Wednesday, August 3, 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)
S.Korea, U.S. to Stage Massive Drill Amid Global Instability
South Korean and U.S. troops stage a massive military exercise this month, preparing for emergencies amid rising geopolitical instability. The exercise, dubbed Ulchi Freedom Shield, includes scenarios like a bomb at a nuclear plant, a fire at a semiconductor factory and paralysis of the banking network. It is held from Aug. 22-Sept. 1. The Defense Ministry here made the plans public in a report to the National Assembly on Monday.
Afghan Refugees Settle in Ulsan
It has been almost a year since 391 Afghan refugees hastily boarded a plane bound for Korea. They were former staffers of the Korean military and aid organizations there who faced potential threats to their lives when the Taliban regained control of the country. After spending six months adjusting to life in Korea at a state facility in Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, the refugees began to scatter all over the country.
Battery Rentals to Cut Price Tag of Electric Cars
The government is looking to legalize renting electric car batteries to reduce the price tag of EVs. EV batteries can be easily removed and switched, but it is currently illegal for different people to register for ownership of an EV and the battery it runs on -- in other words, both private consumers and rental companies always have to buy both. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Monday that it decided to approve EV battery rentals in principle, which is already an option in many other countries.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Korean inflation at a 24-year high in July as most prices rise
Inflation hit 6.3 percent in July, a 24-year high, increasing the odds of a big rate increase and roiling local markets. Prices in Korea rose across the board, with everything from manufactured goods to electricity becoming more expensive, according to Statistics Korea. It was the second consecutive month in which inflation was above 6 percent.
Korean IPOs scuttled as listing madness comes to a fast end
With stocks down and investors feeling burned, initial public offerings (IPO) are being cancelled, delayed and reconsidered. At least seven have been nixed this year so far, and some of them were considered benchmark issues key to market and investor sentiment. In February, Hyundai Engineering called off its listing. That was followed by SK Shieldus and One store, also scheduled for the first half. Olive Young and K Bank, which were expected to go public in the second half, said they're closely watching the market.
National Assembly passes bill to expand fuel tax cuts to 55 percent
The latest bill passed by National Assembly on Tuesday will allow the government to cut fuel taxes up to 55 percent, up from the current limit of 37 percent, until the end of 2024. Out of the 248 lawmakers present, 197 voted for the proposal and 16 against. Thirty-five lawmakers abstained from voting. Expanding the range on the fuel tax cut was proposed by the Yoon Suk-yeol government to ease the burden of rising consumer prices.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Consumer prices rise over 6% for two months running
The inflation rate of consumer goods hovered at 6.3 percent last month, exceeding the mark of 6 percent for two months in a row to reach a 24-year high. Notably, the prices of eating out rose 8.4 percent from last year on the back of the surge in international crop prices, shooting to a record high in about 30 years. Along with vegetable whose prices have jumped over 20 percent, Korea’s dining prices are nearing the red line.
‘Announcement first discussion later’ admission policy
As the controversy over the introduction of the ‘five-year-old elementary school admission policy’ grew, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Park Soon-ae tried to appease the public sentiment by saying, “We will reach a social consensus with an open mind by involving many stakeholders to voice their opinions at the National Education Committee.” However, education-related groups criticized, saying, "There was no discussion or request to make proposals regarding the new policy within the education community."
Scene changed by the 4-day work week
Gary Conroy, CEO of 5 Squirrels, a British skincare product manufacturer, told CNN on Monday that what he sees in the office has changed dramatically since the implementation of the four-day work week. Instead of shortening employees' working hours, Conroy brought in ‘deep work time’ where for two hours every morning, and two hours every afternoon, the company staff ignores emails, calls or internal messages and concentrates on their projects, to increase work efficiency. He devised an environment where the employees could work less but focus on ‘what they really needed to do.’
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s inflation steepest in 24 yrs, rising above 6% for the second month in July
South Korea’s inflation rate galloped at over 6 percent for the second straight month in July in the fastest pace in nearly 24 years as expensive fuel and commodity prices spilled across the board from groceries to utility and services charges. According to Statistics Korea on Tuesday, the country’s consumer price index (CPI) jumped 6.3 percent year over year to 108.74 in July.
Korean battery majors enhance capacity in Europe after expansion in US
South Korea’s three battery majors LG Energy Solution Ltd. (LGES), SK on Co., and Samsung SDI Co. are rushing to increase their presence in Europe after finalizing multibillion-dollar expansion schemes in North America to ensure their leadership in EV power outside China amid fast rises of Chinese competitors.
S. Korean shipbuilding stocks gain ground as H2 biz prospects look up
South Korean shipbuilding stocks are on a rebound as second-quarter statement of shipbuilding majors flagged earnings improvement from rising backlog in high value-added vessel orders that have been flooding in since late last year. Shares of Korea’s largest shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. (HHI) closed Monday 8 percent higher at 135,000 won ($103.2),
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon’s approval rating slips to 20% range as disapproval nears 70%
The results of an opinion poll released Monday indicate that President Yoon Suk-yeol’s approval rating has slumped to the 20% range. Commissioned by TBS, the Korea Society Opinion Institute surveyed 1,003 adults across the nation from Friday to Saturday, 28.9% of whom responded that they approved of Yoon’s performance as president. The survey had a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Korean chipmakers caught between US investment, Chinese market
Domestic chip companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are mulling how to navigate South Korea’s potential participation in Chip 4, a US-led semiconductor partnership; the intensification of US export restrictions on chipmaking gear against China; and the CHIPS and Science Act, which was recently passed by the US Congress. This is because these companies have to simultaneously consider the Chinese market in the present and the expansion of investment in the semiconductor industry as well as semiconductor technology development in the future.
Summer of discontent: Industrial unrest in the UK and elsewhere
The costs of living keep spiraling up — certainly putting the weakest in society under enormous pressure but also increasingly reaching the middle classes. Unprecedented hikes in the cost of energy have increased the numbers of those in fuel poverty; and with the so-called energy price cap in the UK set to experience another significant increase in October, fuel poverty is certain to continue growing. At the same time, rising food prices put the household finances of working people under additional pressure.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
People Power Party’s Supreme Council Decides to Convene National Committee for Shift to Emergency Response Committee
On August 2, the People Power Party held a meeting of its Supreme Council, which decided to convene a National Committee, accelerating the party’s shift towards an emergency leadership system. The decision came after the party’s lawmakers defined the current situation as an emergency, requiring a shift to an emergency committee system at a general meeting of lawmakers the previous day.
Two More Cases of the Centaurus Variant from India Confirmed: New Daily Cases of COVID-19 Record 111,789
The Central Disease Control Headquarters of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency announced that as of midnight August 2, authorities have confirmed two more patients with the BA.2.75 variant (Centaurus) in South Korea. One was in his fifties residing in Jeollanam-do and the other was in his thirties living in Gyeongsangbuk-do. Both had entered the country from India and were categorized as cases from overseas. The patient in Jeollanam-do arrived in Korea on July 23 without any symptoms and was confirmed positive on July 24. The patient in Gyeongsangbuk-do arrived on July 22 and was confirmed positive the same day.
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.
US House Speaker Pelosi Visits Taiwan Despite China Threats
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday despite repeated warnings and threats from China. A U.S. congressional delegation led by Pelosi landed in Taiwan at 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday from Malaysia. Pelosi is expected to meet with Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, and legislators on Wednesday before leaving the island at around 4 or 5 p.m.
Heavy Rains to Hit Capital Region, Western Gangwon on Wednesday Morning
Heavy rains are forecast for the capital region and western parts of Gangwon Province on Wednesday morning. According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, a heavy rain advisory is in place for parts of Gyeonggi Province and Wonju in Gangwon Province, as of 7:10 a.m. The regions are receiving torrential rains of 15 to 30 millimeters per hour with thunder, lightning and gusts.
3.1 Magnitude Earthquake Occurs Near Geomun Island
An earthquake with a magnitude of three-point-one occurred near Geomun Island in the country's western waters on Wednesday morning. According to the Korea Meteorological Administration(KMA), the earthquake was reported at 7:55 a.m. about 104 kilometers south-southeast of Geomun Island, which is a part of Yeosu City, South Jeolla Province.
Yoon orders public discussion on plan to lower school entry age
President Yoon Suk-yeol has ordered the education ministry to swiftly put to public debate the government's proposal to lower the elementary school starting age by one year to 5, an official said Tuesday. Yoon also instructed the ministry to play a role in facilitating bipartisan discussions about the plan in the National Assembly because the plan is subject to parliamentary approval, said senior presidential secretary for social affairs Ahn Sang-hoon.
U.S. welcomes Speaker Pelosi's trip to S. Korea, Japan: White House
U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes the ongoing trip to Asia by the speaker of the House of Representatives that will soon take her to South Korea and Japan, a White House official said Tuesday. The remarks by John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, came as Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) arrived in Taiwan on a visit protested by Beijing.
Presidential office hoping for swift normalization of ruling party
The presidential office said Tuesday it hopes the ruling party is quickly normalized, shortly after the People Power Party (PPP) decided to convene a meeting to discuss switching to an emergency leadership system. "The party is going through a complicated and difficult problem, and we just hope it will be stabilized soon," a presidential official said.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
S. Korea, Australia to discuss defense cooperation, Indo-Pacific strategy
The South Korean and Australian defense chiefs will discuss a wide range of issues including North Korea, Indo-Pacific strategy and defense cooperation in Canberra this week. South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup kicked off his first five-day trip to Australia Tuesday at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles.
Police bureau launched amid ongoing controversy
A new police bureau under the Interior Ministry was finally launched on Tuesday amid fierce opposition from police officers, represented by the National Police Commission. The NPC expressed regret and warned of legal action against the ministry for not going through the deliberation and resolution process.
South Korea condemns North for ‘abusing’ NPT regime, urges to cease provocations
South Korea strongly condemned the North for “abusing” the Non-Proliferation Treaty to openly develop nuclear weapons and urged the regime to return to dialogue for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization during international nuclear arms talks. Addressing the 10th NPT Review Conference held at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday,
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Chip 4, '3 Nos' complicate Korea-China ties
Korea is at a critical juncture over its ties with China as it faces increasing pressure to choose a side amid the intensifying Sino-U.S. rivalry, with any decision potentially causing further uncertainties in bilateral relations. Currently, Korea has been asked to respond to the U.S. invitation by the end of August to participate in the envisaged strategic alliance of four global chip powerhouses that also includes Japan and Taiwan, also known as the Chip 4 or Fab 4, a platform apparently aimed at countering China's growing influence in global supply chains.
KCCI sets 'industrialization of Korean food' as nat'l development project
The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) announced Tuesday that it has set the development of the Korean food manufacturing industry as the theme for this year's national growth project contest, Tuesday. The KCCI started the National Development Project last year to spur private businesses to find solutions to the structural problems facing Korea.
Defense chiefs of Korea, Australia to meet for talks on arms industry cooperation
Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup departed for Canberra, Tuesday, for talks with his Australian counterpart Richard Marles on arms industry cooperation and regional security. According to the Ministry of Defense, the two are scheduled to meet in the capital Thursday, in the first official talks between the nations' defense chiefs since the Australian Labor Party took power in May.
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