Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“We can definitely stop the Russian aggression with allies”
Ukrainians! All our defenders! Today we have significant news for our state, for our defense. First, the United States has prepared a new support package for Ukraine worth $ 33 billion. In particular, more than 20 billion can be allocated for defense. More than $ 8 billion is planned for economic support. Another $ 3 billion will be allocated for humanitarian aid. This is a very important step by the United States. And I am grateful to the American people and personally to President Biden for it. I hope that the Congress will quickly support this request for help to our state. President Biden rightly said today that this step is not cheap.
Hanwha Chairman Kim meets with Chairman Feulner of the U.S. Heritage Foundation
Hanwha Group announced on April 28 that Chairman Kim Seung-yeon met with Edwin John Feulner Jr., chairman of the Asian Research Center of the U.S. Heritage Foundation, on April 27 and had a dinner together to talk about the global situation. Chairman Kim met with former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in March and met with Chairman Feulner this time, continuing his global management activities based on the global network he has built.
Trade Minister Yeo holds conference with CPTPP members' ambassadors to Korea
Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo held a conference with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) member states’ ambassadors to Korea at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on April 28. Participants in the international conference discussed Korea’s application and upcoming plans. The CPTPP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. The CPTPP was signed by the 11 countries on March 8, 2018 in Santiago, Chile.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Foreign Workers in High Demand from Small Businesses
Foreign workers who left during the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to return soon even though Korea has lifted travel restrictions, leaving many small businesses here high and dry. According to the Justice Ministry, E-9 non-professional employment visas that allow holders to work in farming or manufacturing were issued to 219,000 Cambodians, Nepalese and other foreigners as of February, down 58,000 from late 2019. The number of ethnic Koreans from China or central Asian countries nearly halved from about 226,000 to some 120,000 over the period. An official of the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business said, "We've been inundated with phone calls from small business owners asking for foreign workers."
COVID-19 Cases Drop Drastically
New coronavirus infections fell below 60,000 a day on average over the past week for the first time in six months as the Omicron wave subsided. According to health authorities on Sunday, daily cases stood at 54,367 on average last week, down 35 percent from a week earlier and only one-sixth of the record 294,080 a month earlier. Last week's average daily cases are the smallest since the second week of February (48,702). Plunging to a mere 3,613 in the first week of January, they began to soar rapidly after the highly transmissible Omicron variant became dominant.
Korea's Trade Deficit Keeps Swelling
Surging global energy prices increased Korea's trade deficit to US$2.66 billion in April, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Sunday. It was the second month in a row that Korea suffered a trade deficit. Imports of crude oil, gas and coal almost doubled on-year to $14.8 billion. Exports grew 12.6 percent on-year to $57.69 billion, but imports soared 18.6 percent to $60.35 billion. The government earlier expected imports to slow down in April as temperatures rose and less heating was needed, but soaring oil prices scuppered those hopes. Korea's cumulative trade deficit in the first four months of this year reaches $6.6 billion, the highest in 14 years.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
15th World Forestry Congress opens in Seoul
Speakers at the world’s largest gathering of forestry stakeholders in Seoul Monday stressed immediate action to curb deforestation and restore nature, saying time was running out to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Global cooperation and a sustainable future were some of the most frequently mentioned concepts by representatives of governments, academia, civil society, international organizations and private businesses at the 15th World Forestry Congress (WFC) held in Coex, Gangnam District, southern Seoul. The Korea Forest Service (KFS), who hosted and co-organized the conference along with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said some 12,500 people from 144 countries registered for the week-long event, where participants are expected to address the most urgent issues facing worldwide forests through Friday.
Nuclear power is green, environment minister nominee says
Nuclear power is a green source of energy, Han Hwa-jin, environment minister nominee, said during her confirmation hearing. Her view is in line with President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's plan to categorize nuclear power as relatively safe for the environment, reversing the policy of the previous government. Nuclear energy "is categorized as a green resource regarding greenhouse gas emissions," she told the National Assembly on Monday. The nominee added that a change in the categorization of nuclear energy will be a growth opportunity.
Europe sees Korea as closer partner on energy and security amid geopolitical crisis: experts
The war in Ukraine has raised huge energy challenges for both Europe and Asia, and a group of European and Korean experts have released a list of recommendations as to how the Yoon Suk-yeol administration can take advantage of the situation.“It has become very difficult politically in Europe to involve Chinese or Russian companies, so they look to countries that have the technology and obviously Korea is one of them,” said Ramon Pacheco Pardo, KF-VUB Korea Chair at the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS) of the Brussels School of Governance, referring to the chance for more cooperation between the EU and Korea on nuclear energy.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Lee’s candidacy for by-elections receives mixed responses
Senior Advisor Lee Jae-myung’s candidacy for the June 1 by-elections is getting mixed reactions from the Democratic Party. Former party leader Song Young-gil and former Deputy Prime Minister Kim Dong-yeon, who have been elected as candidates for the mayor of Seoul and governor of Gyeonggi, respectively, have advocated Lee’s candidacy but many still feel that the timing is still too early. Lee has been considered for candidacy for Gyeyang of Incheon, where Song had resigned. Gyeyang has been considered pro-Democratic Party, voting for Song in the 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th and 21st local elections.
SK unveils ESG goals at World Forestry Congress
SK Group unveiled ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) business goals at the 15th World Forestry Congress held at COEX mall in Seoul on Monday through SK Forest, the forestry business arm of the conglomerate,. The company attended the event, which is scheduled to be held until May 6, representing Korea’s multinational companies. Its exhibition booth ‘Green Forest Pavilion’ was designed for viewers to directly experience SK Group’s endeavors for forest development and carbon reduction. The company had showcased the theme in the CES 2022 in January this year.
Buffett dubs U.S. stock market as ‘gambling parlor’
Berkshire Hathaway CEO and founder Warren Buffett, also known as the Oracle of Omaha, spoke critically of Wall Street in an offline shareholder meeting held in three years. He said that Wall Street has turned into a gambling parlor swarming with speculative investors coaxed by Wall Street financial businesses into seeking short-term profits. Buffett criticized Saturday in the latest shareholder meeting of the Omaha-based company in the midwestern region of Nebraska in the United States that stock market investors are encouraged by Wall Street to think of companies as “poker chips.”
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korean memory stocks remain in the doldrums amid mixed outlook
Korean chip majors have lost more than 16 percent of their stock value this year despite record quarterly performance in the first quarter and may be unable to shake out of the doldrums amid mixed outlook for the industry. The country’s bellwether and top two chipmakers Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc. lost 17 percent and 16 percent, respectively as of April 28 since the beginning of the year. Samsung Electronics finished Monday at 67,200 won ($53.11), off 0.3 percent from the previous session and 30.6 percent from the peak of 96,800 won early last year, and SK hynix ended 1.33 percent down at 111,000 won, or down 26.2 percent from the peak of 150,500 won in March last year.
LGES secures 700,000 0lithium concentrate from Australian miner Liontown
LG Energy Solution Ltd. (LGES), the pure-play electric vehicle battery maker of South Korea’s LG Group, has finalized a deal with Australian miner Liontown Resources Ltd. to be supplied with 700,000 tons of lithium spodumene concentrate for five years from 2024. According to a disclosure by Liontown on Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) Monday, Liontown and LGES have signed a definitive full-form offtake agreement for the supply of spodumene concentrate. The agreement comes after the two parties signed a preliminary supply agreement in January.
SK on leapfrogs in global EV map, Korean majors maintain 25% share Q1
Korea’s three major electric vehicle battery makers – LG Energy Solution, SK on and Samsung SDI – sustained solid expansion in the global EV map in the first quarter, with latecomer SK making bigger leaps through aggressive ramp-up, according to data from market tracker SNE Research on Monday. SK on took a market share of 6.3 percent in the global market for the January-Mar. period, more than doubled from 2.6 percent a year earlier. LG Energy Solution increased its share by 39.1 percent to 15.1 percent and Samsung SDI by 26.2 percent to 3.6 percent in the same period.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
How Ukraine is setting the stage for a nuclear domino effect in Northeast Asia
The Cold War was a time when humankind trembled at the fearful prospect of nuclear war. But it was also a time when strategic stability coalesced from the strategy of nuclear deterrence and a range of negotiations about nuclear disarmament. That’s known as the paradox of the Cold War. But as the war in Ukraine becomes protracted, the Pandora’s box of the “nuclear taboo” that has persisted for more than 70 years is starting to rattle. More specifically, the growing possibility of low-yield tactical nuclear weapons being used is triggering concerns and controversy in countries around the world.
Kim Jong-un vows N. Korea will “preemptively” shut down nuclear threats against it
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed the determination of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) “to surely maintain the absolute superiority of our revolutionary armed forces and constantly develop it to preemptively and thoroughly contain and frustrate all dangerous attempts and threatening moves, including ever-escalating nuclear threats from hostile forces,” the party-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported in its cover story on Saturday. Kim made these comments at the headquarters of the WPK Central Committee while taking commemorative photographs with the leaders of the Korean People’s Army who had planned events including the military parade marking the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army on April 25.
S. Korea recorded 6,564 COVID-19 deaths in April, highlighting need for continued vigilance
Even as the scale of the COVID-19 wave subsides, South Korea continues to suffer large numbers of deaths from the disease, with over 8,100 in March and 6,500 in April. The situation underscores the importance of precautionary measures such as vaccination and mask-wearing among older populations, even while disease control guidelines for society as a whole are eased. The Central Disease Control Headquarters (CDCH) announced Sunday that an additional 81 COVID-19 deaths had been counted as of the end of Saturday. In weekly terms, the fourth week of March (March 20–26) had the highest total of deaths yet at 2,516. Over subsequent weeks, that number dropped from 2,312 to 2,163, then 1,797, and 1,135 before reaching 770 last week
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
The Look on the First Day of New Mask Guidelines: 8 out of 10 Citizens Wore Masks
May 2 was the first day that citizens were allowed go outside without their masks. How many citizens came out without their masks? The reporter went around Eco City, a new town in Deokjin-gu, Jeonju-si in Jeollabuk-do at 6 a.m. I walked along the streets, around commercial buildings, and a sports park for about an hour and counted the number of citizens who wore or did not wear masks. The result? Eight out of ten citizens had their masks on. The first person that the reporter encountered as he headed out of his apartment was the security guard. He was inspecting the parking lot with his mask on. When asked, “Isn’t it okay to take off your mask?” he answered, “Wearing a mask has become so natural, it never occurred to me that I should take it off.”
Pardon for MB: 51.7% Say No, 40.4% Say Yes
On May 2, a survey showed that more than 50% of the people opposed granting former president Lee Myung-bak (MB) a pardon, while President Moon Jae-in contemplates the issue. According to a survey of 1,012 adult men and women conducted by the Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI) and TBS on April 29-30, 51.7% of the respondents opposed the pardon of Lee, while 40.4% said they supported the pardon. Opposition was high among people in their thirties (62.5%) and forties (71.7%); in the Gwangju, Jeolla region (78.1%); among white collar workers (59.5%), liberals (76.6%), Democratic Party of Korea supporters (85.2%); and among people who had voted for Lee Jae-myung (83.8%).
Government, “No Need to Wear Masks Outdoors Beginning Next Monday”
Starting next Monday, citizens will no longer have to wear masks outdoors. However, masks will still be required when attending gatherings of fifty or more people and in outdoor facilities open to the public. In a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in response to COVID-19 at the government office in Seoul on the morning of April 29, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, “After considering the disease control status, in which the number of covid cases continue to decline for the sixth week, and the people’s earnest wish for a better life, the government decided to continue with big steps toward everyday life,” and announced, “Beginning next Monday, May 2, masks will no longer be mandatory outdoors.”
KBS Poll: PPP Candidate Oh Leads over DP's Kim in Seoul Mayoral Race
With about a month to go to the June 1 local elections, a new poll finds that Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon is leading former Democratic Party(DP) Chairperson Song Young-gil by over 20 percentage points in the Seoul mayoral race. According to the KBS poll released on Monday of 16-hundred adults in six regions including Seoul, 49-point-nine percent of the respondents favor the incumbent Seoul mayor of the main opposition People Power Party(PPP), while 26-point-nine percent support Song. When asked which candidate is most likely to win, more than 60 of the respondents chose Oh.
Top Nuke Envoys of S. Korea, China to Hold Talks in Seoul
The top nuclear envoys of South Korea and China will hold talks on North Korea issues in Seoul on Tuesday. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Noh Kyu-duk, Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs will meet with his Chinese counterpart Liu Xiaoming at the ministry building in central Seoul. The two sides are expected to discuss how to coordinate their nations’ efforts to manage the situation of the Korean peninsula in a stable manner. Liu will reportedly stay in Seoul until Saturday and meet with officials of the ministries of foreign affairs and unification as well as the presidential office of national security.
Pentagon: US Continuing to Closely Monitor N. Korea with Increased ISR Activities
The U.S. Department of Defense says that the United States is continuing to closely monitor the movements of North Korea for signs of additional tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby issued the position on Monday during a press briefing when asked if the U.S. is continuing to increase its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance(ISR) collection in relation to the North's recent series of missile launches. In March, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that it ordered intensified ISR collection activities in the Yellow Sea, as well as enhanced readiness among its ballistic missile defense forces in the region. The Pentagon spokesperson said that the U.S. increased ISR capabilities in the wake of the multiple recent tests by North Korea and it is still doing that.
Finance chief nominee calls for delaying taxation on stock capital gains, virtual assets
South Korea's finance minister nominee Choo Kyung-ho raised the need Monday to delay a planned taxation of capital gains from financial investments and cryptocurrencies by two years into 2025. Starting next year, the government plans to levy the capital gains tax rate of 20 percent on financial investments, including stocks, bonds and funds. For stock investment, investors should pay a capital gain tax on profits that exceed 50 million won (US$39,500). "There is a need to prod more funds to flow into the stock market by putting off a capital gain tax on financial investments and lowering a stock transaction tax," Choo said in a parliamentary confirmation hearing.
PM nominee says stabilizing economy for ordinary people top priority
Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo said Monday that stabilizing the economy for ordinary people's livelihoods will be his top priority and he will use every policy measure possible to achieve that goal once he gets the country's No. 2 job. Han, who has been nominated by President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol as the first prime minster of the incoming government, made the remark during his confirmation hearing, adding that he will preempt factors that make prices unstable in advance and improve market structure.
U.S.-S. Korea alliance an incredibly important relationship: Psaki
The U.S.-South Korea alliance is an incredibly important relationship that is vital to many issues in the region and around the world, a White House spokesperson said Monday of reasons for President Joe Biden's planned trip to Seoul. Jen Psaki also noted North Korea will be a "prominent part" of the agenda for Biden's upcoming trip that will also take him to Japan. "I would note that we have an incredibly important, vital relationship with South Korea. We work on a range of issues in the region and around the world, and that is the reason why the president is going to be visiting later this month,"
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
PM, foreign minister nominees besieged over scandals at hearing
The prime minister and foreign minister nominees on Monday were grilled by ruling party lawmakers over personal and family allegations at a confirmation hearing. Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo, whose confirmation hearing resumed Monday after a boycott by the Democratic Party of Korea, responded head on to the allegations. Lawmakers of the Democratic Party and the Justice Party bombarded him with questions about whether it was appropriate for him to work at major law firm Kim & Chang after retiring from public service, calling it a “revolving door” situation.
Ecuador and S.Korea ‘complimentary economies’ with room for more cooperation: Ecuadorian top envoy
South Korea and Ecuador are complimentary economies with potential for wider cooperation, Ecuadorian Ambassador Adrian Kao said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.“There is a natural fit for deeper engagement between Ecuador and Korea,” Kao said, inviting Korean companies and institutions to consider Ecuador as a partner and to invest in Ecuador. Kao said that more than 20 Korean companies operated in Ecuador in infrastructure construction, consulting, natural resources, security and other sectors.
China’s top nuclear envoy to discuss political solutions to NK issues on Seoul visit
China’s top nuclear envoy is set to discuss political solutions with South Korean officials amid a continuing tug of war among countries over how to respond to a series of advanced weapons tests by North Korea. Liu Xiaoming, special representative of the Chinese government on Korean Peninsula affairs, arrived in South Korea on Sunday. Liu’s first visit to Seoul after his appointment in April 2021 comes at a critical juncture when North Korea has ratcheted up tension on the Korean Peninsula as the South Korean government changes hands.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Mosque construction triggers standoff in Daegu
DAEGU ― Daehyeon-dong, located in Buk District of Daegu, the nation's third-largest city, looks no different from any other residential area of Korea. Neighbors who have known each other for decades are seen casually chatting in the alleys, while wallet-friendly restaurants and cafes cater students who study at nearby Kyungpook National University. But things are not so peaceful in one narrow alley leading to a construction site of an Islamic mosque, which seems almost derelict with only a metal skeleton standing. A small yellow tent is installed next to the property, where neighborhood residents have been holding daily protests against the construction.
Fed to fight inflation with fastest rate hikes in decades
The Federal Reserve is poised this week to accelerate its most drastic steps in three decades to attack inflation by making it costlier to borrow ― for a car, a home, a business deal, a credit card purchase ― all of which will compound Americans' financial strains and likely weaken the economy. Yet with inflation having surged to a 40-year high, the Fed has come under extraordinary pressure to act aggressively to slow spending and curb the price spikes that are bedeviling households and companies. After its latest rate-setting meeting ends Wednesday, the Fed will almost certainly announce that it's raising its benchmark short-term interest rate by a half-percentage point
Korea pledges increased support for reforestation in developing countries
President Moon Jae-in pledged that Korea will expand the size of the official development assistance (ODA) budget and technical help to support reforestation in developing countries on the first day of the World Forestry Congress (WFC) held in Seoul, Monday. "Korea will actively participate in the international community's efforts to protect and nurture forests based on the experience of achieving reforestation through solidarity and cooperation," Moon said during a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the event held at COEX in southern Seoul.
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