Monday, April 25, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol visits POSCO's Gwangyang Steel Mill
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol visited POSCO's Gwangyang Steel Mill on April 21. Yoon had tea time with POSCO Group Chairman Choi Jung-woo, POSCO Vice Chairman Kim Hak-dong and Jeonnam Governor Kim Young-rok, while visiting Gwangyang 1 furnace to encourage employees. POSCO Chairman Choi said, “POSCO has been named the "world's most competitive steelmaker" for the 12th consecutive year and is recognized as a global steelmaker by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for the first time in Korea as a "lighthouse factory" leading the future of global manufacturing.
“Women in the UAE distinguish themselves as leaders in the diplomatic field”
“Women in the United Arab Emirates have distinguished themselves as leaders in the diplomatic field, contributing to the development of an expansive network of international relations and enhancing the UAE’s regional and international partnerships.” This statement was made by Madam Aysha Aldhaheri, spouse of the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, H.E. Abdulla Saif Alnuaimi, in an exclusive interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.
Genesis BBQ pays "Chicken Pension" to 19 Beijing Olympic medalists
The chicken franchise Genesis BBQ Group delivered a certificate of "Chicken Pension" to 19 Beijing Olympic medalists, including Choi Min-jung and Hwang Dae-heon, at Lotte Hotel in Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul on April 21. The "Chicken Pension" was a promise Chairman Yoon Hong-geun made to restore calm and boost morale of national team players who were disadvantaged by China's blatant biased judgment, the venue of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Yoon, who was the head of the South Korean delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February and also president of the Korea Skating Union (KSU), had made a grand promise to athletes during the competition: Win a gold, and you will get free fried chicken for life.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
New BOK Chief Warns Korea 'at Crossroads'
The new governor of the Bank of Korea said Thursday that the country's economy stands at a "major crossroads." Speaking at his inauguration ceremony on Thursday, Rhee Chang-yong said, "This is a difficult time to project whether Korea's economy will make a leap forward by overcoming the challenges posed by a shift to a new normal following the coronavirus crisis or whether it will sink into secular stagnation due to decreased productivity." He added that Korea needs to "boldly change its economic framework" and rush to "devise qualitative growth led by the private sector and diversify export and supply networks that have been concentrated on a small number of industries and markets."
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.
Korea Faces Mounting Trade Deficit
Korea faces a second straight month of trade deficits in April amid global inflation. There is little the export-dependent country can do since the causes of surging raw material prices and supply chain disruptions lie mostly overseas. The U.S. Federal Reserve's accelerated rate hikes, a slowdown in China's economic growth due to the coronavirus lockdown in Shanghai and soaring international oil and grain prices due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine coincide to form a perfect storm. As the won weakens against the U.S. dollar, import prices are rising for Korea, adding fuel to inflation. The Korean currency fell below W1,200 level to the greenback early last month, the lowest point in 21 months, and the trend continues.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon sends delegation to Tokyo to improve ties
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol invited Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to his May 10 inauguration to try to repair the deeply frayed ties between the two neighbors. On the campaign trail, Yoon said Korea-Japan relations “cannot be left as they are,” and advocated summits between leaders and other high-level meetings. An invitation to the inauguration was included in a letter from Yoon to Kishida that a special delegation team will deliver this week. The delegation to Japan left from Incheon International Airport around noon on Sunday. Led by Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the People Power Party (PPP), it will stay in Japan five days.
Bipartisan compromise on bill starts falling apart
A bipartisan compromise on a controversial bill that would strip the prosecution of its investigative powers appears to be in peril after main opposition People Power Party (PPP) leader Lee Jun-seok signaled his rejection of the bill. In a post uploaded to his Facebook page Sunday, Lee wrote that although his party's leadership agreed to the deal with the DP, he believed the bill contained "serious inconsistencies" and that it would be "a stretch" to support it in its current form. Lee's comments were echoed by Ahn Cheol-soo, chief of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's transition team, who said at a Sunday press briefing that there was a "conflict of interest" if "politicians seek to avoid being probed by prosecutors by stripping the prosecution of its investigative powers."
Moon and Kim exchange letters, reminiscing and expressing hope
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchanged letters earlier this week, the two sides confirmed Friday. Kim received a "personal letter" from Moon Wednesday and sent a reply the next day, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), describing the exchange as "an expression of their deep trust." "Sharing the same view that the inter-Korean relations would improve and develop as desired and anticipated by the nation if the north and the south make tireless efforts with hope, the top leaders mutually extended warm greetings to the compatriots in the north and the south," said the KCNA in an English-language report. Referring to the "historic joint declarations giving hope for the future to the entire nation," Kim said he "appreciated the pains and effort" taken by Moon "until the last days of his term," the KCNA added.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Yoon mentions adjustment to mediation proposal on prosecution’s investigative right
It was reported on Sunday that President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol required a revision of the arbitration plan proposed by National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug to modify the prosecution’s right to investigate, finding it necessary to further discuss it during an examination of the bill. Resigning last March, Yoon, then prosecutor general, reiterated that the complete removal of the prosecution’s right to investigate will only help instigate corruption and irregularities across society. Given this, his remarks on the need to revisit the agreed mediation proposal may likely put the brakes on the National Assembly’s schedule to proceed with the bill this Thursday at the earliest.
Less affordability of buying apartment unit with loans
A study found that the number of affordable homes in Seoul for the median income group with a loan saw a remarkable drop as housing prices started skyrocketing. A report on the status of K-HAI (Housing Affordability Index) in metropolitan cities and provinces from 2017 to 2021 submitted by the National Assembly Budget Office to Rep. Jeong Woo-taek of the People Power Party showed that Seoul’s index in question dropped to 2.7 percent last year from 16.5 percent in 2017. The index measures a percentage of apartment housing units in a region at an affordable price level that the median income bracket can purchase financed by any loan given household net worth and income levels.
Russia suspected of killing hundreds of civilians near Mariupol
Russia claimed Thursday it took control of the southern port city of Mariupol, but a mass grave with more than 300 holes was found in the village of Manhush, reported The New York Times. Suspicions are growing that Russian troops killed hundreds of civilians outside the besieged Mariupol like they did in Bucha, near the capital Kyiv, and Borodyanka. U.S. President Joe Biden denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin by calling him a “butcher.” According to CNN, Petro Andriuschchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, wrote on Telegram that as many as 20,000 people have died of Russian bombardment and Russian troops brought the bodies of the dead by trucks and threw them into ditches.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
11Street joins the IPO dugout from SK square family for Kospi listing likely next year
E-commerce platform 11Street is another family of SK investment company SK square Co. joining the IPO dugout after No. 2 security name SK shieldus and No. 2 app store One Store go public in May. According to the IB industry on Friday, 11Street send out request for proposal (RFP) to 10 securities firms at home and abroad. Six domestic firms (Daishin, Mirae Asset, Samsung, Korea Investment, KB, and NH Investment & Securities) and four foreign firms (Bank of America (BofA) Securities, Credit Suisse, Citigroup Global Market Securities, and JP Morgan) received the invitation to vie for underwriting.
KOGAS enters 18-year contract with BP for annual of 1.58 mn tons of LNG
South Korea’s state utility firm Korea Gas Corp. (KOGAS) has entered an 18-year contract with London-based energy company BP for annual supply of 1.58 million tons of liquefied natural gas from 2025. Under the contract, BP’s Singaporean subsidiary will be in charge of the supplies based on the Henry Hub gas price index to KOGAS, and the annual import volume would be enough to cover about 3 percent of Korea’s annual LNG consumption, according KOGAS on Friday. Financial details have not been disclosed.
POSCO breaks ground for EV steel plate base in Korea
South Korean steel giant POSCO said on Friday it has broken ground for a $804 million plant for non-oriented electric steel plates in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province. The new plant capable of producing 300,000 tons of such products per year is slated for completion in 2025. The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by POSCO Vice Chairman Kim Hak-dong and Gwangyang Deputy Mayor Kim Kyung-ho, among others. POSCO earlier announced it will invest 1 trillion won ($804 million) sequentially to scale up production of non-oriented electric steel plates in a response to rising demand in the global eco-friendly automotive market.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Leaders of South, North Korea exchange personal letters amid tensions on peninsula
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchanged personal letters on Wednesday and Thursday, the Blue House and the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported early Friday morning.“The respected Comrade Kim Jong Un exchanged personal letters with President of South Korea Moon Jae In. Upon receiving a personal letter from Moon Jae In on April 20, Kim Jong Un sent his reply letter on Thursday,” North Korea’s state-run KCNA reported.“The leaders of South and North Korea exchanged personal letters, and we are planning to disclose what they said this morning,” Blue House spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said in a text message to members of the Blue House press pool Friday morning.
S. Korean Democratic Party fails to grasp lesson of its defeat in presidential election
South Korea’s Democratic Party is taking flak from all sides for resorting to various parliamentary tricks, such as arranging a fake defection from the party, to push through a bill that will strip the prosecution service of the ability to launch investigations. Critics say the party, which has a supermajority in the National Assembly, is undermining the procedural democracy mandated by law in its rush to pass the bill. Given indications of a factional conflict in nominations for the upcoming regional elections, the Democratic Party is also facing criticism that it’s failed to reflect on its loss in the presidential election or institute needed reforms.
Seoul voices regret over Japanese PM’s offering to war criminal shrine
On Thursday, the South Korean government expressed its “deep disappointment and regret” concerning the fact that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent ritual offerings to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, where Class-A war criminals of the Pacific War are enshrined. Through the “Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson’s Commentary on Sending Offerings to and Paying Respects as Yasukuni Shrine” released the same day, the South Korean government expressed “deep disappointment and regret over the fact that responsible leaders of Japan have once again sent offerings to and paid respects at the Yasukuni Shrine which glorifies Japan’s war of aggression and enshrines war criminals.”
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un Exchange Letters, “We Can Strengthen Inter-Korean Relations If We Both Make an Effort”
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently exchanged letters. The two leaders agreed that if the two Koreas both made an effort, they could improve inter-Korean relations. On April 22, the Korea Central News Agency reported, “Comrade Kim Jong-un exchanged letters with South Korean President Moon Jae-in,” and explained, “Comrade Kim Jong-un received a letter from President Moon Jae-in on April 20 and sent a reply on April 21.”According to the North Korean state media, the two leaders shared the view that if the two Koreas both exerted constant efforts with hope, inter-Korean relations could improve and develop to meet the wishes and expectations of the Korean people.
Kim Boo-kyum, “Beginning Next Week, People Can Eat and Drink in Movie Theaters and on Public Transportation”
On April 22, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced, “From next Monday, we will allow eating and drinking in indoor facilities open to the public.” The prime minister made the announcement in a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in response to COVID-19 at the government office in Seoul this day and said, “People will be allowed to eat on public transportation, such as trains and express buses, as well as in movie theaters, religious facilities, and indoor sports arenas.” Prime Minister Kim said, “The number of daily covid cases has declined about 40% from last week, and the drop in deaths and number of patients in serious condition continues.
Democratic Party Opts to Ram Bill to Strip Prosecutors of Investigative Powers Through Parliament: Min Hyung-bae Becomes Independent Lawmaker
The Democratic Party of Korea is taking action to unilaterally push a bill to strip the Prosecution Service of its investigative authority through the National Assembly. On April 20, the Democratic Party of Korea took the extreme measure of having its lawmaker Min Hyung-bae of the parliamentary Legislation and Judiciary Committee, which reviews legislation, withdraw his party membership. This was a move to push the bill through the Legislation and Judiciary Committee before it is put to a vote in the plenary session. Voices inside and outside the party criticized lawmaker Min’s “disguised departure” from the party as trickery and a rash move.
PPP to Hold Supreme Council Meeting to Review Prosecution Reform Bill
The main opposition People Power Party(PPP) will hold a Supreme Council meeting on Monday to review the controversial prosecution reform bill. Last week, the PPP and the ruling Democratic Party agreed to accept a proposal by the parliamentary speaker on the reform bills that would strip the prosecution of its investigative powers. PPP Chair Lee Jun-seok, however, said on Sunday in a posting on his social media that although the agreement passed at the plenary meeting of party members, it is hard to push for the legislation when there is serious contrariety in the bills. He said it is not a matter that can be handled within a week.
Parliament to Hold Confirmation Hearing for PM Nominee amid Postponement Appeals
The National Assembly is set to hold a confirmation hearing for Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo on Monday. The two-day hearing, however, may not take place as planned with both the ruling Democratic Party(DP) and the minor opposition Justice Party calling for a postponement on Sunday, citing insufficient materials to verify the nominee. Eight lawmakers from the two parties, who are on the parliamentary special committee for Han's confirmation hearing, said in a news conference that it's impossible to hold the hearing normally due to a lack of materials that are essential to verify the qualifications of the nominee.
Moon to Hold Meeting with Reporters Monday
President Moon Jae-in will hold a meeting with reporters on Monday afternoon at the presidential office. With about ten days left until the end of his term, Moon is expected to reveal his thoughts about major issues and state management for the past five years. In particular, attention is being drawn on whether the president will disclose his position on reforms of the prosecution and whether he will accept the resignation of Prosecutor General Kim O-soo. He may also comment on inter-Korean relations or the issue of granting a presidential pardon for imprisoned former President Lee Myung-bak. The planned meeting with reporters is likely to be the last before Moon's retirement.
Yoon's delegation arrives in Japan with letter outlining will for 'new relations'
A delegation of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol arrived in Tokyo on Sunday for meetings with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other top officials, carrying a letter from Yoon that outlines his will for "new relations with Japan." The visit by the seven-member delegation, led by Rep. Chung Jin-suk of Yoon's People Power Party, came as Yoon has stressed the importance of restoring relations with Japan that have been frayed badly over the past few years due to rows over issues like wartime sexual slavery and forced labor. Japan is the second foreign country that Yoon has sent a delegation to after the United States.
N. Korea has not staged military parade yet: source
North Korea has not yet held a military parade that is widely expected to take place in Pyongyang to mark a key national anniversary this week, an informed source said Monday. Many had predicted the opening of the parade at midnight on the occasion of the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (KPRA) that falls on the day. The KPRA is the anti-Japanese guerilla force known to have been created by national founder Kim Il-sung in 1932. Satellite imagery showed the secretive North's apparent preparations, involving thousands of troops and key pieces of military equipment, to hold a street parade at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, an event used as part of efforts to cement internal unity and highlight its military presence.
White House NSC senior director in Seoul to discuss Yoon-Biden summit: sources
A senior White House official is in Seoul as part of a U.S. advance team to prepare a summit between incoming South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden next month, diplomatic sources said Sunday. Edgard Kagan, senior director for East Asia and Oceania at the National Security Council, has been in Seoul since around Saturday for meetings with the transition team's key members in charge of foreign policy to discuss details for the proposed summit, according to an informed source.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Confirmation hearings for Yoon’s Cabinet picks to start this week
Parliamentary confirmation hearings for President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s Cabinet picks are to kick off Monday, with Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo taking the stand for a two-day hearing. The Democratic Party of Korea, which has vowed a tough vetting for all nominees, is likely to focus on Han’s career after he retired from the public sector. Prime minister is the only Cabinet post that requires parliamentary approval in South Korea. Han’s hearing is to be followed by those for Interior Minister nominee Lee Sang-min and Defense Minister nominee Lee Jong-sup on Thursday.
Yoon’s delegation departs for Tokyo, seeks to revive long-strained relationship
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s policy consultation delegation to Tokyo began its five-day trip Sunday, marking the incoming administration’s first move aimed at improving bilateral relations. During the trip, the seven-person delegation, headed by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the People Power Party, will meet with Japanese authorities to discuss and coordinate policies, while seeking to revive the long-strained relationship between the two countries. Before departing for Tokyo, Chung said the trip is aimed at laying the groundwork for starting anew.
Opposition party chief calls for reconsideration of prosecution reform bill
The chief of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) said Sunday his party will reconsider a bipartisan proposal on prosecution reform to review flaws in the bills aimed at scrapping the prosecution's investigative powers. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the PPP on Friday agreed to pass the compromise legislation within this month, prompting Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo and other several senior prosecutors to offer to resign in protest. PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok said he shared detailed opinions with several legal experts on the proposal over the weekend and concluded concerns raised by prosecutors were "legitimate."
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
France's Macron defeats far-right, pledges change
Emmanuel Macron comfortably defeated his far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Sunday, heading off a political earthquake for Europe but acknowledging dissatisfaction with his first term and saying he would seek to make amends. His supporters erupted with joy as the results appeared on a giant screen at the Champ de Mars park by the Eiffel tower. Leaders in Berlin, Brussels, London and beyond welcomed his defeat of the nationalist, eurosceptic Le Pen. But even as exit polls showed a solid 58.5 percent of the vote, Macron in his victory speech acknowledged many had only voted for him only to keep Le Pen out and he promised to address the sense of many French that their living standards are slipping.
PPP says it could break agreement with DPK on prosecutorial reform bill
Main opposition conservative People Power Party (PPP) Chairman Lee Jun-seok said Sunday that the party will review its earlier agreement with the ruling liberal Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) to pass a compromise version of a prosecutorial reform bill aimed at separating the prosecution's powers to lead investigations and indict suspects. "I respect that (PPP) floor leader Rep. Kweon Seong-dong tried his best to reach a compromise with the DPK, which threatens to push ahead with its policy drive using its supermajority at the National Assembly, but the PPP will review this compromise bill at the Supreme Council meeting tomorrow (Monday)," Lee said on his Facebook.
Marshall Plan for North Korea proposed as a big step for peace
A nuclear-free North Korea has long been a policy vision that every South Korean president regardless of their political orientation has promised to pursue during their tenure. It's a shared, bipartisan, yet unfulfilled commitment, although no president has succeeded in actually denuclearizing North Korea. In fact, perhaps the opposite is true. While South Korea, with its democratic system, has had various leaders representing the two main political parties, with policies on the North that often zigzag back and forth with the change of administration, North Korea has had sufficient time to advance its missile and nuclear technologies to intimidate the world. Now, denuclearization in North Korea seems distant, if not unrealistic.
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