Friday, December 2, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Korea-China summit leads stable and long-term development of bilateral relations
Ambassador Xing Haiming of China in Seoul attended the completion ceremony of the 7th Korea-China Senior Leadership Academy on Nov. 15. About 100 elite figures from all walks of life from Korea and China, including Kim Han-kyu, chairman of the 21st Century Korea-China Exchange Association, and lawmakers Ha Tae-kyung, Lee In-seon, and Yoon Young-seok, attended the meeting. Ambassador Xing Haiming noted that during the six weeks of the 7th Korea-China Senior Leadership Academy, there was something important and inspiring about China's relations with South Korea.
China sees accelerated speed of intelligent port construction
An intelligent port is a port that is focused on elevating its level of intelligence on the events and the occurring in the port businesses and their context, and developing the highest level of understanding and/ or control on them. China has made active efforts to build intelligent ports and to lead the intelligent development of ports around the world. Smart ports represent a new model of modern port transportation. They integrate traditional port businesses with cloud computing, big data, internet of things and other new-generation information technologies, and feature smart production and management, as well as a strong supportive capability.
The Law Enforcement Academy of the Republic of Uzbekistan was established
On November 28, 2022, the President of Uzbekistan signed the decree "On the introduction of a qualitatively new system of training qualified personnel in the field of criminal investigation." According to the decree, the Academy of Law Enforcement of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be established on the basis of the Academy of the General Prosecutor's Office. In the academy, a continuous training system aimed at training personnel in the field of crime investigation, ensuring their integral connection with practice, will be established.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Slowing Factory Output Signals Economic Slump
Factory output, which forms the backbone of Korea's economy, is slowing dramatically. According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, factory output fell 1.5 percent in October, the biggest decrease seen since April 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic started. It declined for the fourth month in a row after July's 0.2 percent, August's 0.1 percent and September's 0.4 percent. Declining output usually means that private consumption is dwindling and goods cannot be sold. Service sector output fell 0.8 percent last month, also the biggest decline since December of 2020.
Chinese, Russian Warplanes Buzz Air Defense Zone Again
Korea scrambled fighter jets on Wednesday as eight Chinese and Russian military aircraft flew into its air defense identification zone without prior notice. Two Chinese H-6 bombers entered the zone 126 km northwest of submerged Ieo Island at 5:48 a.m., the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said. They stayed for about 15 minutes before leaving at around 6.13 a.m., only to return about 30 minutes later and then repeatedly flying in and out until around 7:00 a.m.
KOSPI Rebounds as Foreign Investors Snap up Shares
Foreign investors snapped up more than W6 trillion worth of Korean shares in October and November of this year, spearheading a rebound of the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (US$1=W1,319). Foreign investors appear to have gone bargain-hunting for blue-chip KOSPI stocks like Samsung Electronics. According to the Korea Exchange on Wednesday, foreign investors bought W6.07 trillion worth of Korean stocks from Oct. 1 until Nov. 29, though retail investors sold off W6.27 trillion worth of shares. Institutional investors also purchased W3 billion worth.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
At CSIS forum, experts survey 'more tense' geopolitical landscape
Cooperation between the United States and South Korea is key to resolving Seoul's worries over the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a White House official said at the JoongAng – CSIS Forum in Seoul on Thursday. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington does not view trade with Korea and support for U.S.-based production as a “zero-sum game,” and that the IRA can become a “win-win.” The forum, co-hosted by the JoongAng Ilbo and the Council on Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), took place at the Shilla Hotel in Jung District, central Seoul and revolved around the theme “The Alliance in Turbulent Times.”
Budget negotiations fall apart for next year
Negotiations on next year's budget fell apart Thursday. Friday is the formal deadline for the National Assembly to approve a budget bill but in most years it misses it. The liberal Democratic Party (DP) called on Speaker Kim Jin-pyo on Thursday to open a plenary session at the Assembly, which Kim refused, citing key differences between the DP and the conservative People Power Party. The DP wants a plenary session so it can pass a bill of no-confidence in Interior Minister Lee Sang-min to hold him responsible for the deadly crowd crush in Itaewon in October.
Vietnam's president is coming to Korea
Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc will make a three-day visit to Seoul from Sunday for a summit with Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. An official welcome ceremony will take place on Monday, followed by talks between the two leaders and only a few aides, an expanded summit meeting and a state dinner, said Yoon's presidential office Thursday. Phuc will be the first foreign leader to make a state visit to Korea since Yoon's inauguration in May. The two leaders are expected to hold discussions on strengthening bilateral cooperation in security, education and people-to-people exchanges, according to the presidential office. In terms of economics, they will cover areas such as trade and investment, finance, infrastructure and supply chains.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Korea’s exports declined by 14 percent in November
Korea’s exports, the nation’s engine of growth, have declined for two consecutive months due to a global economic slowdown and energy price spike, compounded by a nationwide strike of unionized cargo truckers. The nation’s trade balance fell into deficit for eight months, the longest streak in 25 years since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. The government projects that prolonging the strike would hurt exports in December. Some analysis suggests that the economic growth rate at zero percent in the third quarter may take a reverse turn in the fourth quarter.
China gradually eases lockdown measures
Chinese authorities are gradually easing lockdown measures against COVID-19. According to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency on Thursday, the full lockdown of Guangzhou, the southern city with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19, was partially lifted on the same day. Only buildings with confirmed cases were managed as high-risk areas, while other areas have been adjusted to low-risk areas. Until Wednesday, most citizens in Guangzhou couldn’t leave their homes. It has been two days since the Guangzhou protesters were cracked down on by firing tear gas at the police.
Tesla’s U.S. market share expected to decline to 20% in 2025
A new study from S&P Global Mobility projected that Tesla, which controls about 65 percent of the U.S. electric vehicle market, will see its shares drop to 20 percent in 2025 as multiple automakers, including Hyundai, will quickly gain market share with various EV models. According to Global Mobility on Wednesday, Tesla’s EV market share in the U.S. was 65 percent from January to September 2022. A total of 525,000 EVs were registered during the period, and 340,000 were Tesla.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
South Korea reports worst trade deficit in 25 years on global slowdown
South Korea reported eight straight months of trade deficit in November, the worst performance since 1997, as demand slowed in key overseas markets, data showed on Thursday. Outbound shipments from Asia’s fourth-largest economy slumped 14.0 percent from a year ago to $51.91 billion last month, the first decline in two years since a 3.9 percent drop in October 2020, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement. This is the first consecutive decrease of more than two months since March-August 2020 when Covid-19 spread across the world.
Korean financial authority to closely monitor borrowing rates at lenders
South Korea’s financial authority will closely monitor borrowing rates at all lenders in an apparent intervention to normalize loan rates that have skyrocketed to unusual levels following the country’s base rate hikes to tame inflation.“We will closely monitor the current loan rate trend at local financial firms,” said an unnamed high-level official from the Financial Services Commission (FSC) who have close knowledge about the measure on Wednesday. “The FSC and Financial Supervisory Service will join forces to closely look into borrowing rate moves following the Bank of Korea’s base rate hikes to check any excessive rate changes.”
SK on to raise up to $1 bn for EV battery ramp-up from local PEFs
SK on has signed a deal with a consortium composed of South Korean private equity firms to raise up to 1.3 trillion won ($1 billion) to finance its overseas electric vehicle battery production ramp-ups. SK innovation, the parent company of the Korean EV rechargeable battery producer, approved a funding plan to sell new SK on shares to a Korea Investment Private Equity-EastBridge Partners consortium during a board meeting, according to industry sources on Wednesday. Under the deal, SK on will raise funds worth between 695.3 billion won and 1.32 trillion won from the consortium of local private equity firms.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Korean Supreme Court overturns ruling in police damage case against striking SsangYong workers
Six and a half years after a prior ruling against them, the Supreme Court has sided with SsangYong Motor workers. On Wednesday, Korea’s top court ruled in favor of SsangYong Motor workers who went on strike in 2009 and were met with excessive suppression by police forces. After the strike, the police proceeded to file a lawsuit against the strikers, demanding compensation for damages. According to the Supreme Court, however, the illegal actions taken by the union in response to the excessive suppression tactics by the police
When Ukrainian children’s world came crashing down, literature stood by them
Staying in the greater Kyiv area from Oct. 8 to 13, the Hankyoreh contacted people in Uzhhorod and Kharkiv and tried to collect news from the southeast front line. Amid gunfire, we saw and listened to the world of children shattered by war, and the sadness and endurance of those previously ignored by the media. We did our best to leave behind in Seoul the theories of critic Kim Hyun, who proposed the paradox of the “usefulness of the uselessness” of literature, and headed off to the most precarious of times and places in 2022 to find the “usefulness” of literature.
In absence of government efforts, families of Itaewon victims organize themselves
A council for families of those killed in the Itaewon disaster is steadily growing. Within just 15 days of launching, 67 of the 158 victims’ families have joined the council. With the government doing little to support the bereaved, evident in the way that it appears reluctant to see the families gather in one place, the families have taken it upon themselves to seek out other relevant parties. As of Tuesday, families of 67 of the crowd crush victims have joined a group currently calling itself the “Oct. 29 Itaewon Tragedy’s Bereaved Families Prep Council.”
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
“The Legal Risks Linked to Lee Jae-myung Were Expected,” Park Young-sun Mentions Possibility of a Split in the Democratic Party
Park Young-sun, former minister of SMEs and startups, expressed her concern on the possibility of a split in the Democratic Party of Korea. She claimed it was because the party was buried in the legal risks connected to party leader Lee Jae-myung. She also described President Yoon Suk-yeol as a “historical irony,” her way of expressing her complicated feelings on how prosecutorial reforms promoted by the Democratic Party ended up with a prosecutor getting elected as president.
First Meeting of Ruling and Opposition Parties to Discuss Policies: First on the Table, the Government Organization Act to Abolish the Gender Ministry
On December 1, the ruling and opposition parties will hold the first meeting of a consultative body on policies composed of three members from each party and begin discussing the Yoon Suk-yeol government’s government restructuring plan centered on the abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. The People Power Party (PPP) and the Democratic Party of Korea announced that they would kick off the 3+3 body for policy discussions in the National Assembly on Thursday. The heads of each party’s policy committee, the senior deputy floor leaders, and the secretaries in the parliamentary Public Administration and Security Committee will take part in the policy discussion group.
Im Jong-seok, “The Accusation of an Attempt to Conceal the Death of a Civil Servant in the Yellow Sea is a Political Delusion”
On November 30, former chief of staff Im Jong-seok condemned the Prosecution Service, which requested an arrest warrant for Suh Hoon, former Cheongwadae national security director. He demanded the prosecutors to stop their political retaliation on the Moon Jae-in government. Wednesday on social media, Im wrote, “The Yoon Suk-yeol government’s argument that the Moon Jae-in government systemically manipulated and concealed the death of a civil servant in the Yellow Sea is merely a political delusion and is a stubborn attempt to justify political retaliation.”
Rail Workers Cancel Strike after Reaching Tentative Agreement with KORAIL
The labor union and the management of the state-run Korea Railroad Corporation(KORAIL) reached a tentative agreement in their last-minute talks, just hours before a planned general strike. The union and corporate management held negotiations at 4:20 p.m. Thursday, but the talks collapsed in just 20 minutes. The two sides resumed talks around midnight and reached a tentative agreement at around 4:30 a.m. Friday that includes the establishment of phased measures regarding pay increases over the next three years in accordance with a court ruling on ordinary wages.
Biden Acknowledges 'Glitches' in IRA, Hints at Possible 'Tweaks'
U.S. President Joe Biden has acknowledged that the Inflation Reduction Act(IRA) may have "glitches," hinting at a possible adjustment to the law that excludes electric vehicles assembled outside North America from tax subsidies. President Biden issued the position on Thursday in a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House after their summit talks. Biden said that while the U.S. makes no apology for the law, such a massive piece of legislation earmarking almost 368 billion dollars for the largest investment in climate change action in history will inevitably have glitches.
US Imposes Sanctions on 3 N. Korean Party Officials over WMD Program
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced sanctions against three North Korean party officials over their alleged involvement in the country's illegal weapons development program. The department said in a statement on Thursday that its Office of Foreign Assets Control(OFAC) imposed sanctions on three individuals for their roles as officials of the North's Workers' Party. The department said the blacklisted individuals, Jon Il-ho, Yu Jin and Kim Su-gil, directly led North Korean organizations that are linked to the development of weapons of mass destruction(WMD).
Ex-President Moon voices deep concern over probe into slain fisheries official
Former President Moon Jae-in on Thursday expressed deep concern over the prosecution's ongoing investigation into the 2020 death of a South Korean fisheries official at the hands of North Korea, saying that a "matter of national security" should not be a "subject of political strife." "I express deep concern over making a matter of national security a subject of political strife and these senseless acts that incapacitate the national security system and stomp on the pride of public servants who have devoted themselves to protecting national security for a long time,"
Rival parties clash over dismissal motion for interior minister, budget plan
Rival political parties on Thursday clashed over whether to hold a plenary session of the National Assembly amid disagreements over a national budget bill and a dismissal motion against the interior minister over the deadly crowd crush in Seoul. The ruling People Power Party (PPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) have been in a political deadlock after the DP put forth a motion calling for Interior Minister Lee Sang-min's dismissal the previous day to hold him accountable for the bungled emergency response to the Oct. 29 tragedy that killed at least 158 people in the Itaewon district.
Arrest warrants sought for 4 police officers as part of Itaewon crush probe
The police sought warrants to detain four senior officers Thursday as part of their investigation into the bungled response to the deadly crowd crush in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood. The four are Lee Im-jae, former head of the Yongsan Police Station covering the Itaewon district; Park Sung-min, former high-ranking intelligence officer; Kim Jin-ho, former intelligence officer at the Yongsan Police Station; and Song Byung-joo, former emergency monitoring officer at the Yongsan Police Station.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon to host Vietnamese leader in push for better ties with Southeast Asia
President Yoon Suk-yeol will meet Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Seoul on Monday to elevate their 30 years of diplomatic ties, as South Korea looks to expand its reach into Southeast Asia. During Phuc’s three-day state visit that starts Sunday -- the first of its kind Yoon will be hosting since he came to office in May -- the two leaders will discuss a number of topics from security and business to any other issues that need immediate attention, Yoon’s office said in a statement released Thursday.
Delayed supplies caused by truckers' strike amounts to 1.6 tln won: gov't
Over one trillion won worth of financial damage has been caused by the ongoing unionized truckers' strike in the past week, affecting the cement, steel, oil and other industries, the South Korean government on Thursday. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said shipments delayed due to the walkout that started nationwide on Nov. 24 has amounted to some 1.6 trillion won ($1.23 billion). Amid concerns that transport disruptions could escalate further, the Trade Ministry is reviewing options to issue an additional executive order for truckers in the oil retail industry to return to work before more gas stations across the country run short of supply.
Seoul subway returns to normal as strike ends
Seoul subway operations returned at full capacity early Thursday morning after a late-night agreement by management to withdraw a staff downsizing plan ended the strike. Some parts of Line Nos. 1, 3 and 4, however, might not run at full capacity due to separate work-to-rule action by labor unions of Korail, another subway system operator in Greater Seoul. Workers on Line Nos. 1 through 8 went on strike over revived plans to reduce staff by not replacing retiring workers. The subway operator had abandoned the plans in a 2021 labor-management agreement.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Fears grow over Korean government shutdown
Fears are growing over a shutdown of the Korean government's key functions next year, as the national budget bill for 2023 was still adrift, Thursday, a day before its deadline amid continued partisan gridlock. The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), which holds the majority in the National Assembly, is flexing its muscles to pass its own budget plan containing the key pledges of DPK Chairman Rep. Lee Jae-myung. The ruling People Power Party (PPP) is desperately resisting this move, saying that it is prepared to embrace a provisional budget limiting the government's spending to the minimum level, which would curtail government functions as in a U.S. federal government shutdown.
Migrant rights groups call for investigation into sudden death of Nepalese worker
Local migrants' rights groups are calling for a thorough investigation into the recent death of a Nepalese worker at a meat factory, as they view that the death could be related to harsh working conditions. Birendra Tamang, 25, who was working in a meat factory in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province, was found dead in his dormitory on Nov. 27, according to the police. His death occurred some five months after he was hired to work there. While the police are yet to disclose the autopsy results, migrant rights activists are demanding a full investigation into possible health issues related to harsh labor conditions and long working hours.
Chinese residents in Seoul join 'white paper' protests against Beijing's COVID policy
Chinese residents held a rally in Seoul Wednesday night in a rare ― if not unprecedented ― gathering here against the stringent COVID-19 measures in their home country, demanding freedom and human rights while covering their faces due to the fear of being persecuted. Around 100 protesters gathered in a street near Hongik University, a popular area for young people, to pay their respects to the victims of a blaze last week in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Province in Western China, and express their fury over the lockdown measures, which were blamed for delaying firefighters from saving them.
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