Monday, April 3, 2023
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“Korea is now a key economic/development partner of Bangladesh”
“The Republic of Korea is now a key economic and development partner of Bangladesh and the bilateral trade crossed the US$2 billion mark for the first time in 2021 and then surpassed US$3 billion mark in 2022.” So said Ambassador Delwar Hossain of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Seoul in a speech he delivered at a gala reception he hosted at the prestigious grand ballroom of the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on the evening of March 27.
SK Innovation to focus all management activities on enhancing corporate value
SK Innovation held its 16th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on the March 30 at SUPEX Hall in SK Building, Jongno-gu, Seoul. At the meeting, attended by SK Innovation Vice Chairman & CEO Kim Jun and CEOs of major subsidiaries, SK Innovation held its first “Dialogue with Shareholders” and expressed a strong commitment to enhancing corporate value. The company actively engaged in communication, including a Q&A session, with shareholders on current issues.
President Yoon urges head of the missions abroad to 'unite diplomatic capacities'
President Yoon Suk-yeol and first lady Kim Keon-hee on March 27 hosted a banquet for the heads of diplomatic missions abroad at Yeongbingwan, the guesthouse of Cheong Wa Dae. Presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon said in a news briefing that day, "The chiefs of overseas diplomatic missions who attended a conference of such heads from March 27-31 were invited to the banquet at Yeongbingwan of Cheong Wa Dae."
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Most Lawmakers Get Richer Despite Runaway Inflation
Nine out of 10 Korean lawmakers' assets increased last year despite soaring inflation. The average assets of 292 lawmakers excluding three multibillionaires stood at W2.53 billion, which was W144 million more than a year earlier (US$1=W1,299). People Power Party lawmakers are twice as rich as the opposition with W3.6 billion each versus W1.8 billion for the main opposition Minjoo Party. The figures were unveiled on Friday by the National Assembly Ethics Committee.
Kim Jong-un Calls for Nuclear Arms Use 'Anywhere'
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for the country's nuclear weapons to be ready for use "any time and anywhere," state media said Tuesday. Kim "called for efforts to expand the production of weapons-grade nuclear materials and continue to produce powerful nuclear weapons in a bid to meet the goal of an exponential increase in the nuclear arsenal," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency. "Only when we perfectly prepare the ability to use nuclear weapons at any time and from any place will we ensure that we will forever not have to use nuclear weapons," he said.
Korean Companies Face Heavy Price to Pull out of Russia
Korean businesses in Russia are facing a dilemma as Moscow makes it difficult for them to pull out, demanding that they pay a 10 percent tax on the money raised from selling their assets. But Russia's growing pariah status in the world since it invaded Ukraine have left them little choice. Russia's Finance Ministry on Monday announced new rules on the sale of foreign assets and now requires businesses from "unfriendly" countries to give at least 10 percent of their proceeds from asset sales to charity. Korea is considered "unfriendly" since it backs international sanctions in protest against the invasion of Ukraine.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
BIE delegation arrives in Korea to evaluate Busan's bid
A Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) delegation arrived in Seoul Sunday for a six-day on-site inspection to evaluate Busan's bid to host the 2030 World Expo. The eight-member delegation, led by Patrick Specht, president of the BIE's Administration and Budget Committee, includes Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, secretary general of the BIE, Kevin Isaac, a representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Manuel Salchli, representing Switzerland, Ferdinand Nagy, representing Romania and three BIE staff members.
Busan's 2030 Expo bid focuses on environmental message
From the world’s first floating city project to hydrogen transportation infrastructure, Busan is looking to bolster its bid for the 2030 World Expo by showcasing a range of green initiatives. Partially surrounded by the sea, climate change stands as a tangible threat for Busan, Korea's southernmost port city. It is vulnerable to rising sea levels and typhoons and other extreme weather events.
Busan, facts, figures and Boogi
First opened to international trade in 1876, Busan is Korea’s leading port. Now, the city hopes to host World Expo 2030. As part of that dream, Busan is building the world’s first sustainable floating city, a joint project with OCEANIX and UN–Habitat. The environmentally friendly sustainable city aims to provide solutions to coastal cities with severe land shortages caused by climate change.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
The man blurred might be N. Korea's commander of tactical nuclear weapon unit
The man blurred in the picture of the nuclear strike simulation training attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on March 20 might be the commander of the country’s military unit in charge of operating tactical nuclear weapons, according to a member of the National Intelligence Service. This was the analysis by the National Intelligence Service of the man blurred in the materials submitted by the office of Yoo Sang-beom of the People Power Party, according to Yoo’s office on Sunday.
Donald Trump becomes first ex-president charged with crime
On Thursday, a Manhattan grand jury indicted former U.S. President Donald Trump, marking the first time a former U.S. president has faced criminal charges in the 247 years since the nation's founding in 1776. Trump, who is currently running for the 2024 presidential campaign, immediately lashed out at the prosecutors, labeling the indictment as a "witch hunt" and predicting that it would backfire on President Biden. Some members of the Republican Party have also accused Biden of personal retaliation and warned of an extreme confrontation.
Pension contribution may amount to one third of income by 2060
Estimates forecast that, if Korea's National Pension Service (NPS) continues to manage the pension funds the same way as now, the payouts will dry up by 2055. Subscribers may have to pay up to 34% of their monthly income for monthly pension contributions by 2060, a 3.8 times higher ratio than the current 9%. The findings further suggested that the fund depletion may be delayed for about five years if the agency's return on investment is increased by 1% point. However, many think it would be challenging considering various factors, including the recent economic slowdown.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
KT’s three outside directors withdraw bid to seek extension ahead of AGM
KT Corp.’s three outside directors, who were seeking approval to extend their position, have stepped down ahead of a shareholders’ meeting on Friday, days after its chief executive officer nominee quit. The outgoing board members are Kang Chung-ku, chairman of the current KT board of directors and a professor at Korea University; Yeo Eun-jung, a professor at Chung-Ang University; and Pyo Hyun-myung, former chief executive officer of Lotte Rental Co., according to multiple industry insiders.
Korean authorities urge 5 major financial groups to be responsible in management
Financial Services Commission Chairman Kim Joo-hyun and Financial Supervisory Service Governor Lee Bok-hyun met with the heads of the five major financial groups and the Korea Federation of Banks Friday to request efforts to stabilize the financial market and regain the trust of the financial industry. The meeting between the financial regulators and the banking leaders comes at a time of heightened uncertainty in the global financial markets, as concerns mount over the impact of rising interest rates and banking crisis in the U.S. and Europe.
Korea’s net corporate investment exodus hits record $59 bn in 2022
South Korea’s outbound direct investment overtook the foreign direct investment by an all-time high last year, raising an alarm over a dampening economy as the U.S., Europe and other countries and regions offer tax incentives to attract businesses. Net outflow of overseas investment reached $59.1 billion from Korea last year, according to a recent analysis by Maeil Business Newspaper using data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Korea’s foreign direct investment stood at $18.03 billion in 2022, the second-largest amount after 2021, but those spent overseas was $77.2 billion, the highest since the ministries began compiling related data in 1980.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon’s my-way-or-the-highway decision-making prompts foreign policy turmoil
The sudden and sweeping changes in the Yoon Suk-yeol administration’s foreign policy and national security leader lineup, demonstrated by the resignation of Kim Sung-han as national security advisor, have been criticized as emblematic of the overall dysfunctional foreign affairs and national security policies of the administration, which have been dogging the Yoon team since its inauguration. The reasoning and the process of this decision remains hazy, and any follow-up explanations have been omitted. With the crucial diplomatic event that is the South Korea-US summit looming on the horizon, there are growing concerns about the government’s ability to respond to various crises, especially amid the escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the deepening economic and security crises, including US-China strategic rivalry.
Opposition figures raise doubts Blackpink concert “shut down” Kim Sung-han’s time in presidential office
In response to reports that Kim Sung-han’s abrupt resignation as National Security Office director was due to a communication failure over a proposal to put together a joint performance by Blackpink and Lady Gaga during the president’s state visit to the US next month, Democratic Party floor leader Park Hong-keun pointedly asked, “Since when has the presidential office of the Republic of Korea become such a dumpster fire?” The opposition party demanded an explanation from the administration as well as the convening of the National Assembly Steering Committee to uncover the rationale behind the reshuffle.
Out of 115 minutes of speeches, Yoon gave forced labor victims 6 seconds
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s unilateral announcement on March 6 of a plan to compensate forced labor victims has plunged Korean society into confusion. The three surviving forced labor victims who prevailed at the South Korean Supreme Court in 2018 have adamantly refused to accept the government’s plan for third-party repayment, in which a Korean foundation pays the money owed by Japanese companies. Rallies against the government continue to be held every weekend at Seoul Plaza, in front of Seoul City Hall.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/ )
Non-Regular School Cafeteria and Care Workers Go on Strike Today
Non-regular workers in schools will go on a one-day strike on March 31 demanding improvements to their wage system and specific measures to resolve the lung cancer issue among cafeteria workers. Care workers and workers who work to provide school meals will also take part in the strike, so the education authority has prepared convenience foods. According to the National Solidarity of Non-regular Workers in Schools (Solidarity), which organized the strike, over twenty-thousand union members are expected to take part in Friday’s strike.
Court Denies Arrest Warrant for Communications Commission Chair Han Sang-hyuk. Fierce Criticism Expected for a “Targeted” Investigation
The arrest warrant for Han Sang-hyuk (62), chairperson of the Korea Communications Commission, was denied. Han was suspected of manipulating the scores of TV Chosun in the process of renewing the channel’s license. He is also the highest ranking official among those appointed by former President Moon Jae-in. The prosecutors were accused of recklessly conducting a “targeted” investigation to remove figures appointed by the previous government. Judge Yi Chang-yeol, who oversees warrants at the Seoul Northern District Court, denied the arrest warrant at 12:05 a.m. March 30 after questioning Han prior to his arrest (warrant review) on Wednesday.
Government and PPP Claim It Is Inevitable to Raise Electricity and Gas Prices and Will Release Final Plan Before April 1
On March 29, the People Power Party (PPP) and the government agreed that raising the price of gas and electricity was unavoidable. Park Dae-chul, chief of the People Power Party policy committee, met with reporters immediately after a government and ruling party meeting on utility prices at the National Assembly Wednesday and said, “In the case of KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corporation), they have to shoulder more than 3.8 billion won a day in interest, and in the case of the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS), they face over 1.2 billion won a day in interest,” and emphasized the inevitability of price hikes.
Yoon Throws out Ceremonial First Pitch at KBO Opening Day Game
President Yoon Suk Yeol threw out the first pitch at a baseball game Saturday to mark the start of the 2023 season of the Korea Baseball Organization league. Yoon threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the new season's opening day game between the NC Dinos and the home team Samsung Lions at Daegu Samsung Lions Park in the southeastern city of Daegu. Yoon and his wife Kim Keon-hee visited the ballpark and waved to fans at the stadium before the first pitch. The president then watched the game along with KBO chief Heo Koo-youn.
Gov't: US IRA Guidance Considerably Reflects S. Korean Opinion
The government says that guidance on the Inflation Reduction Act released by the U.S. Treasury on Friday has considerably reflected opinions voiced by South Korea and its businesses. In a press release Saturday, Seoul's industry ministry welcomed the latest U.S. announcement saying it has largely eased uncertainties for the domestic battery and materials sector and will contribute to stronger supply chain cooperation between the two countries. The ministry said that domestic firms processing key materials used in batteries, known as positive active materials, in Korea will be eligible to benefit from electric vehicle tax credits in the U.S.
S. Korean Exports Fall for 6 Months amid Weak Chip Demand
South Korea’s exports fell for the sixth consecutive month in March. The industry ministry said Saturday that the decline is mainly due to weak global demand for semiconductors. The country’s exports marked their sixth straight month of decline in March, in part due to the weakened demand for semiconductors amid a slowdown in the global economy. Outbound shipments fell 13-point-six percent on-year to 55-point-12 billion dollars last month, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy revealed on Saturday.
Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr )
Last-ditch efforts under way to contain wildfire in central Seoul
Firefighting authorities on Monday are making last-ditch efforts to contain a wildfire on a mountain in central Seoul, as smoldering fires have not been completely extinguished for over 20 hours. The fire started on Mount Inwang, a popular trekking spot in the central ward of Jongno, shortly before noon Sunday and spread rapidly due to strong wind, temporarily forcing about 120 households to evacuate, according to the Seoul city government. No injuries or deaths have been reported.
Hanwha gets nod from EU for Daewoo Shipbuilding takeover
Hanwha Group has received approval from the European Union for its plan to acquire Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME), company officials said Monday. The EU's decision came earlier than expected, as it was widely expected to deliver the result of its review in mid-April. Hanwha has obtained the approval from Turkey, Britain, Japan and Vietnam since its takeover announcement in September last year. China and Singapore gave the green light last month.
S. Korea, U.S., Japan to hold maritime drills involving USS Nimitz carrier
South Korea, the United States and Japan are set to kick off a trilateral naval exercise, involving an American aircraft carrier, in waters south of the Korean Peninsula on Monday, Seoul's defense ministry said, amid joint efforts to reinforce deterrence against growing North Korean threats. The two-day anti-submarine and search-and-rescue exercise, featuring the USS Nimitz carrier, will take place in the international waters south of the southern island of Jeju.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com )
N. Korea repeats nuclear threat as S. Korea steps up joint drills
North Korea reiterated Sunday that it was serious about its warning that it would use nuclear weapons against South Korea if its annual military exercises with the US continued, calling them “provocations” warranting countermeasures. In a dispatch by the North’s official Rodong Sinmun, North Korea blamed higher inter-Korean tension on an “obsession with war” that is now close to a climax as the two allies stage their largest amphibious landing drills in years.
Sharing the Korean alphabet with the world
King Sejong the Great invented Hangeul in 1443 with the goal of increasing literacy among commoners who had few chances to learn the logographic hanja, or Chinese characters. Out of respect for the king's democratic intention and love for humanity, several projects were launched from the late 1990s onward to share the Korean alphabet with ethnic minorities in Asia, Africa and South America that did not have their own writing systems. Without a script, their languages were at the risk of disappearing, along with their oral cultures.
S. Korea’s creative content looks to international market from get go
The Netflix original drama series "Squid Game" was the spark which changed everything. While Jo Hyun-rae, president of the Korea Creative Content Agency, was confident about the power of Korean pop culture and recognized its potential when the KBS drama series "Winter Sonata" and its lead actor Bae Yong-joon achieved popularity in Asian markets outside of Korea in 2002, it was not too long ago that he began to feel Korea could play a more active role in the highly competitive global contents industry.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr )
BIE delegates to meet ministers, business leaders during Expo inspection
An eight-member delegation from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), an intergovernmental organization in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, will meet with Korea's top policymakers, lawmakers, business leaders and citizens to see how prepared and enthusiastic they are about Busan's bid to host the World Expo 2030, according to the industry ministry, Sunday. Apart from event organization capabilities illustrated by Korea's high-ranking government officials and business executives, the BIE Enquiry Mission will be able to experience the country's hospitality through cultural events, prepared to enhance their understanding of how Korea can stay distinctive while integrating different cultures seamlessly.
Korea ready for World Expo 2030
Korea will share its decades-long story of rapid, stable growth as the host of the World Expo 2030 in Busan, the industry ministry said on Sunday. This much-admired example of a once-impoverished war-torn country becoming the world's 10th-largest economy and a leader in the fight against climate change will be highlighted as Busan stands ready to host the mega-event. Korea is the only country that has had its status changed to "advanced" from "developing" since the establishment of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Korean battery firms to benefit from US IRA guidance
LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI, SK On and other Korean companies in the electric vehicle (EV) battery industry are cleared to continue their expansion in the United States, as Washington decided to grant tax incentives when battery materials are processed in Korea, according to industry officials and the government, Sunday. On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department issued the Notice of Proposed Rule-Making guidance of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which took effect last August.
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