Friday, December 9, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“Laos is a production base for Korean firms entering into a bigger market in ASEAN, China and others”
“We have one stop service for investors and favorable tax system. Laos can be used as a production base for Korean companies aiming to a bigger market in ASEAN, China and others,” said Ambassador Songkane Luangmuninthone of Laos in Seoul. In an exclusive interview with The Korea Post media, Amb. Luangmuninthone said, “Lao government also supports green and renewable energy, we would like to welcome Korean companies to invest in Laos in the areas of energy, mining, infrastructure, agriculture, ICT, environment, education and healthcare.” He also said, “Similarly, we would like Lao businessmen to invest in Korea in the area of the small owner of Lao food restaurant, massage, sauna, and other small business.”
The Korean software fair, “SoftWave-2022” held at COEX in Seoul
The 7th edition of SoftWave-2022, a Korean Software fair, was held on Dec. 7 at COEX, Seoul by Korean Minister of Science and ICT Lee Jong-ho. Ambassador Amit Kumar of India in Seoul was invited for the inaugural ceremony. He also joined the Minister in the tour of the exhibition including the India pavilion. They, along with An Cheol-su, Member of the National Assembly, Lee Sang-min, Member of the National Assembly, Cho Jun-hui, President of Korea Software Industry Association and Yang Seun-guk, CEO of ET news, participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Yangpyeong has unique, interesting tourist assets, more
Not many people know that Yangyeong-gun, a county some 42.6 kilometers east of Seoul, is where the First Lady of Korea, Madam Kim Keon-hee was born on Sept. 2, 1972. Why the elaborate introduction of the First Lady Kim? In the opinion of many people in Korea, especially the conservatively minded people, First Lady Kim is a symbol of recovery of true democracy and, through her husband (President Yoon Suk-yeol), return of the ‘Good Old Days’ when the Korean people enjoyed all the wonders and advantages of a ‘Free Economy Republic of Korea.’
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea to Donate 100 Milk Cows to Nepal
Korea will donate 101 dairy cows to Nepal, paying forward the generosity of the international community, whose donations of milk cows started its own dairy industry after the war. This is the first time Korea has donated cattle to a foreign country under an official development assistance program. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Wednesday said it will airlift 101 milk cows, two Korean breeding bulls and bull semen to Nepal by year's end in cooperation with Heifer International, an international agency dedicated to donating cattle to poor countries.
N.Korea Fires 130 Artillery Rounds into Sea
North Korea fired about 130 artillery rounds into the maritime buffer zones in the East and West seas on Monday. The Joint Chiefs of Staff here said Monday the shells were fired from multiple rocket launchers in Kumgang, Kangwon Province and Jangsangot, South Hwanghae Province from around 3 p.m. It added that firing them into the buffer zones is a clear violation of a 2018 cross-border military agreement. "We are keeping a close watch on the North’s military movements in close cooperation with the U.S.," the JCS warned.
Sales of Japanese Products Surge Thanks to Weak Yen
Any lingering boycott of Japanese products in Korea has fizzled now the weak yen makes them just too tempting to buy. FRL Korea, which imports Uniqlo, said sales from September 2021 to August 2022 surged 21 percent on-year to W704.3 billion, while operating profit almost doubled to W114.8 billion (US$1=W1,322). The company suffered a W88.4 billion deficit at the height of the boycott in 2020. Uniqlo shut down its flagship store in Myeong-dong last year due to the boycott, but now it is opening new stores here.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
President Yoon holds a banquet for the Taeguk Warriors
President Yoon Suk-yeol hosted a dinner for the Korean national football team to thank them for their accomplishments in the 2022 World Cup Thursday evening. The banquet at the Blue House Yeongbingwan guest house in central Seoul was attended by 21 players, including captain Son Heung-min, coach Paulo Bento and other coaching and support staff. The dinner was an event to "express deep gratitude" to the national football team and the coaching staff, said the presidential office. First lady Kim Keon-hee and other presidential aides also took part in the banquet.
Gov't warns firms in South about North Korean techies
Beware of hiring tech-savvy North Koreans pretending to be what they are not, the Foreign Ministry warned companies in South Korea on Thursday. “DPRK IT [information technology] workers are located all around the world, obfuscating their nationality and identities,” reads an advisory issued jointly by several government bodies in Seoul including the Foreign Ministry and the National Intelligence Service. They were referring to North Korea by the acronym for its full name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
No confidence motion set against interior minister
The Democratic Party (DP) submitted a no-confidence motion against Interior Minister Lee Sang-min to a plenary session of the National Assembly Thursday, setting the stage for a floor vote on Friday. The no-confidence motion calls for Lee’s removal to take responsibility for the inadequate public safety measures that led to the death of 158 people in a Halloween crowd crush in Itaewon in Yongsan District, central Seoul. Speaker Kim Jin-pyo announced Thursday afternoon that the motion had been included the legislative agenda and called on representatives from the DP and the rival People Power Party (PPP) to “negotiate a schedule so that views on this item can be presented” before a vote proceeds.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Putin’s threat of nuclear war with all available means at disposal
In response to the two-day attacks on Russian military facilities, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again threatened to use nuclear weapons, saying, “The threat of nuclear conflict is on the rise. Russia considers nuclear weapons a means of defense or a tool for potential retaliatory strikes.” The U.S. responded by denouncing Putin’s “absolutely irresponsible” remarks. The Russian leader also unprecedentedly acknowledged that the conflict was “going to take a while” in a public meeting.
Lee Boo-jin named in the Forbes’ list of World’s Most Powerful Women
Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin ranked 85th on the Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, the only Korean to be named on the list this year. Having ranked 85th, Lee’s rank jumped up by four steps. Hotel Shilla has defended its performance well despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Hotel Shilla’s operating profit in the third quarter was 1.3618 trillion won, up by 40.6 percent year-on-year. China’s reopening will also be a favorable factor for the company.
Defense White Paper explicitly states N. Korea is an enemy
The 2022 Defense White Paper slated to be published in January is reported to have defined North Korea as an “enemy.” It will be the first time since 2016 that the Defense White Paper deems the North Korean military as the enemy of the state. According to a person familiar with the matter in the Defense Ministry, the draft version of the 2022 Defense White Paper included an expression referring to the North Korean regime and its military as “our enemy.” Earlier, the Presidential Transition Committee announced that it would explicitly state the North Korean regime and its military as an enemy in the Defense White Paper as one of its 110 key tasks.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea orders truckers for steel, petrochemical sectors to return to work
The South Korean government on Thursday ordered truck drivers in the steel and petrochemical industries to return to work, following a similar action imposed to those in the cement sector more than a week ago, as the prolonged strike has disrupted cargo flow and threatening the country’s economy. A total of more than 10,000 truckers are expected to receive the order - 6,000 in the steel industry and 4,500 in the petrochemical industry. The strike has disrupted about 2.6 trillion won ($1.97 billion) worth of cargo in the steel and petrochemical sectors, according to Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho.
S. Korean law firms brace for serious econ downturn next year
South Korea is seeking to come up with guidelines to lift the nationwide indoor mask-wearing mandate by late this month to enable people to go completely mask-free by the end of January. Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said Tuesday that the government plans to have a meeting on Dec. 15 to discuss whether to entirely scrap the face mask-wearing order and have the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters prepare a roadmap with specific guidelines for the removal of indoor mask mandate by Dec. 23, said Han as he expected the country to reach the required level around the end of January.
Samsung Elec, Naver team up to advance hyperscale AI chip solutions
South Korea’s No. 1 semiconductor company Samsung Electronics and the country’s information technology giant Naver will work together to develop advanced semiconductor solutions for hyperscale artificial intelligence (AI). Under the partnership, Samsung Electronics will seek to further upgrade its next-generation memory solutions such as computational storage, processing-in-memory (PIM) and processing-near-memory (PNM), as well as Compute Express Link (CXL) to develop semiconductor solutions for hyperscale AI with Naver’s prowess in hyperscale AI technology backed by its AI algorithms and AI-driven services, said the companies.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Korea issues another round of back-to-work orders for striking truckers
The South Korean government issued a back-to-work order on Thursday for the steel and petrochemical transportation sectors, which are on strike. This is the second issuance of such an order following Nov. 29, when the government issued a back-to-work order for the cement sector. At a Cabinet meeting held at the government complex in Seoul on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said that the government “hereby issues a second round of back-to-work orders for the steel and petrochemical fields following that for the cement sector issued on Nov. 29.”
Korean battery sector tense after Chinese firm slips by IRA and heads to US
The decision by a China-based battery company to invest large amounts in the US while the US has been trying to exclude China from the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain through its Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been drawing attention. There have been many predictions pointing to how the IRA will lead to EV production being shifted to domestic US companies, but this latest case seeto ms point in the opposite direction. According to the battery industry on Tuesday, after China-based battery maker Gotion High-Tech established a joint venture with Germany’s Volkswagen, they invested US$2.36 billion to build a battery materials factory in the US state of Michigan.
S. Korean president likens striking truckers to N. Korean nuclear threat, vows to “lay down law”
The Hankyoreh has confirmed that President Yoon Suk-yeol issued a torrent of hard-line comments directed at striking truckers during closed-door meetings with advisors last week, equating them with the North Korean nuclear threat and calling on the government to “lay down the law.” The comments, coming during a strike led by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU)-affiliated Cargo Truckers Solidarity Division (TruckSol), are drawing fire for revealing Yoon’s hostility toward labor unions by comparing a strike to a threat to national security, and for fanning tension.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Park Hong-keun Gives an Ultimatum, “If the Government and Ruling PPP Refuse to Accept Budget Cuts, We Will Submit Our Revised Budget”
On December 8, Park Hong-keun, floor leader of the Democratic Party of Korea announced, “If the government and ruling party (People Power Party) ultimately refuses the proposal from the Democratic Party, which withdraws tax cuts for the superrich and cuts the budget at a maximum rate to significantly increase the budget for the people’s livelihoods, we have no choice but to submit our own revised budget proposal, if we are to pass the budget in the regular parliamentary session.”
Top 20% Own Assets Worth an Average 1.65 Billion Won, 64-fold of Property Owned by Bottom 20%
The top 20% of households based on wealth (fifth wealth quintile) owned 64 times the property owned by the bottom 20% (first wealth quintile), recording the biggest gap in history. According to the 2022 Survey of Household Finances and Living Conditions released by Statistics Korea on December 1, the mean value of assets owned by the wealthiest 20% was 1,654,570,000 won as of the end of March, while the bottom 20% owned 26,840,000 won. The difference was 64-fold. The gap was the widest since authorities began compiling relevant statistics in 2012. The previous record was set in 2012, when the gap was 62.4-fold.
“The Strike Is the Same as North Korean Nuclear Threats,” President Yoon Raises Pressure on Unionized Truckers
News was released on December 5 that President Yoon Suk-yeol described the strike by the Cargo Truckers Solidarity of the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union, an affiliate of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), as being on par with “North Korean nuclear threats” and emphasized a response according to law and principles. He reaffirmed the government’s hardline stance putting the union strike on par with North Korea’s nuclear program. The ruling People Power Party (PPP) tried to turn the labor issue into one of ideology and identity against the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions using expressions like the “Second Company of the Workers Party of Korea” and “another Lee Seok-ki incident.”
Unionized Cargo Truckers to Vote on Ending Strike on Friday
Unionized cargo truckers will vote on whether to end their strike as it enters its 16th day on Friday. The executive committee of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity union made the decision on Thursday evening in an emergency meeting at the Daejeon office of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. In the marathon meeting, the committee decided to hold a vote of all union members on Friday on whether to continue or end the walkout. The vote will begin at 9 a.m. with the results likely to come around noon.
Top Nuclear Envoys of US, China Discuss N. Korean Provocations
The top nuclear envoys of the United States and China held virtual talks on responding to escalating provocations by North Korea on Wednesday. The U.S. State Department said in a press release on Thursday that Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim held a video conference the day before with his Chinese counterpart Liu Xiaoming to discuss the North's increasingly destabilizing and escalatory behavior. In the call, Kim expressed concern about the unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches conducted by the North this year, including eight intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Yoon to Hold Televised Policy Review Meeting Next Week
President Yoon Suk Yeol will preside over a meeting next Thursday to check the implementation of policy goals in his first year in office and explain plans for next year. Presidential spokesperson Lee Jae-myoung said on Thursday that a panel of 100 citizens will be invited to the televised meeting, which will be held for one hour and 40 minutes. The state policy review meeting, the first of its kind under the Yoon administration, will reportedly address four areas: economy and livelihood; promising future industries; visions and strategy for the era of local autonomy; and reforms on labor, education, and national pension.
Yoon to preside over meeting on key policy tasks
President Yoon Suk-yeol will preside over a meeting next week to check progress on his administration's key policy tasks and communicate with the public on their implementation, his office said Thursday. The meeting will be held next Thursday for 100 minutes and be broadcast live on national television. Around 150 people, including 100 members of the public, will take part in the session.
Yoon hosts dinner for nat'l football team
President Yoon Suk-yeol hosted a dinner for the national football team on Thursday, saying he was deeply moved by their determined spirit that took them to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The dinner was held at the former presidential compound of Cheong Wa Dae, with the attendance of 22 players of the football team, head coach Paulo Bento, and other coaching and support staff. The team returned from Qatar the previous day after reaching the round of 16 for the first time in 12 years.
PM says government to set criteria this month on lifting indoor mask mandate
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said Friday that the government will set criteria within this month on determining whether to lift the indoor mask mandate. "The specific criteria for judgment will be finalized through a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters this month after an open debate and discussion by the advisory committee," Han told a response meeting. The government will advise or ask people to voluntarily wear face masks indoors if COVID-19 containment situations meet the specific standards, including the number of daily infections and deaths, Han said.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
S. Korea warns businesses against hiring NK IT workers
South Korean authorities warned businesses against inadvertently hiring IT staff from North Korea who mask their true identities and take advantage of remote opportunities to skirt international sanctions and earn cash, which is used to bankroll the isolated country’s nuclear and missile programs. “These workers are making millions of dollars annually for the work they do for global IT companies. … And by the day, the money they bring in is making up a bigger part of the dollar operation,”
Yoon sticks to hard-line stance with 2nd back-to-work order
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Thursday approved the Cabinet's request to issue another order mandating striking truckers to return to work, sticking to his hard-line stance against unionized workers, amid his favorability rating hitting a five-month high. The decision was made during an extraordinary Cabinet meeting where ministers agreed to impose legal means to push an end to the strikes. Supply disruptions across the nation have ground factories to a halt, hindering exports of goods from South Korea's export-driven economy, the Cabinet said.
S. Korea posts current account surplus for second straight month but sharply smaller than year earlier
South Korea posted a current account surplus for the second consecutive month in October, but the amount was much smaller than the previous year amid expanded imports and outbound travel, central bank data showed Friday. The country's current account surplus came to $880 million in October, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea. This marked the second straight month of a surplus, though the surplus was nearly halved from the previous month's $1.58 billion. It also represented a sharp fall from a year earlier when the country logged a surplus of $8.01 billion.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Health ministry to review 'Mooncare,' adopt stricter measures for foreign dependents
The Ministry of Health and Welfare will apply stricter standards on insurance coverage in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) checkups and ultrasound scans, undoing the healthcare insurance expansion policies adopted by the previous Moon Jae-in administration. The government will also adopt tougher measures to screen health insurance coverage of foreign residents' dependents by obligating them to reside continuously in Korea for at least six months in order to become eligible for the state healthcare program.
China's Xi, Saudi royals ink deals during high-stakes visit
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince met Thursday on an Arab outreach visit that has earned a rebuke from Washington, reaching deals in areas including energy and infrastructure. Agreements worth about $30 billion were to be signed, Saudi state media said, as China seeks to shore up its Covid-hit economy and as the Saudis, long-term U.S. allies, push to diversify their economic and political alliances. Xi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 37-year-old de facto ruler of the world's biggest oil exporter, met at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, flanked by high-ranking officials wearing face masks, footage aired on state television showed.
Korea to scrap local age counting system from next year
Koreans are expected to get one or two years younger from June next year, as the country has decided to scrap the so-called "Korean age system" in favor of the internationally recognized age calculation standard. Revisions to the Civil Act and the General Act on Public Administration, which aim to unify the country's multiple age systems to the internationally recognized one, was passed at the plenary session of the National Assembly, Thursday. The revision bills will go into effect after six months. Under the new bills, an individual's age will be determined based on their birth date. A newborn baby will be counted as 0 year old and infants' age will be measured in months until they turn one year old.
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