Monday, January 17, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Explosive underwater volcano eruption in Tonga
An underwater volcano in the South Pacific erupted violently on January 15, near the remote Pacific nation of Tonga, triggering tsunami warnings across the Pacific and for the West Coast of the United States, and causing strong waves and currents in many coastal areas. The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, confirmed the eruption generated a tsunami late on Saturday night. It followed an earlier eruption, on Friday, that sent ash, steam and gas 20 kilometres into the air. According to foreign media such as AFP and AP, on January 15 local time, the Tongan authorities issued a tsunami warning for the whole country after a volcano erupted in a sea area 65 km north of the capital Nuku'alopa.
President Moon says,“Pan-regional cooperation is the key to balanced national development”
“Pan-regional cooperation is the key to a balanced national development policy that will markedly change the lives of residents. Cooperation is beginning in three major metropolitan areas and small-yet-strong regions as well as in Busan, Ulsan and Gyeongsangnam-do Province, where a special-purpose local government will launch soon in February,” said President Moon Jae-in. Presiding over the 1st Central and Local Government Cooperation Meeting convened in Cheong Wa Dae on Jan. 13, 2022, President Moon said, “Most of all, we should concentrate our capabilities on revitalizing local areas.
KAIA Chairman Ahn says, “Korea’s aerospace industry is entering overseas markets”
The Korea Aerospace Industries Association (KAIA) and the Korean Society for Aeronautical & Space Sciences (KSAS) jointly held the 2022 Aerospace Astronaut Forum held in JW Marriott Hotel in Seoul on January 14. The event was attended by key figures from all walks of life, including Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Moon Seung-wook, to encourage astronauts' hard work. Key officials from academia, and aerospace and relevant industries, including Chairman Ahn Hyun-ho of KAIA and Chairman Kim Jong-am of the KSAS, also attended. Chairman Ahn, who hosted the event, said in a New Year's address, "We give comfort and encouragement to astronauts who have devoted themselves to the development of the aerospace industry," adding, "Our aerospace industry is expanding beyond Korea to overseas markets by exporting Korean fighter jets and securing core technologies for projectiles."
S. Korea Signs Deal with UAE on Export of M-SAM Missiles
South Korea has signed a four-trillion-won deal with the United Arab Emirates(UAE) on the export of its mid-range surface-to-air missiles. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration(DAPA) said the relevant parties of the two nations signed the deal on Sunday as the UAE defense ministry decided to acquire the missiles known as M-SAM or Cheongung II. The deal was signed after Moon held talks with UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai. In November last year, the UAE's defense ministry announced its plan to acquire the missiles, adding the deal is worth about three-point-five billion dollars or four-point-one trillion won.
Presidential Candidates Continue Canvassing on Weekend
Presidential candidates of the ruling and opposition parties continued their canvassing over the weekend to woo voters ahead of the March 9 presidential election. Ruling Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung on Sunday visited the border area of Goseong in Gangwon Province and vowed to resume tourism to North Korea's Mount Geumgang. The tour program has been suspended since 2008. Lee, who is campaigning in the province for the second day, also pledged to create a special international tourism zone in the eastern region and to pursue a tour program inside the Demilitarized Zone. Main opposition People Power Party's presidential candidate Yoon Suk Yeol announced an election pledge to improve the transportation system in the capital region on Sunday.
Sources: N. Korean Cargo Train Arrives in Chinese Border City Dandong
A North Korean cargo train reportedly crossed the border into China on Sunday. According to multiple sources familiar with North Korean affairs, the freight train crossed the Friendship Bridge over the Yalu River and arrived in the Chinese border city of Dandong in Liaoning Province at around 9:10 a.m. Sources reportedly said the train departed from the North's border city of Sinuiju – it was not confirmed whether the train arrived in Dandong with cargo or was empty. They added the cargo train is expected to return to North Korea on Monday with "emergency supplies" from China. Chinese police of the border city reportedly enhanced security around the bridge and Dandong Station from early Sunday, blocking public access to the area.
N. Korean cargo train arrives in Chinese city of Dandong: sources
A North Korean freight train crossed the Yalu River railroad bridge into China on Sunday, multiple sources said, raising the prospect of the two sides resuming land transactions in earnest following more than a year of suspension attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The train from Sinuiju arrived in the Chinese border city of Dandong at around 9:10 a.m., they said, while it was not immediately confirmed whether it carried cargo or was empty, they said. It is likely to return to North Korea on Monday, with "emergency materials" loaded, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
S. Korea signs deal to sell M-SAM missiles to UAE
South Korea signed a preliminary deal with the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to sell Seoul's mid-range surface-to-air missiles to the Gulf nation, in the latest sign of deepening defense cooperation between the two nations. The deal was signed after Moon held talks with UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai earlier in the day, the presidential office said without providing further details, including the value of the memorandum of understanding. But media reports have indicated that the deal is likely to reach US$3.5 billion. Last November, the UAE's defense ministry announced that it plans to acquire the missiles.
Ruling party's presidential candidate eyes 'de facto' unification with N. Korea
Ruling party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung said Sunday he would seek a "de facto state" of inter-Korean unification based on coexistence and mutual prosperity in a short-term and rather realistic goal if he gains power. Lee of the liberal Democratic Party made the remark during a visit to the border county of Goseong, 160 kilometers northeast of Seoul, after a reporter pointed out he made no mention of unification in his campaign pledges for Gangwon Province, where Goseong is located.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Foreign creators excited over Korea’s upcoming Hallyu visa
Aiming to further cement its rising global profile as a soft power nation, South Korea is set to introduce a new visa program this year to draw global cultural talents. Dubbed the Hallyu visa in reference to the Korean Wave of films, TV dramas and music sweeping across the world, the new program is designed to support the entry of foreigners eager to learn about the Korean culture and entertainment industry. A senior Justice Ministry official explained that those who plan to stay more than 90 days in Korea and who enroll in entertainment-related education here will be eligible.
Pyongyang missiles hint at long-term standoff with US
Pyongyang’s recent missile launches serve a dual purpose, and may hint at its long-term strategy in dealing with the US, experts say. Pyongyang test-fired four ballistic missiles in three discrete launches, which were conducted over 10 days in short intervals. Experts affiliated with US think tanks view the missile tests show Pyongyang’s long-term strategy to bolster military power to negotiate from a position of strength and gain the upper hand on the US. For the Kim Jong-un regime, nuclear negotiation is currently a mere sideshow.
Yoon lays out pledges to ‘rebuild’ Seoul, to relocate railroads underground
Presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party announced on Sunday plans to “rebuild” Seoul, by reorganizing city spaces and relocating railroads and highways underground. At a press briefing, Yoon laid out four vision pillars with nine detailed pledges for Seoul, including plans to supply some 500,000 new homes and to foster the city as a global hub for finance and startup companies. I will create Seoul to be more refreshing by moving railroads and highways located on the surface to underground, and provide faster and more convenient transportation services,” Yoon said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Moon launches campaign to promote Busan as Expo 2030 host
President Moon Jae-in has kicked off a tough campaign to promote Busan as the host city of World Expo 2030, spending a significant portion of his eight-day trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Egypt to attend events related to Expo 2020 Dubai. Moon arrived in Dubai on Saturday (local time) and will pay a visit to a "Korea National Day" ceremony at the Korea Pavilion during Expo 2020 Dubai, Sunday, where he plans to highlight Korea's exhibition and Busan's bid to host the 2030 event. After the ceremony, Moon will hold a meeting with UAE Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, and attend a K-pop concert on the sidelines of the expo. Moon will also attend Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week's Opening Ceremony and the Zayed Sustainability Prize awards ceremony at the expo venue, on Monday, to deliver a keynote speech on Korea's efforts on sustainability.
North Korea's missile launches aimed at diversifying arsenal: experts
The recent series of North Korean missile tests ― three times in two weeks ― indicate that its leader is doubling down on his country's nuclear arms buildup, rather than seeking more concessions before re-engaging in nuclear negotiations, according to diplomatic observers. Despite the increasing frequency of missile tests, the U.S. government, already preoccupied with a difficult domestic situation as well as other diplomatic issues, is expected to maintain its commitment to diplomacy with Pyongyang, they added. The Kim Jong-un regime fired hypersonic missiles on Jan. 5 and 11, followed by two short-range ballistic missiles launched from a train, Friday ― something unusual for the country, which had not conducted missile tests in January for the last 13 years.
Foreign businesses call for 'clarity' in Korea's industrial accident law
Foreign businesses operating here are calling on the Korean government to ensure more "clarity" and "predictability" in a strengthened law over serious industrial accidents, claiming that it could hamper foreign investment and force many of them to consider pulling out of Korean markets. Foreign firms share the view that industrial accidents need to be prevented, but there are concerns over the new law that will go into effect later this month, since many of the key terms remain vague and open to interpretation while placing the burden of responsibility on top executives. Under the new law, CEOs can be held criminally liable for serious industrial accidents if their companies did not have the required safety measures in place.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Koreans Born After 1990 Risk Getting No Pension at All
Unless the National Pension Service undertakes drastic reforms, Koreans born after 1990 may receive no pensions at all when they reach retirement age, the Korea Economic Research Institute warned Thursday. The institute analyzed OECD and Statistics Korea data and found that the NPS' consolidated balance will shift into the red in 2039 and run out in 2055. The institute warned that the NPS is designed to collect lower payments from workers than their counterparts in France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. and pays out pensions earlier. Koreans get their state pension starting at the age of 62 compared to 65 to 67 in the five countries. Now Korea intends to raise the age to 65, but the European countries are raising it to up to 75 this year. The insurance premium in Korea is just nine percent compared to the average 20.2 percent among the other countries. That means Koreans pay W90,000 for every W1 million they earn, while Europeans pay W202,000 (US$1=W1,186).
Korea, U.S. to Put off Joint Drills Until April
Korea and the U.S. are putting off regular joint military exercises for the first half of this year from March to April in consideration of the upcoming presidential election here and the never-ending coronavirus pandemic. A military source here said on Thursday, "We've had a discussion about the postponement of joint drills considering the presidential election and the spread of COVID-19 within the U.S. Forces Korea." The two allies usually stage massive joint drills twice a year, in March and August. Last year, they drastically downscaled them by conducting computer-based simulations because of the pandemic. But COVID-19 is spreading among American troops even though they are all fully vaccinated. Some 1,599 American soldiers tested positive between Jan. 4 and 10. A total of 4,626 American soldiers have been infected so far, taking up a significant 16.5 percent of all 28,000 American troops stationed here.
S. Korea Ranks 2nd in Global Passport Power
South Koreans have the second-most powerful passport in the world, according to an index released by the Swiss-based research firm Henley and Partners earlier this week. South Korea ranked second on the latest Henley Passport Index of 199 countries. The index does not reflect entry bans triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, however. South Koreans can travel to 190 countries without obtaining a visa beforehand, the same number as Germans. The index, which started in 2006, ranks passports based on the number of countries holders can enter visa-free. Japan and Singapore topped the list, with their passports granting visa-free access to 192 countries. Coming in third were Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain with 189 countries, while Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Sweden shared fourth place with 188. North Korea ranked 104th as its passport allows visa-free entry to only 39 countries.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Can S. Korea's New Southern Policy really be called a success?
On Dec. 20, South Korean Minister of National Defense Suh Wook visited Thailand, where he met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. According to the ministry, during that meeting, Suh “shared in-depth discussions” on regional security, bilateral national defense, and defense industry cooperation with Prayut, who serves concurrently as Thailand’s defense minister. Suh also proposed at the meeting that the Thai government should acquire South Korean weapons. In short, he went to Thailand to make a sales pitch. A second frigate and a Korean GPS-based guided bomb were among the items presented by South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense. Seoul had previously sold a 3,650-ton frigate to the Thai navy three years earlier in December 2018. At the equivalent of 520 billion won (US$437 million), that frigate represented the biggest single defense contract in Thailand’s history.
What’s behind the backbiting in S. Korea’s conservative movement?
South Korea’s main conservative party, the People Power Party (PPP), has succumbed to infighting. With the presidential election two months away, the party’s nominee has disbanded his election committee and sent its chairperson packing. The candidate and members of the National Assembly made a push to drive the party leader out as well. While they did scramble to patch up the wounds, there’s no way of knowing when things might erupt again. So what exactly happened? Most PPP figures are laying the fault at party leader Lee Jun-seok’s doorstep, while others have been critical of former election committee chairperson Kim Chong-in.
EU nixes shipbuilding merger between Hyundai Heavy and Daewoo
Europe’s antitrust regulator has torpedoed the Hyundai Heavy Industries Group’s attempted takeover of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. That’s the latest setback in the Korea Development Bank’s attempt to sell the shipbuilder, which began three years ago. The European Commission said on Thursday it was banning any merger between the two companies. That came three years after the Korea Development Bank signed a basic agreement to sell its entire stake in Daewoo to Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (Hyundai Heavy Industries at the time). The outcome was partly foreseen since Hyundai Heavy didn’t submit a corrective plan in response to the commission’s concerns about monopoly.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
N. Korea, China likely to resume trade for first time in 2 years
North Korea’s freight train arrived in Dandong, Liaoning Province, China that neighbors the North Korean city of Sinuiju on Sunday. It is the first time in 16 months since August 2020 that a North Korean freight train has entered China. The North, which shut down borders with the North by citing prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in January 2020, will likely resume trade with China in earnest about two years since then, watchers say. According to several entrepreneurs in Dandong on Sunday, the North’s freight train entered Dandong at around 9:10 am on the day through the iron bridge ‘Chosun-China Friendship Bridge’ that connects the North and China.
Underground volcano near Tonga triggers Tsunami alert
A tsunami warning was issued in Japan for the first time in five years after an underground volcano erupted near Tonga on Saturday in the Southern Pacific. Tsunami warnings were also issued in other countries near the Pacific including the U.S., New Zealand and Canada. According to Kyodo News and other news agencies, Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning at 00:15 on Saturday saying, “Waves as high as three meters could be observed in some southwestern islands.” A tsunami alert was issued for the first time in five years since a 7.4 scale earthquake occurred near Fukushima in November 2016. About 230,000 residents in eight municipalities were ordered to evacuate for safety.
Biden thanks Korean immigrants for contributing to U.S. prosperity
U.S. President Joe Biden sent a congratulatory letter to Korean Americans on the occasion of Korean Americans’ Day on Thursday. The day was designed by the Congress in 2005 to commemorate January 13, 1903 when 102 Koreans landed in American soil for the first time in history to work at sugarcane farms in Hawaii. According to the Korean American Grassroots Conference, President Biden said in his letter, “On this date in 1903, pioneering Korean immigrants arrived in Hawaii and opened a new chapter to great history, and contributed to America’s development, power and prosperity,” adding that they have played a role in strengthening the South Korea-U.S. alliance, a cornerstone for world peace and prosperity
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Monetary Policy Board Raises Base Interest Rate by 0.25% to an Annual 1.25%
The Bank of Korea Monetary Policy Board raised the base rate 0.25%. The Board held a meeting at the Bank of Korea in Jung-gu, Seoul on January 14 and decided to raise the interest rate 0.25%, from an annual 1.0% to 1.25%. The decision came two months after the Monetary Policy Board announced its determination to restore monetary policies to pre-covid levels and raised the base rate by 0.25% each last August and November. The Board had lowered the interest rate by 0.5% and 0.25% last March and May respectively, after the economy quickly froze in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. The low rate was maintained for some time, until the Board raised it by 0.25% each last August and November.
Number of New Daily Cases of COVID-19 Drops 15% from the Previous Week: Authorities Confirmed over 4,300 Cases This Day
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 in South Korea dropped nearly 15% from the previous week. However, the number of new daily cases increased to exceed 4,000 for the first time in six days since January 6. On January 12, Jeon Hae-cheol (minister of the interior and safety), second assistant director at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said in his opening remark at the headquarters meeting, “In the past week (Jan. 5-11), the average number of new daily cases was 3,608, 15% down from the previous week (Dec. 29-Jan. 4), but today, we expect to confirm over 4,300 cases.”
Autopsy of Informant Who Raised the Allegation on Lee Jae-myung’s Legal Fees, “Heart Problem Due to Underlying Illness”
Yi (55), the man who first provided the tip on the questionable payment of Lee Jae-myung’s legal expenses, was found dead and the autopsy report suggests he died of heart problems. On the morning of January 13, the police announced, “The National Forensic Service said that after conducting an autopsy of Yi, they found no particular external injuries in his body that could have caused his death,” and added, “We received an oral report that the cause of death seemed to be aortic dissection and rupture.” Aortic dissection and rupture are heart problems that can be caused by underlying cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and old age. A police representative said, “Yi was already suffering from heart-related problems with more serious than moderate symptoms.” When the police found Yi, they also found drugs related to his illness at the scene.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
LG Energy Solution and Honda Motor to build a 40GWh JV in US
LG Energy Solution Ltd. (LGES) turning near $11 billion richer after IPO is discussing 40-Gigawatt hours (GWh) capacity battery joint venture in the United States with Honda Motor. Co. of Japan, which would make the third JV with finished carmakers in North America for the Korean battery major aiming to become No. 1 with more than 400GWh capacity by 2025. Its CEO Kwon Young-soo ahead of the IPO bookbuilding session on Monday had said the No. 2 power behind global electric vehicles would soon announce a new finished car partner for a JV.
Korean gov’t to find new buyer for DSME after EU vetoes HHIH-DSME merger
The South Korean government will draw up a new outline to strengthen the competitiveness of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME) under state ownership while looking for another viable buyer after the European Commission disapproved and upset the scheme to merge DSME under Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co.’s (HHIH) to create the world’s largest shipbuilder. In its statement on Thursday (local time), the European Commission said the proposed merger between HHIH and DSME would have created a dominant position in the global market for the construction of large liquefied gas (LNG) vessels, for which there is significant demand from European carriers.
Kakao to suspend further IPOs as it grapples with confidence issue
The ever-enlarging Kakao empire humbled by its first major internal strife and confidence issue is suspending public offerings of its units including this year’s candidates Kakao Mobility and Kakao Entertainment with a combined valuation 10 trillion won ($84 billion) to strengthen corporate guidelines in hopes to restore trust from employees, shareholders, and consumers. Kakao Corp. announced on Thursday that it will stop listing process of its subsidiaries – Kakao Bank, Kakao Pay, and Kakao Games – and review other candidates for public offerings.
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