Monday, March 14, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Relations, cooperation between Korea, Tunisia grow significantly
The Republic of Tunisiais a long-time ally of the Republic of Korea. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries at the ambassadorial level in 1969, Korea has been cooperating and collaborating with Tunisia in various fields including culture, science and technology for the past 53years. On the international stage, Tunisia maintains a common and coordinated position as a strong ally of Korea. Tunisia is a unique, attractive and respected country.
President Moon hails growing ties between Korea, Spain in all fields
The Kingdom of Spain is a very special country to the Republic of Korea and this is well exemplified the statement made by President Moon Jae-in on June 17, 2021. President Moon said, “Our two countries have similar historical experiences: overcoming a civil war and authoritarian era, approaching the ranks of the world’s top 10 economies and achieving democratization.” Excerpts from the statement of President Moon follow: My visit to Spain and other countries of Europe is finally complete. The journey has been very demanding physically.
Trade Minister Yeo holds Korea-US talks on sanctions against Russia
rade Minister Yeo Han-koo held talks with United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves and Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai in Washington D.C. on March 3 and 4, respectively, to discuss Korea-US sanctions against Russia, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), Section 232 steel tariffs, and related trade policy coordination issues, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) said on March 11. Meanwhile, Minister Yeo said on March 11 in Seoul, "The Korea-U.S. FTA has become a solid game changer for Korea-U.S. economic and trade cooperation.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Seoul Apartment Sales Plummet 80%
The apartment market in Seoul has been practically paralyzed amid skyrocketing prices, new lending curbs and rising interest rates. Over the last year, apartment sales in Seoul plummeted 80 percent, especially in large complexes on the outskirts that had been popular among younger buyers when they were still affordable thanks to hefty loans. Now realtors say sales have dropped so sharply that it has become difficult to determine prices. Analysis of sales at 88 different complexes with more than 2,000 households from 2020 to 2021 shows that there were only 560 sales in the fourth quarter of last year, down 79.6 percent on-year and 53.9 percent compared to all of 2020.
Biden Congratulates President-Elect Yoon
U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday phoned president-elect Yoon Seok-youl to congratulate him on his election win. The two "affirmed the strength of the U.S.-[South Korea] alliance, which is the linchpin for peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," according to the White House. Biden said he hoped to deepen cooperation in tackling global challenges, such as climate change and the pandemic and added that South Korea has played a core role in supporting Ukraine. Yoon and Biden also pledged to work closely together in response to the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.|
Swing Votes Helped Yoon to Wafer-Thin Victory
The presidential election on Wednesday was a heavy blow to the ruling Minjoo Party but no great triumph for the opposition camp, whose candidate Yoon Seok-youl of the People Power Party was elected by a wafer-thin majority. Initial analysis suggests that the swing was mostly due to young voters and supporters in the southwest and Seoul. Yoon won by a just 0.72 percentage points, showing liberals and conservatives almost equally balanced between their lackluster candidates.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon appoints Ahn as transition committee chairman
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol appointed Ahn Cheol-soo, head of the minor People's Party, as chairman of his transition committee Sunday. Yoon named his election campaign chief, Rep. Kwon Young-se of the People Power Party (PPP), as vice chairman of the presidential transition committee, and former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong, a PPP campaign policy chief, as its planning chair. Announcing the appointments in a press conference at the PPP's headquarters in Yeouido, western Seoul, Sunday afternoon, Yoon said his transition committee will "reflect the promises I made to the people during the election process and effectively implement them."
Quarantine to be scrapped for vaccinated overseas arrivals
Vaccinated overseas arrivals will soon be exempt from quarantine. The rule change, effective March 21, comes as Korea battles a record number of infections and deaths from the Covid-19 virus. In an effort the stop the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the country has required all inbound travelers to quarantine for seven days since Dec. 3. Given the low number of imported cases, which now account for less than 0.1 percent of the daily tally, as well as the downtrend of Covid infections in other countries, authorities have decided to lift the quarantine rule for vaccinated travelers, explaining that the new rules "aren't likely to cause much of an impact on the domestic pandemic wave."
Yoon sets Korea-U.S. ties as a top priority
Getting U.S.-Korea ties back on track will be a top priority, said president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Thursday at his first press conference after the election results were released. “We will rebuild the Korea-U.S. alliance,” Yoon said in speaking with the press on Thursday morning at the National Assembly. “We will strengthen our comprehensive strategic alliance by sharing the core values on liberal democracy, market economy and human rights.” The conservative People Power Party (PPP)'s Yoon, a political rookie with a public prosecutor background, officially won the election Thursday, beating his rival Lee Jae-myung of the liberal Democratic Party in the closest presidential race to date, with a margin of just 0.73 percent of the vote.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
U.S. sanctions five Russian entities for aiding N. Korea’s missile program
The U.S. has imposed sanctions on two Russian nationals and three Russian organizations that assisted North Korea in testing new inter-continental ballistic missiles. It is the third time that Washington has levied sanctions against Pyongyang since the Joe Biden administration’s inauguration early last year. The U.S. Treasury Department said Friday, “The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control today sanctioned two individuals and three entities for supporting the DPRK’s ongoing development of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs).”
Conglomerates expect proactive deregulation from next administration
Korean companies that are facing ‘quadruple challenges’ have called the new government for proactive deregulation, and revision of laws adding burden to companies. In a survey conducted by The Dong-A Ilbo, 31 out of 33 companies responded to the question “what corporate policies they hope from the next administration to be inaugurated in May.” Sixteen companies, or 51.6 percent of the respondents, picked ‘proactive deregulation’ among the new administration’s policies (multiple answers possible), which was followed by ‘revision of laws and regulations adding burden to companies’ at 14 (45.2 percent) and ‘expansion of incentives for investment and employment’ at 12 (38.7 percent).
Zelenskyy confirms truce negotiations with Russia in progress
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Saturday that Ukraine and Russia sat at the negotiating table for details of a truce while he is moving to open a summit talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Likewise, the Russian government confirmed that negotiations are continuing between the two nations in virtual settings. All eyes are on Ukraine and Russia as to whether they can reach a diplomatic settlement. President Zelenskyy was quoted by Reuters as saying in a press conference on Saturday that delegations from Ukraine and Russia started discussing topical issues regarding a cease-fire in detail rather than issuing an ultimatum to the other side.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Kakao rumored to have offered nearly $810 mn for founder’s stake in SM Entertainment
Korean platform giant Kakao Corp. is said to be close to becoming the largest shareholder of SM Entertainment Co., South Korea`s leading first-generation entertainment company, through purchase of shares from the founder. According to the investment banking (IB) industry on Friday, Kakao has reached a tentative agreement with SM Entertainment’s founder and chief producer Lee Soo-man to buy his entire stake in SM Entertainment. Lee currently is the largest shareholder with an 18.72 percent stake in SM Entertainment.
Samsung Elec Galaxy S22 users can do without throttle function
Samsung Electronics Co. on Thursday has started the rollout of the Game Optimizing Service (GOS) update to enable Galaxy S22 owners an option to chuck away performance throttling function that had been implanted in the new premium phones to lessen battery overheating issue. The software update has been released on Thursday, although unannounced through the official community websites of Samsung Electronics.
S. Korea’s March 1-10 exports and imports up nearly 15%
South Korean exports kept up modest double-digit growth of nearly 15 percent in the first 10 days of March against a year ago led by mainstay export items such as chips and petrochemical products despite rising geographical uncertainties from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to data released by Korea Customs Service on Friday, Korea’s exports totaled $18.7 billion in from 1st to 10th of March, up 14.9 percent from the same period a year earlier. Daily exports surged 32.6 percent to $2.88 billion during the same period, based on 6.5 working days, one day shorter than from a year ago.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Three reasons why China won’t overtake the US anytime soon
t’s in the nature of human beings, and countries, to want to be at an advantage over others. In that sense, history may be seen as a record of competitions for dominance. Another heated battle for dominance is unfolding today. We see signs of it in the conflict between the US and Russia over Ukraine. An even more intense competition is taking place between the US and China. In terms of economic might, China has reached a level where it poses a threat to the US. Dominance is decided as much by economic power as by military strength. It’s natural for the US to feel threatened by China’s pursuit. But some Westerners’ claims that China is poised to surpass the US should be seen as exaggerated.
S. Korea reports deadliest day of pandemic with 229 deaths
Amid the second day of COVID-19 case totals back below 300,000, South Korea has recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic with 229 deaths. The government is predicting that this wave of infections will peak within the next 10 days, with cases reaching up to 370,000 per day. Korea’s Central Disease Control Headquarters reported 282,987 new cases of COVID-19 on March 11. Of them, 282,880 were domestic transmissions while the remaining 107 were from overseas. Daily cases dropped by over 40,000 from Thursday’s tally, coming in under 300,000 after two days above that mark.
All eyes on Yoon’s plans for S. Korea-US ties, N. Korea policy after Biden call
n his first telephone conversation with South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Thursday, US President Joe Biden said he looked forward to coordination on key global issues such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and supply chains. The conversation is focusing greater attention on the incoming administration’s vision for South Korea-US relations, as Biden went beyond a mere congratulatory message to stress the need for active coordination on major international issues.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Daejang-dong and Wolsong Nuclear Power Plant, Will Investigations Target the Moon Jae-in Government?
Now that the presidential election has ended, all eyes are on the direction of several investigations, which had been pushed back until after the election. Investigations on President-elect Yoon Seok-youl and his family, on Democratic Party of Korea candidate Lee Jae-myung, and on the incumbent government are still ongoing. Due to the presidential privilege against prosecution, many believe the investigations concerning Yoon will lose momentum. Some predict the possibility that investigations will now target Lee Jae-myung and the incumbent government.
Hong Joon-pyo Announces Bid for Daegu Mayor, “I Will Renovate Daegu”
People Power Party lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo (Hong Jun-pyo) officially announced his bid for the mayor of Daegu. On March 10, Hong wrote a post on his online politics platform The Youth Dream and said, “I will leave central politics to President-elect Yoon Seok-youl and will go local.” He explained, “I decided to go local because now that my dream of renovating the Republic of Korea has been frustrated, I believe it is right for me to go and first renovate Daegu, which raised me.” The lawmaker also said, “My heart is much lighter than when I went south to serve as the governor of Gyeongsangnam-do ten years ago,” and added, “Even if I go local, I will continue my channel TV Hongka Cola and The Youth Dream. I seek more of your guidance and support.”
President-Elect Yoon Seok-youl, “The Race Is Over. Time to Come Together as One for the Republic of Korea”
On March 10, the 20th president-elect Yoon Seok-youl said, “The race is over for now, and we must all come together and become one for the people and the Republic of Korea,” in his acceptance speech. Shortly after his victory was confirmed early this morning, Yoon visited the People Power Party vote-counting situation room set up in the B1 auditorium at the National Assembly Library of Korea in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul. He then met with reporters and said, “Now as president-elect, I will prepare a new government, and when I officially take on the role of president, I will respect the spirit of our Constitution, respect the National Assembly, and cooperate with the opposition parties to better serve the people.”
Rapid Antigen Test Results to be Accepted by Medical Professionals
Starting Monday, results of rapid antigen testing by medical professionals will be accepted without further Polymerase Chain Reaction(PCR) tests. According to health authorities, the positive results of rapid antigen tests conducted at medical facilities will be considered equivalent to that of a PCR test for a month from Monday. Under the temporary move, people who test positive from the rapid antigen tests at over 75-hundred clinics and medical institutions nationwide may receive treatment and prescriptions from the institutions without also completing a PRC test at public health centers to confirm their infection.
Daily COVID-19 Cases Above 350,000 for Second Day
Health authorities reported more than 350-thousand new COVID-19 cases for the second straight day amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Sunday that 350-thousand-190 infections were reported throughout the previous day, including 33 cases from overseas. The accumulated caseload came to over six-point-five million. The daily figure dropped by some 33-thousand from a day ago when it hit a record high of 383-thousand-665. The figure increased one-point-four times from a week ago and more than doubled from two weeks ago.
Foreign Ownership of S. Korean Stocks Dips to 6-Year Low
Foreign ownership of South Korean stocks fell to a six-year low due to a continued sell-off by overseas investors. According to the Korea Exchange on Sunday, the value of foreign investors' shareholdings in the country's main bourse KOSPI marked 666 trillion won as of Friday, accounting for 31-point-86 percent of the bourse's market capitalization. The figure is the lowest since February 11, 2016 when it marked 31-point-77 percent. The foreign ownership of South Korean stocks reached nearly 40 percent in early 2020, but fell to 33-point-55 percent at the end of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a sharp increase in individual investors.
Yoon names Ahn head of transition committee
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol named his candidacy merger partner Ahn Cheol-soo chairman of the transition committee Sunday, making the first step to take over the administration and set the agenda for the next five years. Yoon also tapped his campaign chief, Rep. Kwon Young-se of the People Power Party (PPP), as vice chairperson of the committee, and appointed former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong, who served as policy chief of the campaign, as the committee's planning chief.
Yoon's spokesperson denies report on PM's retention
A spokesperson for President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol denied a news report Monday that Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum is being considered for retention in the incoming government. The Chosun Ilbo newspaper carried the report earlier in the day, saying retaining Kim would avoid political wrangling during the parliamentary confirmation process for a new prime minister and demonstrate a commitment to working together with the opposition party. "Prime Minister Kim is a person of virtue and is respected," said Rep. Kim Eun-hye of the People Power Party (PPP), Yoon's spokespoerson, at a press briefing. "But there has been no discussion about retaining him as prime minister."
Foreigners stay net sellers of S. Korean stocks for 2nd month in Feb.
Foreign investors remained net sellers of South Korean stocks in February amid growing jitters over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, data showed Monday. Foreigners offloaded a net 2.58 trillion won (US$2.09 billion) worth of local stocks last month, marking the second straight month of net selling, according to the data from the Financial Supervisory Service. Offshore investors' net selling stood at 1.68 trillion won in January. Investors have been disheartened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine that began in late February, which analysts worry could send already high crude oil and commodity prices even higher.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon appoints Ahn Cheol-soo as chief of presidential transition committee
People’s Party Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo will lead the presidential transition committee, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol said Sunday, in a speedy move to launch the committee for a smooth transition of power from the incumbent government. “Ahn Cheol-soo and I share values and philosophy on state affairs management and we have already met (for discussion) after the election,” Yoon said during a press briefing on Sunday.
President-elect to break away from Moon administration’s Cabinet gender quota
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will not adopt a gender or regional quota for his presidential transition committee or his Cabinet when he begins his presidency. A key official on Yoon’s team has said that his personnel will be based on their talent and ability, Yonhap reported Sunday.“To serve the public, you need to look at their talent, not their story,” the official was quoted as saying by the news agency.
Hyundai Motor’s subscription service expands to Seoul with Ioniq 5
Hyundai Motor Group’s flagship electric vehicle model Ioniq 5 is now available for mobility subscription service from Hyundai Selection in metropolitan areas including Seoul. The Korean automaker said Sunday that Ioniq 5 will be offered as an option in the monthly program Regular pack. The model was only offered for the daily-subscription plan Special pack subscribers in Jeju and Busan.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Women's groups protest proposed closure of gender equality ministry
Women's rights activists called on President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol to withdraw his campaign pledge to close down the Ministry of Gender, Equality, and Family. Yoon has proposed shutting down the ministry by claiming it devotes itself too much to women's rights. A coalition of 27 women's advocacy groups held a press conference in Jung District, Seoul, Friday criticizing Yoon and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) of inciting hatred and exacerbating the gender divide during the presidential race.
Yoon's victory puts state-run lenders in distress over possible relocation
The employees of state-run financial institutions are concerned about the growing possibility of the relocation of their respective institutions out of Seoul after Yoon Suk-yeol won the presidential contest, March 9, according to industry sources, Sunday. Yoon has pledged to move the Korea Development Bank (KDB) to Busan as part of efforts for balanced regional development. He also hinted at pressuring other state-owned institutions to move their headquarters by saying, "The sole relocation of KDB will not be sufficient enough."
China faces consequences if it helps Russia evade sanctions over Ukraine: Sullivan
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who is due to meet with China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, warned Beijing that it would "absolutely" face consequences if it helped Moscow evade sweeping sanctions over the war in Ukraine. Russia asked China for military equipment after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, sparking concern in the White House that Beijing may undermine Western efforts to help Ukrainian forces defend their country, several U.S. officials said.
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