Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
The business climate of Uzbekistan is presented on the Trading Economics platform
The leading international economic statistical online portal Trading Economics, which evaluates over 20 million economic indicators in 196 countries of the world, has published for the first time the Business Climate Index of Uzbekistan calculated by the Center for Economic Research and Reforms (CERR). According to the results of the January survey, the consolidated business climate indicator has shown a slight decrease since the beginning of the year. In particular, in January, the decline was significantly influenced by the dynamics of indicators in the agriculture and services sector.
SK Geo Centric, SUEZ and Loop Industries selected site for joint plastic recycling plant in Saint-Avold, France
SK Geo Centric (SKGC), SUEZ and Loop Industries (Loop) announced on February 15 (Montreal, Canada local time) that the Chemesis industrial platform in Saint-Avold, located in the Grand Est region of France, has been selected as the site for the first European Infinite Loop™ manufacturing facility. SUEZ is a global leader in circular solutions in water and waste, and Loop is a clean technology company whose mission is to accelerate a circular plastics economy by manufacturing 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic and polyester fiber.
Ven. Chief Monk Park Seung-uk of Cheonman Temple named as the Great Monk of World Buddhism
Venerable Chief Monk Hyangdeok (Park Seung-uk) of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple in Ulsan held a Buddhist service with the Nepal World Buddhist Seungga Foundation to pray for world peace and inter-Korean unification. At a temple in Rumbini Park, Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha, on Nov. 1. 2022, Venerable Chief Monk Hyangdeok held a Buddhist service with about 20 Korean monks, including Chief Monk Neungin of the Gakhwang-sa Temple in Chilgok, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
N.Korea Fires More Missiles as S.Korea, U.S. Stage Air Drill
North Korea continued provocations by firing two short-range missiles on Monday while South Korea and the U.S. staged a joint air drill on Sunday after the North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile the previous day. The North fired the Hwasong-15 ICBM capable of striking the U.S. mainland on Saturday. State media said the launch had not been planned but was carried out spontaneously on leader Kim Jong-un's instruction.
N.Korea 'Sold Arms to Russia in Return for White Horses'
North Korea is suspected of supplying arms to Russia since late last year in return for luxury goods including a trainload of white horses. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is thought to have used the prized steeds as gifts for his family and high-ranking officials. An intelligence source said some of the horses were used in a recent military parade. White horses carry powerful symbolism in North Korea, and Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju have posed riding them through a winter landscape on Mt. Baekdu looking like a pair of tubby Elves from "Lord of the Rings."
Fugitive Crypto Bro Has Bitcoin Hoard in Swiss Bank Account
Do Kwon, the fugitive crypto bro behind the spectacular collapse of digital currency Luna, has around W300 billion worth of Bitcoins stashed away in a Swiss account, U.S. officials allege (US$1=W1,300). The former CEO of Terraform Labs cashed in around W100 billion of the money while on the run from the law. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed formal charges against Kwon last Thursday saying he kept more than 10,000 Bitcoins in a "cold wallet," which is a way of holding cryptocurrency tokens offline.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon threatens unions with end of government subsidies
President Yoon Suk Yeol said he will consider ending government subsidies to labor unions that refuse to open their books. "We have no choice but to take strong actions against denying the rule of laws and refusing to disclose the spending of the government money from the people’s taxes,” President Yoon said Monday in meeting with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. Labor union reform starts will the transparency of labor union books,” Yoon said according to his spokesperson Lee Do-woon.
South levies sanctions after North's missile launches
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) toward the East Sea on Monday as Kim Yo-jong, the powerful younger sister of the country's leader Kim Jong-un, warned that Pyongyang could turn the Pacific into a "firing range" depending upon U.S. actions. Seoul immediately responded to Pyongyang's latest provocation and its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch Saturday by levying additional independent sanctions on North Korea. On Monday morning, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected launches from the Sukchon area in North Korea's South Pyongan Province at 7 a.m. and 7:11 a.m.
More Korean food conglomerates finding success overseas
Korean food conglomerates are actively expanding their businesses overseas to target global consumers, and the numbers are backing their progress. Four food conglomerates — Lotte Confectionary, SPC Samlip, Ottogi and Nongshim — are joining the club of food companies that generate over 3 trillion won ($2.3 billion) in revenue annually. The original four companies are CJ CheilJedang, Dongwon F&B, Daesang and Hyundai Green Food. Lotte reported 4.75 trillion won, SPC Samlip 3.31 trillion won, Ottogi 3.2 trillion won and Nongshim 3.13 trillion won.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
N. Korea threatens ‘tactical nuclear strike’ on Cheongju and Gunsan airbases
On Monday, two days after launching a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, North Korea made another provocation by launching a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), most likely a super-large radiation gun (KN-25), setting the South Korea-U.S. air bases as the target of its “tactical nuclear weapon.” The North responded to South Korea and the U.S.’ armed protest by mobilizing B-1B strategic bombers and F-35A stealth fighter jets against Pyongyang, which launched Hwasong-15 the previous day.
One in 10 vehicles sold last year were EVs
Despite a shortage of parts, high-interest rates, and inflation last year, “one in 10” vehicles sold were electric vehicles (EVs). In 2022, Hyundai Motor Group, which launched new vehicles, including the Ioniq 6 and expanded its sales regions, sold 374,963 EVs, up 52.9 percent year-on-year, ranking seventh in global EV sales. The Korean Automotive Research Institute released a report titled “Analysis of Global Electric Vehicle Sales Performance in 2022” on Monday. According to the report, 8,020,555 electric vehicles were sold in the global market, up 67.9 percent from the same period last year.
Kim Jong Un made first unexpected order for ICBM launch
Vanderbilt University, which wrote a statement of condolence for the recent shooting spree at Michigan State University, the U.S. with interactive artificial intelligence (AI) ‘ChatGPT,’ has officially apologized for the strong criticism it received from the public. Bloomberg News reported on Saturday (local time) that the Peabody College Secretariat at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee sent an email to students to express condolences for the victims of the indiscriminate shooting at Michigan State University.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea to allow micro fulfillment centers in cities for robot, drone deliveries
The Korean government plans to commercialize robot deliveries in 2026 and drone deliveries in 2027, while allowing micro fulfillment centers within cites to enable delivery within 30 minutes to an hour to bolster the country’s logistics industry. The plan for building smart logistics infrastructure announced by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Monday aims to increase the growth potential of the Korean logistics industry beyond a labor-intensive one to a new and advanced sector.
New union to provide thrust to Korea’s labor reform efforts
A labor union federation representing the voices of office workers and R&D employees in their 20s and 30s will officially be launched this week in a response by the Millennials and Generation Z, who are opposed to the political struggles waged by the country’s two biggest unions. The establishment of the new union, which calls for performance-based wages based on fair evaluation and a transparent labor union, is raising expectations that Yoon Seok-yeol administration’s labor reform will gain further momentum.
Interest gains at Korea’s top financial groups account for 82% of 2022 profit
South Korea’s four leading financial groups that posted record earnings last year saw their interest income account for more than 80 percent of the operating profit, suggesting that business depends excessively on interest gains. According to multiple sources from the financial industry on Sunday, Korea’s four largest financial holding groups earned 48.4 trillion won ($37.4 billion) in combined operating profit last year, of which 82 percent, or 39.7 trillion won, was from interest profit. The figure goes up to over 90 percent when considering only the banks that are under the groups.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea’s foreign minister calls for “political resolve” from Japan on forced labor issue
The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan met on Saturday (local time) in Germany and discussed the issue of compensation for Korean victims of forced labor during the Japanese colonial period but failed to reach a compromise. The two countries continue to butt heads over whether offending Japanese companies will take part in compensating the victims and if the Japanese government will offer an apology. When asked by reporters if he had broached the subject of an apology by Japan and the offending war criminal companies’ compensation of victims, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin stated, “We talked about everything that we could,”
N. Korea displays missile might ahead of next month’s SK-US military drills
North Korea test-launched a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday afternoon, announcing its plans to show hostile forces its “powerful physical nuclear deterrent.” The show of force is being interpreted as a response to developments including the scheduled 2023 Freedom Shield joint military exercises planned by South Korea and the US in mid-May, along with the US’ recent convening of a UN Security Council meeting targeting North Korea. In South Korea, the administration of President Yoon Suk-yeol responded by holding unscheduled joint aerial exercises with the US on Sunday using the B-1B strategic bomber
Kim Yo-jong says N. Korea’s ICBMs aren’t meant for Seoul
“The US and south Korea [are] undisguised in their dangerous greed and attempt to gain the military upper hand and hold predominant position in the region around the Korean peninsula,” remarked Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “We will watch every movement of the enemy and take corresponding and very powerful and overwhelming counteraction[s] against its every move hostile to us.” Kim Yo-jong offered this warning “upon authorization” on Sunday in her second personal statement published by the Korean Central News Agency this year.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Kim Yo-jong Claims the DPRK Will Use the Pacific Ocean as a Shooting Range and Respond to U.S. Strategic Assets
On February 20, Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a deputy director in the Workers’ Party of Korea said, “How often we use the Pacific Ocean as our shooting range depends on the nature of actions by the U.S. Forces,” and hinted at a military response to the deployment of U.S. strategic assets in the Korean Peninsula. On Monday, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea, in what seems to be a response to the joint aerial drill conducted by the Republic of Korea and the United States.
Under Pressure from the Government and Politicians, Korean Air Postpones Introduction of New Mileage Policy
Korean Air appears to be delaying changes to its mileage program. The airline had decided to introduce a new mileage program on April 1, but under pressure from the government and even the National Assembly following complaints from consumers, the company is said to be considering improvements to its policy. According to the airline industry on February 20, Korean Air tentatively decided to push back its new mileage program, which was scheduled to launch on April 1.
Lee Jae-myung, “You Must Ask a Fortune Teller or Prosecutor Before Making Policy Decisions, Otherwise You Will Be Sent to Prison”
On February 17, Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Jae-myung said, “Policy makers in the Republic of Korea have to ask a fortune teller or a prosecutor before making decisions, because prosecutors can put them in jail anytime if their predictions are wrong.” Lee expressed his thoughts on social media Friday, as he shared a media report claiming prosecutors played with numbers to exaggerate Lee Jae-myung’s misfeasance allegation. On Thursday, prosecutors requested an arrest warrant for Lee in connection with alleged favors in the development of Daejang-dong and the Wirye New Town and donations to the Seongnam Football Club.
Yoon Approves Request for Consent to Arrest DP Chair from Parliament
President Yoon Suk Yeol has approved the justice ministry's plan to send a request for parliamentary consent to arrest main opposition Democratic Party Chairman Lee Jae-myung. The presidential spokesperson's office said the motion seeking consent for Lee's arrest was received on Monday and the president's approval was given, adding that the motion will be sent to the National Assembly. The Seoul Central District Court sent the request for consent to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Friday.
UNSC Fails to Respond to N. Korea's ICBM Launch
The UN Security Council failed to adopt a resolution on North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM) launch during an open session to discuss the matter on Monday. In the session at the UN headquarters in New York, South Korea, the United States and Japan condemned the North's recent series of ballistic missile launches in the strongest terms, calling for an official response by the Security Council. However, China and Russia voiced opposition to any further action by the Council, saying that the North's missile launches were a righteous response to combined military drills between South Korea and the U.S.
New Earthquake Rocks Türkiye-Syria Border
A new earthquake with a magnitude of six-point-four struck southern Türkiye near the Syrian border on Monday, two weeks after a first deadly quake devastated the region. The European Mediterranean Seismological Center(EMSC) said that the tremor occurred at around 8:04 p.m. Monday 16 kilometers west-southwest of Antakya, one of the regions hardest-hit by the earlier earthquakes. The depth of the quake was estimated at ten kilometers. According to Reuters and other media, Turkish interior minister Süleyman Soylu said that at least three people died and 213 people were injured in the tremor, which was reportedly also felt in Egypt and Lebanon.
Yoon approves request for parliamentary consent to opposition leader's arrest
President Yoon Suk Yeol has signed off on a request for parliamentary consent to opposition leader Lee Jae-myung's arrest, his office said Tuesday. The president's endorsement is a procedural step that comes before the justice ministry submits the request for consent to the National Assembly. By law, prosecutors need parliamentary consent to arrest a lawmaker while the assembly is in session. Lee, the chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, faces charges of corruption and bribery in connection with development projects and donations to a municipal football club dating back to his time as mayor of Seongnam, south of Seoul, from 2010-2018.
U.S. calls for UNSC action against N. Korean missile tests, again to no avail
"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the DPRK's February 18 and February 19 launches of three ballistic missiles," U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Security Council, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "Our repeated failures to respond emboldened the DPRK to conduct these destabilizing and exploratory launches without fear of consequences," the U.S. diplomat added, calling for a UNSC presidential statement condemning the North's latest missile provocations.
Exports fall 2.3 pct during first 20 days of Feb.
South Korea's exports fell 2.3 percent on-year in the first 20 days of February, data showed Tuesday, on sluggish shipments of chips. The country's outbound shipments stood at US$33.5 billion in the Feb. 1-20 period, compared with $34.3 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service. Imports rose 9.3 percent on-year to $39.5 billion during the cited period, resulting in a trade deficit of $5.9 billion. Outbound shipments of chips dipped 43.9 percent over the period to reach $3.8 billion, the data showed. In January, exports fell 16.6 percent on-year to reach $46.27 billion, following a 9.5 percent on-year fall the previous month.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Ministers urge opposition to rethink labor-friendly 'yellow envelope' bill
Ministers of finance and labor on Monday urged the opposition party to stop pushing a bill that would prevent unionized workers from being sued by companies to recover financial losses from sit-in protests, calling it "illegitimate." In an emergency press briefing, Labor Minister Lee Jung-sik said the bill lacks “legal stability and predictability" and could lead to "strike omnipotence." “If the revision is passed, the labor union will be able to resolve the dispute by wielding its own power, such as strikes, rather than complying with legal judgments. This can increase the cost and number of labor-management conflicts," he said.
BOK likely to free base rate after 18 months of hikes
With the Bank of Korea set to hold its rate-setting meeting on Thursday, the market is expecting a freeze to the base interest rate for the first time in a year and half, marking an end to its rate hike cycle. The central bank, with its base rate standing at 3.5 percent, has been leading an aggressive monetary tightening policy, continuously raising the key rate since August 2021 to tamp down soaring prices. The market, however, expects the central bank to take a pause this month, considering the slowing economy.
Yoon warns of 'firm action' against labor unions refusing to disclose account books
President Yoon Suk Yeol warned Monday of "firm action" against labor unions that refuse to disclose their account books while receiving large amounts of government subsidies, his office said. Yoon's warning came during a weekly meeting with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo as they discussed ways to increase labor unions' accounting transparency and regulatory reforms, according to presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Biden in Ukraine ahead of war anniversary: 'Kyiv stands'
President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Monday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a gesture of solidarity that comes days before the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of the country. Speaking alongside Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace, Biden recalled the fears nearly a year ago that Russia's invasion forces might quickly take the Ukrainian capital. "One year later, Kyiv stands," Biden said, jamming his finger for emphasis on his podium decorated with the U.S. and Ukrainian flags. "And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you."
Robot delivery service to be available for Korean consumers from 2026
The government said Monday it will push to commercialize the delivery of packages by robots and drones starting in 2026 and 2027, respectively, on its path to build a next-generation logistics system. It also said it will begin urban air mobility (UAM) vehicle tests with six Korean consortiums to fully commercialize them in 2025, while opening an independent organization responsible for a state-led aerospace program and aeronautics research by the end of this year. Announced during an emergency meeting of economy-related ministers, these measures were parts of progress being made by the government under an economic development blueprint covering 15 projects, titled "New Growth Strategy 4.0."
SK Biopharma struggles to stay afloat amid plunge in profits
SK Biopharmaceuticals, the drug manufacturing affiliate of SK Group, is struggling despite brisk sales of its epilepsy drug cenobamate, data showed Monday. The epilepsy drug sold under the brand names Xcopri in the U.S. and Ontozry in the European Union, is a medication used to treat the partial-onset of seizures in adults. Its sales came to 246.2 billion won ($190 million) last year, down 41.2 percent from a year earlier. It registered operating losses and net losses of 131.1 billion and 139.4 billion, respectively.
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