Monday, January 24, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Business rearrangement and development of digital technology
During the period of 30 years of carrying out six 5-year economic development plans starting in 1962, the Korean government played a pivotal role in achieving economic growth by aggressively implementing policies of promoting heavy and chemical industries while supporting export of products. As external environments, such as democratization, market opening, vitalization of stock market, permission of foreigners’ investment and increase in foreign currency loans, were changed and Korean companies increasingly expanded to overseas markets, Korean enterprises found necessity of strengthening competitive edge in global market.
SKBMC, BEST join hands to raise awareness on waste segregation in China
SK hi-tech battery materials China (SKBMC) and BEST members gathered to held a campaign BEST to raise awareness on the importance of waste segregation in the local community of Changzhou, where their manufacturing facilities are located, on Jan. 8. It was also part of their efforts to enhance of local ESS activities. SKBMC is a battery separator manufacturing subsidiary SK IE Technology, and BEST is the name of the JV battery cell production plant of SK On’ and Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings (BAIC) and Beijing Electronics Holding.
Korea is an optimal partner for Egypt in its digital transition, future growth
“Korea, with its state-of-the-art technology, is the optimal partner for Egypt in its digital transition and future growth. Beginning with the letter of intent on electric vehicle cooperation, which will be signed shortly, I look forward to our two countries identifying concrete areas of cooperation in future industries and science and technology fields,” said President Moon Jae-in. Delivering a speech at Korea-Egypt Business Roundtable for Future Green Industries held in Cairo, Egypt on Jan. 20, 2022, President Moon said, “Korea hopes to pioneer a post-COVID-19 future with this rapidly growing Egypt. To this end, I’d like to emphasize three directions for economic cooperation.
WHO: End of COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe 'Plausible'
The World Health Organization's Europe director projected that the omicron variant could shift the COVID-19 pandemic into a more manageable endemic illness in Europe. Hans Kluge told the AFP news agency on Sunday that it is plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of “pandemic endgame.” Kluge said that once the current surge of omicron sweeping across Europe subsides, there will be global immunity for a period of time, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection. The WHO official projected that there will be a period of quiet before COVID-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily as a pandemic.
Number of Discouraged Workers Hits All-Time High of 628,000 in 2021
The number of discouraged workers - or people who have stopped looking for jobs - hit an all-time high last year. According to Statistics Korea on Monday, there were 628-thousand people who were no longer seeking jobs in 2021. The annual tally was the highest since 2014. "Discouraged workers" are unemployed people who wish to work but have taken a break from job-seeking or given up altogether after failing to find work in the previous four weeks due to reasons linked to the labor market. The number of long-term unemployed, who failed to get jobs after searching more than six months, also increased eight-point-one percent on-year to 128-thousand in 2021.
S. Korea's Air Traffic Rises 10.8% in 2021 Despite Pandemic
Air traffic volume in South Korea increased over ten percent last year from a year earlier despite the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Sunday, the number of flight operations last year came to 465-thousand, up ten-point-eight percent from 2020. The growth is largely attributed to flights on domestic routes, which increased 18-point-nine percent last year from a year earlier. The volume on international flights, however, edged up by one-point-eight percent on-year despite the travel bubble program.
S. Korea to restore gateway of ancient Egyptian temple in Luxor
South Korea said Sunday it has signed a deal with Egypt to dismantle and restore the gateway of an ancient temple in the Egyptian city of Luxor. South Korea plans to begin restoring the pylon and refurbish the access road of the Ramesseum, a mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramses II, starting next year, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration. The move came as Mostafa Waziry, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, requested the Cultural Heritage Administration to restore the Ramesseum during senior-level talks on Thursday. On Friday, the two sides inked a memorandum of understanding during President Moon Jae-in's visit to Cairo.
Exports in free trade zones hit all-time high last year: data
Exports by companies in South Korea's free trade zones grew 89.6 percent on-year to hit an all-time high last year, the industry ministry said Sunday. Outbound shipments came to US$10.94 billion, surpassing the $10 billion mark for the first time ever, according to the data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The growth is attributable to strong demand for electric and electronic goods, automotive chips, semiconductor-related products and COVID-19 items amid a global economic recovery, the ministry said.
Surveys show mixed results for rival presidential contenders
Opinion polls released Sunday showed mixed results for rival presidential candidates Lee Jae-myung and Yoon Suk-yeol as they strive to woo swing voters in a tight race for the nation's top office. Three polls released by the Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI), People Networks Research (PNR) and Ipsos showed Yoon of the main opposition People Power Party leading Lee of the ruling Democratic Party, while a Southern Post survey showed Yoon trailing Lee. In a KSOI poll conducted on 1,000 people from Friday to Saturday, Yoon earned 43.8 percent, up 2.4 percentage points from the previous week, while Lee lost 2.4 percentage points to score 33.8 percent.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
2021 was 2nd hottest year on record: KMA
Last year was the second hottest year for South Korea on record as climate change continued to drive up global temperatures, the national weather agency said Sunday. A report from the Korea Meteorological Administration said South Korea’s average temperature for 2021 reached 13.3 degrees Celsius, becoming the second-hottest year since data were compiled from 1973. The record follows 13.4 degrees reached in 2016. By region, last year was the hottest year on record for Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi Province, Daejeon, Sejong, South Chungcheong Province, Busan, Ulsan, South Gyeongsang Province, North Gyeongsang Province, North Jeolla Province, Gwangju, South Jeolla Province and Jeju.
Can Yoon Suk-yeol win on his own?
There is growing opinion that presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party should go it alone in the ongoing race as some consider it unnecessary for him to unite forces with others when his ratings have already recovered lost ground. They believe there is no need for Yoon to merge forces with other opposition heavyweights for the election so it would become a two-way race between him and Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea. Such views come at a time when tension is growing between Yoon and his primary rival Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the People Power Party.
9 out of 10 Korean firms ‘not ready’ for supply chain risks
Almost 90 percent of South Korean companies are unprepared for supply chain risks even though they are aware that those risks will continue this year. According to a survey by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry published on Sunday, among 300 companies that import raw materials, only 9.4 percent said they have prepared specific measures to respond to potential supply chain constraints, while 89.1 of them responded they have yet to come up with clear plans. Of the companies that said they have already secured or are planning to do so, 45.7 percent said they plan to diversify suppliers, while 23.9 percent and 12 percent said they aim to increase inventories and expand local procurement, respectively.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Collective action from within forces chief election commissioner to quit
National Election Commission (NEC) standing commissioner Cho Hai-ju submitted his resignation which was accepted by President Moon Jae-in, Friday. According to the NEC, Cho said that he is "quitting the NEC completely," leaving the future of the NEC in the hands of the current staff. "I could endure political attacks from the opposition party and media, but I could not look away from the possible controversy over bias (for having me on the NEC) and the appeal of the staff members," Cho said. Cho's three-year term was to expire today, but when he expressed his intention to resign to the President, Moon did not accept it, citing the stability of the organization, with there being a major election around the corner.
7,630 new COVID-19 cases reported as Omicron surges
Korea added 7,630 new COVID-19 infected cases on Saturday, including 7,343 locally transmitted, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The figure shows that the nation has seen over 7,000 confirmed cases for the second day running, following Friday when 7,008 people tested positive for the virus. Infectious disease experts called on the government to shift to a new medical response, as the country's daily infections soared to 7,630, the second-largest figure recorded here during the two-year COVID-19 pandemic. As the highly transmissible Omicron variant is feared to become the dominant strain here, epidemiologists warned that damage to high-risk groups could increase, as was the case last month, in case the new medical response system is not implemented promptly.
Korea to participate in restoration work at Egyptian temples
The cultural heritage property management authorities of Korea and Egypt have agreed to cooperate in the restoration, excavation and preservation of antiquities, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said, Sunday. The CHA and the Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for cooperation and exchange in cultural heritage property management in Cairo, Friday (local time), on the sidelines of President Moon Jae-in's official visit to the African country. In talks on the previous day with CHA Administrator Kim Hyun-mo, Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the council, requested CHA's participation in restoring the Ramesseum Temple in Luxor and in the excavation of a temple of Thutmose IV, using Korea's restoration techniques, and the Korean agency accepted.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea's Property Taxes Among Highest in Developed World
Korea ranks second in the OECD when it comes to the ratio of property tax to GDP, according to the Paris-based group of rich countries. Korea's ranking has shot up from 11th place in 2016. Korea's nominal GDP increased 11.1 percent from W1.74 quadrillion in 2016 to W1.93 quadrillion in 2020 (US$1=W1,191). But over the same period, its property tax surged 51 percent amid failed government attempts to tame housing prices and rein in speculation. Korea's property tax-to-GDP ratio stood at 3.98 percent in 2020, the second highest after Canada's 4.15 percent and ahead of the U.K.'s 3.86 percent, the U.S.' 3.05 percent and Japan's 2.63 percent.
N.Korea Threatens to Resume Nuke, ICBM Tests
North Korea has threatened to resume nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests for the first time in three years and nine months.In a meeting on Thursday, the Workers Party "gave an instruction to a sector concerned to reconsider on an overall scale the trust-building measures that we took on our own initiative on a preferential ground and to promptly examine the issue of restarting all temporally-suspended activities," the official [North] Korean Central News Agency said. It was referring to a moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests leader Kim Jong-un promised ex-U.S. President Donald Trump at the first U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore in 2018.
Populism Brings Fresh Risks for Economy
Korea's economy faces huge challenges this year, from the coronavirus prolonged coronavirus pandemic to stagnation. First of all, it is uncertain if the pandemic is really ending. If it drags on until the end of this year, sluggish consumption and production could drive Korea into a sump of low growth. The government targets 3.1 percent growth this year, but private research institutes forecast only growth in the mid two percent. Another risk is inflation. There is a possibility of consumer prices rising even more this year after increasing at the highest rate in a decade in 2021. Excess global liquidity stemming from quantitative easing programs around the world to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic plus surging raw material prices and global supply chain disruptions amid mounting U.S.-China tensions could fuel inflationary pressure.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Biden defends first-year record amid troubles at home and abroad
“Well, good afternoon, everyone. Tomorrow will mark one year since I took office. It’s been a year of challenges, but it’s also been a year of enormous progress.” Amid tense confrontations with China and Russia and divisions in his own party’s ranks over the “Build Back Better” legislation, US President Joe Biden took part in an extensive press conference Thursday marking the first anniversary of his inauguration. While he began the conference with his usual smile, his expression took on a resolute cast as he worked to play up his achievements over the past year.
All eyes on Biden’s response to N. Korea’s ICBM, nuclear weapons comments
North Korea has thrown down the gauntlet to US President Joe Biden by announcing it will consider resuming tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, which it suspended back in 2018. This represents a serious challenge for the US’ policy on North Korea since Biden has claimed a commitment to dialogue without having initiated meaningful talks with the North. Pyongyang announced Thursday that it’s considering lifting the moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests it has maintained since 2018 in remarks directly aimed at the US. The announcement came in reports in state-run media such as the Korean Central News Agency.
N. Korea’s hints at ICBM, nuke tests leave Blue House at a loss
The Blue House shared a cautious response to North Korea’s message Thursday hinting that it might resume nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missile testing. For now, the Blue House said it would be “closely observing” the situation. But signs could also be detected of concern that the Korean Peninsula peace process, which the Moon Jae-in administration has been presenting as one of its major achievements, could fall by the wayside. A Blue House senior official said Thursday that the presidential office was “carefully observing recent developments in North Korea.” The remarks did not include any direct mention of Pyongyang’s announcement that it would consider resuming tests of nuclear weapons and ICBMs, which was shared in the announcement the same day of results from a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
N. Korea likely to trigger IRBM threat capable of reaching Guam
Intelligence agencies of South Korea and the U.S. are reportedly considering the possibility of North Korea firing Hwasong-12 type intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) which would fly over to Guam as its next threat plan. Experts say that North Korea, which has indicated withdrawal of suspended moratorium on nuclear testing and ICBM in four years, may consider IRBM as mid-term strategies to bring more tension to the U.S. and the Korean peninsula ahead of ICBM or long-distance rockets to target the U.S. mainland.
Vibrations reported at commercial residential building in Seoul
Residents at a high-rise commercial residential building in Seongsu-dong in Seoul’s Seongdong district lodged complaints about vibrations they felt within the structure. Experts speculate that the vibrations would most likely have been detected due to resonance. Resonance is a phenomenon in which violations that have occurred outside of a building coincide with the frequency of the building’s own vibrations to magnify the scale of vibrations. According to the Seongdong Fire Station on Sunday, a compliant about vertical vibrations was lodged to the station at around 4:30 pm on Thursday from Acro Seoul Forest, a commercial residential building complex in Seongsu-dong, on Sunday. The complaint was mostly lodged by residents on 4th, 17th and 27th floors.
Allegations on Putin’s palace
Photos of a mansion located in the Russian southern resort city Gelendzhik, allegedly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, have been released. Time reported on Jan 21 that the mansion, known as Putin’s Palace, has a stage for poll dancing, theatres, ice hockey rink and a smoking water pipe room. Around 500 photos of the place were uploaded on a web hard drive by insiders of Alexey Navalny, previous head of the Russian opposition party, who has been prisoned since early last year. Navalny uploaded a blueprint design of the mansion on YouTube in January last year.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Hong Joon-pyo, “Accusing Me of Old-Fashioned Politics with Yoon’s Key Aides at the Front... Regret the Unilateral Termination of Agreement”
On January 21, People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo said, “It is truly abominable how they are picking holes with the by-election candidate nominations and putting Yoon’s key aides at the front to accuse me of old-fashioned politics.” He also said, “I express my sincere regret on the unilateral termination of the agreement for me to join the election campaign, a long-awaited agreement which we had reached in a good mood.” This day, Hong wrote these words on social media explaining his conflict with Yoon Seok-youl, the party’s presidential candidate, on the previous day over the issue of candidate nominations.
“Completely Reconsider Trust in the U.S.” North Korea Hints at Plans to Resume Nuclear and ICBM Tests
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) hinted at intentions to resume its nuclear and missile tests claiming it would reconsider its preemptive measures to establish trust with the U.S. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced on January 20 that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the sixth Political Bureau Meeting of the eighth Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, listened to a report of the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula and international affairs, and discussed the direction of North Korea’s future response to the U.S. The North Korean state media reported, “The Political Bureau Meeting relisted national defense policy tasks to promptly strengthen and develop stronger physical means to firmly overpower hostile actions against the DPRK by the U.S.,
A Horse Died after the Shooting of the Hero Falling Off the Horse in the KBS Drama “The King of Tears, Yi Bang-won”
A scene which allegedly involved animal abuse was aired in the KBS drama The King of Tears, Yi Bang-won (Taejong Yi Bang-won), leading to a petition on the Cheongwadae National Petition website demanding an end to broadcasting dramas that treat animals like props. It was confirmed that the horse died a week after the accident. People are calling for the need to establish guidelines to resolve the issue of animal cruelty in filming TV shows. On January 19, the Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) and the Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA) pointed out on social medial a scene from the TV drama The King of Tears, Yi Bang-won, which allegedly involved animal abuse. The scene was aired on January 1, and it portrayed the actor playing Yi Seong-gye falling from a horse.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea emerges as major global manufacturing hub for Covid-19 treatments
Domestic pharmaceutical companies have proved their manufacturing prowess to the world after they successfully won consignment production orders for oral Covid-19 medicines treatment on top of Covid-19 vaccines and antibody treatments. The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on Thursday that Hanmi Pharmaceutical, Celltrion Inc., and Dongbang FTL are picked by the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to produce the generic version of Lagevrio (or molnupiravir) and supply them to 105 low-income countries. The locally produced generic treatments are not for use in Korea.
LG Chem rebounds after losing 15% ahead of EV battery unit’s IPO subscription
LG Chem Ltd. stock is expected to gain momentum on its solid business outlook after it was battered by hefty selloffs before institutional and retail subscriptions of its most lucrative business subsidiary LG Energy Solution Ltd. LG Chem shares closed 0.29 percent lower at 694,000 won ($581.48) on Friday after finishing the previous session 6.58 percent higher. The stock has been losing for five sessions in a row until Wednesday, when its fully owned subsidiary completed its two-day public subscription session for its initial public offering (IPO) shares. During the five-day period, the stock lost 15.52 percent, based on the closing price, and market capitalization plummeted by 8.47 trillion won.
Strict regulations block commercial launch of bloodless syringe in Korea
An innovative bloodless syringe needle developed three years ago in South Korea is barred from going to market in the face of regulatory barriers despite its high demand for the prevention of secondary infections among healthcare professionals. Scientists criticize the country’s current regulations on the innovative medical device designation for fast-track marketing review are too strict to encourage innovations. Innotherapy, a Korean bio-inspired technology company, developed a needle coated with a hemostatic substance and filed for its designation as an innovative medical device to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety last June.
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