Monday, March 20, 2023
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Kazakhstan is on the eve of important milestone, development, growth
The start of this year could not have been any more different for Kazakhstan when compared to the tragic January of 2022. Just over twelve months ago, our country was amidst a violent coup attempt orchestrated by groups that wanted to see our nation collapse. There was a real possibility that Kazakhstan’s statehood would fall apart from within, which would have had reverberating consequences well beyond Central Asia. Fortunately, our country managed to not only recover from the wounds of January 2022 events but to further strengthen the foundations of our governance through political and socio-economic changes. Fast forward twelve months from January 2022, and our country is quite unrecognisable.
Hyundai Motor & UNDP’s ‘for Tomorrow’ project selected as finalist for 2023 SXSW Innovation Awards
Hyundai Motor Company and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)’s ‘for Tomorrow’ project has been named a finalist in the Media category of the 2023 South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Innovation Awards. Hyundai Motor and UNDP launched ‘for Tomorrow’ initiative when they signed a partnership agreement in 2020. The project is a ‘bottom-up innovation platform’ that celebrates the collective intelligence of local innovators and highlights their concrete solutions to the world’s toughest challenges, such as transportation, housing and the environment, and to create a better tomorrow.
Korea, Netherlands sign 7 MOUs for industrial & energy cooperation
Minister for Trade Ahn Duk-geun met with Liesje Schreinemacher, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, and attended the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing ceremony where the two countries signed seven MOUs on eco-friendly mobility and renewable energy cooperation. The ceremony was held on occasion of Dutch Minister Schreinemacher’s visit to Korea (March 13-15) as trade delegation head and as follow-up to the Korea-Netherlands summit talks held last November in Seoul.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Mask Mandate on Public Transport Ends Next Week
Next Monday will see the end of mandatory face masks on public transportation after two years and five months. That removes almost all coronavirus quarantine regulations except for the mask mandate in high-risk facilities and seven-day self-isolation of the infected. Health authorities on Wednesday said, "The mask mandate on public transportation as well as at pharmacies in superstores and train stations will be lifted on March 20." The decision was made after the lifting of the indoor mask mandate produced no significant spike in infections.
Child Influencers Stoke Cult of Materialism
Children as young as 10 are setting themselves up as social media influencers stoking the Korean cult of beauty and luxury labels. Little wannabe Kardashians post videos buying and rating luxury products costing an arm and a leg or preteens coaching others how to apply makeup. Some attract up to 800,000 views. One 24-year-old elementary school teacher in Busan said, "YouTube and TikTok videos have tremendous influence on elementary schoolkids. Some children copy influencers who use special-effects filters and end up putting on too much makeup."
Korea, Japan Agree to Resume Regular Shuttle Diplomacy
President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday agreed to form a negotiating body to discuss security and economic issues and resume regular "shuttle diplomacy" that was halted 12 years ago over historical conflicts. Meeting Yoon in Tokyo, Kishida promised to scrap restrictions on exports of key high-tech materials and put South Korea back on a whitelist of favored trading partners. In turn South Korea withdraws a lawsuit against Japan at the World Trade Organization.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon may be invited to the G7 summit in Hiroshima
Japan is finalizing preparations to invite Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to the Group of Seven, or G7, summit in Hiroshima in May, according to Japanese media reports. The reports come after Yoon made a two-day visit to Tokyo for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Thursday, the first bilateral visit by a Korean leader in 12 years, signaling a thaw in relations frayed by historical disputes and a trade spat.
North fires missile into East Sea ahead of UN meeting
North Korea fired a ballistic missile that landed in the East Sea, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday, ahead of a scheduled United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Monday to discuss the North's recent missile launches. The suspected short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) was launched at 11:05 a.m. from Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, and traveled roughly 800 kilometers (497 miles) before splashing down in waters east of the Korean Peninsula.
Shareholders increase, even as share prices fall
Despite the plunge in the stock market due to economic slowdown, the number of shareholders increased last year. For Samsung Electronics in particular, the share price fell to two-thirds of its original price, but the shareholder number increased by double digits. The number shareholders of Samsung Electronics increased last year nearly 14 percent on year to surpass 6.38 million, according to data from Korea Securities Depositary. The figure constitutes 12 percent of Korea's entire population.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Financial crisis is imminent in United States and Europe
Switzerland’s largest bank UBS is expected to buy the country’s No. 2 Credit Suisse while the U.S. government asks Wall Street gurus such as Warren Buffett to join to save the banking industry from trouble. Europe and the United States struggle to prevent another “Black Monday” and alleviate the risks of a global financial crisis. The Financial Times (FT) and The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Saturday (local time) that UBS, with an asset of 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars, is soon to acquire the 575-billion-dollar Credit Suisse.
Five alleyways in Seoul to be transformed into 'K-Alley'
Five alleyways in Seoul will be transformed into unique 'Global (Global + Local)' districts. On Sunday, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a plan to establish the alleyways as the city's iconic 'K-Alley,' drawing in both local residents and foreign visitors by highlighting their distinct regional characteristics. The five target areas are Seochon, Jongno-gu, Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Suyu-dong, Gangbuk-gu, Sinchon, Seodaemun-gu, and Cheonho, Gangdong-gu. Starting from the middle of this month, the city plans to invest up to 1.5 billion won into each district for the next three years.
Korea, Japan to cooperate in semiconductor and material sectors
After the summit meeting between South President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, where they agreed to expand economic and security cooperation, they are now taking the cooperation to the next level by vowing to stabilize the supply chain of high-tech industries such as semiconductors, batteries, and electric vehicles and carry out digital transformation. With the announcement of a solution for victims of forced labor during the Japanese colonial period in Korea, cooperation in high-tech industries between the two countries has begun in earnest. Observations are made on how sincerely Prime Minister Kishida and the defendant companies will respond to the issue of apology and remorse, and compensation and contribution for victims of forced labor has become a key variable in restoring Korea-Japan relations in the future.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
South Korea, Japan vow to open new era of cooperation to overcome crises
South Korea and Japan agreed to resume the so-called shuttle diplomacy between the leaders of the two countries for the first time in 12 years and for Japan lift its export ban on key chip materials to its closest neighbor as they take steps to normalize bilateral relations. President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a bilateral summit in Tokyo on Thursday. Yoon’s visit to Japan is the first by a South Korean leader in four years and it’s the first time in 12 years that the heads of the two countries have engaged in the shuttle diplomacy since former President Lee Myung-bak made a trip to Japan in 2011
Korean authorities to introduce measures to bolster capital at banks
South Korean authorities plans to introduce a system that improves the financial soundness of local banks by bolstering their capital to minimize any impact from the fallout of Silicon Valley Bank in the U.S. “We will have the banks introduce the countercyclical capital buffer so that they can respond to economic fluctuations,” said Kim So-young, vice chairman of the Financial Services Commission on Wednesday. “We will also have them build up additional reserves depending on the results of their stress tests.”
No. of shareholders of Korean Inc. up 4.1% in 2022 despite weak market
South Korea has seen a 4.1 percent on-year rise in the number of shareholders of listed companies last year despite the bearish market and their favorite stock was Samsung Electronics Co. According to data from the Korea Securities Depository and business reports of each of the listed companies on Thursday, the number of shareholders of 2,509 listed companies in Korea stood at 14.41 million at the end of December last year, up 4.1 percent from the previous year.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon-Kishida summit concludes with no apology or sincere response from Japan
While President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the restoration of bilateral ties, including the restoration of “shuttle diplomacy” after a 12-year hiatus at the South Korea-Japan summit on Thursday, there was no direct apology or expression of regret from Kishida regarding Japan’s use of forced labor during its occupation of Korea. Rather, in response to a question about possible future claims against the companies named in a lawsuit by forced labor victims, Yoon said that the Korean government “does not envision exercise of the right of redress” against the companies that committed war crimes.
Biggest beneficiary of Korea boosting security cooperation with Japan could be US
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol announced the “complete normalization” of Korea and Japan’s information-sharing agreement, called GSOMIA, in his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday. The decision, Yoon said, will serve the national interest by helping “the two countries share information about and respond to North Korean nuclear weapon and missile launches and trajectories.” Considering that GSOMIA has been used not only to respond to North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programs but also to counter China, there are growing concerns that the trilateral security cooperation with the US and Japan emphasized by the Yoon administration will end up being a vehicle for carrying out the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy.
“Japan’s No. 1 salesman”: Korean groups blast president’s treatment of forced laborers
Advocates for Korean victims of forced labor during the Japanese occupation reacted furiously to the outcome of the South Korea-Japan summit on Thursday, saying that President Yoon Suk-yeol had “sold the blood” of forced labor victims under the pretext of shuttle diplomacy. “President Yoon, who has emphasized the rule of law, has practically stated that it is possible to sell the blood of forced labor victims for the future of Korea, and is regarding this as a ‘great decision,’” said Lee Guk-eon, chairperson of the Citizens Association on Imperial Japan’s Labor Mobilization, while speaking to the Hankyoreh.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/ )
Lee Jae-myung Accuses President Yoon of “Selling the Country” by Accepting a Collusive Agreement with Japan that Could Ruin Korea
On March 17, Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Jae-myung spoke on the summit between South Korea and Japan and asked, “The salesman ended up selling the country, didn’t he?” He quoted President Yoon Suk-yeol, who promoted himself as the number one salesman of the Republic of Korea. Lee defined the government’s third-party payment solution to forced mobilization under Japanese occupation as a “collusive agreement that could destroy the nation” and suggested stronger protest against the government. In a meeting of the Democratic Party’s Supreme Council at the National Assembly Friday, Lee said, “The summit with Japan yesterday was the most shameful and crushing moment in the history of our foreign relations.”
“Working over Sixty Hours a Week Is Unreasonable,” President Yoon Suggests a Cap on Working Hours
Thursday, President Yoon Suk-yeol spoke on the government’s new work-hour policy, which allowed up to 69 hours of labor a week, and instructed his officials to revise the policy suggesting that maximum working hours including overtime should be less than sixty hours a week. The president’s instructions are expected to act as a guideline in revising the policy draft. However, this exposed the government’s failure to listen to opinions and coordinate views between the Office of the President and the ministry overseeing the policy prior to the official announcement of the policy. The president will not be able to escape criticism for the confusion in the policy. He neglected the controversy for three months after the government draft was finalized and belatedly sought improvements.
DPRK Fires ICBM into the East Sea on the Day of the Summit Between South Korea and Japan
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on March 16, the day of a summit between the leaders of South Korea and Japan. According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, around 7:10 a.m. Thursday, the military detected the launch of a long-range ballistic missile from Sunan in Pyongyang into the East Sea. The flight time was similar to the Hwasong-15 fired on February 18, so the latest missile could be another Hwasong-15 or similar missile. The Joint Chiefs of Staff announced, “North Korea’s ballistic missile was launched at a high angle and hit the East Sea after traveling over a thousand kilometers,”
KCNA: Sunday's Missile Launch Part of Nuclear Counterattack Drill
North Korea said on Monday that the launch of a ballistic missile the previous day was part of a tactical drill focused on a nuclear counterattack. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) said a comprehensive exercise on a counterattack by tactical nuclear operations units were carried out on Saturday and Sunday with the attendance of regime leader Kim Jong-un and his daughter, Ju-ae.
S. Korea's First Civilian Test Launch Vehicle Launched
South Korea’s first civilian test launch vehicle, the Hanbit-TLV, has finally lifted off after several botched attempts. According to the developer of the vehicle, Innospace, the vehicle was launched at the Alcantara Space Center in Brazil at 2:52 a.m. on Monday, Korea time. The space startup said it was verifying the engine flight performance and the success of a payload mission, adding that it will announce the results after a comprehensive review of flight data.
S. Korea, US Kick off Massive Joint Amphibious Landing Exercise
A massive joint amphibious exercise involving the navy and marine forces of South Korea and the U.S. has kicked off amid a series of missile launches by North Korea. According to the South Korean military, the 2023 “Ssangyong” training exercise began in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province on Monday and will run through April 3, the first iteration of the drill in five years with the scale of participating units expanded from brigades to divisions. The Ssangyong drill is a part of the ongoing spring joint exercise, Freedom Shield, covering its outdoor maneuver and field training sessions.
Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr )
N. Korea says it conducted 2-day drills simulating tactical nuclear counterattack
North Korea said Monday it conducted drills simulating a tactical nuclear counterattack against its enemies over the weekend, as the United States and South Korea are staging their joint annual military exercise. The North's leader Kim Jong-un "guided" the exercises of its military units operating tactical nuclear weapons Saturday and Sunday, including a ballistic missile launch drill, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Photos carried by state media showed his daughter Ju-ae also oversaw the drills.
S. Korean exports to Japan to rise if ties normalize: report
South Korean exports to Japan will rise 3.5 trillion won (US$2.69 billion) this year if Seoul's export structure to Tokyo returns to the status it had in the 2017-2018 period before a trade dispute flared up in 2019, a business lobby said Sunday. Japan accounted for 4.5 percent of South Korea's overall exports in 2022, down 0.4 percentage point from an average of 4.9 percent for the 2017-2018 period, according to a report released by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KORCHAM).
Prosecutors likely to indict opposition leader over corruption allegations this week
Prosecutors are expected to indict opposition leader Lee Jae-myung this week over development corruption and bribery allegations arising from his previous stint as a mayor of Seongnam, south of Seoul, informed sources said Sunday. The chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) has been under the prosecution's investigation over bribery, breach of duty, conflict of interests and other charges surrounding development projects in Seongnam and the city's municipal football club.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com )
Kim-Obuchi spirit missing from Tokyo summit: ex-Kim aide
South Korea and Japan agreeing to mend ties at the Tokyo summit on Thursday does not build on what is embodied in the Kim-Obuchi declaration in 1998, according to former President Kim Dae-jung’s longtime aide Park Jie-won. Speaking to The Korea Herald on Saturday, Park said he “would not liken” the deal reached by South Korea and Japan in the recent summit to the declaration signed by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.
North Korea tests missile as allies stage joint drills
North Korea launched yet another ballistic missile toward the sea between South Korea and Japan on Sunday, while South Korea and the United States staged their annual joint military exercises aimed at dismantling the isolated country’s nuclear arsenal. The United Nations Security Council, a 15-member body that includes five countries with veto powers, is expected to discuss the matter Monday, though issuing a UNSC presidential statement condemning the launch is highly unlikely given potential vetoes by China and Russia -- North Korea’s biggest supporters.
‘Think long-term,’ experts say of Japan deal on forced labor
Despite the latest deal with Japan meant to end a historical dispute over forced labor, the Yoon Seok Yeol administration is facing a public backlash as the division deepens over whether Yoon has ushered in the right kind of closure. Some experts say the president may just have done so, as South Korea in the long-term can claim the “moral high ground” on the issue. In a potential move against a 2018 Korean court ruling holding Japanese companies liable for damages to Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-45 rule of the Korean Peninsula, Seoul plans to compensate the victims on its own, while waiting for Tokyo to pay into a separate joint fund set up to improve relations.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr )
UBS to buy Credit Suisse for nearly $3.25 bil. to calm turmoil
Banking giant UBS is buying troubled rival Credit Suisse for almost $3.25 billion, in a deal orchestrated by regulators in an effort to avoid further market-shaking turmoil in the global banking system. Swiss authorities pushed for UBS to take over its smaller rival after a plan for Credit Suisse to borrow up to 50 billion francs ($54 billion) failed to reassure investors and the bank's customers. Shares of Credit Suisse and other banks plunged this week after the failure of two banks in the U.S. sparked concerns about other potentially shaky institutions in the global financial system.
Yoon faces strong political backlash after Tokyo summit
What was mostly welcomed by Japan and many allied nations as a meaningful step toward a future-oriented relationship between Seoul and Tokyo has left President Yoon Suk Yeol in a political bind at home. After his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo last week, Yoon faces a strong backlash from victims of Japan's wartime forced labor, civic groups and opposition politicians who call his bid to recover the frayed bilateral ties a "humiliating" concession. Thousands of protesters packed the streets in front of City Hall in central Seoul, Saturday, to criticize the government's attempt at resolving the issue through a fund raised by a Korean public foundation instead of seeking payment from Japan.
SVB shock sparks foreign capital outflow from Korea
The shock collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is sparking foreign capital outflow here, rekindling woes that the local stock market may again fall into the doldrums. Data from the Korea Exchange and the Financial Supervisory Service showed that foreign investors turned to a net selling of local shares in March. They purchased Korean stocks worth 6.14 trillion won and 1.17 trillion won in January and February, respectively, raising hopes for the rebound of the local stock market.
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