Thursday, November 24, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
My country is a land of opportunity for Korean businesses, investors!”
President William Ruto of the Republic of Kenya said, “My country is a land of opportunity for Korean businesses and investors and a gateway to Africa.”
Speaking with the representatives of the Korean media at the residence of Ambassador Mwende Mwinzi in Seoul, including Vice Chairpersons Joy Cho, Vice Chairman Choe Nam-suk and Managing Editor Lee Kap-soo of The Korea Post media, President Ruto expressed his confidence in Kenya’s market potential. President Ruto arrived in Seoul on the evening of Nov. 22, 2022, had bilateral talks with his Korean counterpart, President Yoon Suk-Yeol.
Uzbekistan, France Presidents agree to develop a high-level comprehensive partnership
At the invitation of the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev paid an official visit to this country on November 21-22 this year. The second day of the visit was also full of negotiations. On November 22, a welcoming ceremony took place for the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev who is paying an official visit to the French Republic, in the Paris Veterans' House.
Uzbekistan, France open new aspects of cooperation
The national flags of the two countries were raised and a guard of honor was lined up to welcome the President of Uzbekistan at the Paris-Orly Airport. The Minister of Culture of France Rima Abdul Malak and other officials met the Leader of Uzbekistan. On November 21, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev received the CEO of the French Development Agency Rémy Rioux, in Paris. Issues of further enhancing cooperation between Uzbekistan and the French Development Agency and filling it with new promising projects were considered.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Fears of COVID Surge Due to 'Hidden' Infections
Korea saw the highest number of daily coronavirus infections in some two months on Tuesday. The rate of increase is steady, but the number of serious cases and deaths remains high. Health experts attributed the trend to infected people avoiding testing. Daily new infections reached 70,324 on Wednesday morning, down slightly from 72,873 the previous day and the most since Sept. 14. There were 477 serious cases in hospital, above 400 for the fifth day running, while 53 infected people died, down from more than 60 late last week.
Korea's Trade Deficit Keeps Growing
Korea has suffered a cumulative trade deficit of US$39.96 billion so far this year, wallowing in the red since April. According to the Korea Customs Service on Monday, Korea's trade deficit rose another $4.42 billion in the first 20 days of this month, although the increase was slightly smaller than a month ago. Exports plunged 16.7 percent on-year to $33.2 billion, which makes it likely that they will decline for a second month running in November. They dipped 5.7 percent in October.
S.Korea, U.S. Discuss Next Year's Submarine Drills
South Korea and the U.S. have discussed next year's submarine drills and deploying U.S. submarines near the Korean Peninsula amid the threat of North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missiles. In a meeting on Guam recently, the two navies discussed staging the drills dubbed "Silent Shark" in the middle of next year, according to the Navy here on Tuesday. Rear Admiral Lee Soo-yeol, the chief of the Submarine Force Command, recently visited the U.S. Navy's Submarine Group 7 and Submarine Squadron 15 on Guam. Submarine Squadron 15 operates five nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class submarines.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon and Musk discuss possible Tesla factory in Korea
President Yoon Suk-yeol spoke with Elon Musk Wednesday and discussed the possibility of building a Tesla factory in Korea. Musk is CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter. A transcript of the video-link conversation wasn't made available, but based on a summary released by the presidential office, Yoon first mentioned the possibility of a Tesla factory being built in Korea and Musk responded positively. Musk said that Korea is one of the top candidates for a Tesla factory. He acknowledged the country’s strengths and noted that Tesla is using many vehicle parts made in Korea, according to the presidential office.
Sections of Seoul pinpointed to grow MICE industry
Areas around Seoul Station, Jamsil and Magok-dong will see more convention centers and shopping districts by 2030 as part of the city’s efforts to attract 30 million tourists annually. The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a so-called MICE mid-term development plan on Wednesday, the latest in a series of initiatives to get more people to visit Seoul. Korea’s capital saw nearly 14 million tourists in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nine more called for questioning in Itaewon tragedy
Nine more police officers, fire officers and public officials will be called in for questioning in relation to the Itaewon tragedy, police said Wednesday. The National Police Agency's special investigation unit said Wednesday it called in nine more people to be questioned based on its investigation over the past 20 days. The list includes four people from the police, including Park Sung-min, a police superintendent general, and Song Byung-joo, a former emergency monitoring officer at Yongsan Police Precinct; three from the Yongsan district office, which covers the Itaewon area, including Yoo Seung-jae, the deputy chief at the gu office; one from the Yongsan Fire Department; and one from the Itaewon Station.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Saudi Arabia declares public holiday after beating Argentina
The king of Saudi Arabia declared a public holiday to celebrate a historical win against Argentina in the first match of Group C at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. King Salman bin Abdulaziz released a statement on Tuesday evening and said November 23 is declared a public holiday for all employees in the private and public sectors and students. Test schedules for students taking final exams were pushed back until after the round of 16, and a Saudi Arabian stock exchange, Tadawul, closed for the day.
Yoon asks Tesla to invest in S. Korea, Musk describes as top priority
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday requested Tesla CEO Elon Musk invest in the country as part of his plan to build gigafactory lines of complete electric vehicles (EVs) in Asia. In response, Musk said that South Korea is under review as one of the most likely investment destinations. President Yoon and CEO Musk discussed investment and cooperative plans for Tesla’s EV production facilities in a video call for half an hour, according to the South Korean presidential office.
Non-Gangnam residents take up more than half of taxpayers subject to comprehensive real estate holding tax in Seoul
Those living in the Gangnam area, notably known as the wealthiest neighborhood in South Korea, have been outnumbered by non-Gangnam residents in terms of the number of taxpayers who are supposed to pay the comprehensive real estate holding tax due to their possession of house units in Seoul for the first time, according to a study. An increase of 60,000 taxpayers living outside of the capital area levied the corresponding tax. The taxpayer bracket concerning the comprehensive real estate holding tax seems to be spreading beyond the Gangnam region and the capital area.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Saudi, Singapore wealth funds mull pre-IPO investment in Kakao Entertainment
Saudi and Singapore sovereign wealth funds are mulling joint pre-IPO investment of up to 800 billion won ($592 million) in Kakao Entertainment, fueling stock prices of the Korean contents operator’s listed parent and siblings. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) under the ownership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who last week visited Seoul is reviewing equity investment in Kakao Entertainment to add another Korean contents major to its investment portfolio after Nexon Korea Corp. and NCSoft Corp.
Korea’s supply chain faces new disruption as truckers threaten to strike
South Korea could face another bottleneck in its supply chain as truckers are set to go on a nationwide strike Thursday in the second collective action since June when their week-long strike caused a backlog of containers at ports and a shortage of supplies for retailers. The Cargo Truckers Solidarity division of the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers Union said it will go on strike as of 12 a.m. tomorrow indefinitely, demanding the government to permanently provide a guarantee of minimum pay for carrying cargo for containers and cement sector. The truckers are also demanding the expansion of this guarantee to other sectors such as steel and tank vehicles.
Apple offers to comply with Korean antitrust remedial orders by Jan
Apple Inc. has agreed to comply with remedial orders from South Korean antitrust agency to voluntarily stop forcing its own set of rates on Korean app developers, a move that would be the first for the American tech giant. Fair Trade Commission Chairman Han Ki-jeong said Tuesday that Apple has submitted voluntary remedial outline to amend fee policy and complete system change work by the end of January next year to enable domestic app developers pay based on their original value of services.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Unionized Korean truckers to strike again over expiring minimum pay system
Unionized freight and cargo truckers in Korea are set to go on an indefinite strike starting Thursday as they demand that the set-to-expire minimum pay system be extended and expanded to include other freight types. Workers with the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union Cargo Truckers’ Solidarity division (KPTU-TruckSol) last went on strike five months ago, in June. The administration of Yoon Suk-yeol and the ruling party have decided to extend the sunset law of the so-called safe trucking freight rates system for three more years, but KPTU-TruckSol says that this is not in accord with the agreement they struck in June following their last strike, and will push ahead with the work stoppage.
Yoon’s office awarded contract for robotic guard dogs to firm owned by major campaign donor
The Hankyoreh has confirmed that a business owned by a figure who provided a large donation to President Yoon Suk-yeol during his presidential campaign — and who received along with his wife an invitation in first lady Kim Keon-hee’s name to the presidential inauguration — won a private contract to rent “robotic guard dogs” to the presidential office in Yongsan. Robotic guard dogs appeared as part of the presidential office’s efforts to implement “scientific protection” at the office as it moved to Yongsan following Yoon’s electoral victory in March. The company in question concluded a sole distribution contract with the Korean entity of the US company that manufactured the security robots in May.
S. Korean presidential office installs wall blocking reporters after halting informal Q&A sessions
On Monday, President Yoon Suk-yeol indefinitely suspended the brief Q&A sessions he’s been regularly holding with reporters while commuting to his office in Yongsan. It has been six months and 10 days since he took office and just one day since a wall was installed where these sessions usually take place. Critics say the president’s decision to halt the so-called doorstepping sessions, which leveraged his conflict with broadcaster MBC, reverses a previous promise by Yoon to communicate directly with the media.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Families of the Itaewon Disaster Victims Ask, “What Did This Country Do for the Safety of Its People? Answer Us!”
“I cried beating my chest out of frustration and sorrow, which crushed my heart, but my tear-soaked heart is full of longing and nostalgia. When you were born and your father held you in his arms for the first time, you were warm. Holding you, now a bundle of warm ashes, in my arms on a bus to send you away, I so much regret not having held you more often. Leave behind all the pain, suffering, and sadness of this world, and take courage and farewell. I’m so grateful you were my daughter. I love you.”
Fourth Case of Monkeypox Confirmed in South Korea: A Medical Staff Who Treated a Monkeypox Patient
Authorities confirmed the fourth case of monkeypox in the country. The Central Disease Control Headquarters of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency announced that they confirmed the fourth monkeypox patient in Korea on November 22. The latest patient was a medical staff working in an isolation ward where the third monkeypox patient stayed for tests. The medical staff was pricked with a needle while collecting a rash sample on November 14 and was classified as a high-risk contact.
The Office of the President’s Controversial View of the Press: Press Associations Claim the Office Intends to Alienate MBC
On November 21, the Office of the President announced that the president would no longer receive questions from the press on his way to work in the morning, which he had done since his inauguration. Media organizations and experts criticized that the latest decision meant that the president would no longer answer questions from the people. Earlier on November 20, the presidential office installed a wooden panel between the building entrance and the lobby. Six organizations of active journalists including the National Union of Media Workers and the Journalists Association of Korea held a press conference in front of the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul on November 21
Truck Drivers Launch General Strike
Unionized truckers launched a nationwide general strike on Thursday as planned. The 16 regional branches of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions will simultaneously hold a ceremony launching the strike at 10 a.m. at major ports and industrial complexes, where they will block the entry and exit of cargo. The truckers are demanding that the government extend a safe trucking freight rates system set to expire at the end of this year. The temporary three-year policy was designed to prevent overwork and overloading and guarantee minimum freight rates for truck drivers.
N. Korea Slams Yoon over Seoul's Push for Sanctions
Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, called Yoon Suk Yeol administration “idiots” as she lashed out against South Korea’s push to impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang over its continued missile launches. In a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency on Thursday, Kim said that she cannot understand why the South Korean people stand idly by as the Yoon government and other idiots continue to create a dangerous situation.
Pres. Office Calls for Parliamentary Cooperation on Real Estate Tax Revisions
The presidential office has called for parliament’s cooperation in passing government-proposed revisions to the comprehensive real estate holding tax systems aimed at lowering tax burdens. Senior presidential secretary for economic affairs Choi Sang-mok relayed the request on Wednesday, saying the public tax burden increased due to what he called an “abnormal” plan to revise housing appraisal prices under the previous government. The referenced plan pushed by the Moon Jae-in government was to raise official home appraisal prices to 90 percent of the market value, reflecting criticism that owners of expensive homes were not being taxed accurately.
Rival parties set to kick off parliamentary probe into Itaewon tragedy
Rival political parties are set to officially kick off a parliamentary investigation Thursday into the Itaewon crowd crush in accordance with the agreement they reached the previous day. A special parliamentary committee on the probe plans to hold its first meeting Thursday morning to draw up a 45-day investigation plan and pass the motion at the National Assembly's plenary session later in the day. The 18-member committee will oversee the investigation into the tragedy that killed at least 158 Halloween partygoers in a crowd surge in Seoul's Itaewon district on the night of Oct. 29.
S. Korean defense chief calls on China to play 'constructive' role over N.K. threats
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup asked China Wednesday to play a "constructive" role in addressing North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and encouraging its return to dialogue during talks with his Chinese counterpart, Seoul's defense ministry said. Lee met bilaterally with Beijing's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on the margins of the three-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), which ends Thursday.
Truck drivers set to go on nationwide strike
Unionized cargo truckers said Wednesday they will go ahead with a nationwide strike as planned this week to demand an extension of a freight rate system guaranteeing a basic wage and better labor rights. Members of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity, affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, will walk out at the beginning of Thursday, and the union's 16 regional branches nationwide plan to simultaneously hold a ceremony launching the strike Thursday morning, union officials said.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon asks Tesla chief to build 'gigafactory' in South Korea
President Yoon Suk-yeol has asked Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla & SpaceX, to make significant investments in South Korea, including building a production facility for electric vehicles here, during a meeting held via videoconference Wednesday morning, the presidential office said. Initially, Yoon was scheduled to meet with Musk face-to-face at the B-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. However, the meeting was canceled as Musk was unable to make the trip to Bali. Instead, they decided to meet virtually at 10 a.m. (local time).
South Korea, Kenya agree to boost economic cooperation
Leaders of South Korea and Kenya on Wednesday agreed to expand economic exchanges in the areas of energy, defense and transport in the first bilateral summit that came in 32 years. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol requested Kenya's interest in having more Korean energy and defense companies work on state-led projects, while Kenyan President William Ruto asked for Korea's cooperation in the African country's interest in nuclear energy and smart transport systems, the presidential office said.
Production of S. Korea’s first COVID-19 vaccine suspended
The production of the country's first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine was indefinitely suspended Tuesday, amid the slowdown in demand for vaccines tailored to combat SARS-CoV-2, the original strain of coronavirus. According to industry insiders, South Korean vaccine maker SK Bioscience suspended the production of finished SKYCovione products. However, despite the suspension of final products, the vaccine bulk -- the liquid base materials used as main ingredient of vaccines -- are still in production, a SK Bioscience spokesperson said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
North Korea's markets expand amid layered sanctions, pandemic
North Korea's marketplaces have expanded over the past several years in spite of international economic sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from a South Korean think tank. A team at the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) showed their research findings that the market forces in what is supposedly a communist state remain resilient: Compared with data from 2016, both the total size of marketplaces (visible by satellite) and the number of people who rely on them for their living have increased.
NK leader's sister lambasts Seoul over talk of sanctions on Pyongyang
The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Thursday lashed out at South Korea's Yoon Suk-yeol administration for seeking more independent sanctions on Pyongyang, calling it a "faithful dog" to Washington. Kim Yo-jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, harshly criticized the South for labeling the North's military exercise as a "provocation" and pushing to slap additional sanctions on Pyongyang.
Procurement market offers launch pad for businesses to leap forward as global players
Procurement markets overseas offer huge opportunities for businesses to grow into global players, but many of them have been hesitant due to high entry barriers. The Public Procurement Service (PPS) has been accompanying businesses to successfully enter the blue ocean market, and help their exports rise to record highs in the first quarter. PPS Administrator Lee Jong-wook said his agency is expanding the scope of support for Korean businesses aiming for the global procurement market, as the country's trade deficit is continuing amid a global economic slowdown.
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