Headlines, November 30, 2020
Headlines, November 30, 2020
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Monday, November 30, 2020


Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today

The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)
Hyundai Motor Honorary Chairman Chung Mong-koo leaves hospital in 4 months
Chung Mong-koo, honorary chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, who had been hospitalized for treatment of chronic diseases, left the hospital four months later and returned home.
Chung was discharged from Asan Medical Center in Songpa-gu, Seoul, and returned to his home in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. Chung was hospitalized around mid-July to treat colonic diverticulitis, business sources said on Nov. 27.
There were rumors that Chung is in critical condition due to a prolonged hospitalization period, but he has reportedly been discharged from hospital after completing treatment and recovering to an extent that his daily life will not be disrupted.

Woori Financial Group wins Platinum prize at U.S. 2020 LACP Spotlight Awards
"The Woori Financial Group's Annual Report 2019" won the Platinum Prize in the annual report category of the "2020 LACP Spotlight Awards" organized by the U.S. League of American Communications Professionals (LACP), the group said on Nov. 27.
LACP is a global promotion and marketing research organization that annually evaluates annual reports, sustainable management reports and brochures published by companies around the world and awards outstanding works with Platinum, Gold and Silver prizes.
The group also said, "Woori Financial Group's 2019 Annual Report" was ranked 20th in the "TOP 100" category selected by LACP.

Samsung Heavy Industries wins $2.5 billion order from a European ship owner
Samsung Heavy Industries has concluded a $2.5 billion contract with a European ship owner to supply ship blocks and equipment, the company said on Nov. 23. The contract period is until December 2025.
The $2.5 billion is the largest single ship contract signed by Samsung Heavy Industries since its foundation. This is equivalent to 100,000 mid-sized cars, which go beyond the distance from Seoul to Busan when lined up.
Samsung Heavy Industries' order backlog has risen to more than $20 billion ($21.1 billion) in five months since it hit $19.9 billion as of the end of June.

KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)
S. Korea to Raise Social Distancing in Outside Capital Region to Level 1.5
South Korea has decided to raise social distancing rules for areas outside the capital region to Level One-point-Five from next month.
The government, however, decided to keep social distancing guidelines at the current Level Two for the greater Seoul area while enforcing additional quarantine measures for virus-prone facilities.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun unveiled the decision on Sunday afternoon after a government meeting on COVID-19 responses amid the third wave of the epidemic.

S. Korea Raises AI Alert, Quarantine Measures after Reporting Case at Duck Farm
South Korea stepped up efforts to curb the spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) as the country reported a case at a local poultry farm for the first time in 32 months.
Agriculture Minister Kim Hyun-soo said on Sunday in an online briefing that the government decided the country's AI situation was very serious and strengthened related quarantine measures as a highly pathogenic AI case was detected at a local farm as well as among wild birds.
The remarks came a day after the nation confirmed its first case of the highly pathogenic AI H5N8 strain among domestic poultry at a duck farm in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province.

N. Korea Beefs up COVID-19 Control Measures at Border Areas
North Korea is reportedly stepping up quarantine and virus control measures along the inter-Korean border and at sea as South Korea is struggling to contain the third wave of COVID-19 infections.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Sunday that the country is firmly establishing a blockade wall in the areas near the border and the Military Demarcation Line.
The KCNA said the country is also taking strong measures in coastal areas, collecting and disposing of sea garbage swiftly.

Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)
S. Korea keeps capital area under Level 2 social distancing, raises other areas to Level 1.5
South Korea on Sunday kept the greater Seoul area under Level 2 social distancing measures but raised antivirus curbs in all other areas to Level 1.5, as another wave of the pandemic looms with the upcoming winter season.
More stringent anti-virus curbs will be implemented in the wide Seoul area starting Tuesday for a week, and Level 1.5 social distancing outside of Seoul for two weeks from Tuesday, according to health authorities.
Busan, South Chungcheong and three other provinces and areas where high numbers of virus cases have been reported will be put under tougher Level 2 social distancing, they said.

New virus cases below 500; current virus curbs maintained in greater Seoul
The daily number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea fell back to below 500 for the first time in four days on Sunday, due apparently to less testing over the weekend, and health authorities decided to maintain the current antivirus curbs in the greater Seoul area.
The country added 450 more COVID-19 cases, including 413 local infections, raising the total caseload to 33,824, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). It reported one additional coronavirus fatality, bringing the total to 523.

Korean Air's Asiana takeover requires regulatory approval from 4 countries
South Korea's biggest carrier Korean Air Lines Co.'s planned acquisition of the debt-laden Asiana Airlines Inc. requires approval from antitrust authorities in at least four other countries, industry sources said Sunday.
According to the aviation industry sources and the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), the planned merger requires review from authorities in the United States, European Union (EU), China and Japan.
A failure would jeopardize the deal valued at 1.8 trillion won (US$1.6 billion) that would create the world's 10th-biggest airline by fleet.

The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
S. Korea decides against tightening rules despite third wave
The South Korean government once again defied its own COVID-19 blueprint and decided against moving up to a higher level of social distancing despite recent metrics that support more intensive intervention.
In announcing the decision to remain in third tier of the 5-tier social distancing system, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said in Sunday’s emergency press conference that “excessive controls will lead to other sorts of losses that will ultimately be suffered by the people.” He went on, “This isn’t something that will stay fixed, but one that can be subject to changes as the situation evolves.”
Chung, who presides over the government’s COVID-19 response headquarters, admitted that Korea is now facing “what is the most serious crisis since the first peak in March.”

Will former presidents be pardoned?
With two former presidents in jail, facing de facto life imprisonment, South Korea is revisiting its tradition of granting special pardons to convicted former leaders.
While the majority of the public is against it, there are minority voices calling for leniency for former Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye -- who, without presidential pardons, could spend the rest of their lives in prison, considering their advanced ages.
President Moon Jae-in was elected in 2017 on a pledge to root out injustice and inequality that he said had been overlooked in the past governments, and has vowed not to abuse his pardoning powers. But he may well feel political pressure to grant clemency, experts say.

Nation’s farms fight dual virus outbreaks in birds and pigs
On top of the national fight against COVID-19, South Korea is battling a growing specter of dual animal virus outbreaks this winter -- the highly pathogenic avian influenza and African swine fever.
South Korea on Saturday raised its alert for bird flu to the highest level of “serious” after a highly pathogenic bird flu virus strain was found at a duck farm in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province. It was the first outbreak of the virulent strain among farmed poultry in 32 months.
The Agriculture Ministry moved swiftly to block all traffic to and from all poultry farms in Jeongeup for seven days and on Sunday was in the process of culling 292,000 chickens and 100,000 ducks at six farms within a 3-kilometer radius.

The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Homeowners furious over tax spike
A large number of home owners are expressing frustration over the recent spike in taxes, imposed on housing with officially appraised values over 900 million won ($814,000), Sunday.
Many of them including retirees and soon-to-be retirees say their income cannot cover the steep rise in central government-collected tax, which they say is an undue burden resulting from the government's dozens of botched real estate policies, defined by a nearly 60 percent jump in apartment prices in Seoul over the past three years.
They dismissed calls that a rise in tax corresponding to a spike in housing prices is inevitable, saying being forced to leave a place where they have lived for decades just to not be subjected to tax is not only a kind of punishment but an infringement on individual rights.

President nowhere to be seen
President Moon Jae-in is in the hot seat over staying tight-lipped for the last month on controversial issues, inviting conflicts and divides and dragging down his leadership approval rating.
As a result, more people are growing critical of his uncommunicative behavior, with his approval rating dropping to a near record low.
Last week Moon again showed deafening silence when a yearlong power struggle between Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl resulted in Choo's suspension of Yoon from duty over alleged ethical and legal breaches.

Toughened social distancing regulations to be applied starting Dec. 1
Sauna and indoor sports facilities will be shut down in Seoul and surrounding areas starting Tuesday, following toughened social distancing regulations in the fight against COVID-19, the health authorities said, Sunday.
However, they decided not to raise the social distancing level in the area to 2.5 from the current 2. Other parts of the country will have their levels raised to 1.5, and each municipality can raise its own to 2 if necessary.
The decision has come amid deepening concerns of COVID-19's rapid spread here, especially ahead of the state-run college entrance exam which over 493,400 students across the country will take on Thursday.

HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Moon proposes “longer-term cooperation plans” to celebrating 30th anniversary of S. Korea-China relations in 2022
South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed “developing longer-term cooperation plans in anticipation of the next 30 years for the 30th anniversary of South Korean-Chinese diplomatic relations two years from now” during a meeting on Nov. 26 with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was visiting South Korea for the first time in a year. Wang verbally shared a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping with Moon the same day.
Meeting with Wang at the Blue House that afternoon, Moon welcomed Wang’s decision to visit in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am very pleased to see continued senior-level exchanges between our two countries even amid the difficult situation with COVID-19,” he told Wang, whom he asked to “share my warm regards with President Xi Jinping, who has shown on numerous occasions how deeply he values South Korea-China relations.”

Wang Yi said S. Korea and China should “look out for each other and provide mutual assistance”
During a tour of Northeast Asia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi used different idiomatic phrases to refer to Japan and South Korea. Wang described Japan as “yi yi dai shui,” literally “separated by a stream,” and often used for close neighbors. But referring to South Korea, Wang used the phrase “shou wang xiang zhu,” literally “keeping watch and providing mutual assistance,” signifying friends who look after each other in times of trouble.
The phrases are notable since they express, with relative clarity, China’s strategic perspective on its two neighbors.
On the morning of Nov. 26, Wang held a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Seoul. It was the first meeting between the two countries’ top diplomats in a year.

Allegations of prosecutors surveilling judges need to be clarified immediately
One of the alleged irregularities cited by South Korean Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae as grounds for ordering the suspension of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl was illegal surveillance of judges, which has set off a fierce controversy. If it’s true, as Choo claims, that the prosecutors have been collecting personal information about judges in major cases, including information about their political orientation, that’s certainly a serious matter.
But since we have yet to determine exactly what was in the report drafted by the prosecutors, why it was composed, or how it was used, the allegation has aroused a range of speculation and controversy. Given the nature of the affair and the interest of the public, we need to quickly get to the bottom of this.

Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
The Secret to Stock Investment? Don't Worry So Much
More and more salaried workers are playing the stock market as they are seeking ways to increase assets amid record-low interest rates and unreachable housing prices, but the attendant worries and heartbreak can take their toll.
According to Mirae Asset Daewoo, the proportion of office workers who signed up for the brokerage's smartphone trading app surged from 14 percent last year to 45 percent this year. The vast majority or 65 percent were in their 30s and 40s, and while one-third were trading less than W5 million, a quarter trade more than W100 million (US$1=W1,103).
Keeping abreast of the volatile stock market while working can be a grueling task. But in fact the secret may be not to worry so much. Kim Cheol-gwang, an office worker himself and a stock guru famous for mimicking Warren Buffet's style of value investing, say the No. 1 rule to realizing profits is to refrain from tracking the market all the time.

Poor Koreans Can't Afford Healthier Food
The coronavirus crisis is threatening the nutrition of low-income families as they spend less and less money on food.
According to the Korea Rural Economic Institute, families with a monthly income of W1-2 million spent 2.1 percent less on food in the first quarter of the year than in the same period last year (US$1=W1,107).
By contrast, households with a monthly income of W2-3 million spent 4.7 percent more, those with W3-4 million 9.9 percent more, and those with over W7 million a whopping 18 percent more.

160,000 Jobs for Young Koreans Disappear
Some 160,000 jobs for young Koreans disappeared in the second quarter as the coronavirus lockdown blighted business activity. At the same time the government artificially created 225,000 jobs for senior citizens.
Statistics Korea on Thursday said there were 18.9 million employed people in the country in the second quarter, up 1.1 percent on-year. But the increase was the lowest on record and less than half the first quarter's 428,000.
The decline in jobs was especially dramatic for younger people. Some 82,000 jobs disappeared for workers in their 20s or below and the same number for those in their 30s.

The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
COVID-19 debt piles up
The financial support that has been provided for small and medium-sized companies since the outbreak of COVID-19 has surpassed 250 trillion won. With the prolonged COVID-19 economic crisis, concerns are rising that the government’s schemes are a “ticking bomb.”
The Financial Services Commission reported Sunday that 250.9 trillion won was spent to help individual debtors, independent businesses and small and medium-sized companies as of November 20. Out of the 250.9 trillion won, 198.3 trillion won was spent on providing new loans and extending the terms of loans, while the rest was provided in the form of a government guarantee.
The government has rushed out emergency measures to help businesses that have been pushed to the brink by the pandemic. It offers low interest loans for small businesses and preferable loans for medium-sized companies. It also allows independent and small and medium-sized companies and individual debtors to extend their loan terms by June 2021.

SK Hynix Chinese plant suspends operation due to COVID-19 case
A South Korean worker who was dispatched to SK Hynix’s plant in Chongqing, China tested positive for COVID-19, which resulted in the suspension of the Chinese plant’s operation. The Chongqing city government ordered COVID-19 testing for all 2,700 employees working at the plant.
According to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency and sources in the South Korean business community on Sunday, an SK Hynix employee tested positive when he took COVID-19 test upon arrival on Sunday at Incheon International Airport after completing his 18-month secondment to China. Right after the man was confirmed as a COVID-19 patient, the city of Chongqing conducted epidemiological survey at, restricted access to, and decontaminated the SK Hynix plant where the Korean national worked.
“The Chongqing city government and SK Hynix suspect that the employee is an asymptomatic case without displaying notable symptoms,” a South Korea business community source said. “The City of Chongqing also suspended the operation of the hotel where the SK employee stayed, and started PCR testing in people who stayed at the hotel since November 25.

Parliamentary brawl erupts over US pork import in Taiwan
Taiwanese ruling and opposition party lawmakers engaged in a violent brawl in the parliament on Friday, even throwing pig intestines at each other.
According to media including The Associated Press, violent physical fight started when Su Tseng-chang of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was about to start his speech on import of American pork at a parliamentary plenary meeting on the day. When Su was about to give the speech, main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers opposing the import of U.S. pork threw a red bucket towards the podium. The bucket was containing pig intestines, lungs and livers.
In retaliation, ruling party lawmakers also threw pig intestines back to opposition lawmakers, resulting violent brawl. Some lawmakers were seen wearing raincoat, while other lawmakers in suit contaminated with pork fat were seen striking rival lawmakers with the fist, The Washington Post reported.

The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
583 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in a Day, Number of Cases Could Grow Exponentially by Year End
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 jumped from somewhere around 300 to nearly 600 in just a day. Clusters of over 50 cases were confirmed in just 1-2 days after the first case was detected in various places in our daily lives, such as military bases and aerobics classes. A number of such transmission clusters emerge in a day. The basic reproduction number, which shows how many people are infected by one confirmed patient, has exceeded 2. The government expects to confirm 400-600 new cases a day until early next month, when we will see the effects of the tightened physical (social) distancing.
The Central Quarantine Headquarters announced that as of midnight November 26, authorities confirmed 583 new cases of COVID-19 from the previous day. This was 201 more than the previous day뭩 number of 382. This was the first time in over nine months, since March 6 (518 cases), when the first outbreak occurred centered on the Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do region, that authorities confirmed more than 500 new daily cases. Authorities confirmed 213 cases in Seoul, the biggest number in the city since the COVID-19 outbreak first began in South Korea.

President Xi Jinping “Will Visit South Korea, if Conditions Permit” President Moon “Hopes to Meet When the Situation Is under Control”
On November 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping repeatedly expressed his gratitude to President Moon Jae-in’s invitation for a state visit and said, “I would like to visit, if conditions permit.” Cheongwadae announced that this day, President Xi delivered a verbal message including these details to President Moon through Wang Yi, the foreign minister and state councilor of China. The Chinese president practically delivered his opinion that a visit to South Korea this year would not be likely.
The conditions mentioned by President Xi may refer to the COVID-19 situation and the uncertain political situation due to the shift of administration in the United States. President Moon replied, “I hope to meet you in South Korea as soon as the situation concerning COVID-19 is stabilized,” according to a written briefing by Cheongwadae spokesperson Kang Min-seok.
Through the verbal message, President Xi mentioned that he was able to reach important agreements with in-depth communication with President Moon this year in the form of several telephone calls and letters. He also assessed that the two countries were able to lead the world in cooperation against COVID-19 and in bilateral exchanges, according to Cheongwadae.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Meet President Moon on November 26, “Strategic Dialogue at the Top Level”
Wang Yi (pictured), Chinese foreign minister cum state councilor, arrived in South Korea on a private jet on the night of November 25 launching a three-day trip. Minister Wang will meet Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha at the foreign ministry office in Doryeom-dong, Seoul on the morning of November 26, followed by a luncheon. In the afternoon, Minister Wang will visit Cheongwadae and meet President Moon Jae-in as well as the senior officials in the National Security Office. The Chinese foreign minister is expected to discuss a wide range of bilateral topics including a tripartite summit of South Korea, China and Japan, and affairs concerning the Korean Peninsula. Attention is on whether he will discuss details of a trip to South Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Minister Wang is scheduled to meet key figures in the ruling party. On November 26, he will attend a dinner with Lee Hae-chan, former leader of the Democratic Party of Korea. Before he departs on November 27, he will attend a breakfast and meet Moon Chung-in, a special advisor to the president on unification, foreign affairs and national security; Democratic Party lawmakers Youn Kun-young and Lee Jae-jeong, both members of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee; and lawmaker Hong Ihk-pyo, director of the Institute for Democracy. He will also meet with Park Byeong-seug, chairman of the National Assembly, and Song Young-gil, chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee.

Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s industrial activity and domestic demand turn negative in October
South Korea’s industrial activity and domestic demand drooped in October after a brief rebound in the previous month.
The seasonally adjusted mining and manufacturing output in October fell 1.2 percent from a month ago in a sharp retreat from the 5.5 percent rise in September, Statistics Korea reported Monday. Against a year ago, it was down 2.2 percent.
Factory operation averaged 73.7 percent in October, down 0.2 percentage point versus the previous month. Inventory levels fell 0.9 percent on month and 0.1 percent on year.

Seoul to install presidential body, vice energy min to meet carbon neutrality goal
South Korea announced on Friday that it will launch a presidential body on carbon neutrality to fulfill its United Nations commitment to make the country emissions-free by 2050.
In a pan-government strategy meeting on carbon neutrality held at the Blue House on Friday, President Moon Jae-in said that carbon-neutral declaration by 2050 is a global trend that cannot be changed.
The new presidential body and public-private organization – 2050 Carbon Neutrality Committee – will help Korea carry out policies speedily to reach the goal of going carbon neutral by 2050, he said.

Korea’s remedial order on French GTT may aid LNG building by Korean dockyards
Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (KFTC)’s fining 12.52 billion won ($11.32 million) on Gaztransport & Technigaz (GTT) S.A. for abusive commercial practices with local shipyards is expected to remove a major hurdle in LNG building, a key income for Korean dockyards.
The antitrust agency found the French company, the world’s largest LNG cargo containment system provider, had forced Korean LNG vessel builders to purchase its technical assistance services in addition to license transactions for LNG cargo containment technology and issued a remedial order.
GTT owns core technologies for designing the membrane-type LNG tanks predominantly used by the shipping industry, but it has excessive control over the LNG carrier manufacturing process, even though it had no experience of building vessels or installing LNG tanks, said Park Moo-hyun, a market researcher at Hana Financial Investment.

What’s ticking around the world at this second? 
See what the world media around the world have to report:

USA Today www.usatoday.com aallman@gannett.com
The New York Times www.nytimes.com inytletters@nytimes.com 
Wall Street Journal www.wsj.com  support@wsj.com,  service@wsj-asia.com 
Financial Times www.ft.com ean@ft.com 
The Times www.thetimes.co.uk help@timesplus.co.uk 
The Sun www.thesun.co.uk talkback@the-sun.co.uk 
Chinese People's Daily www.people.com.cn kf@people.cn 
China Daily www.chinadaily.com.cn circulation@chinadaily.com.cn 
GwangmyeongDaily www.gmw.cn webmaster@gmw.cn 
Japan's Yomiuri www.yomiuri.co.jp japannews@yomiuri.com 
Asahi www.asahi.com customer-support@asahi.com 
Mainichi www.mainichi.jp
Le Monde www.ilemonde.com
Italy LaRepubblica www.quotidiano.repubblica.it vittorio.zucconi@gmail.com 
Germany Frankfurter AllgemeineZeitung www.faz.net anzeigen.ausland@faz.de 
SüddeutscheZeitung www.sueddeutsche.de forum@sueddeutsche.de 
Australia Brisbane Times www.brisbanetimes.com.au syndication@fairfaxmedia.com.au 
Sydney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au
Colombia Reports www.colombiareports.com
Bogota Free Planet www.bogotafreeplanet.com,bfp@bogotafreeplanet.com
El Universal www.eluniversal.com.mx/english  
Andes www.redaktionstest.net/andes-info-ec/ 
Ecuador Times www.ecuadortimes.net/  
The Jordan Times www.jordantimes.com/ 
LSM.lv www.lsm.lv/
The Baltic Times www.baltictimes.com lithuania@baltictimes.com, estonia@baltictimes.com, editor@baltictimes.com
El Pais https://english.elpais.com/ 
Philippine Daily Inquirer www.inquirer.net/ 
Daily News Hungary https://dailynewshungary.com/ 
Budapest Times www.budapesttimes.hu/
The Korea Post is running video clips from the different embassies.
Sri Lanka: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hByX92Y2aGY&t=22s
Morocco: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfFmp2sVvSE
And many other countries.
What are you waiting for?
Use us!

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