Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
ICCK is in good hands--as it has been for many years
The newly elected chairman, Mr. Anil K. Sinha, has a total of 37 years of work experience in Indian and Multi-National Organization covering a wide range of functions, Strategic Planning and Team Management. Chairman Sinha is very strongly interested in further upgrading and promoting the close economic-commercial cooperation and relations between the two countries. In a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985, Chairman Sinha said, “India is looking for investment in many important areas, such as sunrise sectors like drones, robotics, electric vehicles and renewable energy, energy storage systems, AI & Machine Learning, Industry 4.0, IoT, especially in its Smart City initiative to renew urban life & provide robust technological solutions to improve life in rural areas.
Afghanistan denies reports on its plan to stop cooperation with Uzbekistan
On April 12-14, Termez hosted a meeting of the heads of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan railway departments. According to the official website of JSC "O'zbekiston temir yo'llari", the delegation of Afghanistan was led by the head of the Afghan Railways Bakhtulrahmon Sharafat. The Afghan side expressed gratitude for the measures taken by the Uzbek side to strengthen bilateral relations and the substantial assistance provided to Afghanistan. At the same time, the Afghan side denied reports that Afghanistan allegedly plans to stop cooperation with Uzbekistan Railways JSC.
Concerning private sector, privatization and demonopolization
On April 8, 2022 the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a Decree in which goals are set extensively with specific timeframes for taking measures in a number of key areas of the country's economic development to create favorable conditions for the development of the private sector, as well as measures to accelerate the process of privatization, the fight against corruption and demonopolization. It should be noted that this Presidential Decree is directly related to the "Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2026". If briefly and abstractly, the goals of the Decree are aimed at achieving stable economic growth, increasing the competitiveness of the national economy and reducing the state share in the private sector’s economy.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Rising Global Tensions Fuel S.Korean Nuclear Arms Debate
Rising global tensions are fueling renewed debate whether South Korea should get its own nuclear weapons. Russia's invasion of Ukraine and North Korea's recent series of missile launches have brought home how vulnerable the country could be to a nuclear attack. Both South Korea and Ukraine once had nuclear weapons within their borders. But South Korea agreed to abandon its secret nuclear program in the 1970s in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S., while Ukraine gave up its nuclear arms in the 1990s in exchange for security assurances from Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.
S.Korea-U.S. War Simulation Exercises Kick off
South Korea and the U.S. kicked off largely computer-based command post training on Monday in preparation for any full-scale war with North Korea. The exercise will last for nine days and take various new factors into account like the coronavirus pandemic and the changing power dynamics of the region, the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said Sunday. But the exercise involves no field training and is mostly a computer simulation, the JCS added. In advance, the two countries conducted four days of crisis management staff training on April 12-15.
N.Korea Fires Short-Range Nuclear Missile
North Korea said Sunday it succeeded in test firing a new tactical missile that would be capable of striking Seoul from the frontlines with a nuclear warhead. The new missile has a much shorter range than an intercontinental ballistic missile but can be mounted with a tactical nuclear warhead and could pose a bigger threat to South Korea than an ICBM. The Joint Chiefs of Staff here confirmed that North Korea launched two projectiles into the East Sea from Hamheung, South Hamgyong Province at around 6 p.m. on Saturday. The JCS said they flew to a height of around 25 km and a distance of approximately 110 km at a maximum speed of Mach 4.0. The JCS for some reason delayed the announcement until Sunday morning, almost 14 hours later.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
DP pushes on with bill to emasculate the prosecution
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) showed no signs of relenting on a controversial prosecution reform bill on Tuesday, despite an appearance by Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo at the National Assembly to tell lawmakers to kill the bill. The DP opened a meeting of a subcommittee under the Legislation and Judiciary Committee at 2 p.m. on Tuesday to begin the legislative process for the controversial bill. The meeting was attended by the prosecutor general, who expressed the need for alternative methods to change the prosecution.“It is never appropriate to deal with bills that directly affect the lives, safety and property of the people and have a deep impact on the state's capabilities within two weeks,”
Trade minister discusses IPEF with acting U.S. ambassador
Korea's trade minister met with the acting U.S. ambassador to discuss Korea’s possible joining of a multilateral trade pact and restrictions on imports of Korean steel. According to the Trade Ministry, the meeting Tuesday between Yeo Han-koo and Christopher Del Corso was requested by the U.S. as Russia's war on Ukraine and lockdowns in China create supply bottlenecks and push up commodity prices and inflation. Trade Minister Yeo said Korea supported the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) trade pact and expressed Korea's interest in joining it. Yeo stressed the importance of cooperation on trade as the global economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
NEC head resigns over early voting chaos
The head of the National Election Commission (NEC) resigned Monday over poor management of early ballots cast by Covid-19 patients for the March 9 presidential election. Noh Jeong-hee, chairperson of the NEC, tendered her resignation at the Gwacheon government complex in Gyeonggi, saying she felt "responsible for the management of the advance voting of Covid-19 patients in the presidential election." Noh said, "I deeply apologize for causing concern to the public and ask for its cooperation so local elections can be held flawlessly." Her resignation came 44 days after the chaotic early voting for the presidential election and less than two months ahead of June 1 local elections.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Agflation accelerates due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis
Agflation, in which prices of food prices rise higher than the price of other goods and services, is becoming evident as the war in Ukraine, a leading crop producer, continues. Agflation is a term that coins the words agriculture and inflation. According to Bloomberg and other news media reports on Monday, the price of Indian corn futures for July at the U.S. Chicago Mercantile Exchange recorded 8.07 dollars per bushel (25.4 kilograms), up 3% from the previous day. It is the second time since prices have risen above the eight-dollar threshold in 10 years since 2012, when mid-Western U.S. region was hit with abnormally high temperatures
N. Korea tears down S. Korean-built golf resort at Mt. Kumgang
North Korea demolished eight buildings of a South Korean-built golf resort at Mt. Kumgang without giving a prior notice to the South Korean government. The Ministry of Unification asked the North for explanation twice via the inter-Korean liaison hotline, but the North is remaining silent. Following a series of missile provocations, North Korea is raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula by demolishing South Korean-built facilities. The Voice of America (VOA) reported on Tuesday (local time) that North Korea demolished South Korean facilities at the Ananti Golf and Spa Resort in Mt. Kumgang. Satellite images taken by Planet Labs on Saturday showed that the roofs and exterior walls of eight buildings, including the ones in the center and the periphery of the resort, were all dismantled.
U.S. lowers travel advisory for S. Korea
The U.S. is lowering advisories for overseas travel, including for South Korea, that were introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19. On Monday, the State Department announced on its website that it has lowered the current Level 4 travel advisory, which is the highest level, for South Korea to Level 1. The COVID-19 travel level system consists of four levels ― from Level 1 being the lowest, to Level 2 indicating a moderate risk of the virus, Level 3 at high risk, and Level 4 for special circumstances. South Korea has been designated as a Level 4 destination, with the surging of the Omicron variant.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s F&F partially cashing out of TaylorMade less than 1 year after invest
South Korean mid-sized fashion company F&F Co. that joined the buyout of TaylorMade Golf, one of the world’s top 3 manufacturers of golf equipment, last year, is partially cashing out of its investment in less than a year probably due to the dent on its financial statement. According to multiple sources from the investment bank industry on Tuesday, F&F in recent business report placed its holdings in redeemable preferred stock (RPS) in TaylorMade Golf as “disposable assets” that could be completed within the year.
Legislative endorses BOK chief nominee Rhee Chang-yong
The National Assembly Finance and Economy Committee approved of the presidential nomination of Rhee Chang-yong as new Bank of Korea governor for a 4-year term without a vote, agreeing former IMF Asia Pacific director and ADB senior economist has ample experience in policymaking and international finance and is fit to take up the central bank chief role against multiple challenges.
KEPCO granted to buy power on credit as it sinks into liquidity woes
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) gained government grant on purchasing power from public generators on credit as the state utility struggles with snowballing deficit from soaring fuel import cost versus government mandate to freeze power rate to ease inflation. According to multiple sources from the power industry on Monday, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea Power Exchange, KEPCO, and six public power generators including Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power held a meeting to revise the power settlement terms. KEPCO which pays public and private generators four times a month can delay payment to public suppliers once to make full payment the next time.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korean foreign minister nominee says time of appeasing N. Korea is over
Nominee for South Korean foreign minister Park Jin said Monday that “the existing policy of appeasement cannot prevent continued provocations by North Korea,” arguing that “substantial policy changes are necessary in regard to North Korea right now.” Park was on his way to the planning office for confirmation hearings located in the Naesu neighborhood of central Seoul when he met with reporters and said, “Despite its purpose, [the Moon Jae-in administration’s] Korean Peninsula peace process showed its limits.”
Asked about gender inequality in S. Korea, Yoon calls issue “politically framed” in WaPo interview
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is drawing attention once again for his contradictory responses to questions about gender issues in the foreign press. After describing himself as a “feminist” in a written response to the foreign press prior to his election, Yoon later backtracked on that as having been “polished” by the People Power Party. In an interview with the Washington Post published Thursday, Yoon said that the gender issues that came up during the race to the Blue House were “politically framed” and “far from the essence of gender issues.” His response conflicted directly with the general consensus that Yoon himself was the one who made political fodder of gender issues
S. Korea mulls dropping outdoor mask mandate amid sharp decline in COVID-19 cases
While restrictions on private gatherings and business hours were completely lifted in South Korea on Monday, the daily COVID-19 caseload in the country continued to drop, falling to the 40,000s for the first time in 68 days. Based on projections that there won’t be another sudden resurgence of the virus anytime soon, the South Korean government is on its way to considering dropping its outdoor mask mandate by next week and making preparations to lift the isolation requirement for those who test positive by May 23. The Central Disease Control Headquarters announced that South Korea saw 47,743 new cases of COVID-19 as of the end of the day Sunday, almost half the previous day’s figure of 93,001.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
A 70-Min. Meeting Between President Moon and the Prosecutor General, “Regardless of the Prosecutors and the Police, Reforms Should Be for the People”
On April 18, President Moon Jae-in met with Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo. President Moon spoke about the bill that would completely separate the Prosecution Service’s investigative power from its authority to prosecute cases and said, “Reforms should be conducted for the people, regardless of the position of the prosecutors and the police. So should the legislation by the National Assembly.” The president appears to have asked the Prosecution Service and the Democratic Party of Korea to seek an agreeable compromise for the people instead of arguing for the interests of their respective organizations.
Family of Ministerial Nominee Han Dong-hoon Suspected of Violating the Farmland Act When Inheriting Property
Justice minister nominee Han Dong-hoon and his family inherited farmland in Yongin-si, Gyeonggi and in Chuncheon-si, Gangwon and sold it after owning it for a considerable period of time. This has led to accusations that he violated the principle that only people who actually farm the land can possess farmland. According to the coverage by the Kyunghyang Shinmun on April 18, Han inherited 3,339m2 of farmland at 141 Inram-ri, Sabuk-myeon in Chuncheon-si, Gangwon when his father passed away on April 7, 2004. The ministerial nominee sold the farmland thirteen years later on August 11, 2017. At the time the official price of the land was 15,300 won per 1m2. Han sold the land and earned an estimated profit of over 51 million won.
An Article by Chung Ho-young’s Son Turns out to Be a Clever Mix of a Master’s Thesis Written by a Chinese Student
Chung (31), the son of the minister of health and welfare nominee Chung Ho-young, co-authored a research paper, which some claim is a translated revision of a Chinese student’s master’s thesis from Kyungpook National University. The academic adviser of the Chinese student was Professor Park in the Department of Electronics Engineering at Kyungpook National University and was also a co-author of the article in question along with Chung. Professor Park published around thirty articles in major academic journals for ten years from 2007, and Chung was the only undergraduate student to be named as a co-author of a research paper.
IMF Cuts S. Korea's Growth Outlook to 2.5%, Inflation Forecast to Hit 4%
The International Monetary Fund(IMF) has marked down its economic forecast for South Korea for this year by half a percentage point to two-point-five percent. The organization issued its revised global outlook on Tuesday, three months after the initial forecast, reflecting rapidly increasing inflationary pressure around the world and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine among other recent factors. Despite the downgrade, however, South Korea fared better than many major economies, including Germany and Italy, which were predicted to grow one-point-seven percentage points and one-point-five percentage points less, respectively, than the previous projections.
Rival Parties Yet to Iron out Differences over Bills on Investigative Power Reform
The rival parties have failed to narrow their differences over the ruling Democratic Party’s(DP) legislative move to strip the prosecution of its investigative powers as a part of prosecution reform. The subcommittee of the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee handling legislation reviews continued their discussions on related bills on Tuesday but had to suspend the session at around 9:40 p.m. due to verbal escalations between lawmakers. Representative Yoo Sang-bum, leading opposition People Power Party(PPP) lawmakers on the committee, claimed the session had to be stopped due to DP Representative Choe Kang-wook’s criticism of PPP lawmaker Jun Joo-hyae.
Rank-and-file Prosecutors Express Concerns over Investigation Powers Legislation
Hundreds of rank-and-file prosecutors gathered together on Tuesday and expressed their concerns over the ruling Democratic Party’s push for prosecutorial reform bills aimed at depriving the prosecution from its investigative powers. The meeting at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday night was attended by a total of 207 lower-ranking prosecutors representing over 60 regional prosecution district offices around the nation, marking the first national meeting of junior prosecutors in 19 years. With the session held in a free-for-all discussion format, some prosecutors argued that the related bills, if passed, could lead to breaches of the rights of access to courts as guaranteed under the Constitution and violate the principle of due legal process.
Transition team demands immediate stop to prosecution reform push
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's transition team on Tuesday demanded an immediate halt to the ruling party's push to pass legislation that would deprive the prosecution of its investigative powers. In a statement, the transition team's political and judiciary subcommittee said it once again expresses "deep concern" over the Democratic Party's attempt to pass the amendments this month before the new administration takes office. The amendments are "unconstitutional and unheard of even within the judiciary," the statement said, adding that "the harm will be done solely to the powerless people."
Yoon to invite 41,000 for his inauguration ceremony amid eased virus distancing
A larger than previously planned number of people will be invited to attend President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's inaugural ceremony slated for early next month amid eased virus restrictions, according to Yoon's transition team Tuesday. Some 41,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony, including political leaders, citizens and bereaved families of sailors killed in North Korea's sinking of the Cheonan warship in 2010, the transition team said. The transition team said more people than previously thought will be invited, as the country fully lifted COVID-19 restrictions, except the mask mandate Monday.
U.S. will listen to N. Korea's concerns but only through dialogue: State Dept.
The United States is willing to listen to any concerns North Korea may have but only if North Korea engages in dialogue, a Department of State spokesperson said Monday, urging Pyongyang to return to diplomacy. Ned Price also reiterated the North will continue to face consequences until it ceases its escalatory actions. "We are willing to listen to the full range of the DPRK's concerns, but this can only happen through dialogue and the DPRK has not yet given any concrete indications that it is open to this dialogue," the department spokesperson said in a press briefing, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Prosecution fights at all levels to protect investigative powers
The first nationwide meeting of junior prosecutors in 19 years has been called, as the prosecution continues to vocally oppose the legislative push to strip investigative powers from the law enforcement agency, despite growing calls for the ruling party to stop acting against public interest. At 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul, around 150 junior prosecutors from offices across South Korea were scheduled to gather and express discontent with proposed revisions to the Criminal Procedure Act and the Prosecutors’ Office Act.
Yoon likely to meet Biden virtually first before meeting in person late May
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is likely to meet US President Joe Biden at the global COVID-19 summit virtually first, and the two are expected to meet face-to-face around May 20 in Seoul to strengthen their alliance against North Korea and China. The US will co-host the second global COVID-19 summit on May 12, a virtual gathering intended to build momentum for vaccine donations, attended by leaders of major countries to jointly respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
US willing to discuss ‘full range’ of NK concerns but only through dialogue
The US said it is willing to discuss the “full range” of North Korea’s concerns only through dialogue, whereas a pro- North Korea newspaper said it will continue weapons development to “subdue” and overpower the US. The US State Department on Monday reiterated the Biden administration’s two-pronged approach to keep the door open for dialogue and hold North Korea accountable for illicitly developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Doosan, SK, Samsung rush to harness next-generation nuclear reactors
Doosan Enerbility, SK Inc., Samsung Heavy Industries and other Korean companies are rushing to develop technologies for small modular reactors (SMRs), a type of next-generation nuclear reactor that are smaller and potentially safer than conventional nuclear reactors, according to industry officials, Tuesday. This trend has been accelerating in recent months as President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has pledged to revive nuclear power as an important energy source and pledged to make Korea a nuclear reactor powerhouse country again, a major shift from the Moon Jae-in administration's nuclear phase-out policy of the past five years.
Korea revises visa rules to secure more foreign workers for shipbuilders
A total of 4,428 skilled foreign shipyard workers will be granted greater job opportunities at 335 small businesses partnering with seven local shipbuilding and marine companies, as the government eases rules on the E-7 visa, Tuesday. Eligible are welders, painters, electrical engineers and plant engineers. The measure will be implemented at the request of local shipbuilders and municipalities in the country's southeastern coastal regions, prompted by a short-term, acute workforce shortage amid a rapid recovery in global shipping demand recently. This is a much-awaited rebound momentum for Korean shipbuilders whose global top status was lost due to years of an industry-wide slowdown.
Ukraine says 'Battle of Donbas' has begun, Russia pushing in east
Russian forces launched a new offensive push along most of Ukraine's eastern flank Monday and the "Battle of Donbas" has now begun, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy and senior officials said. Ukraine's army has been bracing for a new Russian assault on its eastern flank since Moscow withdrew its forces from near Kyiv and from Ukraine's north late last month in order to focus on an assault in the Ukrainian region of Donbas. "We can now say that Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas, for which they have long prepared," Zelenskyy said in a video address.
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