Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“Last years saw consolidation of bilateral relations in highest level”
Ambassador Daúl Matute-Mejía of the Republic of Peru in Seoul said, “The last years have seen a consolidation in the bilateral relationship with the Republic of Korea in its highest level.” Then he said, “This year, we commemorated the Tenth Anniversary of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership settled in 2022 that has allowed the strengthening of the different levels of the relationship, like political, economic, defense, and cooperation.”
President Yoon holds summit with Indonesian President Widodo in Seoul
President Yoon Suk-yeol held a summit with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the presidential office in Yongsan-gu, Seoul on July 28. The summit marks President Yoon's first with a leader from a member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since he assumed office. President Widodo and first lady Iriana Widodo on July 25 began a tour of Korea, China and Japan, arriving at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do Province, in the evening of July 27.
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul's 'Charles H' named top 4 Best Int'l Hotel Bar
The Speakeasy bar "Charles H.," located on the lower level of Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, was named top four Best International Hotel Bar at the 2022 Tales of the Cocktail, Spirited Awards. And also the only Korean bar nominated within the top ten. In partnership with Forbes, the Spirited Awards have become one of the industry’s most sought-after awards, recognizing beverage professionals, products, and establishments across every facet of the spirits and cocktail community on a global scale.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Pool Villas More Popular Than Hotel Rooms for COVID Holidays
Segregated pool villas are proving more popular than other kinds of hotel rooms amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to Naver search data from the Ministry of the Interior and Safety last week, the most-searched accommodation before the pandemic in 2019 was "hotel" at 1.72 million times, followed by "B&B" at 1.15 million times and "pool villa" at 1.01 million times. But by 2020, pool villa searches more than doubled to 2.65 million times, followed by B&Bs at 1.88 million times and hotels at 1.48 million times.
Conservative Core Voters Abandon Yoon
President Yoon Suk-yeol's approval rating has plummeted below 30 percent for the first time since he took office. In a Gallup Korea poll released last Friday, a whopping 62 percent of voters disapproved of Yoon's performance, compared to a mere 28 percent who approved. His approval rating fell by another four percentage points from a week earlier while the disapproval rating rose by two percentage points. The slide was mainly due to disaffection in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, the ruling party's main powerbase, and among elderly voters. Even there,
Kim Jong-un's Security Beefed up After Abe Assassination
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un seems to have beefed up his personal security since the assassination last month of former Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe. Kim is now always flanked by bodyguards, which is a new development. "Bodyguards generally stand at distance because the propaganda effect of a photo decreases when they can be seen," a source said. "The new development shows that special circumstances require a sacrifice."
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Korea reports fourth consecutive monthly trade deficit
A trade deficit of $4.7 billion was recorded in July as high oil prices and a weak won pushed imports up to a monthly record despite strong exports. It was the fourth monthly trade deficit in a row, the first time that has happened in 14 years. In July, imports rose 21.8 percent year-on-year to $65.4 billion, while exports increased 9.4 percent to $60.7 billion, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Monday.
Sanctions and Donetsk bring Moscow, Pyongyang together
Recent statements by a Russian diplomat and the leader of a Russian-backed separatist republic in Ukraine suggest Moscow and Pyongyang could be drawing closer economically under international sanctions. Denis Pushilin, leader of the mostly-unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), said in an interview with Russian state television on July 21 that his government would pursue reconstruction "alongside North Korea," and that the DPR is "interested" in North Korean resources.
Foreign ministry files argument in forced labor case
The Foreign Ministry submitted an argument to the Supreme Court last week explaining its efforts to reach a diplomatic solution with Japan on the issue of compensation for Koreans forced to work during World War II. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether to allow the liquidation of assets of two Japanese companies to compensate forced labor victims as early as this month. Forced labor compensation is one of the thorniest issues between Tokyo and Seoul.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
BOK Governor: Gradual increase of key rate would be appropriate
The Bank of Korea (BOK) Governor Rhee Chang-yong stated that it would be appropriate to gradually raise the benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point.“As the inflation will continue its upward trend for some time, we should keep our stance of raising the key rate,” said Rhee in the National Assembly’s Strategy and Finance Committee on Monday. “If the trend of inflation and economic growth do not stray far from our initial outlook,
Korean students top Japan’s high school Manga Koshien
Korean high school students won the highest award at the National High School Manga Contest of Japan, the kingdom of comics. Jeonnam Girls’ High School students in Gwangju City ranked the top at the final round of the 31st Manga Koshien held in Kochi Prefecture, Japan on Sunday. Jeonnam High School was the only Korean among 20 schools in the finals. When the result came out,
China reveals footage of hypersonic missile launch
China revealed a series of footage of advanced weapon training and said it would not stand by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The country raised the level of warning by revealing the footage of the launch of hypersonic missile DF-17, which cannot be intercepted by the existing missile air defense system, for the first time. China Central Television revealed the footage of military training mobilizing an amphibious assault ship, aerial tanker plane, and new destroyer.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s trade deficit at $15 bn by July, first red streak in trade with China
South Korea added $4.67 billion in deficit from trade activities last month to put the cumulative red in the trade balance at $15.03 billion in July as imports continued to outweigh exports from strong commodity prices and demand from its largest market of China waned. According to data released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Monday,
BOK chief sees inflation peaking out Q4, reiterates gradual rate increases
Bank of Korea Governor Rhee Chang-yong reiterated that the Korean central bank would keep to incremental raises in 25 basis points as he sees the inflation running at 6 percent would peak out in the fourth quarter.“Korea’s inflation rate could ease after rising more than 6 percent for two to three months from now. (If the inflation trend continues within expectations) It would be desirable to gradually increase the base rate by 0.25 percentage point to contain inflation,”
Kospi top 5 firms’ cash flow thins by $15 bn Q2 amid unfavorable biz conditions
South Korea’s five largest companies by market capitalization in the main Kospi market have lost 20 trillion won ($15.3 billion) in their cash flow in the second quarter from the previous three-month period amid deteriorated earnings and fund-raising conditions. According to earnings statement analysis by Maeil Business News on Sunday, the top five Kospi members reported net cash outflow of 4.9 trillion won in April-June period,
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Why the US keeps throwing cold water on inter-Korean railway projects
The US has been uncooperative about the project to connect railways and roads between North and South Korea. This has been the case especially during Republican administrations, namely those of George W. Bush (2001-2008) and Donald Trump (2017-2020). At the time, the US justified its stance by saying that progress in inter-Korean relations should align in pace with the North’s denuclearization. However, the bottom line of the US’ uncooperativeness is more fundamental, rooted in the Cold War order in Northeast Asia.
Korean interior minister sparks outrage by likening police gathering to coup
Minister of the Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min sparked controversy with remarks comparing a nationwide meeting of police station chiefs opposing the creation of a new “police bureau” in his ministry to the military coup of Dec. 12, 1979, which led to Chun Doo-hwan taking power in South Korea. Noting that police “are allowed to carry weapons,”
Regulator OKs plan to dump Fukushima water amid unclear impact on Korea
What effects will Korea face when Japan releases contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean? The ocean release’s impact on Korea is drawing renewed attention after Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) plan on Friday, which raises the likelihood that the plan will be put into motion next spring.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
No One Wants Children to Start School at Age Five: Intensifying Opposition from Teachers’ Groups and Parents
Improvements to the education system released by the Ministry of Education, which includes lowering the age at which children enter elementary school from the current age six to age five, have come across fierce opposition. Education-related organizations, liberals and conservatives alike, are demanding the government to cancel the latest decision and have warned of demonstrations in front of the Office of the President.
Hong Joon-pyo, “The Right Thing to Do Would Be for the Entire Leadership Including Floor Leader Kweon Seong-dong to Step Down”
On August 1, the mayor of Daegu, Hong Joon-pyo spoke on People Power Party (PPP) floor leader Kweon Seong-dong’s decision to step down as acting party leader the previous day and said, “Now, when we have lost the trust of our party members and the people, wouldn’t it be right for the entire leadership including the floor leader to step down and give the newly elected floor leader emergency authority over the party to fill the vacancy of leader Lee Jun-seok?” He suggested that the party elect a new floor leader and continue having an acting leader instead of having an emergency committee run the party, an idea that’s been voiced by party members.
“We Will Build Strong Maritime Security” President Yoon at Launch of ROKS Jeongjo the Great
President Yoon Suk-yeol attended the launching ceremony of ROKS Jeongjo the Great, the first of the next-generation Aegis destroyers, on July 28 and said, “We will build strong maritime security so the people can safely conduct economic activities at sea.” This morning, President Yoon gave a congratulatory message at the launching ceremony of ROKS Jeongjo the Great held at Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan and said, “We can become an economic powerhouse only when we secure the capability of a maritime power that can defend oneself at sea.”
Blinken Criticizes N. Korea for Continuing Unlawful Nuke Program
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has criticized North Korea for continuing its unlawful nuclear program and provocations. Blinken issued the criticism on Monday in a speech at the Tenth Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the UN headquarters in New York. The top U.S. diplomat said North Korea continues to expand its unlawful nuclear program and continues its ongoing provocations against the region, stressing that the world faced a "critical moment."
New Police Oversight Bureau under Interior Ministry Launches
A new police bureau under the interior ministry will launch on Tuesday. The police bureau overseeing key personnel and policy decisions of the National Police Agency goes into operation on Tuesday following the Cabinet's authorization of revisions of relevant enforcement decrees last week. The bureau is composed of 16 officials and three divisions supporting general management, personnel affairs and local police.
PPP Lawmakers Agree Party in 'Emergency,' Switch to Interim Leadership Anticipated
The ruling People Power Party(PPP) held a general meeting of its lawmakers on Monday and agreed the current state of the party to be an "emergency" and began a procedure to shift into an interim committee system. After the meeting, PPP floor spokesperson Yang Kum-hee said that out of 89 lawmakers who attended, all but one agreed that the party was in an emergency situation following the resignations of several Supreme Council members.
Opposition growing among teachers, parents to gov't plan to lower school entry age to 5
Opposition is growing among teachers and parents alike to the government's plan to move up the elementary school starting age by one year to 5 starting as early as 2025. Reporting this year's key policy plans to President Yoon Suk-yeol last week, the education ministry said it will soon begin discussions on the plan to lower the school starting age from the current 6 to 5 and implement it in 2025 at the earliest upon social consensus.
Blinken reaffirms U.S. commitment to NPT, citing threats posed by N. Korea, Iran
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted the importance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on Monday, citing threats posed by North Korea and Iran. The top U.S. diplomat reiterated the world faced a "critical moment" amid fears of a potential North Korean nuclear test. "And so we come together at a critical moment. The DPRK continues to expand its unlawful nuclear program and continues its ongoing provocations against the region," Blinken said, addressing the 10th NPT Review Conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York.
Yoon calls off travel plans, stays at home during vacation
President Yoon Suk-yeol has decided not to travel to provincial regions for this week's vacation and will instead remain in Seoul to mull how to navigate through the current political turmoil, officials at the ruling party and the presidential office said Monday. The decision came as Yoon's approval ratings have been unusually low -- below 30 percent in some surveys -- for a president less than three months in office, as the economic situation worsens and leadership turmoil deepens at the ruling People Power Party.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Ruling party leadership posed to get overhaul, making Lee Jun-seok’s return unlikely
A growing wave of resignations at the top of the ruling People Power Party is setting the mood for a shake-up of leadership. The looming shift would leave out the party’s embattled chair Lee Jun-seok, who remains in exile over ongoing allegations that he accepted sexual favors and then tried to cover it up. The party called a meeting Monday and reached a “nearly unanimous decision” to transition to an interim leadership.
Backlash against lowering elementary school entry age intensifies
Opposition from the education community and parents against the Ministry of Education’s elementary school entry age reorganization plan is intensifying. On Friday, at the meeting with President Yoon Suk-yeol, Education Minister Park Soon-ae reported the plan to gradually lower the enrollment age at elementary schools to 5 years old starting as early as 2025.
S. Korea’s Transport Minister mentions Uber as last resort to solve late-night taxi shortage
South Korea’s Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong said on Sunday evening that the country could consider implementing ride-sharing services like Uber to fight off the country’s dire nighttime taxi shortage. During a speech posted to his personal YouTube channel, Won said the government would first try other measures to relieve the taxi shortage and, if unsolved, may introduce car- and ride-sharing services as “last resort.”
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Two possible reasons behind recent mask-free gatherings in North Korea
North Korea's official numbers of suspected COVID-19 cases and photos of the ruling elite in recent weeks suggest that it is clearly making progress against the coronavirus despite almost no vaccination efforts, according to experts Monday. North Korea's number of new suspected COVID-19 cases remained at zero for the third consecutive day, according to the Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang's official mouthpiece. On Monday, it reported that no additional fever cases had been confirmed over the previous 24 hours until 6 p.m. the previous day.
Upcoming combined drill to heighten inter-Korean tensions
Plans to expand a combined military drill between South Korea and the United States against North Korea's growing threats are expected to bring the Korean Peninsula back to a state of confrontation, ratcheting up cross-border tensions, Pyongyang watchers said, Monday. The prediction comes as the allies seek to enhance their overall capabilities to deal with a possible all-out war on the peninsula through the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise, scheduled for Aug. 22 to Sept. 1, according to Seoul's defense ministry.
Korea expected to overtake Japan in total exports
Korea's gap with Japan in total exports narrowed to its smallest amount ever, triggering expectations that it will surpass the neighboring economic powerhouse soon. According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea's total exports this year as of May were $16.2 billion less than that of Japan. The gap is narrower than seen in the same period last year, in which Korea fell short of Japan by $55.7 billion. In terms of monthly exports this year, Korea overtook Japan in May, when it logged $61.6 billion in exports, surpassing Japan's $56.3 billion.
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