Thursday, April 28, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Former President Park agrees to attend the inaugural ceremony of President Yoon
Former President Park Geun-hye will attend the inaugural ceremony of President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul on May 10, 2022. This was disclosed by the Presidential Transition Committee on April 27, which disclosed that they had presented the invitation to the former President to attend the ceremony at the time when Chairman Park Joon-sun of the Transition Committee visited and met with Park on April 26.
World Forestry Congress to be held for the first time in Korea
“The World Forestry Congress (WFC) will be held for the first time in Korea and the third time in Asia. Under the theme of ‘Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forests,’ the Congress will focus on the role of forests as a means of responding to climate change,” said Minister Choi Byeong-am of the Korea Forest Service (KFS). In an interview with the Korea Post, Choi said, “The World Forestry Congress is the largest and most significant gathering of members of the world's forestry sector, and it is held every six years.
INNOPROM-2022: Central Asia, space for a technological breakthrough
On April 25 this year, the International Industrial Exhibition "Innoprom. Central Asia" - the largest event in the region aimed at enhancing investment, industrial, trade and economic cooperation, as well as establishing new business contacts and developing industrial cooperation between enterprises of Central Asian countries - started. The organizers are the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan as well as the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation. The key objective of the exhibition is to build a dialogue between regions and countries in order to find points of common interest to give new impetus to the growth of investment, industrial, trade and economic cooperation, as well as to increase the number of mutually beneficial projects.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Kim Jong-un Threatens Pre-emptive Nuclear Strike
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has threatened South Korea with a preemptive nuclear strike just four days after he exchanged personal letters with outgoing President Moon Jae-in. Kim made the threat during a huge military parade marking the 90th anniversary of the North Korean army in Pyongyang on Monday night, according to state media on Tuesday. "The fundamental mission of our nuclear forces is to deter a war, but our nuclear weapons can never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent." "If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish its second mission," he added.
Yoon's Envoys Meets Japanese PM
A delegation sent to Tokyo by president-elect Yoon Seok-youl met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday. They agreed to make joint efforts to restore broken trust between the two countries. Kishida said Tokyo "can wait no longer" for relations to improve, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry. He also stressed the need to develop relations based on friendship and cooperation that have been built since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965. He reiterated the importance of resolving issues including compensation for Korean forced labor during World War II.
Korea Emerges as Global R&D Hub for Semiconductor Equipment Industry
Korea is emerging as a global hub for the semiconductor equipment industry, with the world's top four manufacturers, accounting for 60 percent of the world market, opening research and development centers here. World No. 3 Lam Research of the U.S. opened a high-tech research center in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. The Korea Technology Center is the company's first R&D center in Asia and equipped with a 30,000-sq.m clean room. Lam Research manufactures wafer fabrication equipment and saw sales reach W20 trillion last year (US$1=W1,254).
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Samsung Electronics yield problems reported in 3-nm chips
Samsung Electronics may fall behind schedule in the production of 3-nanometer chips and may have abandoned a new mobile-memory product due to persistent yield problems. "Mass production of 3-nanometer chips and a planned mobile DRAM product won't likely go as scheduled because Samsung Electronics has had trouble meeting its targeted yield rate," said a source with knowledge of the matter. Companies supplying parts and equipment to Samsung Electronics have been notified of the postponement. The yield rate is the amount of a silicon wafer that is successfully made into dies, which are themselves packaged to become semiconductors. With lower yields, fewer chips are produced from a given amount of raw materials.
Opposition tries stalling prosecution bill with filibuster
Chaos descended on the National Assembly Wednesday afternoon as the Democratic Party (DP) tried railroading through a controversial bill that would strip the prosecution of its investigative powers. To block the bill, the opposition People Power Party (PPP) immediately launched a filibuster after a plenary session of the assembly began at 5 p.m. PPP floor leader Rep. Kweon Seong-dong was the first speaker in the filibuster, and he called the legislation “an outcome of deceptive political engineering.” Three other representatives speakers signed up to continue the filibuster: Rep. Kim Woong, Rep. Kim Hyung-dong and Rep. Yoo Sang-bum. Each rep is allowed four hours of speaking time.
LG Energy Solution's net drops by 48 percent in first quarter
LG Energy Solution's net profit fell 47.7 percent on year in the first quarter as the market for electric vehicle (EV) batteries remained volatile due to supply shortages, inflation and the war in Ukraine. The results beat estimates, with the Korean battery company reporting a net profit of 226.6 billion won ($180 million) during the January-March period compared to the market forecast of 180.6 billion won. Quarterly revenue totaled 4.3 trillion won, up 2.1 percent, while operating profit came in at 258.9 billion won, a 24.1 percent drop. "Solid demand for electric vehicle cylindrical batteries and sharing material cost increases with the automakers helped offset the bad business environment from increases in material costs
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
25% of Yongsan Garrison to be returned before Biden’s Seoul visit
South Korea and the U.S. are expected to agree on the return of the western site of South Post located near the new office of the Ministry of National Defense in Yongsan, Seoul before U.S. President Joe Biden visits South Korea next month. If the agreement is reached, about 500,000 square meters of land, equivalent to 25 percent of the U.S. base in Yongsan, will be returned. The site to be returned includes the No. 13 gate of the U.S. base near Ichon station, a road leading to the new office, and several plots nearby. President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will begin his work in the temporary office on the fifth floor of the new office from the first day of his inauguration on May 10.
UN moves to limit Security Council veto power
UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus that seeks to keep in check the use of the veto by the five permanent members of the Security Council ― the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia ― on Tuesday. Such a resolution was adopted by consensus at the General Assembly held at UN Headquarters in New York. On behalf of 83 cosponsors, Liechtenstein introduced the draft resolution, which mandated the veto-casting state in the Security Council to give explanations for the exercise of the veto within 10 days. The member countries can debate whether such explanations are justifiable.
Korean currency hits two-year low against U.S. dollar
The weakening won is becoming a threat to the Korean economy as the value hit 1,265 won against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. With the U.S. economy taking measures to tame inflation, the situation in Ukraine and China’s lockdown, fears of a global slowdown are pressing down on the financial market. The won to dollar exchange rate on Wednesday closed at 1,265.2 won, 14.4 won higher than the previous day, at the Seoul Foreign Exchange market, marking a record high for three consecutive days. It is the first time the won reached 1,260 won per dollar since March 23, 2020 (at 1,266.5 won) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
SK hynix’s Q1 earnings matching 2018 super cycle, investors wary of delay in invest
SK hynix Inc. ensured a strong year in the face of multiple whammies on the global economy upon closing the typically-slow first quarter with its quarterly best in the top line and doubled figure in the bottom line from a year ago on solid server memory demand and contribution from new family Solidigm through Intel’s non-memory buyout. The world’s second largest DRAM maker Wednesday reported an operating income of 2.86 trillion won ($2.3 billion) for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022, down 32.2 percent from the previous quarter but up 115.9 percent from a year earlier.
Globalization dialing back to 2000, global economy disaster similar to 1970s: Ferguson
Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a honorary contributor to Maeil Business Newspaper of South Korea. He was previously a professor of history at Harvard, New York University and Oxford. He is the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, a New York-based advisory firm. His latest book is "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe. Globalization is dialing back to 2000, before China joined the World Trade Organization and it won’t return in full scale unless there is a set of binding rules, according to Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and author of “Doom, The Politics of Catastrophe.”
LGES earmarks $5.5 bn capex for this year upon OP more than tripled in Q1
LG Energy Solution Ltd. intent on defending dominance in battery power behind EVs around the globe outside China Wednesday pledged a 75 percent increase in capex for this year after confirming tripled operating profit in the first quarter from the previous three-month period. The pure-play battery maker under South Korea’s LG Chem in its regulatory filing on Wednesday said its consolidated operating profit for the quarter ended March reached 258.9 billion won ($205 million), gaining 242 percent from a quarter ago but losing 24.1 percent from a year earlier.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Kim Jong-un says N. Korean nukes aren’t just for deterrence
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for a strengthening of the North’s nuclear forces during a large-scale military parade earlier this week, according to state media reports. Kim said that the country’s “nuclear forces [. . .] should be strengthened in terms of both quality and scale, so that they can perform nuclear combat capabilities in any situations of warfare, according to purposes and missions of different operations and by various means,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.
Yoon’s delegation to Japan meets PM Kishida to talk improving bilateral ties
A delegation that South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol sent to Japan for policy deliberations has met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. That shows that both Yoon and Kishida are generally in agreement about improving Korea-Japan ties, which are at their worst point since the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1965. The Korean delegation met with Kishida at the prime minister’s residence in Tokyo at 10:40 am on Tuesday and discussed bilateral issues for about 25 minutes. During the meeting, the delegates also delivered a personal letter in which Yoon expressed his desire to improve relations with Japan.
Yoon spokesperson criticizes Moon for “privatization of power” after comments on prosecutorial issues
Two weeks ahead of the new administration’s launch, outgoing President Moon Jae-in and President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol were sharply at odds once again over prosecutorial issues. Responding to Moon’s remarks the day before describing Yoon’s entry into politics as the “politicization of the prosecution service,” Yoon’s spokesperson Bae Hyun-jin said Tuesday that his election was the “result of the Moon administration’s privatization of power.” In a briefing, Bae said, “The South Korean people are quite tired of [the Moon administration] pressuring the other side and privatizing power using all the power institutions of government agencies, including not just the prosecutors but the police and the National Tax Service.”
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Irregularities, Privileges, and Lack of Communication: Grounds to “Reject” Head of Education
Allegations surrounding deputy prime minister and education minister nominee Kim In-chul (65, pictured) on his failure to communicate, his involvement in irregularities, and the privileges enjoyed by his family continue to be raised. This has led the Democratic Party of Korea to contemplate rejecting the ministerial nominee, and the Justice Party to place his name on the “death note.” The Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union also urged the president-elect to withdraw his nomination of Kim. They claimed Kim had serious flaws that made it inappropriate for him to take on the role of a cabinet member and the chief of education.
A Korea Airport Service Worker Died Caught in a Vehicle at Incheon Int’l Airport: Labor Ministry to Apply the Serious Accident Punishment Act in the Investigation
At a Korea Airport Service repair station at Incheon International Airport, a worker in his thirties died after his body was caught in an airplane towing car while inspecting the vehicle. The Ministry of Employment and Labor plans to investigate the case as one subject to the Serious Accident Punishment Act. On April 27, the Incheon International Airport Police announced that A, a thirty-something worker who worked at the Korea Airport Service repair station in the Incheon airport, was caught between the frame and wheel of an airplane towing car. He was transported to the hospital but died at around 5:02 p.m. April 26. At the time of the accident, A was checking for any oil leaks with the rear wheels of the towing car raised.
Kim In-chul’s Family, All Recipients of the Fulbright Scholarship: Did Kim Leave This Information Out Intentionally?
Deputy prime minister and education minister nominee Kim In-chul’s daughter received a Fulbright scholarship amounting to 100 million won for two years when Kim served as the chairman of the Korea Fulbright Alumni Association, triggering a heated debate over “favors from Daddy.” What’s more, it was confirmed that Kim’s son was also selected as a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship. Thus, it turns out that Kim’s wife and two children as well as Kim himself had been selected for the Fulbright Program in Korea. The latest revelation is expected to fuel the controversy of possible privileges in the scholarship applicant review process.
White House: Biden to Visit S. Korea, Japan from May 20 to 24
The White House said on Wednesday that U.S. President Joe Biden will visit South Korea and Japan from May 20 to May 24 for summit talks with his counterparts. The White House said in a statement that Biden will travel to the two nations to further deepen bilateral ties between the governments, economies and people. The statement said President Biden will hold bilateral meetings with newly elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. The White House said the leaders will discuss opportunities to deepen vital security relationships, enhance economic ties, and expand close cooperation to deliver practical results.
Parliamentary Plenary Session Ends after 7 Hours of Filibuster
The extraordinary parliamentary plenary session came to an end on Wednesday, automatically ending the main opposition People Power Party's(PPP) filibuster to prevent the passage of controversial prosecution reform bills. The main opposition party's filibuster, which kicked off at around 5:10 p.m. with PPP Floor Leader Kweon Seong-dong, lasted for about seven hours until midnight. Rep. Kim Jong-min from the ruling Democratic Party(DP) then took the floor, followed by PPP lawmaker Kim Woong and DP legislator An Min-suk. PPP lawmakers criticized the ruling party for pushing for the legislation in order to conceal criminal abuses of power, while the DP underscored the need for reforms of the prosecution through democratic regulations.
Business Sentiment Improves in April with Lifting of Distancing Rules
Business sentiment improved in April as the nation lifted most social distancing measures with declining COVID-19 cases. According to the Bank of Korea on Thursday, the business survey index(BSI) for all industries stood at 86 for April, up three from the previous month. It marks the first rise after drops for three straight months. A reading below 100 indicates that pessimists outnumber optimists. The central bank attributed the improved BSI to the decrease in COVID-19 cases, the removal of most pandemic restrictions, the recovery in domestic consumption and solid exports.
National Assembly opens plenary session amid standoff over prosecution reform bills
The National Assembly opened a plenary session Wednesday amid a standoff over prosecution reform legislation, with the ruling Democratic Party vowing to pass the bills without fail and its main opposition rival People Power Party immediately launching a filibuster. The PPP also filed for an injunction with the Constitutional Court against the legislation, which would reduce and ultimately abolish the prosecution's investigative powers, claiming procedural errors in the DP's earlier passage of the bills through the judiciary committee.
Yoon committed to keep pledge of giving 2 mln won monthly wage to soldiers: spokesperson
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has a "strong will" to keep his election promise to raise soldiers' monthly salary to 2 million won (US$1,580), a spokesperson of Yoon's transition team said Wednesday. "The president-elect has a very strong will to keep (the pledge)," said transition team spokesperson Shin Yong-hyun. "The team's subcommittees on security, planning and economy are having discussions on ways to achieve the pledge." Shin later told a KBS radio interview that transitional team officials have prepared measures to keep Yoon's promise to some extent.
Ex-President Park expresses intention to attend Yoon's inauguration ceremony: official
Former President Park Geun-hye has expressed her intention to attend President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's inauguration ceremony next month, the chief of the inauguration preparatory committee said Wednesday. The committee chief, Park Joo-sun, said the former president expressed her willingness when he visited her at her home in the southeastern city of Daegu and delivered a letter from Yoon and an official invitation to the May 10 ceremony. "I believe I should offer my congratulations as the new government starts," the former president was quoted as saying. "Given my current health condition, it is a little pressure for me to travel more than three hours, but I will try to get over it through exercise and rehabilitation."
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
COVID-19 response: What Yoon plans to do differently
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol comes into office as South Korea’s huge omicron wave is subsiding. Daily cases have been falling for six consecutive weeks, now down by nearly 80 percent from the peak in mid-March. The presidential transition team’s COVID-19 task force on Wednesday unveiled a plan illustrating how the new administration would handle the recovery phase of the pandemic. Last week incumbent President Moon Jae-in celebrated “the return of normal” before the end of his term, after scrapping social distancing completely with the exception of the face mask mandate. Health officials have ended other measures to manage the pandemic like universal free testing and contact tracing.
Outpacing Hyundai, SK becomes 2nd-largest conglomerate in South Korea
South Korean chip-and-telecom giant SK has become the nation’s second-largest conglomerate, replacing Hyundai Motor for the first time in 12 years, a local antitrust regulator said Wednesday. Having accumulated over 291 trillion won ($230 billion) in total assets, SK took the number two spot, largely due to increased assets and sales in its chipmaking arm SK hynix. The semiconductor unit’s acquisition of Intel NAND memory business along with expanding income boosted SK’s overall assets by 20 trillion won. It outpaced auto giant Hyundai Motor, which had 257.84 trillion won in total assets. Samsung remained at the top, while LG and Lotte placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
LG Energy Solution to invest W7tr this year to ramp up production
LG Energy Solution said Wednesday it plans to invest 7 trillion won ($5.54 billion) this year to boost its production capacity in key markets while improving profitability overall by offsetting the impact from supply chain constraints and rising costs. The South Korean battery giant unveiled its plans during an earnings conference call earlier in the day. The big spending, up more than 10 percent from 6.3 trillion won announced in February, will be poured into the US, a burgeoning EV market where the company has set up several joint ventures with local carmakers. It will also expand production lines in China, which produce cylindrical batteries for Tesla.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon, Biden to hold summit in Seoul on May 21
Incoming President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden will hold their first summit in Seoul on May 21, officials said Thursday. Biden plans to visit South Korea from May 20-22 for his first trip to the country since taking office in January last year, they said. The visit will come as tensions have been running high over North Korea's weapons testing, including its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile in over four years last month. "President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol plans to hold in-depth discussions with President Biden on a wide range of issues, including developing the South Korea-U.S. alliance and cooperation on North Korea policy, as well as economic security and key regional and international issues," Yoon's spokesperson Bae Hyun-jin said in a statement.
Innovation critical for continued growth of hallyu
The Korean Wave, or hallyu, is a powerful force in the U.S. and the world is practically obsessed with all things Korean, including K-pop, K-beauty, K-film and K-drama, acknowledged Stephen Duncombe, professor of media and culture at New York University. Sharing a video clip of ADG7, a shamanic funk band in Korea, Duncombe claimed that promoting lesser-known experimental artists is critical as the next growth engine of hallyu. This would allow K-culture to achieve sustainable development and social innovation, according to the professor. "Hallyu needs to innovate in its own cultural scene. Korea needs to promote incredible innovative artists and call it 'hallyu 2.0' or 'Alt hallyu.' Artists and performers are not products, so they cannot be packaged.
NongHyup Life, Meritz Fire top list of insurance firms in consumer complaints
Among local insurers, NongHyup Life Insurance and Meritz Fire & Marine Insurance turned out to have received the largest number of consumer complaints last year. According to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) Wednesday, NongHyup Life received an average of 33.3 complaints per 100,000 insurance contracts last year. The figure marks a 24.3 percent increase from the previous year's average of 26.8 complaints, the highest increase among local life insurers in Korea. A total of four life insurers ― NongHyup Life, KDB Life, KB Life and ABL Life ― posted year-on-year increases in the average annual number of consumer complaints, while the remaining life insurers all logged year-on-year decreases.
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