Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“Uzbek-Korea ties upgraded to Special Strategic Partnership”
Deputy Head of Mission Zokir Saidov of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Seoul said, “As a result of a mutual beneficial cooperation in recent years, Uzbek-Korean relations have been upgraded to the level of Special Strategic Partnership." Then he said, "Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, 18 meetings have been held at the level of heads of state.” Speaking on behalf of Ambassador Vitaliy Fen whose spouse recently deceased and was unable to attend the meeting at Lotte Hotel on Oct. 21, 2022, DHM Saidov said, “As a result of these meetings we have achieved mutual agreements in developing our relationships in political, economic, trade, cultural and humanitarian fields." Then he said, “Last December, the state visit of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the Republic of Korea was a historic event in mutual relations.” (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this report.)
More than 149 killed at Halloween festivities in Itaewon, Seoul
More than 149 people have died in a stampede among huge crowds for Halloween festivities in Itaewon, Seoul, government officials said. The first big Halloween celebration since the end of Covid-19 restrictions on people gathering turned to tragedy on Saturday night on Oct. 29, when huge crowds of partygoers, many in their late teens and 20s, converged in the entertainment district for late-night Halloween celebrations. Authorities are still investigating what caused the incident, but Choi Seong-bum, chief of the Yongsan-gu Fire Department, said it was a stampede, in which many people fell, injuring at least 76 people.
“Korea will strive to further expand exchange, cooperation with Nigeria"
President Yoon Suk-yeol hosted summit talks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on expanding bilateral cooperation on Oct. 26 at his office in Seoul's Yongsan-gu District. President Yoon welcomed President Buhari, the first Nigerian leader to visit Korea in 10 years, and expressed sympathy for the Nigerian people for the damage caused by record-breaking floods in the African country, according to the Office of the President. President Buhari is in Seoul to attend the 2022 World Bio Summit. "I sincerely welcome you, the Nigerian president, for coming to Korea for the first time in 10 years," President Yoon said. "Record-breaking floods recently caused a lot of casualties in Nigeria, and on behalf of the Korean people, I express my condolences to the victims and their bereaved families while hoping for an early return to daily life."
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea Mourns Victims of Halloween Stampede in Itaewon
Korea has declared a weeklong state of national mourning after at least 154 people were crushed to death and 132 injured when thousands converged in a small alley in the Itaewon entertainment district of Seoul on Saturday night. They were among some 100,000 revelers who converged on the neighborhood to celebrate the first Halloween weekend since lockdown was lifted. According to police, 98 of the dead were women and 56 men, mostly in their 20s. They included four teenagers and 26 foreigners from 14 countries including the U.S., Japan, China, Iran and Norway.
Yoon Declares National Mourning
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday declared a week of national mourning in a televised statement on Sunday after the deadly Halloween stampede in Itaewon the previous day. "A tragedy that should not have happened occurred in the middle of Seoul last night. My heart is heavy and broken," Yoon said. He pledged to "thoroughly investigate the cause of incident" and make every effort to prevent a repeat of the tragedy. Yoon stayed up all night Saturday to oversee the government's response over the stampede that killed at least 154 people.
Lula Da Silva Wins Brazil's Presidential Runoff Vote
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva triumphed over incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro Sunday in Brazil's presidential runoff vote. Da Silva had 50.9 percent of the ballots with 99.9 percent of the votes counted. Election officials said Lula's victory was a mathematical certainty. "They tried to bury me alive and here I am," President-elect Da Silva said Sunday. The far-right Bolsonaro did not acknowledge defeat on Sunday. However, a day before the runoff vote he said, "There is not the slightest doubt. Whoever has more votes, takes it [the election]."
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Many foreign victims of Itaewon crush were students
Many of the foreigners killed in Itaewon on Saturday were exchange students staying in Korea for a few months. Tomikawa Mei, a 26-year-old Japanese student studying the Korean language in Seoul, texted her dad just a few hours before the tragedy. Sending him a photo of a lunch of bibimbap she was having in Insa-dong that day, Tomikawa told her father she was “meeting up with a French friend later,” according to the Hokkaido Cultural Broadcasting. Tomikawa is from Nemuro, Hokkaido.
Joining Japanese fleet review causes controversy
South Korea's foreign and defense ministers on Monday defended the country's decision to send a navy ship to participate in Japan's international fleet review next month, saying Korea need to cooperate with neighbors to bolster its security. It will be its first participation in the event in seven years. The South Korean Navy plans to send the 10,000-ton logistics support ship ROKS Soyang to the fleet review, which is due to be held in Sagami Bay near Tokyo on Nov. 6.
Korea 'guaranteed' role in Polish nuclear project
Korea came a step closer to winning a contract to build a nuclear power plant in Poland. If it does, it will be Korea’s first full nuclear power plant export in 13 years. In a press briefing in Seoul on Monday, Poland's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Asset Jacek Sasin said Korea is "100 percent" guaranteed to be a partner in the Patnow nuclear power plant project. Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Lee Chang-yang said he expects construction of the plant to begin around 2025 or 2026, but Sasin said it may take a little longer.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Mourners pay tribute to Halloween victims at altar in Seoul Plaza, Itaewon station
Hundreds of white chrysanthemum flowers are placed in front of the No. 1 exit of Itaewon station in Yongsan-gu, Seoul at 11 a.m. on Monday. It is a space voluntarily created by citizens to pay tribute to the victims of the Halloween crowd surge in Itaewon. Mr. Seo Geon-hoon in a black suit knelt in front of it, paid a silent tribute, and made a deep bow. Seo said he was in Itaewon for Halloween with his friends near the deadly accident on Saturday. He saw heavy crowds in a narrow alley but quickly left the area with his friends.
India suspension bridge collapsed, plunging festival crowd into river
Around 130 people were killed on Sunday after a suspension pedestrian bridge that crosses through the Machchhu River, Gujarat, the Western state of India. The casualties grew significantly as many tourists flocked to the bridge to enjoy Diwali, India’s biggest Hindu festival that takes place every year in October and November. The cables supporting the bridge snapped on Sunday afternoon, plunging people on the bridge into the river below, among whom at least 132 died.
Japan dispatches police for Halloween events
Around the same time on the same day as the Halloween disaster in Itaewon in South Korea, hundreds of thousands of people also gathered in Shibuya, Tokyo to enjoy the Halloween event, which took place for the first time in three years since the outbreak of COVID-19. Unlike the tragic incident in Itaewon, there wasn’t any dangerous situation. The police maintained order in real time to prevent accidents, and the local government has been conducting a campaign since more than a month ago. In New York, traffic in over 100 streets was controlled, and many police officers were dispatched during Halloween.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Seoul advises public institutions, lenders to keep domestic debt issues to minimum
South Korean authorities struggling to revive debt market have asked public and financial issuers sharing high-quality investment grade of sovereign credit to refrain from domestic bond issues until local market recovers from panic over default by a municipal debt. The Ministry of Economy and Finance has asked the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy to advise Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), Korea Gas Corp. and other public utility firms to raise debt overseas or seek bank loans instead of aggravating the market with new bond issues, according to a high-ranking financial ministry official on Sunday.
S. Korean Sept output in triple negative on weaker external demand and high prices
South Korea’s factory output fell for the third straight month in September against the previous month due to weakened chip- and steel-making activity from subdued external demand and flood disaster, while domestic demand turned negative amid strong inflation and rising interest rates. According to data released by Statistics Korea on Monday, the seasonally adjusted mining and manufacturing output in September fell 1.8 percent from the previous month, extending the losing streak for the third month.
Foreign buying in Korean shares increases amid exit from HK and Chinese markets
Foreigners have upped net buying in Korean shares this month, timed with their exodus from Hong Kong and Chinese stock markets amid jitters over the extension of a single-man rule in Beijing. Foreign investors have net purchased 3.05 trillion won ($2.1 billion) in Korean stocks in October, according to data from the Korea Exchange and the Korea Securities Depository. They had net sold 16.2 trillion won worth from January to June this year. In the second half, they bought around a net 7 trillion won worth.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Common sense and fairness out the window, Yoon Suk-yeol leans hard right
After facing a firestorm over what sounded like vulgar remarks captured on a hot mic during a US visit, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is facing a new controversy — this one involving “red-baiting” remarks. At an Oct. 19 invitational luncheon organized by the head of the People Power Party (PPP) non-parliamentary party committee, Yoon said that “pro-Pyongyang ‘juche believers’ are anti-state and anti-Constitution forces,” adding that it was “not possible to cooperate with them.” This was a different sort of issue from the hot mic gaffe. Viewed within the context of politics, it reads as a declaration that Yoon’s administration does not intend to “cooperate” with the opposition party.
154 perish in S. Korea’s Halloween nightmare: 3 factors that contributed to mass casualties
In the aftermath of the worst crowd crush in South Korea’s modern history, many are expressing anger and grief over the tragedy that they say could’ve been avoided. The Hankyoreh has analyzed the incident to understand why it had a much higher death toll than other large-scale crowd surges that have occurred elsewhere in the world. More than 100,000 people had gathered in Itaewon on the night of the accident, as it was the first Halloween weekend in three years for which social distancing and other disease control measures were lifted.
Narrow Itaewon side street becomes site of worst crowd crush in Korea’s history
A total of 154 were confirmed dead and 132 injured as of 10:30 pm on Sunday after the worst crowd crush in South Korean history, which occurred in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood on Saturday evening. The massive tragedy happened as crowds of people visiting the neighborhood to enjoy the weekend ahead of the Halloween holiday on Monday ended up caught and smothered in a narrow, sloping alley. Many of the victims were young people in their 20s. Whereas crowd crushes and stampedes typically occur in settings with restricted entrances such as religious and sporting events, the Itaewon tragedy happened in an open setting in the heart of Seoul, amid previous predictions that over 100,000 people would be visiting the neighborhood for the festivities.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
“I Came for My Baby...” A Bolt from the Blue Keeps Families up All Night
A woman broke down as soon as she entered the funeral hall at Paik Hospital in Uijeongbu-si, Gyeonggi at around 2:50 p.m. October 30. The moment she saw her daughter’s friend, an endless stream of tears flowed as she cried, “This can’t be...” “She won’t answer. There are no wounds. No matter how I pull or rub against her, nothing. Even when I put my face against hers, there’s no answer... How can this be happening to me?” The mother continued to mutter in utter despair. “She even survived a major accident. I had hoped she would hang on and live...” A, a woman in her fifties, who was close friends with the victim, held the mother’s hand and cried, “What do we do?”
“Pushing, Holding on... Screaming, the People Fell Like Dominoes”
“I heard someone from behind say, ‘Push.’ People in front tried to move back, and the people from behind pushed, so the people in the middle screamed, ‘Help!’ In less than 2-3 minutes, the people fell like dominoes.” This was how Gim (35), who was in Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul on October 29, described the accident he had witnessed. He said he was watching the crowd that had flooded into the alley from a bar located on the second floor of a building near the site of the accident. The narrow alley--4 meters wide and 45 meters long--that sloped down next to the Hamilton Hotel, was abuzz with the party atmosphere, but soon everything turned to chaos.
“Silly Fake News,” Says President Yoon on Allegation that He Had Drinks with Han Dong-hoon in Cheongdam-dong
President Yoon Suk-yeol spoke on the alleged gathering for drinks in Cheongdam-dong with Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon, mentioned by Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Kim Eui-kyeom and said, “Instigation with such base and silly fake news is ignoring the people, and frankly, (inappropriate) to even mention...,” on October 28. On Friday, the president met with reporters on his way to work at the Office of the President in Yongsan. When a reporter asked about the allegation, the president gave the answer, asking reporters for other questions. President Yoon continued and said, “Any mention of such things coming from the president’s mouth itself is a problem related to our national prestige.”
US Rejects Possibility of Recognizing N. Korea as Nuclear State
The United States has reiterated that it will never recognize North Korea as a nuclear state in accordance with U.S. policy. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price issued the position on Monday during a press briefing in response to a question about whether such recognition by the U.S. is a possibility. Price said it is “not the U.S. policy” and does not foresee it ever becoming a policy, even after recent comments by U.S. undersecretary of arms control Bonnie Jenkins regarding potential arms control talks with Pyongyang.
S. Korea, Poland Sign MOU, LOI on Nuclear Power Plant Project
South Korea and Poland have signed an agreement to work together on a project to build nuclear power plants in the European country. South Korea's state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power(KHNP), Polish private energy group ZE PAK and Polish state-owned public power company PGE signed a letter of intent on Monday in Seoul to that effect. ZE PAK plans to build nuclear power plants in Patnow, central Poland, to replace an existing thermoelectric power plant. The three entities plan to produce a basic plan for the project by the end of this year. They will go through a preliminary feasibility study before signing the final agreement.
Itaewon Crush Death Toll Rises to 155
The death toll from the crowd crush in Itaewon late Saturday night rose by one to 155 as of Monday night after a woman in her 20s died while receiving treatment. According to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, the number of people injured in the accident also rose by four to 152, with 30 in critical condition, bringing the total number of casualties to 307 as of 11 p.m. Monday. Among the dead, 100 victims are women and 55 are men, with those in their 20s accounting for the largest portion at 103, followed by those in their 30s at 31 and teenagers at 12.
South Korea mourns Itaewon crush deaths
White mourning flowers and condolence gifts have been laid, and stores bearing condolence messages suspended business in Seoul's Itaewon district Monday, as South Korea mourned the country's deadliest crowd crush in the neighborhood amid soul-searching about what went wrong. Mourning altars laden with white chrysanthemums also opened across the nation to allow people to burn incense and pay their respects to those killed in Saturday night's crush that left at least 155 people, mostly in their 20s, killed and 30 others seriously injured.
U.S. does not and will not recognize N. Korea as nuclear state: State Dept.
The United States does not and will not recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons state as it seeks to completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, a state department spokesperson said Monday. "That is not our policy. I do not foresee that ever becoming a policy," Ned Price told a press briefing when asked about the possibility of the U.S. ever recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state. The remarks come as North Korea is widely anticipated to conduct a nuclear test, its seventh, in the near future. Price has said Pyongyang continues to prepare for a nuclear test and that a test could take place "at any point."
N. Korea urges U.S. to stop joint air drills with S. Korea, warns of 'more powerful' actions
North Korea warned Tuesday that it could stage "more powerful follow-up measures" if the United States continues "military provocations," citing its large-scale combined air exercise with South Korea. A spokesman at the North's foreign ministry denounced the ongoing combined air drills by the allies, called Vigilant Storm, as "ceaseless and reckless" military provocations. The exercise is "a war drill for aggression mainly aimed at striking the strategic targets of the DPRK in case of contingency in the Korean Peninsula," the unnamed spokesman said in an English language statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
US does not and will not recognize N. Korea as nuclear state: State Dept.
The United States does not and will not recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons state as it seeks to completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, a state department spokesperson said Monday. "That is not our policy. I do not foresee that ever becoming a policy," Ned Price told a press briefing when asked about the possibility of the US ever recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state. The remarks come as North Korea is widely anticipated to conduct a nuclear test, its seventh, in the near future.
Stronger control was necessary, said the witnesses recounting the accident
Around the moment of the accident, many foreign tourists who witnessed the scene commented the main street should have been closed to help create extra space. “I’ve managed to escape the ally (where the accident took place) just before it happened,” said Nofit, a 29-year-old tourist. “It almost took 15 minutes to walk about three to four meters.” However, Nofit said she saw police or guards guiding the crowd inside the subway station after the disaster, but not that many police beforehand.
Corporate bank loans surge amid liquidity concerns
Loans taken out by South Korean companies this month from major local banks increased by 8.8 trillion won ($6.18 billion), the biggest monthly rise in 13 months, sparking concerns over fresh liquidity strains amid global headwinds sapping business confidence. Data from the five lenders -- KB Kookmin, Shinhan, Hana, Woori and NongHyup -- showed conglomerates or large companies holding at least 10 trillion won in assets accounted for 66 percent of the 8.8 trillion won surge in borrowing, with small and medium-sized enterprises making up the rest.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Excessive sharing of distressing media on crowd crush sparks mental health concerns
Indiscriminate sharing of photos and videos via social media of the tragic crowd crush in Itaewon during the weekend has taken a broader toll as concerns rise about the fallout on people's mental health. "The Itaewon tragedy kept playing in my mind and I can't stop thinking of it. I even had a nightmare last night after watching all these videos," one social media user wrote on Twitter. As many details of the fatal crowd crush have been described in the news and social media on Saturday night, a growing number of people claim they are suffering from depression, anxiety and anger.
Hong Kongers find Itaewon tragedy reminiscent of past, question lack of crowd control in Seoul
Some claim the Saturday crowd crush in Itaewon, which killed at least 154 people as of Monday, was like a natural disaster that no one could have prevented. However, many Hong Kongers who learned lessons from a similar incident in Lan Kwai Fong in 1993 think it was the government's job to control the crowds to prevent such a tragedy from happening. "As a Hong Kong government official, what I thought first when I saw what happened in Itaewon was why the government did not control the crowd," an official working for a Hong Kong government administration said on condition of anonymity.
Korea signs MOU, LOI with Poland for nuclear energy cooperation
A group of energy authorities and business executives from Poland signed a letter of intent (LOI) and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with their Korean counterparts, Monday, for cooperation on a construction project for a nuclear power plant in Patnow, central Poland, the energy ministry said. They are officials of Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), a state-owned public power firm in Poland, ZE PAK, the country's largest solar power plant, Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP).
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