Headlines, December 29, 2020
Headlines, December 29, 2020
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Tuesday, December 29, 2020


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

The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)
Hanwha Solutions acquires high-pressure tank company 'Cimarron' in U.S.
Hanwha Solutions announced on Dec. 28 that it has signed a contract to acquire 100% of shares of 'Cimarron', a high-pressure tank company in the U.S. Cimarron is a startup that started as an in-house NASA venture in 2008 and became independent in 2015.
Through the acquisition, Hanwha Solutions will be able to secure technologies related to tanks for hydrogen transportation tube trailers, ultra-high pressure tanks for charging stations, and tanks for aerospace, in addition to existing tanks for hydrogen cars.
A Hanwha Solutions official said, "We plan to finish the acquisition process in April next year after reviewing by the U.S. Foreign Investment Review Committee. We will invest about $100 million in Cimarron by 2025, including the acquisition amount, to secure the foundation for the global hydrogen tank business."

KAI signs a 1 trillion won contract for 4th mass-production of Surion
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced on Dec. 28 that it has signed a contract with the Defense Acquisition Program Administration for the fourth mass-production of the 1.05 trillion won worth of Surion (KUH-1). Delivery will be completed by 2024.
KAI said that Surion is the first domestic helicopter developed by 126 domestic industrial, academic, research, and institutions in six years since June 2006 to replace the Army's aging helicopters UH-1H and 500MD. About 1.3 trillion won was spent on development.
Since it was delivered in late 2012, Surion has demonstrated its excellent performance by carrying out various air operations such as military transportation and aerial assault.

Moon makes changes realizing mistakes such as support for unpopular justice minister
President Moon Jae-in apologized to the nation on the Christmas Day on Dec. 25, 2020 for causing the nation ‘inconvenience and confusion’ over the suspension of duties of Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, which was initiated and carried out by Minister of Justice Madam Choo Mi-ae.
According to Presidential Spokesman Kang Min-seok, President Moon stated that he respected the decision of the court on Dec. 24 ruling that Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl return to his post.
Yoon won the injunction against the Justice Ministry's decision to suspend his duties for two months over a series of alleged misdeeds, including surveillance of the judiciary.
KBS (http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/)
S. Korea Extends UK Flight Ban by a Week to Jan. 7
South Korea has decided to extend its ban on flights coming from the United Kingdom by one more week to January 7 aiming to prevent the spread of a new COVID-19 variant in the country.
All arrivals, including transfers, from Britain and South Africa must also submit negative test results while new visa issuance will be suspended, excluding diplomatic and official business and humanitarian reasons.
Also, additional tests will be conducted on all foreign arrivals before the end of their self-quarantine period.

Two Finalists Recommended to Head Anti-Corruption Agency
Two final candidates for the chief of the powerful Corruption Investigation Office for High-Ranking Officials(CIO) have been recommended.
A recommendation panel said after its sixth meeting on Monday that its final choices among eight candidates are Kim Jin-wook, a senior fellow at the Constitutional Court, and  Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission Vice Chairman Lee Geon-lee. Both were recommended by the Korean Bar Association.
The decision was made days after revisions to the CIO law took effect. The revisions effectively incapacitate the opposition's veto power, requiring five of the seven panelists to endorse a candidate, down from the previous six.

Moon Dismisses Concerns on Vaccines and Pledges to Start Inoculations in February
President Moon Jae-in on Monday dismissed concerns over the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines or a delay in their administration.
Chairing this year's final weekly meeting with senior aides, Moon said such concerns are not true and that the government has been exerting its best efforts to secure vaccines for several months by activating a task force and listening to expert opinions.
He said steps are being taken according to plan and vaccinations will begin in February starting with priority groups that include medical staff and workers and residents at elderly care facilities.
Yonhap (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr)
S. Korea extends UK flights ban as COVID-19 variant confirmed in arrivals
South Korea's health authorities on Monday confirmed the country's first cases of a more transmissible variant from three arrivals from Britain, and decided to extend the suspension of flights from the European nation by one more week.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the three members of the South Korean family who came from Britain last week were confirmed to have the new COVID-19 strain.
British analysis suggests the new strain may be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the old variant. The new variant is thought to have first occurred in mid-September in London.

New infections under 1,000 for 2nd day amid extended virus curbs
South Korea's daily coronavirus cases stayed below 1,000 for the second straight day on Monday due mainly to less testing over the weekend amid tougher virus curbs that have been extended for another week.
The country added 808 more COVID-19 cases, including 787 local infections, raising the total caseload to 57,680, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The daily infections fell from 970 cases on Sunday. In the past week, the nation's daily infections hovered around 1,000.

Moon says S. Korea to begin coronavirus vaccine shots in Feb.
President Moon Jae-in dismissed criticism Monday that his government has fumbled its COVID-19 vaccine procurement policy, saying inoculation is expected to start as planned in February next year.
He cited concerns that South Korea might have not secured enough vaccines yet or that its people would take shots too late.
"That's not true," the president said in front of pool reporter and TV cameras at the outset of his weekly meeting with senior Cheong Wa Dae aides.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
COVID-19 variant from UK puts local authorities on alert
The health authorities are on alert over the first discovery in South Korea of a more transmissible variant of the new coronavirus from Britain, as Korea struggles to overcome its third and deadliest coronavirus wave to date.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, three Korean nationals who arrived here from Britain last week were confirmed Monday morning to have the new coronavirus strain, which is believed to be 70 percent more transmissible than the original.
Authorities are also investigating to determine whether an elderly Korean man who posthumously tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Britain may also have contracted the new variant, along with three members of his family.

Moon’s once-infallible approval ratings hit by vaccine delay, prosecution reform
As President Moon Jae-in enters his fifth year in office, his disapproval ratings have reached their highest level yet, a survey showed Monday. Moon has recently faced strong criticism over the nation’s vaccine rollout plans and also caused controversy over disciplinary action against the top prosecutor.
Moon is poised to drive up his ratings by speeding up the launch of the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials and carrying out a ministerial-level reshuffle.
According to local research firm Realmeter’s survey of 2,008 people aged 18 or older nationwide from Monday to Thursday last week, President Moon’s approval rating was 36.7 percent, down 2.8 percentage points from the previous week. The disapproval rating rose 2 percentage points to 59.7 percent, the highest mark since taking office.

Samsung Electronics’ record run continues over optimism for foundry biz
The share price of Samsung Electronics on South Korea’s stock market has reached an unprecedented high yet again, surpassing 80,000 won ($73) during intraday trading Monday.
Hitting 80,100 won per share in the early morning trade, Samsung Electronics rose 1.2 percent to close at 78,700 won -- the highest closing price since a 50-to-1 stock split in 2018 -- bringing its market cap to a new high of 469.8 trillion won. This accounted for over 24 percent of all 906 constituents of the Kospi, the main board of the Korea Exchange.
The news comes as the nation’s largest tech company anticipates that the soaring global demand for its semiconductor foundry services will outstrip supply.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
President to seek turnaround through reshuffle
President Moon Jae-in recently suffered a huge political setback following an administrative court ruling that overturned his endorsement of a disciplinary committee's decision to suspend Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl from duty.
This incident aggravated the public disapproval of his performance, along with months-long complaints over his failure to curb rising housing prices and the recent news of the government's late procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
A Realmeter survey showed Monday that 59. 7 percent of respondents thought the President was doing a bad job, setting a new high for the negative evaluation of Moon since his inauguration in May 2017. The positive review of his performance was 36.7 percent, the lowest figure he has received and the same rating as two weeks ago.

Korea on alert over spread of new COVID-19 variant
Three Korean nationals who returned from the United Kingdom last week were confirmed to have the new strain of COVID-19 discovered there, the first cases detected here. This has put the health authorities on high alert over the potential spread of the more transmissible variant of the coronavirus.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Monday that the three were family members who came from London, Dec. 22.
"We found the new COVID-19 strain in samples collected from the three arrivals from the United Kingdom," the KDCA said in a press release.

Delivery Hero decides to sell Korean unit
Delivery Hero (DH), a German food delivery service firm, said Monday it will accept the Fair Trade Commission's (FTC) conditional approval for its acquisition of Korea's top food delivery app operator, Woowa Brothers which runs Baedal Minjok.
The FTC ordered DH to sell its Korean unit running the country's No. 2 food delivery app, Yogiyo, in order to but Woowa, as the antitrust agency feared the acquisition would "seriously harm" fair competition in the domestic food delivery market.
While Delivery Hero Korea (DHK) is running Yogiyo, the headquarters separately controls the Nos. 3 and 4 delivery app here ― Baedaltong and Foodfly. If DH were to control all of them, the company's market share here is anticipated to reach over 99 percent.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Global COVID-19 tally exceeds 80 million, meaning 1 in 100 people have become infected
On Dec. 27, the global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose above 80 million. That means the disease has spread to at least one of every 100 people around the world in the year since the pandemic began.
According to COVID-19 statistics provided by Johns Hopkins University, there were 80.33 million cases and 1.75 million fatalities as of Dec. 27. In effect, 1.02% of the global population has contracted COVID-19, assuming a global population of 7,834,870,000 people, as estimated by Worldometer.
Nearly a year has passed since the World Health Organization was informed of an unidentified form of pneumonia on Dec. 31, 2019.

Court’s decision to grant Yoon Seok-youl an injunction has sent the ruling party into chaos
The ruling Democratic Party has been at a loss after a court decision effectively overturned disciplinary measures against Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. President Moon Jae-in moved to put out the fire on Dec. 25 with a message stating that he “respect[s] the court’s decision.”
But for the past several days, members of the Democratic Party have been coming out with an uncoordinated mix of hardline statements and calls for Yoon’s impeachment, the complete abolition of prosecutors’ investigation authority, and an end to the “judges’ cartel.”
Analysts attribute the situation to deeply rooted perceptions of a “coordinated attack” by the conservative media and political parties and the prosecutors — despite the Democratic Party’s overwhelming majority of 174 National Assembly seats — as well as a gesture toward the party’s more militant supporters.

Why are department stores expanding their VIP programs in the COVID era?
The gaudy decorations adorning the facades of South Korean department stores at the end of the year set the mood for Christmas. It’s no secret that the department stores spend a pretty penny on those decorations.
But that money isn’t spent in vain. Given the huge demand for presents at the end of the year, December is the most profitable month for department stores. That’s one reason the industry is nervous right now. If the government raises social distancing measures to Level 3, disease control regulations would force retail outlets to close.
Meanwhile, department stores have been reportedly going to great lengths to increase their number of VIP customers. Why would they be doing that at a time when people are minimizing their in-person shopping?
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea's Household Debt Outpaces GDP
Household debt in Korea has outpaced the country's GDP for the first time ever as more people borrowed money to tide them over the coronavirus epidemic or rushed to buy homes.
Government debt is also swelling rapidly due to expanded welfare coverage. The Bank of Korea said on Dec. 24 that Koreans' household debt totaled W1.94 quadrillion at the end of September, surpassing the W1.92 quadrillion in GDP (US$1=W1,104). Corporate debt reached W2.11 quadrillion or 110.1 percent of GDP.
"Excessive debt crimps private spending and output, which causes economic vitality to sputter," the BOK warned.

Coronavirus Deaths Surpass 800
Nearly 300 people died from coronavirus this month alone amid a third wave of infections, accounting for a whopping 35 percent of all 819 deaths that occurred since January.
Some 22 percent of this month's deaths occurred over the past 10 days, a spike linked by medical associations due to a shortage of hospital beds and burnout among medical professionals.
But the government announced Sunday that it will maintain current social distancing rules until Jan. 3 instead of a full lockdown.

Soldiers to Be Offered Vegan Food
The Defense Ministry will provide a vegan diet for young meat-averse men who enlist in the military beginning next year, according to a spokesman on Sunday.
The ministry decided to give consideration to the growing popularity of veganism and vegetarianism and to religiously based food restrictions among recruits from multicultural families.
"We're going to make a food program for vegetarian and Muslim soldiers as soon as we figure out how many of them we have," the spokesman said. "From February next year, we'll let recruits identify if they're vegetarian when they fill in a personal questionnaire."
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
USFK under Biden leadership is ‘equation of higher degree’
Many are predicting that the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. will be back to normal once the Joe Biden administration is launched in January next year. The Biden administration, which puts emphasis on alliances, is expected to be significantly different than the Donald Trump administration, which has issued bills to allies under the slogan of “America First.”
As the threats from North Korea and China and regional security challenges worsen, the U.S. is likely to operate the overseas deployment of the U.S. forces in the most favorable way to itself, regardless of administrations or factions. In this case, the issue of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) may become the biggest challenge in the ROK-U.S. alliance.
The signs of this have already been found, the first of which was the U.S. Congress’s recent announcement that it will consider whether Huawei and other Chinese companies’ 5G telecommunication technologies are used in a country when deploying U.S. forces or key military equipment overseas. Its impact on South Korea, which has the biggest U.S. ground forces and the most number of strategic weapons, such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), after Germany and Japan, will be clearly tremendous.

Pres. Moon prepares cabinet reshuffling early next month
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is to replace his advisors in mid-January including Noh Young-min, the presidential chief of staff, and Kim Sang-jo, the top policy aide for the president. It appears that the president is aiming to restore the drive to facilitate state affairs by conducting the cabinet reshuffling on long-standing ministers who served more than two years and candidates running for the upcoming by-elections.
“It appears that the president will organize the third cabinet regime before the new year’s press conference, which is scheduled for the mid-January,” said an official from the ruling party. “Personnel change will start from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism early next year before reshuffling his core advisors group including the presidential chief of staff.”

All new ‘real electric cars’ are coming
“Next year is the beginning of a real electric vehicle era. A number of unprecedented electric vehicles will be launched,” said an executive of an automaker, forecasting the 2021 car market. New electric vehicles showcasing years of R&D results will be launched by manufacturers in large numbers.
The auto industry believes that 2021 will be the first year of the electric vehicle era as companies plan to launch the products they made as if their future business depends on them, not prototypes for testing. Experts say that the companies that fail to lead the market next year will have a widening gap in terms of technologies and quality over time.
According to the auto industry on Monday, the government has a plan to distribute 100,000 electric vehicles next year to increase the total number of domestic electric vehicles to 230,000 units. Auto manufacturers are preparing ambitious products to target the market.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
One Out of Ten Cases of COVID-19 Were Transmitted at Hospitals and Long-term Care Centers
Clusters of COVID-19 cases are spreading in facilities vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, such as hospitals and long-term care centers. One out of every ten cases of COVID-19 that was confirmed in the last two weeks were transmitted in hospitals and long-term care centers. “Silent transmissions” have also continued, and authorities have been unable to trace the transmission route of three out of ten cases.
According to the Central Disease Control Center on December 27, of the 14,109 cases that occurred in the last two weeks, 10.5% were infected with the virus in hospitals and long-term care centers. This is a big increase compared with the 7.5% in the previous two weeks. The number of such cases has more than doubled from 679 to 1,477.

Up to a 3-Million-Won Government Cash Payout for Small Business Owners and a 70% Tax Credit for “Good Landlords”
The government will hand out the nation’s third emergency disaster relief fund ranging from one to three million won for small storeowners and self-employed business owners who suffered damages due to the third wave of COVID-19. The government is also expected to hand out funds for stable employment to 5.8 million people including those facing challenges in employment, such as freelancers and those categorized under “special employment,” care workers, and taxi drivers. The tax credit for “good landlords” will also be expanded to 70% from the current 50%.
Choi In-ho, senior spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Korea conveyed that on December 27, the ruling party, government and Cheongwadae held a meeting of senior representatives at the National Assembly and decided to implement policies including these details to help people suffering from COVID-19. Beginning next January, the government will begin to quickly hand out the third disaster relief fund to those suffering from the latest wave of COVID-19 and the tighter physical distancing enforced by the government.

“Chung Kyung-sim Conspired with Cho Kook to Get Her Daughter into University”
Chung Kyung-sim (58), a professor at Dongyang University and the wife of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, on trial for illegal involvement in her daughter’s college admission, for questionable investments in a private equity fund, and for trying to destroy evidence, was sentenced to four years in prison in her first trial and arrested in the courtroom. The court also recognized Cho Kuk’s part in some of the illegal activities linked to college admissions.
On December 23, Criminal Division 25-2 (chief judge Im Jeong-yeop) at the Seoul Central District Court found Chung guilty on eleven of the fifteen charges against her and sentenced her to four years in prison, a fine of 500 million won and additional fines of over 150 million won. The judge said, “If the defendant stands trial without being detained following the ruling in this first trial, she is likely to encourage false testimonies from related parties,” and arrested Chung. The court found Chung guilty on all charges of corruption linked to college admissions. Chung was suspected of forging documents, such as a letter of commendation from the president of Dongyang University, and submitting it to medical schools at Seoul National University and Pusan National University for her daughter’s admission. The judge said, “Due to the corrupt actions of the defendant in the admission process, she created unfair results, very much likely to be condemned.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
DH to divest Korean operation and Yogiyo to keep Baedal Minjok
Germany’s Delivery Hero (DH) will proceed with its $4 billion acquisition of South Korea’s No. 1 food delivery platform Baedal Minjok upon complying with the local antitrust agency’s order to divest No. 2 Yogiyo.
The Berlin-based company in a press statement said it expects the strategic partnership with Woowa Brothers involving establishment of a joint-venture in Singapore to take place upon receiving the final written approval in the first quarter of 2021.
“The regulatory approval will be conditional on Delivery Hero divesting its South Korean subsidiary Delivery Hero Korea LLC (including “Yogiyo”) as well as on behavioral remedies applicable to the operation of Delivery Hero Korea LLC until completion of divestiture,” the German company said in the statement.

Kospi and Samsung Elec at fresh highs before ex-dividend calendar goes up
The Kospi narrowly defended the milestone threshold of 2,800 despite heavy profit-taking by retail investors on heavy institutional buying in blue chips before their ex-dividend calendar went up on Tuesday.
The benchmark Kospi tested new intraday ceiling of 2,834.59 during Monday after crossing the 2,800 threshold for the first time during last Thursday session. It ended 2,808.62, 0.06 percent higher.
Korea’s ex-dividend date falls on Tuesday, meaning investors had until Monday to purchase a stock paying dividend payments next year. Typically dividend stocks tend to fall after the ex-dividend date.

In retail race, Korean investors would come first in 2020
Retailers were primary force behind bullish stock markets worldwide in the liquidity-lush pandemic-ridden year of 2020, and South Korean players could end up as the biggest winners.
Retail fad had been phenomenal in Korea, with net purchase in Kospi shares by individuals at record 46.8 trillion won ($42.4 billion) worth as of Dec. 24, according to data from the investment industry.
Mom-and-pop investors were the driving force behind the extraordinary run in the Kospi that has been testing new historic highs throughout the year-end.

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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