Friday, April 1, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Bangladesh celebrates Independence, National Day with great fervor and festivity
The Embassy of Bangladesh in Seoul hosted a reception at the Lotte Hotel, Seoul on March 28, 2022 to commemorate the Independence and National Day of Bangladesh. At the event filled with great fervor and festivity, a great number of foreign ambassadors, senior diplomats, high-ranking Korean and foreign government officials, business leaders, and their spouses attended. In this regard, the Embassy also arranged a discussion program on March 26 at the Embassy premises.
RDA shares ‘K-agricultural tech’ with developing countries
“The Rural Development Administration (RDA) is sharing the agricultural technology and experience accumulated over the past 60 years with developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to achieve the universal public values of 'hunger problem' and 'food security,” said Administrator Park Byung-hong. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the opening of the administration, Administrator Park said in an interview with The Korea Post, “The RDA is currently operating the KOrea Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA) in 22 countries to support customized technologies for each country.
Induction ceremony of 15th Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order held
The ceremony for the investiture of Ven. Seongpa as the 15th Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order took place on March 30, 2022 in Jogyesa, Seoul. In a testament to the extraordinary cooperation and friendship between India and the Korean Buddhist community, Ambassador H.E. Sripriya Ranganathan of India in Seoul was asked to deliver congratulatory remarks during the ceremony.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
S.Korea Tests Homegrown Solid-Fuel Space Rocket
South Korea succeeded Wednesday in an unannounced test-launch of a solid-fuel space rocket developed entirely with homegrown technology, the Defense Ministry said. The test came a week after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile with similar technology. The South Korean rocket will eventually place a military satellite in orbit. The U.S. agreed in May last year to abolish restrictions on the power and range of South Korean missiles in the fact of the growing North Korean threat.
COVID Rages Among Young Children
About a half of kindergarteners and elementary schoolkids in Korea have already been infected with coronavirus, with infections among children under 9 almost double the rate of other age groups. Cumulative COVID-19 cases among children aged 0-9 passed 1.61 million on Wednesday morning or 42,942 per 100,000. That is nearly double the average of 24,739 per 100,000 among all age groups and triple the 16,111 among the over-80s. Cumulative COVID cases among youngsters aged 10-19 have reached 37,969 per 100,000, the second highest rate
More People Starting Their Own Business
The number of small start-ups operated by a sole owner or fewer than five co-owners looking to leverage their creativity and professional expertise is increasing each year. The Ministry of SMEs and Start-ups on Wednesday released a report based on last year's survey of small professional businesses excluding real estate agencies, wholesalers and retailers, and hospitality service providers. The number of single-person professional businesses stood at 458,322 in 2019, up from 427,367 in 2018 and 402,612 in 2017.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Moon, Yoon clash on DSME CEO appointment
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's transition team Thursday criticized the appointment earlier this week of a friend of President Moon Jae-in's brother as CEO of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). The Blue House shot back, expressing "surprise" that the incoming government "covets" the DSME position, which it said should be filled by qualified individuals. Park Doo-seon, vice president of DSME, was appointed president and CEO of the shipbuilder at an annual general meeting Monday. He will serve a three-year term.
Hawk or dove, central bank governor nominee Rhee keeps market guessing
Bank of Korea governor nominee Rhee Chang-yong could be a hawk or a dove, depending on who you ask, and like central bankers everywhere, he is likely to keep the market guessing if confirmed. His stance is particularly hard to determine given the volatile state of the world economy. The few comments he has made suggest flexibility and an openness to adapting quickly to events as they unfold. Rhee, a director of the Asia and Pacific Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was nominated to become the next central bank chief by the Blue House on March 23. He must still be confirmed by the National Assembly.
Chopper problems impeded fight against wildfires
The National Forest Service (NFS) acknowledged Thursday that problems with firefighting equipment and helicopters hampered its efforts to extinguish a massive wildfire along the eastern coastal mountains in early March. At a 2 p.m. press briefing at the Government Complex in Daejeon, the NFS admitted that it was able to operate only about 20 helicopters daily out of 36 owned by the service. They are designed to carry water to fire-stricken areas. According to a forest service official who spoke to the JoongAng Ilbo on condition of anonymity, such helicopters are required to undergo maintenance after 50 hours of flying. “When the wildfire was at its peak, multiple helicopters had to be deployed simultaneously, which also limited operations because so many had to be maintained,” the official said.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
North Korea shows signs of SLBM launch.
Signs have been detected at Sinpo Shipyard in South Hamgyong Province that North Korea is preparing to launch an SLBM. Experts observe that North Korea may launch its newly developed SLBM in the days preceding and following April 15, Kim Il Sung’s birthday anniversary, subsequent to last month’s failed test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile that can strike the U.S. mainland.
Millennials invested 19 trillion won in crypto trade in 2021
Millennials, the major driver of last year’s boom in cryptocurrency trading, are reported to have deposited 19 trillion won into crypto exchanges based in Korea. According to the sources submitted by the Financial Supervisory Service to Rep. Yoon Chang-hyun of the People Power Party on Wednesday, the total amount of money held by five major crypto exchanges in Korea, namely, Upbit, Bithumb, CoinOne, Cobit, and Gopax, is estimated to be 52.8155 trillion won, deposit received and cryptocurrency value translated into cash combined.
Gov. initiative launched to encourage newborn registration
The South Korean government has launched an initiative to protect newborns who are left unregistered in a bid to support them with emergency measures and follow-up care. “The government must guarantee the protection and care for every baby born to this land by having them properly registered,” declared President Moon Jae-in. Presided over by Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyeom, a steering session was held over state affairs on Thursday to discuss measures to protect unregistered newborns.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea reviews designation of OLED as national strategic technology
The South Korean government is reviewing designation of organic light emitting diode (OLED) as a national strategic technology like semiconductors, vaccines and batteries amid the intensifying global technology race. The move goes in line with President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s election pledge to help the country gain global leadership in advanced tech industries through private sector innovation.
Korea’s factory output in modest gain Feb, capex dips and leading index stays negative
South Korea’s factory output sustained mild growth in February whereas domestic demand stayed subdued, with facility investment slumping and leading index in the negative on spike in fuel and commodity prices and escalated uncertainties in global trade from geopolitical risks. According to Statistics Korea on Thursday, the seasonally adjusted mining and manufacturing output in February added 0.6 percent from a month earlier, keeping up positive momentum for the fifth month owing to chip and electronic components.
Yoon’s transition team asks govt watchdog to probe DSME CEO appointment
South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition committee has asked the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) to launch a probe into Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME), opposing to the CEO appointment of Park Doo-sun, a friend to the brother of President Moon Jae-in. The transition committee suspected favoritism behind the nomination as Park is known to be an old college buddy of Moon’s brother.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea rejected repeated proposals by US, Japan to hold trilateral military exercises
The South Korean government declined recent repeated proposals from the US and Japanese governments to hold trilateral military exercises in the waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula, it has been learned. Various high-ranking foreign affairs sources who are acquainted with the three sides’ discussions told the Hankyoreh that the US and Japan proposed the drills during senior-level trilateral discussions in February and March, but that the Moon Jae-in administration would not agree to them.
My hope for Korea’s incoming conservative administration
The opposition party was elected to the South Korean presidency this year for a third time since the first peaceful transfer of power between administrations in 1997, with the two previous times coming in 2007 and 2017. Since the administration is passing from progressive hands into conservative ones, full-scale changes are being predicted in key positions, along with major shifts in the areas of political, economic, and social policy. The area drawing the most attention of all is that of foreign policy.
Ukrainian ambassador to Korea says victory for Hilteresque Putin would give aggressive regimes “free rein”
At the entrance of the Ukrainian Embassy in Yongsan, Seoul, flowers and handwritten messages from Koreans calling for peace cheer on the Ukrainian people who have stayed resilient in the face of aggression. “Keep your spirits up,” one sign reads. Another says, “Just as barley that has survived winter sprouts better, when hardships pass, a pine tree will shine like a sunflower and stand tall in the sky.” Ukrainian Ambassador to Korea Dmytro Ponomarenko, who the Hankyoreh met at the Ukrainian Embassy on the afternoon of March 25, said he receives messages of solidarity and support from Korean citizens every day, something for which he said he is sincerely grateful.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Unusual Movement on a Submarine Docked in Sinpo, North Korea, “Repairs or Preparations for an SLBM Test”
Unusual movements were detected from the Sinpo South Shipyard in South Hamgyong Province, where the North Korean submarine, the 8.24 Yongung--used to test launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) last year--is docked. On March 29 (local time), Beyond Parallel, a website specializing in North Korea, run by the U.S. think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), reported the movements based on an analysis of satellite photos.
Final Draft of Settlement on the Relief Fund for Victims of Toxic Humidifier Disinfectants Presented after 11 Years
After eleven years, a final settlement was proposed to help victims of toxic disinfectants for humidifiers, which resulted in thousands of injuries and deaths. The settlement came six months after a committee for the settlement of humidifier disinfectant victims (chaired by Kim Yi-su, former justice of the Constitutional Court) was established last October. According to the settlement, confirmed on March 29, victims who suffered the highest level of damage, such as those in need of a lung transplant, will receive 83,920,000 won (people ages 84 and older) to 535,220,000 won (age 1).
President Moon, “We Will Cooperate on the Budget to Relocate the Presidential Office,” President-elect Yoon, “We Will Inherit Successful Policies”
President Moon Jae-in and President-elect Yoon Seok-youl met on March 28. President-elect Yoon mentioned the relocation of the presidential office and said, “This time, I really want to do this.” President Moon said, “I think the decision on where to relocate the presidential office is one that should be made by the next government,” and added, “We will carefully examine the budget for the relocation plan and cooperate.” Yoon said, “We will continue to implement the successful policies and improve the policies that were less successful.”
Yoon, EU President Agree to Seek Summit in S. Korea in Second Half
President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol and the head of the European Union(EU) have agreed to seek a summit in South Korea as early as in the second half of this year. Yoon's spokesperson Kim Eun-hye said Yoon made the agreement in a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday. In the 25-minute call, Yoon denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an act of aggression that can never be justified, and reiterated the importance of the international community's unified response for peace in Ukraine.
State Dept.: US Closely Monitoring N. Korea for Further Provocations
The U.S. State Department said the United States is closely monitoring North Korea for future provocations, amid media reports that the regime appears to be preparing for a nuclear test. Department spokesperson Ned Price made the remarks in a press briefing on Thursday when asked to comment on the media reports. Price said that he was not in a position to elaborate on intelligence, but North Korea has engaged in a number of provocations in recent weeks, prompting elevated observation by the U.S.
Gas, Electricity Prices Rise from Friday
Electricity and natural gas prices rise from Friday amid soaring energy prices. According to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy, natural gas prices for households are set to increase by three percent, or zero-point-43 won per megajoule. The prices for commercial use will rise one-point-two to one-point-three percent, or zero-point-17 won. The ministry said it had to raise the prices due to spikes in global natural gas prices. The latest hike marks the first since the nation slashed the prices 13-point-one percent in July 2020.
U.S. closely monitoring N. Korea for additional provocation: State Dept.
The United States is closely monitoring North Korea for future provocations, a Department of State spokesperson said Thursday, amid reports that the recalcitrant country may be preparing for a possible nuclear test. Ned Price also said the U.S. and its allies will work to hold North Korea accountable for any new provocations. "I am not a position to speak to intelligence one way or another, But what I can say is that the DPRK has engaged in a number of provocations in recent weeks.
Gov't to raise gathering size limit to 10, relax biz hour curfew to midnight
he government has decided to raise the private gathering size limit to 10 people and relax the business hour curfew on restaurants and cafes to midnight, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday. The new social distancing rules will go into effect Monday for two weeks. The decision to further relax antivirus curbs came as the country began to see a downward trend in new infections amid the omicron-fueled wave of the pandemic. The number of daily COVID-19 cases soared to as high as 621,197 on March 17.
Assembly pushing for Zelenskyy's parliamentary speech on April 11
The National Assembly has proposed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy make a virtual speech before parliament on April 11, a ruling party lawmaker said Thursday. Rep. Lee Kwang-jae of the Democratic Party, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, wrote on Facebook that the panel has sent the proposal to the Ukrainian government and is waiting for confirmation. Zelenskyy has delivered virtual addresses to legislatures of the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan to rally international support for his nation's fight against Russia's invasion.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
S.Korea, US approve directive to rewrite war plan, begin process in earnest
Seoul and Washington have agreed on a planning directive to develop a new operational war plan to address North Korea’s mounting threats and a changing security environment, allowing their militaries to begin the process in earnest. Chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Won In-choul and his US counterpart Gen. Mark Milley made the decision during their in-person bilateral meeting held on Wednesday afternoon (local time) at the US Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters, Camp H.M. Smith in Hawaii.
Ban on single-use plastics returns
After a two-year hiatus during the pandemic, Korea has brought back the ban on in-store use of single-use products at food service businesses, causing mixed reactions from employees, customers and environmental activists. Starting Friday, customers dining in at restaurants, cafes, food stalls, and bars cannot use single-use products, including plastic cups, containers, wooden chopsticks, and toothpicks. The products will only be available for takeout or delivery service customers.
Korea’s industrial output declines for 2nd consecutive month
Korea’s industrial output declined for the second consecutive month in the wake of a glitch in imports of raw materials as well as the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, state data showed Thursday. According to Statistics Korea, industrial output decreased by 0.2 percent in February, compared to the previous month. It posted a 0.3 percent drop in January. This marked the first time in 21 months dating to May 2020 that industrial output fell for two consecutive months.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Seoul mayoral election loses luster amid rising interest in Gyeonggi governor race
Seoul's mayor in the past had been the most sought-after elected post for politicians who were ambitious enough to attempt a run for the top job in the government, as the position often served as a springboard to the presidential race. Historically, several Seoul mayors were nominated or ran in presidential elections after winning their party's nominations. Former President Lee Myung-bak won the 2007 presidential election with 48.67 percent, a double-digit margin over then his rival Jung Dong-young, after pushing through the Cheonggye Stream restoration project as Seoul's mayor.
Political backlash against DSME inevitable under Yoon's presidency
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) is expected to be at the center of political controversy under the incoming administration because of the appointment of CEO Park Du-seon on Monday. The new CEO will serve for the next three years as the leader of the debt-ridden shipbuilder which is currently under the government's control. Earlier this year, state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), which owns a controlling stake in DSME, failed to sell its shares to Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, as the European Union's antitrust regulator rejected the plan.
Transition team orders ministries not to destroy gov't documents
The Presidential Transition Committee has warned the central government ministries not to destroy any existing government documents so that they can be of future use by the incoming government under President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol. The transition committee issued the order on March 29, requesting the ministries to keep all government documents, either in digital or paper format, intact, as well as refrain from replacing the existing computers in their offices with new ones.
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