Thursday, April 14, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Yoon taps Rep. Park as Foreign Minister, Rep Kwon as Unification Minister
Rep. Park Jin of the People Power Party (PPP) was nominated as the first foreign minister of the Yoon Suk-yeol government. Rep. Park, who passed the state-run foreign affairs examination, served as the secretary for political affairs and public affairs at the Presidential Office Cheong Wa Dae during former President Kim Young-sam’s administration, and held four terms as National Assemblyman after the 16th general elections. (See further personal details on Park toward the end of this report.)
The 23rd JEONJU International Film Festival Announces 10 Titles for International Competition
The 23rd JEONJU International Film Festival (JEONJU IFF, Festival Director Lee Joondong) announced the 10 titles selected for International Competition. The 23rd JEONJU IFF’s International Competition introduces the first or second feature films of promising directors from around the world. 491 films from 75 countries were submitted from Wednesday, November 24, 2021 to Monday, January 10, 2021. Overall, a total of 10 films were selected for their Asian premieres and some for International premieres through preliminary evaluation.
Yoon meets Park, says he has always been sorry for the situation
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol visited the residence of former President Park Geun-hye in Yuga-eup, Dalseong-gun, Daegu on the afternoon of April 12 for a meeting with her. After the meeting, President-elect Yoon said that he has personally been feeling sorry for what had happened to her and between Park and himself.: Yoon than said that he made the remarks to Madam Park. Yoon visited the residence of Madam Park in Dalseong-gun, Daegu on the afternoon of the day and had a conversation with her. After leaving his private residence and meeting with reporters, Yoon said, “We talked about President Park’s health.”
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Biden Could Visit Korea Next Month
U.S. President Joe Biden is to visit Japan in late May for a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue summit and could stop over in Korea to meet its new President Yoon Seok-youl. The U.S. and Korean governments are consulting about a visit, diplomatic sources said Tuesday. Yoon, who is keen to strengthen the alliance with the U.S., will be inaugurated on May 10, and the Quad summit is scheduled for May 24. "There has been a consensus that it would be better for the U.S. president's first visit to Korea to take place before he travels to Japan," a diplomatic source said. "The U.S.' situation must be considered too, but we are making efforts to ensure the visit to Korea happens first."
Yoon Spent Less on Presidential Campaign Than Ruling-Party Rival
President-elect Yoon Seok-youl spent around W3 billion less than his rival Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Minjoo Party on his presidential election campaign (US$1=W1,232). The National Election Commission said Tuesday that the MP spent W43.9 billion on the election campaign but the main opposition People Power Party only W40.9 billion. Political parties' campaign spending is fully reimbursed by the state if their candidate wins more than 15 percent of total votes. They get half their money back if their candidate wins 10 to 15 percent. Yoon won 48.56 percent of the votes and Lee 47.83 percent, so both will be fully reimbursed.
Korea Reports 1st Case of Omicron Recombinant Variant
Korea on Tuesday confirmed its first case of the new recombinant variant of omicron, XL. The unidentified patient, who was fully vaccinated with a booster shot and had no recent travel history, tested positive on March 23 and the person reportedly does not have any severe symptoms. The XL variant was first detected in Britain in February, and the number of such cases has since increased to at least 66 worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
State Dept. report wags finger at Korea for corruption
The U.S. State Department criticized South Korea for having high levels of corruption. In its 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices published Tuesday, it said that South Korean “officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity" and "there were numerous reports of government corruption at all levels.” The strong language used to describe corruption in Korea was not used to describe countries with similar levels of development such as Japan or Taiwan. In the country report on Japan, the government corruption section stated that “there are cases of corruption among bureaucrats,” while the report on Taiwan stated that “there was corruption among public officials.” The reports on Australia and France said “there are individual reports of government corruption.”
Prosecutor general vows to fight DP's bill
The chief of the state prosecution service vowed to fight the ruling Democratic Party's bill stripping the prosecution of its remaining investigative powers, calling it a "direct violation of the Constitution" that would undermine the ability to punish criminals. On Tuesday, the Democratic Party (DP) decided to push the bill and have it signed by outgoing President Moon Jae-in early next month.“It would be a direct violation of the Constitution,” Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo told reporters. “If such a bill is passed, criminals would rejoice, while victims of crime and the public would be left with no place to turn to. [The bill] defies common sense.”
Abortion pill sold via internet lacks formal regulatory approval
An abortion pill illegal in Korea may not be approved for some time despite it being sold here via the internet and despite a clamoring by activists for the regulators to allow it into the country. Hyundai Pharm submitted an application in July last year with Ministry of Food and Drug safety to sell Mifegyne, the brand name for mifepristone, which is commonly known as RU-486. The Korean company has an exclusive agreement with London's Linepharma International for the sale of the abortion-inducing drug in Korea. Mifegyne violates the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act and is currently being evaluated by authorities.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose available for the elderly
The fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines will be available for those over 60, effective from Thursday. The fourth dose, which had been administered to those in nursing hospitals, will be rolled out to the general elderly population. The dose will be available for the 12.23 million population aged over 60, starting from Thursday. Eligibility is 120 days passed after the third dose, and those who wish to receive the dose can do so by booking an appointment via Naver or Kakao Talk. General vaccinations, in which date and location can be booked ahead, will start on April 25 after receiving pre-bookings on April 18.
S. Korea to send non-lethal military supplies to Ukraine
South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol drew a line to providing Ukraine with combat supplies after he takes office. The military announced that it would send non-lethal military aids worth 2 billion won to Ukraine.“As far as I know, the incumbent Moon administration denied providing weapons to Ukraine,” the president-elect’s spokeswoman Bae Hyun-jin said when asked about Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request for military weapons support at the virtual speech on Wednesday. The response is that the new administration will not provide military weapons to Ukraine. Bae said the new administration will consider whether to expand humanitarian relief toward Ukraine.
Leader of pro-Putin opposition party in Ukraine captured during escape
Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of a pro-Russian opposition party in Ukraine who is thought to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was captured during his escape. He was expected to become the leader of a potential pro-Russian puppet government in Ukraine. He and President Putin are very close to each other, even to the point that the Russian president is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter Daryna. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy revealed the pictures of Medvedchuk looking haggard with disheveled hair in handcuffs on Telegram on Tuesday and demanded exchanging him for Ukrainian captives taken by Russia.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korean shippers’ vessel inspection on halt amid Shanghai lockdown
As Shanghai lockdown drags on, fears grow that ship inspection in the world’s largest container port city may come to a complete stop, which could take a big tool on Korean shippers that heavily rely on China for ship inspection and repair. According to Korean Register, a classification society, on Wednesday, ship inspection in Shanghai is suspended now as inspectors working in the Chinese city are banned from entering repair dockyards due to travel restrictions.
SK to apply Monolith’s solid carbon technology on battery product, JV possible this yr
Chey Jae-won, the senior vice chairman of SK Group, visited the headquarters of Monolith, a clean energy company in Nebraska SK Corp. invested last year to discuss applying Monolith’s clean carbon technology on secondary battery production. According to industry insiders on Wednesday, Chey met with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Monolith CEO Rob Hanson and toured the Monolith plant. SK Inc., the investment arm of SK Group, signed a memorandum of understanding with Monolith in October last year where Monolith shares its clean energy technology knowledge with SK while SK is responsible for production, sales, and distribution.
KG and SBW to stay in the race over SsangYong Motor despite setbacks
South Korea’s KG Group and Ssangbangwool (SBW) Group maintained they would see through the race over a controlling stake in bankrupt SsangYong Motor Co. despite financing challenges and legal setbacks. KG Group with roots as the country’s first fertilizer company Kyunggi Chemicals on Tuesday made it official to go after SsangYong Motor with its submission of a letter of intent to the sale advisor EY Hanyoung. The company will team up with local PEF Cactus Private Equity as it did for successful acquisition of the country’s fifth largest steel mill Dongbu Steel Co. in 2019.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon plays to conservative voters with contrite meeting with Park Geun-hye
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol pledged to “restore the honor” and carry on the policies of former President Park Geun-hye during a visit to her home on Tuesday. With his head lowered, Yoon told Park that he had “always felt sorry” and had “nothing to say for myself.” With Yoon having stressed the importance of “fairness and common sense” during his campaign, his apology led critics to accuse him of flip-flopping and repudiating Park’s previous impeachment in order to help ensure a victory for his People Power Party in the June 1 local elections and build up momentum for his presidency.
S. Korea produces 20% less renewable energy than Samsung Electronics uses in a year, study finds
South Korea still has a long road ahead when it comes to renewable energy, a recent analysis has shown. In order to meet 100% renewable energy use in South Korea’s primary industries, Korea would need to produce 4.5 times the domestic renewable energy it is currently generating. Korea’s total renewable energy production measures up to just 80% of the total electricity Samsung Electronics consumes in a single year. Based on such figures, climate organizations are pointing out that Korean companies’ competitiveness could falter when compared to global companies voluntarily participating in the RE100 — a global corporate renewable energy initiative through which businesses commit to using 100% renewable energy.
S. Korean Democrats to push bill stripping investigative authority from prosecutors through National Assembly this month
The Democratic Party decided Tuesday to adopt the complete separation of prosecutors’ investigation and indictment powers as a party platform, with the goal of passing related legislation before the end of the month. With regard to the three-month grace period before the new legislation would go into effect, it also made plans to discuss reshuffling of the police organizational system — which stands to gain greater powers as a result of the new legislation — and measures for regulating police authority.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Yoon Seok-youl, “No Need to Overread Apology to Park Geun-hye”
On April 12, President-elect Yoon Seok-youl met with former President Park Geun-hye and said, “I’m sorry.” The next day, the president-elect’s spokesperson brushed away any speculation on the apology saying, “He (Yoon) was only being respectful. There is no need to overread his words.” This morning at the presidential transition committee press room in Tongui-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, when a reporter mentioned how President-elect Yoon paid a visit to Park and extended words that seemed to say that he felt sorry for Park and how some people were criticizing his comments as “denying the impeachment,” Bae Hyun-jin, spokesperson for the president-elect said, “She (Park) is currently recovering her health, but is still very weak.
Kim Oh-soo, “Abolishing the Prosecution’s Investigative Power Is a Square Violation of the Constitution... Request to President Moon”
On April 13, Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo refuted the Democratic Party of Korea’s decision to strip the Prosecution Service of its investigative function and said, “It squarely violates the Constitution.” He also mentioned the president’s right to ask the National Assembly to reconsider a bill, suggesting that he was considering asking President Moon Jae-in to exercise a veto. This day, the prosecutor general met with reporters on his way to work and spoke on the ruling party’s decision to abolish the investigative powers of the prosecution. He said, “Since the April 19 Revolution, the Constitution only stipulates prosecutors as the persons in charge of investigations,” and argued, “It violates the Constitution--squarely, too.”
Conflict over Bill to Strip Prosecutors of Authority to Lead Investigations Has Become an Instrument in a Power Struggle
With the launch of the Yoon Seok-youl government just a month away, a bill to strip prosecutors of the authority to conduct investigations has emerged as the biggest issue. Behind this issue lies a president-elect who once served as prosecutor general. The Democratic Party of Korea scrambled to promote a bill depriving prosecutors of their authority to conduct investigations following concerns that the President-elect Yoon Seok-youl could directly control investigations by the Prosecution Service and the Service could arbitrarily conduct investigations. The Prosecution Service, feeling a threat to its existence, is fighting back fueling the conflict. Underlying the latest conflict is a chronic lack of trust in the Prosecution Service.
Nikkei: S. Korea Seeks to Attend Quad Summit as Observer in May
The incoming government of President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol has reportedly sought to attend the Quad summit, set for next month in Japan, as an observer. The Japanese daily Nikkei reported the development on Thursday, quoting a high-ranking official of the member states of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which consists of the U.S., Australia, India and Japan. According to the report, Yoon has unofficially approached the Quad about attending the group's upcoming summit as an observer.
White House: Biden Looks Forward to Visiting Japan, No Details Available Yet
The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden is looking forward to visiting Japan but there are no details to announce yet regarding the trip. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki made the remarks on Wednesday during a press briefing when asked about Biden's possible trip to South Korea. Psaki said that she could not yet confirm Biden's upcoming trip to Asia. She said President Biden looks forward to traveling to Tokyo in the spring, including for the Quad meeting, adding that she hopes to have more details soon.
7 Companies to Recall over 54,000 Vehicles for Faulty Parts
The government has announced that seven companies will recall more than 54-thousand vehicles over faulty components. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement on Thursday that Ford Sales and Services Korea, Hyundai Motor and five other companies are recalling a combined 54-thousand-390 units across 13 models due to problems with vehicle parts. Ford will recall nearly 20-thousand units of its Explorer SUVs over faulty rear toe links at the back wheels, which may result in a loss of steering control while driving.
Yoon picks U.S.-friendly lawmaker for foreign minister, closest prosecutor for justice minister
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol nominated Rep. Park Jin, a veteran politician well versed in relations with the United States, as foreign minister Wednesday, as he announced eight Cabinet nominees, including a surprise pick of his closest prosecutor colleague Han Dong-hoon for justice minister. Yoon also nominated Rep. Kwon Young-se, a four-term lawmaker who served as ambassador to China from 2013-2015, as unification minister, while tapping Kim Dae-ki, an economic technocrat who previously served as a senior presidential secretary, for his chief of staff.
Transition team seeks to modify carbon neutrality plans, discard nuclear phase-out policy
The transition team's push to modify carbon neutrality plans of the current Moon Jae-in government will likely include reversal of its nuclear phase-out policy and changes in energy mix, officials said Wednesday. The transition committee called Tuesday for overhauling the country's carbon neutrality scheme, claiming that policies from the Moon administration actually increased greenhouse gas emissions and sticking to its plans will prompt electricity rate hikes and even lower the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
Biden looks forward to Asia trip but no details available: Psaki
U.S. President Joe Biden is looking forward to his upcoming trip to Asia but the details of his proposed trip have yet to become available, a White House spokesperson said Wednesday. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also declined to comment on Biden's possible visit to South Korea. "Not quite yet," said Psaki when asked if she could confirm Biden's upcoming trip to Asia, including a potential visit to South Korea. "I will tell you that, you know, of course, the president talked about how he looks forward to traveling to Tokyo in the spring, including for the Quad meeting and hopefully we'll have more to detail for all of you soon," she added.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon picks Park Jin as foreign minister in second round of Cabinet choices
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol tapped eight new minister nominees for his Cabinet and a chief of staff on Wednesday, following his first eight nominations Sunday. For foreign minister, Yoon named four-term Rep. Park Jin of the People Power Party, who led his policy consultation delegation to Washington. Park is a diplomacy expert who started his career by passing the state’s foreign service exam in 1977. He served as the press secretary for foreign media at the presidential office for late former President Kim Young-sam in 1993
Presidential transition team opposes Democratic Party’s prosecution reform push
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition team on Wednesday criticized the Democratic Party of Korea’s plan to deprive the prosecution of its investigative power, calling on the liberal party to stop “destroying the Constitution.” Rep. Yoo Sang-beom, a senior member of the presidential transition committee, told reporters Wednesday that the committee is clearly against the plan to strip the prosecution of its powers, saying the move is directly against the Constitution and could undermine the interests of the general public.
Hardline umbrella union holds banned rally, protests against president-elect’s labor policies
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of two major umbrella labor groups in South Korea, on Wednesday pushed ahead with a rally of some 10,000 members at Jongmyo Park in central Seoul, calling on President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol to communicate with the labor community. Since the presidential election last month, the two major umbrella labor unions – the KCTU and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions -- have asked President-elect Yoon to come to the negotiating table with the labor community.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon taps Park Jin as foreign minister, Kwon Young-se as unification minister
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday announced his choices of eight ministers and the presidential chief of staff, filling eight out of 10 ministerial positions which were not announced in the first round of nominations on Sunday. Yoon introduced the nominees during a press conference. They are deputy prime minister and minister of education nominee Kim In-chul, foreign minister nominee Park Jin, unification minister nominee Kwon Young-se, justice minister nominee Han Dong-hoon, interior and safety minister nominee Lee Sang-min, environment minister nominee Han Wha-jin, oceans and fisheries minister nominee Cho Seung-hwan, SMEs and startups minister nominee Lee Young and presidential chief of staff Kim Dae-ki.
What Cabinet nominations say about Yoon's foreign policy, security posture
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's nominations of key members of his national security team suggest that the new South Korean administration plans to engage in diplomacy that places alignment with the United States at the center of its foreign policy priorities, according diplomatic observers. In addition, Yoon, who pledged to take a hardline stance against North Korea on the campaign trail, has left room for inter-Korean dialogue following the designation of a close aide and centrist politician to the unification minister post.
SK bioscience to develop antiviral nasal spray
SK bioscience, a biotech affiliate of SK Group, said Wednesday that it will develop a spray-type antiviral drug, with research funds provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a private foundation. Also joining the project are the Institute for Protein Design (IPD), a research institute under the University of Washington, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), a global not-profit, public-private partnership working to accelerate the development of vaccines to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. HIV, short for "human immunodeficiency virus," is a virus that attacks the body's immune system.
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