Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Ex-Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong named Korean Amb. to U.S.
President Yoon Suk-yeol appointed Rep. Cho Tae-yong of the People Power Party who was served as a former vice foreign minister, as South Korea's new ambassador to the United States, a presidential official said on May 17. Yoon also named Paik Kyong-ran, a professor of infectious diseases at Sungkyunkwan University, as new head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Kim So-young, a professor of economics at Seoul National University, was appointed as the vice chairman of the Financial Services Commission.
Yoon cites Churchill, Attlee for successful cooperation in time of difficulty
President Yoon Suk-yeol said, “Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom and Chairman Clement Attlee of the opposition Labor Party were good examples of win-win cooperation in time of emergency and difficulties of a nation.” Speaking at the National Assembly in Seoul on May 16, 2022, President Yoon stressed the importance of parliamentarism and declared, “True free democracy comes from proper management of parliamentary democracy.”
5-6 out of 7 army generals are likely to change this month
The government is known to carry out a large-scale reshuffle of military leadership early this month, replacing 5-6 out of 7 generals, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of Staff of the Army. It is highly likely that the Chief of Staff of the Army, which is a key position in the military, will be selected among those who are younger generation that the original custom-level. This is interpreted as reflecting President Yoon Suk-yeol's intention to early replace some of the military leaders who were controversial at the time of the Moon Jae-in administration and launch a new military chief selected based on ability as soon as possible.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
U.S. Korea Expert Wins American Hero Award
The America Korea Friendship Society on Monday named Victor Cha, a Korea expert at Georgetown University and former U.S. government official, as recipient of this year's New American Hero award. Cha has a Ph.D. from Columbia University and a master's degree from the University of Oxford. He was director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007 and is currently a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. His columns appear in the Chosun Ilbo.
Korea to Ease COVID Test Requirement for Arrivals
The government has decided to relax COVID testing requirements for arrivals from abroad next week. Currently, all travelers must bring a negative PCR test certificate, but from May 23 a rapid antigen test result from a medical facility will also do. But self-tests will not be accepted. An increasing number of countries are replacing PCR testing with rapid antigen tests as there have been a lot of complaints about the cost of PCR tests, which are considered more accurate. Authorities will also cut down on COVID tests on arrival from June 1. Currently, arrivals have to undergo a PCR test a day after arrival and a rapid antigen test a week later, but that will be reduced to one PCR test within three days after arrival
N.Korea Asks China for Urgent COVID Assistance
North Korea has asked China for urgent help to fight the coronavirus pandemic, sources said Monday. "Chinese authorities have recruited 400 truck drivers in Liaoning Province to give medical assistance to North Korea," a source said. The North asked China for help late last month, when signs of a surge in infections emerged. "The North has asked China for COVID vaccines, medicines and testing equipment. The first batch of shipments has already made it to the North by sea," another source said. "A 10-man medical assistance team already arrived in the North in late April, where they are now checking the situation and giving advice."
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Biden to visit Samsung Electronics chip factory during visit
U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit a Samsung Electronics chip manufacturing complex during his state visit to Korea this week. Representatives from the company, the country's largest, will be attending a session hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Korea's Industry Ministry. Other Korean companies invited to the business roundtable on May 21 include LG Electronics, SK Inc., Hyundai Motor, Hanwha Corporation, Naver, Lotte and OCI, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter confirmed. "The companies have received the invitation," said a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
North Korea flies in supplies from China
North Korea is believed to have flown in emergency supplies from China Tuesday to deal with an outbreak of suspected Covid-19 cases. Three large cargo aircraft belonging to Air Koryo, the North Korean state-run airline, arrived at Shenyang Taoxian Airport in Liaoning Province, northeastern China, on Tuesday morning and returned to North Korea the same afternoon, according to multiple sources in the region who spoke to the JoongAng Ilbo on condition of anonymity. The aircraft were all Russian-made Ilyushin Il-76, the multi-purpose transport plane capable of carrying 50 tons of cargo and the largest plane in the North Korean air fleet. The North is known to have three Il-76s.
Yoon Suk-yeol appoints Han Dong-hoon as justice minister over objections
President Yoon Suk-yeol appointed Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon and Gender Minister Kim Hyun-sook, both controversial picks, Tuesday. However, a formal appointment of Health Minister nominee Chung Ho-young was not included in the presidential office announcement late in the afternoon. With the latest two appointments, 16 out of 18 minister positions are now filled. The two remaining are ministers of health and education. Han, a senior prosecutor and ally of Yoon, faced opposition by Democratic Party (DP) lawmakers during his confirmation hearing over allegations that his daughter's extracurricular activities in high school may have been exaggerated to get into college.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Defense minister: It’s difficult to predict whether N. Korea will postpone missile tests due to COVID-19
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said on Tuesday that it is not certain whether North Korea will postpone or carry on missile tests amid COVID-19 emergency. “North Korea is ready to conduct seventh nuclear tests,” the defense minister said at the National Assembly Defense Committee meeting. He indicated that although North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country was facing a “major national emergency,” showing a sense of crisis toward the spread of coronavirus, the chance that he makes political determination to pursue nuclear tests is still alive. “The spread of the coronavirus is better contained in the military, and it is reported that the military is less hit by the virus than the general public,” said Defense Minister Lee.
Work-life balance is priority for Korea’s MZ Generation
Work-life balance turned out to be the most important factor for Korea’s MZ generation (Millennials and Generation Z) and preferred jobs located in the Seoul metropolitan region and annual pay around 30 million won. The Korea Enterprises Federation released the results of the “MZ Generation Perception on Decent Jobs’ survey on Tuesday. One thousand MZ generation job seekers aged 20 to 29 (born in 1984- 2003) participated in the survey.Meanwhile, 66.5% of the surveyed chose ‘work and life balance’ as the most important factor (multiple choice) for determining a decent job, followed by ‘fair compensation’ at 43.3%. ‘Good welfare (32.8%)’, ‘horizontal work culture (25.9%)’ were also chosen. Only 14% opted for ‘job security’.
Switzerland considers holding joint military exercises with NATO
With Finland and Sweden applying to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, neutral Switzerland is also leaning closer to NATO, reviewing joint military exercises with NATO member countries. According to Reuters, Paelvi Pulli, head of security policy at the Swiss defense ministry, said on Monday that the ministry is writing a report that includes discussions on joint military exercises with NATO countries and backfilling munitions, adding high-level meetings between Switzerland and NATO commanders on a regular basis are also on the table.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s top business group chiefs to join Yoon-Biden state dinner in Seoul
Chiefs of South Korea’s major companies and business lobby groups will join President Yoon Suk-yeol in his first state banquet for U.S. President Joe Biden making his first state visit to Korea on Saturday. Korea’s presidential office has invited the chiefs of the country’s top 4 conglomerates – Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics; Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group and chairman of Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s largest business organization; Chung Euisun, chairman of Hyundai Motor Group; and Koo Kwang-mo, chairman of LG Group – to Yoon’s state dinner for Biden in Seoul this Saturday.
South Korean IT giants bet cloud to add much-needed fuel to stagnated sale
South Korean IT giants are doubling down on cloud business to add revenue fuel to their stagnated platform business amid active digital migration work at home. Naver Corp. launched its cloud platform, Naver Cloud, in 2017 while Kakao Corp. established AI technology-based B2B company Kakao Enterprise in 2019. NHN Corp. and KT Corp. spun off cloud division as standalone businesses NHN Cloud and KT Cloud on April 1. Unlike contents, where platform operators must seek bigger overseas market, the cloud market at home has ample room to grow.
Korean solar power majors ready new investments in U.S., Korea
South Korea’s leading photovoltaic companies are expected to reveal new investment plans both at home and in the United States during U.S. president’s visit to Seoul when the two governments will highlight energy alliance and reduce reliance on Russia and China through renewable exploration and production. According to sources in the local photovoltaic industry on Monday, the country’s solar energy majors, Hanwha Solutions and OCI, will likely attend a business roundtable meeting held on May 21 on the sidelines of summit talks between Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon stresses cross-party cooperation, aid to N. Korea in first policy address to parliament
President Yoon Suk-yeol urged closer cooperation across party lines and repeated his support for sending North Korea aid during his first policy speech at the National Assembly on Monday.“We have a proud history of overcoming crises through cooperation across party lines in the face of the people’s livelihood, despite fierce competition between the ruling and opposition parties,” the president said. Yoon also expressed his willingness to provide North Korea with humanitarian assistance.
N. Korea, China in talks for COVID-19 assistance
Amidst its first domestic COVID-19 outbreak, North Korea is reportedly discussing aid measures with China.“I understand that North Korea and China are discussing aid measures related to [the COVID-19 situation],” a source told the Hankyoreh on Monday. The possible provision of masks, medicine, and even Chinese vaccines seem to be under discussion. North Korea is in short supply of masks and fever-reducing medicine, not to mention COVID-19 vaccines. Although North Korea has been claiming that it is a “COVID-free country” thanks to strict border controls for over two years, the number of cases of fever recently exceeded 1.2 million domestically while more than 50 people have already died.
S. Korean business world worries about what to gift Biden during summit
The South Korean business world is feeling increasingly concerned ahead of a South Korea-US summit scheduled for this weekend. With major corporations having already announced plans for large-scale investment in the US at a previous summit in Washington last year, they are now worried they will be obliged to come up with another “gift basket” for the visiting US president. According to accounts Monday from sources in major corporations, it remains uncertain what requests the Office of the President and related agencies will make in connection with the South Korea-US summit this weekend and investment in the US.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
New Daily Cases of COVID-19 in North Korea Jumped from 18,000 to 270,000 in 3 Days
New daily cases of COVID-19 reached 270,000 in North Korea. Although the number of cases declined somewhat from the previous day’s nearly 400,000, the virus continues to quickly spread throughout the nation. The Korean People’s Army has begun transporting and providing medical supplies on a 24-hour basis. On May 17, the Korea Central News Agency reported an announcement by the North Korean national emergency disease control headquarters stating that from 6 p.m. May 15 to 6 p.m. May 16, 269,510 new cases of fever occurred nationwide; 170,460 patients recovered; and 6 died.
Prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun Who Started the #MeToo Movement Resigns: Justice Ministry “Trims Away” Before the Appointment of Han Dong-hoon
Prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun (49, 33rd Class of the Judicial Research & Training Institute), who launched the #MeToo campaign exposing the sexual violence in South Korean society, submitted a letter of resignation on May 16. Experts claim that the government is “trimming away” prosecutors appointed to key positions by the Moon Jae-in government before the nominee Han Dong-hoon, one of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s closest acquaintances, is appointed justice minister. Around 4 p.m. this day, shortly before the end of office hours, the Ministry of Justice Inspection Bureau notified Seo Ji-hyun, head of the task force (TF) on digital sex crimes at the justice ministry, “to return to the Prosecution Service at the Seongnam branch of the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office on May 17.”
“Camp Kim Near Yongsan Park Buried in Carcinogens up to 9 Meters Deep”
An environmental pollution inspection of the former Camp Kim site in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, which the U.S. Forces Korea returned to the Ministry of National Defense a year and a half ago, discovered carcinogens 9 meters deep in the ground. About 97% of the total area was contaminated with substances hazardous to the human body including carcinogens. The Korea Environment Corporation conducted a survey to assess the soil contamination in the former Camp Kim site from October 25, 2021 until March 23, 2022 upon request from the defense ministry. The results will be used as the basis for cleanup operations of the site.
Kim Reproves Officials over COVID-19 Spread in N. Korea, Six Die in 24-Hour Period
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reprimanded senior North Korean officials for failing to properly deal with COVID-19 early on amid the rapid spread of the virus in the nation. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) on Wednesday said Kim presided over a meeting of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party the previous day to discuss coronavirus infections and other domestic issues. According to the media outlet, Kim criticized the immaturity of national organizations in the early stages of coping with what he called the “first quarantine crisis since the founding of the nation,” and rebuked the passiveness and complacency of leading officials over the matter.
Rival Parties Agree to Vote on PM Nominee's Appointment on Fri.
The rival parties have agreed to hold a plenary parliamentary session this week and vote on President Yoon Suk Yeol’s motion to appoint prime minister nominee Han Duck-soo. The ruling People Power Party and the main opposition Democratic Party(DP) reached the agreement during a meeting between their floor leaders on Tuesday. The vote will be held on Friday, 47 days after Yoon named the former prime minister as the nominee to be the inaugural prime minister of his administration. By law, a nominee for prime minister can be appointed to the post only if half or more of the lawmakers at the 300-member National Assembly take part in voting and at least a half of the attendants vote in favor of the appointment.
CNN: N. Korea Preparing for Possible ICBM Test as Biden to Travel to Asia
North Korea is reportedly gearing up for a missile test, possibly of an intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM), within the next 48 to 96 hours, ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan. CNN said on Tuesday that a U.S. official shared details from the latest intelligence on the North’s presumed move, saying conditions that appeared prior to the North’s previous ICBM tests are being noticed again. CNN said the launch venue was observed by satellite imagery to likely be near Pyongyang, although no further details regarding the sighting of fuel, related equipment, vehicles and manpower needed for the launch were disclosed.
Yoon appoints justice, gender ministers
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Tuesday appointed Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon and Gender Minister Kim Hyun-sook, his office said, filling all but three positions of his first Cabinet. Yoon pressed ahead with the appointments despite objections from the main opposition Democratic Party. Han is one of Yoon's closest confidants, and the DP has urged Yoon to withdraw his nomination, citing his resistance to prosecution reform. Yoon, however, stopped short of appointing Health Minister nominee Chung Ho-young, who is accused of using his position to get his children into a medical school.
N.K. leader criticizes problem in early response to COVID-19 crisis in key politburo meeting: state media
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rebuked officials for failing to respond properly to the COVID-19 outbreak in its early stages as he presided over a ruling Workers' Party meeting, state media said Wednesday. His message came as the country reported more than 232,880 people with fever symptoms nationwide and six additional deaths, raising total fatalities to 62, as of 6 p.m. the previous day. At the meeting of the presidium of the political bureau held Tuesday, Kim said that "immaturity" in coping with the crisis from the early stages and the slack response of the country's leading officials has fully revealed the "vulnerable points," according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
U.S. concerned about COVID outbreak in N. Korea, no delay in nuclear test expected: State Dept.
The United States is deeply concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea and supports providing humanitarian assistance, including COVID-19 vaccines, to the impoverished country, a state department spokesperson said Tuesday. Ned Price, however, noted Pyongyang may still go ahead with its widely anticipated nuclear test. "Unfortunately, to date the DPRK has refused all vaccine donations from COVAX," the department press secretary said when asked in a daily press briefing if the U.S. would support the international vaccine-sharing program decided to provide vaccines to the North.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon forges ahead with justice minister appointment against resistance
President Yoon Suk-yeol appointed Han Dong-hoon as justice minister alongside former lawmaker Kim Hyun-sook as gender equality minister on Tuesday, forging ahead despite fierce resistance from the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea. The approval provoked an immediate backlash from opposition parties, heralding a bumpy road for the approval of Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo, which requires a vote in the plenary session of the National Assembly.
Tough road ahead for Yoon’s 59.4 trillion won extra budget plan
The National Assembly has started reviewing the 59.4 trillion won ($46.5 billion) supplementary budget proposal from the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, with ruling and main opposition parties clashing over how much of the budget should be used to assist pandemic-hit small-business owners as promised. The debate between the ruling People Power Party and the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea comes down to whether the 9 trillion won proposed to pay back treasury bonds should be approved as it is or instead allocated to increase support for small-business owners.
Seoul Mayor candidate Oh Se-hoon reveals his ambition for fifth term
Oh Se-hoon, the Seoul Mayor candidate of the ruling People Power Party, on Tuesday expressed hopes to win the upcoming mayoral election and extend his term further in four years time. Oh is currently seeking his fourth mayoral term. If elected in the June 1 local elections, Oh will become the first mayor of Seoul to serve a fourth term, and become the city’s longest-serving mayor.“The mayor position of Seoul is perhaps as equally important as a presidential term,” Oh said during a conference held in central Seoul on Tuesday.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon's efforts to bolster Korea-US alliance will inevitably disturb China
Chinese leader Xi Jinping's recent invitation for a summit with President Yoon Suk-yeol has created tension between the two countries over the venue, which is something that has been rarely seen in bilateral relations. The two leaders have each insisted that their counterpart visit their respective capitals to have the meeting. Through the Chinese delegation represented by Vice President Wang Qishan, who visited Seoul on the occasion of Yoon's inauguration ceremony on May 10, Xi proposed that Yoon visit China to have their first summit at a mutually convenient time.
Protecting Korea's semiconductor leadership
Yoon Suk-yeol, congratulations on being chosen to lead the Republic of Korea's government. I am sure that these are very exciting times for you. It seems presumptuous of me to try to give insight and advice to an important nation's leader, but I feel that I may be qualified to provide some input in my area of expertise. I am a semiconductor industry analyst who entered the business as a design engineer in the 1970s, to become one of its leading analysts, particularly in the field of memory chip technologies.
Powell: Fed to keep hiking rates until it controls inflation
Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday underscored the Federal Reserve's determination to keep raising interest rates until there is clear evidence inflation is steadily falling _ a high-stakes effort that carries the risk of causing an eventual recession. The Fed's increases in its benchmark short-term rate typically lead, in turn, to higher borrowing costs for consumers and businesses, including for mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. ''What we need to see is inflation coming down in a clear and convincing way,'' Powell said in remarks to a Wall Street Journal conference. ''And we're going to keep pushing until we see that.''
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