Thursday, August 25, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Korean-Chinese ties continue to grow in trade, other areas despite obstacles
Today, the Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of China commemorate the 30th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties with events in their capital cities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea announced this morning that official anniversary ceremonies will be held concurrently at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul at 7 p.m. today and the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing at 6 p.m., China time also today. Foreign Minister Park will attend the Seoul gathering and read President Yoon Suk Yeol’s letter celebrating the 30-year milestone between the two countries.
KCCI Chairman Chey stresses the need of Korea-China cooperation between entrepreneurs
Chey Tae-won, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), and concurrently chairman of the SK Group, said on Aug. 24, "Korea and China desperately need economic cooperation between entrepreneurs based on trust more than ever." "Uncertainty is growing in various areas such as economic contraction caused by inflation, rising energy and raw material prices, and international disputes," Chairman Chey said at the "Business forum to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and China."
CHIVAS Whisky partner with 10 Korean leading hip-hop artists
The global whisky icon 'CHIVAS' that belongs to Pernod Ricard Korea, a global wine and spirits company, announced a new campaign with the most spotlighted 10 artists in local hip-hop scene to cheer the growth make together under its brand campaign of I RISE WE RISE. 10 hip-hop artists, regarded as the icons of success, are ‘Simon Dominic’, ‘Woo Won-jae’, ‘Coogie’ 'The Quiett', 'Paloalto', 'Ash-B', 'TOIL', 'Giriboy', 'JUSTHIS', and 'Kid Milli' who are leading the hip-hop scene in Korea and being loved by many fans in Korea.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Household Debt Growth Slows Amid Interest Hike
Household debt in Korea surpassed W1.8 quadrillion in the second quarter of this year to a new record high (US$1=W1,346). But at least the increase slowed due to rising interest rates and a decline in the housing market. According to the Bank of Korea on Tuesday, the country's total household debt stood at a whopping W1.87 quadrillion at the end of June, up another W6.4 trillion from the previous quarter. But the increase slowed down compared to last year, when it was snowballing by tens of trillions of won every quarter.
Remote Island Boasts Korea's Highest Employment Rate
Rugged Ulleung Island with its 9,000 souls far off in the East Sea has Korea's highest employment rate. According to Statistics Korea on Tuesday, Ulleung boasted an employment rate of 85 percent in the first half of this year. Previously the distinction was held by another rural community, Jangsu in North Jeolla Province, but in 2014 Ulleung took over. The island's employment rate has never fallen below 80 percent except in 2016 since the main source of gainful employment -- squid fishing -- can be done all year round.
Korea's Dependence on Chinese Battery Materials Grows
Korea is increasingly dependent on China for core materials for rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles. China has a near-monopoly on rare minerals and materials used for EV batteries and sales of EVs are surging around the world. According to the Korea International Trade Association on Monday, China accounted for a whopping 80 percent of Korea's total imports of lithium hydroxide, cobalt and natural graphite in the first seven months of this year.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Leaders mark 30th anniversary of Korea-China ties despite challenges
The leaders of South Korea and China exchanged congratulatory letters on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations Wednesday, both sides calling for deepening of ties despite steep diplomatic challenges. President Yoon Suk-yeol said in a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he hopes that the two countries would "seek a new direction of cooperation for the next 30 years based on the spirit of mutual respect and reciprocity," according to the presidential office.
Samsung C&T to build two solar power plants in Qatar
Samsung C&T landed a $630-million deal to build solar power plants in Qatar.
The construction company on Wednesday said that it signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with state-run QatarEnergy. As exclusive contractor for the project, Samsung C&T will build two solar power plants in Qatar with a combined capacity of 875 megawatts. A 417-megawatt solar farm will be built in Mesaieed, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Doha, and a 458-megawatt farm will be built in Ras Laffan,
Joint drill to be commanded by Korean for first time
This year's joint South-U.S. military exercise is being led by the Korean deputy commander of the allies' joint command for the first time, United States Forces Korea (USFK) said Tuesday. The 11-day Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS), which started on Monday, is set to run through Sept. 1 and integrates civilian contingency drills with large-scale military field exercises that did not take place under the Moon Jae-in administration.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Half of marginalized families fail to receive welfare assistance
It has been revealed that half of the households that do manage to be selected as “marginalized families” through the government’s welfare blind spot identification system still do not receive welfare assistance. Only three out of 100 marginalized households were found out to be the recipient of stable public assistance, including the livelihood security system and assistance for the second-lowest income bracket. Critics say that the identification of those in the blind spot of welfare assistance is important, but more fundamentally, it is important to provide more concentrated assistance for the low-income households.
Gov't will be alert on growing macro-economic difficulties, says Yoon
President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea instructed for thorough preparations in response to the increasingly difficult economic situations home and abroad, amid skyrocketing won-dollar exchange rate and widening trade balance deficits affecting the country. The president stated that the domestic and global macro-economy is struggling even more than we’ve forecasted with experts from private sector from the (first) meeting of May 13, cautioning that with heightened volatilities in financial and currency markets,
Financial Times: Hyundai, Kia are catching up with Tesla in EV race
Hyundai Motor Group is growing to pose a competitive threat to Tesla, the No. 1 company in the global electric vehicle market. While the South Korean company is facing a challenge as the Inflation Reduction Act took effect in the U.S., customers are showing positive responses and the company is launching new model called Ioniq 6, which is garnering much attention. “Globally, excluding China, Hyundai and Kia are the second-biggest electric carmakers by shipments, with a combined 14 per cent market share. Tesla holds the top spot at 27 per cent,”
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
KEPCO adds $22 bn debt while incurring $11 bn in losses H1, nears debt ceiling
Money-losing state utility Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) has added nearly 30 trillion won ($22.4 billion) over the past year, sitting on the largest debt load among Korean publicly trading companies in non-financial sector, as it struggles with power monopoly operation incurring losses of 14.3 trillion won in the first half alone. According to Seoul-based financial data tracker FnGuide on Wednesday, KEPCO’s consolidated debt piled up to a fresh historic high of 165.8 trillion won as of end of June, increasing 28.5 trillion won from the same period a year ago.
HMG Chairman departs for U.S. amid concerns about IRA
Chung Euisun, chairman of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, on Tuesday headed for the United States, as the Korean automobile conglomerate could be stalled in EV sales upon losing tax grant under a new U.S law. According to multiple industry sources on Wednesday, Chung departed Seoul for a business trip to the U.S.
SsangyYong Motor buyout by KG Group gets full blessing from local antitrust authority
SsangYong Motor’s restart under the new ownership of KG Group has been unconditionally blessed by the South Korean antitrust authority. The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday granted the acquisition without any remedial conditions upon finding little conflict of interest in the steel and car making industries from the M&A. KG Mobility filed for business consolidation with the antitrust authority on July 22 after signing an agreement to acquire about 61 percent stake in SsangYong Motor.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korean audit agency takes aim at Moon-era policies, prompting objections of bias
The Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) is gearing up for a focused audit this fall targeting key policies implemented by the Moon Jae-in administration, including its new and renewable energy projects and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The situation appears poised to fuel questions of the BAI’s “political bias,” which have been raging in the wake of its audits of the Korea Communications Commission and the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission shortly after the Yoon Suk-yeol administration took office.
Korean industries reeling on surging won-dollar exchange rate
With the won-dollar exchange rate continuing to soar, South Korea’s domestic industries are being hit hard. Businesses are pointing out that major management-related variables have rapidly changed, raising risk management costs as well as further pushing up the price of imported raw materials, which were already high. Although usually a surge in the won-dollar exchange rate results in stronger export competitiveness of domestic products and thus boosts exports, things don’t look as rosy this time around.
Changing China, changing Korea: 30 years of diplomatic relations and what lies ahead
How should a country handle ties with a China that has changed significantly? South Korea isn’t the only one grappling with the question as it marks the 30th anniversary of its diplomatic relations with China on Wednesday. As Beijing adopts increasingly aggressive foreign and trade policies — having risen to become one of the world’s “G2 countries” thanks to an unprecedented rate of economic growth
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Government to Continue Restricting Face-to-face Visits at Care Hospitals During the Chuseok Holiday
On August 24, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said, “We will concentrate more on managing care hospitals and facilities,” and announced, “We will continue to restrict face-to-face visits to prevent the infection of the elderly during the Chuseok holiday.” The prime minister made the announcement in a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in response to COVID-19 at the government office in Sejong this day.
North Korean Media Claims the South Conducting Military Exercises with the U.S. Is the Same as “An Arsonist Claiming to Put out the Fire”
North Korean media outlets continued criticizing South Korea on August 23, the second day of the ROK-US military exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS). The North Korean media outlet, Uriminzokkiri, released a comment this day and said, “The Ulchi Freedom Shield is the most daring exercise to invade North Korea, assuming that there will be a military invasion of our country.”
A Larger Security Zone Around Former President Moon Jae-in’s Residence and Tighter Inspections
The security zone around former President Moon Jae-in’s residence will be expanded beginning August 22. On August 21, the Presidential Security Service announced that they designated a larger security zone surrounding former President Moon’s residence in Pyeongsan Village in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. The previous security area only covered the space enclosed by the house fence, but the Security Service explained that they expanded the zone up to 300 meters from this fence. The newly designated security area will be enforced as of midnight August 22.
Yoon, Xi Exchange Letters on 30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties
President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged letters on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties, expressing ambitions for a fruitful future together. According to Seoul's presidential office on Wednesday, the two leaders exchanged congratulatory letters that were read out by their respective foreign ministers in Seoul and Beijing during official events marking the anniversary.
S. Korea Posted New Low in No. of Newborns in 2021
The number of babies born in the nation posted another record low last year, standing at 260-thousand-600. Statistics Korea revealed the figure on Wednesday, the lowest to be posted since the statistics agency began to compile related data in 1970. Compared to 2020, the number of newborns slipped four-point-three percent. Such a drop is a narrower margin than those of the period between 2016 and 2020, when the number of newborns saw an annual drop of around ten percent.
Int'l Tribunal to Announce Verdict in Lone Star Investor-State Dispute Settlement on Aug. 31
The verdict of a near decade-long multi-billion dollar lawsuit filed by a private equity firm against the South Korean government is expected next week. According to the justice ministry on Wednesday, an International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes tribunal has notified it that the final ruling in the investor-state dispute settlement(ISDS) case filed by U.S. firm Lone Star will be announced on August 31.
DP's central committee votes down charter revision proposal
The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) on Wednesday decided not to revise its charter in connection with party membership suspension of those facing criminal charges amid criticism the attempt is aimed at protecting former presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung. The DP's central committee held a vote and decided to drop the revision proposal and maintain the current charter that mandates membership suspension for those who are indicted.
Top Air Force legal officer questioned over suicide death of servicewoman
The Air Force's chief legal affairs officer was questioned Wednesday by an independent counsel team looking into the military's handling of the suicide death last year of a female noncommissioned officer who was sexually assaulted by a male colleague. Brig. Gen. Jeon Ik-soo appeared before the office of special prosecutor Ahn Mi-young in Seoul in the afternoon. The team, launched this June, is probing into suspicions surrounding the death of Lee Ye-ram, including whether military officials attempted to cover up the case.
S. Korean military leading key exercise with U.S. in step toward OPCON transition
South Korea is leading the entirety of a major combined military exercise with the United States for the first time, Seoul officials said Wednesday, in a sign of progress in the allies' plan for the transition of wartime operational control (OPCON). Gen. Ahn Byung-Seok, the deputy commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC), is leading the ongoing Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise -- a venue for a key test of Seoul's capabilities to retake the OPCON from Washington.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Ruling party, government agree on more subsidies in 2023 budget
The government and ruling People Power Party will push to introduce a new subsidy for job seekers and increase support for low-income groups in next year’s budget, the ruling party said Wednesday. The ruling party and the government also agreed to include budget for planning storm drains in urban areas in light of recent rains, to direct more funds into supporting disabled people.
NPT members call for N. Korea’s ‘concrete measures’ to abandon nukes in draft final declaration
Member states of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT, are seeking to adopt a final declaration that urges North Korea to promptly take “concrete measures” to abandon its missile and nuclear programs and denies its self-claimed status as a nuclear weapon state. The draft of a final statement on the 10th NPT review conference, which kicked off Aug. 1 and continues until Friday in New York, was released this week in the run-up to the closing.
Xing Haiming says Korea-China relations are solvable
Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming said relations between South Korea and China are declining, but that they could be solved by developing a mature, independent and stable relationship while preserving the core interests of the two. “The current situation is complex and serious. Relations between China and South Korea have entered a new phase,” Xing said at a forum on Tuesday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Korea-China relations in Seoul.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon says he hopes to meet Xi to develop bilateral ties
President Yoon Suk-yeol said, Wednesday, he was looking forward to seeing Chinese President Xi Jinping in person to discuss ways to develop relations between South Korea and China for the next 30 years as Seoul and Beijing celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. In response, Xi said the two countries should be good neighbors, friends and partners, stressing the importance of the bilateral ties. Both leaders' congratulatory messages were read out by their top diplomats
Korean businesses up in arms against US Inflation Reduction Act
Korean businesses have begun taking countermeasures against the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), instead of waiting for a diplomatic settlement over a conflict triggered by the new U.S. law that denies tax credits to buyers of electric vehicles (EVs) manufactured outside of North America, according to industry officials, Wednesday. Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun departed for the U.S. on Tuesday, along with Hyundai Motor President Kong Young-woon, who is in charge of government relations. Although the automotive group declined to confirm details about the executives' itineraries,
Chinese premier calls for quick progress in follow-up FTA talks with Korea
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called Wednesday for quick progress in follow-up free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Korea as he described the two countries as "inseparable" neighbors that should work together to defend supply chain stability. Li's remarks came at a time when Seoul has been striving to maintain its economic partnership with China, its largest trading partner, while continuing to bolster the longstanding security alliance with the United States amid the intensifying rivalry between Beijing and Washington.
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