulting closely with our allies and partners,” a US Indo-Pacific Command spokesperson said in a statement, adding the event “does not pose an immediate threat” to US personnel or territory, or to US allies. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military “detected two projectiles, which are presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles, being fired northeastward toward the East Sea from the Sunan airfield area in Pyongyang.”
NK train enters China for the first time since pandemic
Presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party announced on Sunday plans to “rebuild” Seoul, by reorganizing city spaces and relocating railroads and highways underground. At a press briefing, Yoon laid out four vision pillars with nine detailed pledges for Seoul, including plans to supply some 500,000 new homes and to foster the city as a global hub for finance and startup companies. I will create Seoul to be more refreshing by moving railroads and highways located on the surface to underground, and provide faster and more convenient transportation services,” Yoon said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Korean banks remain conservative toward cryptocurrency industry
Korean banks are taking a cautious attitude to the emerging digital currency industry, amid lingering concerns over crypto exchange operators' possible security loopholes, industry officials said Monday. Under the Special Financial Transaction Information Act, the nation's crypto exchanges must obtain real-name accounts from affiliated banks for their customers to be able to conduct cryptocurrency transactions in the Korean currency. For instance, K bank, a mobile-only lender, formed a partnership with Upbit, the largest exchange operator in Korea. The partnership enables the lender to offer real-name bank accounts for users of Upbit, so they can engage in crypto transactions. K bank has benefited a lot from the partnership, achieving a major earnings rebound last year, for the first time after it started its business as an internet-only lender back in 2017.
Korea signs W4 tril. export deal with UAE for Cheongung-II missile system
DUBAI ― Korea will export its Cheongung-II mid-range surface-to-air missile system to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a deal reportedly worth 4 trillion won ($3.36 billion), marking the first sale of the home-developed multi-layered anti-missile system to a foreign country. According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Sunday (local time), LIG Nex1, Hanwha Systems and Hanwha Defense each exchanged contracts on Cheongung-II with Tawazun Economic Council, which is the UAE's defense and security acquisitions authority. They exchanged the contracts in the presence of President Moon Jae-in and the UAE Prime Minister and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Moon met the prime minister as part of his eight-day trip to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
HDC chief steps down over collapse of Gwangju apartment building
The head of one of Korea's largest builders stepped down from his post, Monday, taking responsibility for the fatal collapse of an apartment building in the southwestern city of Gwangju, which has left at least one construction worker dead and five others still missing. "I feel the responsibility and will step down from the chairman post of HDC Hyundai Development," Chairman Chung Mong-gyu said at a press conference at Yongsan IPark Mall in Seoul, Monday. This is the second fatal accident involving the builder in Gwangju, located about 330 kilometers south of Seoul. Chung said the accidents were a "great disappointment" and vowed to implement measures to restore trust.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
N.Korean Train Spotted in China
A North Korean cargo train arrived in the Chinese border city of Dandong on Sunday, according to sources, apparently signaling a resumption in cross-border business after the North sealed its border at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The train, consisting of 13 carriages, is scheduled to return to the North laden with Chinese-made daily necessities and medicines. "To my knowledge, the train didn't carry anything out of North Korea and intends to transport products from China," a source there said. "It's unclear if the train will run regularly."
N.Korea Fires More Missiles into East Sea
North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles toward the East Sea on Monday. The Joint Chiefs of Staff here said the launch, Pyongyang's fourth missile test of this year, took place at 8.56. a.m. It came just three days after the North fired what are presumed to be two short-range ballistic missiles that it later claimed were railway-borne guided missiles. Last week, the North warned of a "stronger and certain reaction" to the U.S.' fresh sanctions against several North Koreans involved in the regime's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
N.Korea 'Hacked $400 Million in Cryptocurrency'
North Korea stole about US$400 million of cryptocurrency by hacking last year, a report claims, and dodges the international dragnet by laundering them. According to the report by Chainalysis, a U.S. blockchain analysis firm, last week, the North pilfered a total of $395 million through seven hacking attacks last year. The main targets were investment firms, and techniques include phishing lures, code exploits and malware. Many of the attacks were carried out by known hackers calling themselves the Lazarus Group, Chainalysis speculated. The group, which is blacklisted by the U.S. and the UN, is believed to have ties with the North's Reconnaissance General Bureau and have come into existence in early 2007.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Uncovered phone recordings of wife of PPP candidate stir controversy
Recordings of phone conversations have shown People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol’s wife, Kim Keon-hee, making remarks that suggest she actively involved herself in various aspects of her husband's campaign, such as recruitment and strategic planning. She also didn’t hesitate to make vindictive comments about media critical of her and her husband while assuming Yoon’s rise to the presidency during the 52 phone conversations she had with Lee, a reporter for the YouTube channel Voice of Seoul, over a period of six months ending in December of last year. A court decision on Friday allowed for the partial airing of the recordings of these phone conversations by broadcaster MBC.
Can S. Korea's New Southern Policy really be called a success?
On Dec. 20, South Korean Minister of National Defense Suh Wook visited Thailand, where he met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. According to the ministry, during that meeting, Suh “shared in-depth discussions” on regional security, bilateral national defense, and defense industry cooperation with Prayut, who serves concurrently as Thailand’s defense minister. Suh also proposed at the meeting that the Thai government should acquire South Korean weapons. In short, he went to Thailand to make a sales pitch. A second frigate and a Korean GPS-based guided bomb were among the items presented by South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense.
Yoon’s latest national security commentary: Calling N. Korea the “main enemy” of South
Shortly after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles on Friday, Yoon Suk-yeol, presidential candidate for South Korea’s conservative People Power Party, posted on Facebook: “Our main enemy is North Korea.” He invoked the narrative of “the main enemy” just three days after stirring controversy by talking about a preemptive strike on North Korea. Debate over the rhetoric of “main enemy” has continued for more than two decades, following the publication of South Korea’s first defense white paper in 1988. In that inaugural issue, the Ministry of National Defense said that the goal of national defense was “protecting the state from an armed invasion by the enemy.” In context, “enemy” was assumed to be North Korea, though the paper didn’t make that explicit.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
North Korea test fires fourth missile this year
North Korea launched two missiles toward the East Sea on Monday in its fourth provocation this year. North Korea test fired a hypersonic missile from Jagang Province and a short-range ballistic missile from Uiju in North Pyongan Province earlier on Jan. 5 and Jan. 11, respectively. By test-firing short-range ballistic missiles from Pyongyang this time, the North demonstrated domestically and internationally its capability of striking South Korea from anywhere in North Korea. According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Monday, two short-range ballistic missiles, presumed to be North Korea’s KN-23, were launched from the Sunan Airfield in Pyongyang at 8:50 a.m. and 8:54 a.m., respectively into the East Sea.
Exports of kimchi hit all-time high
South Korea’s export volume of kimchi has jumped by over 10% year-on-year, hitting an all-time high. The imports of kimchi, on the other hand, have fallen, nudging into the black for the first time in 12 years. The boost is attributable to the increasing popularity of Korean culture across the globe. According to Korea Customs Service, the exports of kimchi posted 159.92 million U.S. dollars last year, surging by 10.7% from the previous year and hitting the record highs for two years running. The amount of kimchi exports soared by 37.6% from the pandemic year of 2020, reaching an all-time high in eight years. Among the many importers of Korean kimchi, Japan took up the biggest chunk of 50.1% or 80.12 million dollars, followed by America (28.25 million dollars), Hong Kong (7.72 million dollars), and Taiwan (6.81 million dollars).
Easing of vaccine pass requirement reduces inconvenience
Regarding the removal of vaccine pass requirement for large supermarkets, department stores, movie theaters, etc. from Tuesday, South Korean citizens expressed mixed opinions – some welcoming the decision for the reduction of inconvenience and others being concerned about the spreading of the omicron variant. It will be more convenient to shop groceries without having to bring out a vaccine pass every time,” said Mrs. Ko at a large supermarket in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul on Monday. “I shopped alone on behalf of my unvaccinated family members and I am relieved that I no longer have to do that,” said Lee Sang-geun.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Government to Exempt Cram Schools, Study Rooms, Museums, Movie Theaters and Large Retailers from Vaccine Pass
The government decided to exempt facilities with low risk of COVID-19 contagion, such as cram schools (private academies), study rooms, museums, movie theaters and large supermarkets, from the vaccine pass (certificate of vaccination or certificate of negative test result). At a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters meeting on January 17, Minister of Health and Welfare Kwon Deok-cheol made an opening comment and said, “The government plans to exempt facilities where people can wear masks at all times and where the discharge of respiratory droplets are less likely from the vaccine pass.”
Yoon Seok-youl Gains the Support of 40.6%, While Lee Jae-myung Backed by 36.7% and Ahn Cheol-soo by 12.9%
On January 17, a poll showed that Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential candidate of the People Power Party, had a lead outside the margin of error against Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party of Korea in a race among multiple candidates. An OhmyNews-Realmeter survey of 3,031 people ages eighteen and older conducted on January 9-14 showed that support for Yoon Seok-youl rose 6.5% from the previous week to 40.6%. Lee Jae-myung was supported by 36.7% of the respondents, down 3.4%. The gap between the two candidates was 3.9%, bigger than the margin of error (confidence level 95%, ±1.8% margin of error). Lee enjoyed a lead over Yoon outside the margin of error last week, but the results were overturned this week, with Yoon in the lead.
Safety “Collapses” Again in Gwangju Because of “That” Construction Company
The outer wall of a high-rise apartment building under construction in Gwangju collapsed severing communication with six workers. Authorities urgently evacuated nearby residents due to further risk of the building collapsing, while continuing the search for the workers. At 3:46 p.m. on January 11, at the construction site of the Hwajeong IPark Complex 2 in Hwajeong-dong, Seo-gu, Gwangju, the external wall of one apartment building crumbled. The outer wall between the 24th and 34th floors collapsed while workers were casting concrete on the 39th floor. Authorities are searching for the whereabouts of six workers who were working between the 28th and 31st floors of the building in question.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korean agritech startups in spotlight for fast growth
South Korean agritech startups come under limelight for fast creation of new markets and sales leads by connecting farmers and consumers across the globe with innovative business models and agricultural big data, as well as providing smart farming solutions to farmers. Tridge, Seoul-based cross-border digital trading and market intelligence solution provider for food and agriculture buyers and suppliers, is set to become Korea’s first agritech unicorn after it successfully received $60 million investment from Forest Partners in a Series C investment last year that valued the company at $500 million, up from $140 million since its last funding round in April 2020.
Investors on the sidelines as they await the mega-arrival of LG Energy Solution
Korean markets stay lackluster as institutional investors save ammunition for the mega debut of LG Energy Solution after $11 billion initial public offering. On Monday, Kospi fell 1.09 percent to close at 2,890.10, going below 2,900 for the second time this month. Foreign and institutional investors net sold 253.7 billion won ($212.7 million) and 259.3 billion won, respectively, while retail investors net purchased 482.5 billion won. Institutions are expected to return after the winding up of LG Energy Solution’s public subscription, running for two days from Tuesday. LG Energy Solution, the world’s second largest electric vehicle battery supplier spun off from LG Chem, completed book building last week with $13 trillion worth orders received from institutions for its $11 billion IPO.
Korean bio stocks struggle as series of scandals weigh down the category
South Korean bio stocks have started the new year on a bearish note, weighed down by confidence issue in the category following the embezzlement scandal at Osstem Implant, whose stock is suspended on possible delisting review, and other disgrace at bio companies. Bellwethers Samsung Biologics and Celltrion tanked by 3 to 5 percent Monday. MedPacto remained in the negative territory, failing to recover from a nosedive of 28 percent last Thursday due to a setback in its pivotal oncology clinical trial last week. Daewoong Pharmaceutical lost most of its earlier gains boosted by a success in a Phase 3 trial of a new diabetes drug last week.
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