Wednesday, January 22, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post (http://www.koreapost.com/)
Uzbekistan continues to help Uzbek citizens return home from Syria
Recently, Uzbekistan has been pursuing a purposeful policy to provide an opportunity to take the path of correction for people who have fallen under the influence of destructive ideas. As a result of a consistent policy to ensure human rights and freedoms, special attention is paid not only to those living inside the country, but also to Uzbeks who have found themselves in difficult life situations in other countries. All measures are being taken to protect their interests, honor and dignity.
LR Health & Beauty Korea appoints Cha Bum-kun as honorary ambassador
Germany’s representative wellness company with over 35 years of heritage, LR Health & Beauty Korea has appointed Cha Bum-kun – a chairman of Team Chaboom – as a corporate ambassador, accelerating its business in the Korean market.
To mark the appointment, LR Health & Beauty Korea held a signing ceremony at its Seoul office, with Mr. Cha and the company’s Country Manager BJ Choi and other employees attending.
Widely regarded as the legend of Bundesliga clubs and one of the greatest Korean football players of all time, Cha will work as a bridge between Korean consumers and a legendary German company, through various activities to introduce the essence of the Germans’ desirable well-being lifestyles.
“I think I paid for my meal as I became a true Buddhist disciple through publication of this book”
Chief Abbot Hongpa of the Myogak-sa Buddhist Temple on the Naksan Mountain in Jongno in Seoul said, “I am glad that I have completed the Korean-language translation and published his book, Myobeop Yeonhwagyeong (Saddharma Pundarika Sutra), also known in English as the Sutra on the Lotus of the Wonderful Law, the Lotus Sutra.
Hongpa said it took him two full years of hard work.
Biden: All Air Travelers to US Will Need to Quarantine on Arrival
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday that all passengers flying to the U.S. will need to quarantine upon arrival.
AFP reported that the president made the remarks in a televised national address at the White House as he announced a set of measures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
On his first full day in office, Biden said in addition to wearing masks, everyone flying to the U.S. from another country will need a negative COVID-19 test before they get on the plane, and quarantine when they arrive.
Kyodo: IOC Chief Says 'No Plan B' for Tokyo Olympics
International Olympic Committee(IOC) chief Thomas Bach said on Thursday that the virus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will be held this summer and there is "no plan B."
Bach said in an online interview with Japan's Kyodo News that at this moment, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on July 23.
He added this is why there is no plan B and the IOC was fully committed to making the games safe and successful.
Former Energy Minister Faces Questioning on Reactor Shutdown
Former Energy Minister Baek Woon-kyu is facing questioning by the prosecution on his alleged involvement in the controversial early closure of a nuclear reactor.
The Daejeon District Prosecutors' Office is said to have recently notified the former minister of its plan to summon him. The prosecution and the former minister are reportedly arranging the date.
Last month, prosecutors indicted three officials of the Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry on charges of destroying documents related to the closure of the Wolsong-1 nuclear reactor ahead of an inspection by a state auditor.
New virus cases in 400s for 2nd day amid downward trend
South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases stayed in 400s for the second consecutive day Thursday as health authorities try to further slow down infections with an enhanced social distancing scheme.
The country added 401 more COVID-19 cases, including 380 domestic infections, raising the total caseload to 73,918, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Thursday's figure was slightly down from 404 cases reported the previous day.
Foreign ministry hails Biden's pledge to strengthen alliances
The foreign ministry on Thursday welcomed new U.S. President Joe Biden's pledge to strengthen alliances, saying it will work with Washington to that end and seek an early summit between the two countries.
"Our government welcomes that President Biden, through his inauguration speech, has expressed a willingness to lead the international community with the power of example, and particularly, to strengthen alliances," ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam said in a press briefing.
Defense ministry vows push for regular inter-Korean military talks, swifter OPCON transfer
The defense ministry vowed Thursday to hold military talks with North Korea on a regular basis this year to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, while beefing up defense capabilities to counter its evolving nuclear and missiles threats.
During a policy briefing session to President Moon Jae-in, Defense Minister Suh Wook also pledged to expedite work to retake the wartime operational control of its troops from Washington, and further boost communication with the United States under the new administration.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Two Koreas look toward new relationship with Biden
Gone are the days when the leaders of the US and North Korea exchanged “love letters” -- or threats of “fire and fury.”
US President Joe Biden took office Wednesday, and the world is now watching Biden to see what actions he will take -- not just unraveling years of Donald Trump’s policies, but how US foreign policy will formulate under the new leader, who declared that “America is back, ready to lead the world.”
North and South Korea are also keeping a close eye on the new administration. Policymakers in Seoul and Pyongyang are trying to figure out how Biden’s White House will approach the Korean Peninsula, where tensions still linger. Many also wonder how the leaders of the three distinctly different countries will fare through the uncertain times ahead.
Gyeonggi cities lead housing prices growth
SEJONG -- Major cities in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul, were found to have led a rise in housing prices in the past 10 weeks, as residents in their 20s and 30s have been snapping up apartments, new data showed.
A younger generation of buyers have been purchasing apartments in high-density residential towns in Gyeonggi Province, as skyrocketing prices in Seoul have pushed them to seek more affordable housing further afield, according to data by KB Kookmin Bank and Naver.com.
The data showed that Gyeonggi’s Goyang and Paju saw the most rapid real estate price increases across the nation in the past two months, with some other cities in the province also recording growth rates far surpassing the nationwide average.
Social distancing likely to persist through the year, says health minister
Social distancing will likely be necessary for the rest of the year, Minister of Health and Welfare Kwon Deok-cheol said Thursday.
“Even if we achieve 70 percent herd immunity, social distancing and other public health measures will probably persist for a while,” he told a virtual press conference, suggesting that vaccinations alone would not immediately put an end to the outbreak.
The minister said the government aimed to vaccinate around 70 percent of the population against COVID-19 by November, so that the spread can be minimized before winter starts.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Vingroup seeks to acquire LG smartphone manufacturing plants
Vingroup is set to acquire all of LG Electronics smartphone manufacturing plants in Vietnam, China and Brazil as part of the Korean tech giant conducting a split sale of its mobile communications division due to mounting deficits in recent years, according to a source familiar with the matter, Thursday.
One of the biggest conglomerates in Vietnam, Vingroup is seeking to expand into the high-tech sector through its acquisition of LG's state-of-the-art production facilities.
Biden's focus on rebuilding allies to impact Korea-US relations
U.S. President Joe Biden's inaugural speech Thursday carried a brief but noteworthy message for allies who were weary of his predecessor Donald Trump's precipitous "America first" policy and questioned the health of the country's global leadership.
"My message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested and we've come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday's challenges, but today's and tomorrow's challenges. And we'll lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example," Biden said.
Questions growing over Moon's pick for foreign minister
President Moon Jae-in's pick for new foreign minister is raising questions over whether the nominee is the perfect fit for the position against the backdrop of the leadership change in the United States.
On Wednesday, Moon named former National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong to replace Foreign Affairs Minister Kang Kyung-wha in an apparent bid to push his Korean Peninsula "peace process," which has been deadlocked since the failure of the Hanoi summit between North Korea and the U.S. in February 2019. Chung is the architect of the peace initiative.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Will S. Korea’s new foreign minister be able to find a solution to relations with N. Korea?
President Moon Jae-in selected Chung Eui-yong as South Korea’s foreign minister on Jan. 20, when Joe Biden was inaugurated as the next US president. With his reappointment of the former Blue House National Security Office director and special presidential aide on foreign affairs and national security who helped set the Korean Peninsula peace process in motion in the spring of 2018, Moon appears to be entrusting him with resolving the thorny issue of coordinating Seoul and Washington’s respective North Korea policies.
Explaining the reason behind Chung’s selection that day, Chung Man-ho, the Blue House senior secretary for public affairs, said, “He’s a top expert who has devoted his life to foreign affairs and national security.”
S. Korea looks to secure 20 million doses of Novavax vaccine, upping supply contracts to 76 million
The South Korean government announced on Jan. 20 it is seeking to purchase enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines from US pharmaceutical firm Novavax to inoculate 20 million people. That brings Korea’s COVID-19 vaccine coverage up from 56 million to 76 million people.
Early next month, Korea is expected to receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, enough doses to cover 50,000 people, via the COVAX Facility, an international body arranging joint purchases of vaccines.
What next now that Park Geun-hye and Lee Jae-yong have been punished?
Now that the judicial proceedings against former President Park Geun-hye and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong have come to an end, at least for now, South Korean society faces a transition. President Moon Jae-in’s dismissal of speculation about pardoning Park and former President Lee Myung-bak, has also concluded the debate about crime and punishment. It’s time we started thinking about what happens after the guilty have been punished.
Once the storm has passed and entrenched evils have been overcome, what will be the key words for the era to come? Personally speaking, I think they will be equity and unity.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea to Produce More Coronavirus Vaccines at Home
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday visited a factory that is tipped to produce coronavirus vaccines under license from Novavax of the U.S.
The SK Bioscience plant in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province could manufacture enough vaccines for another 20 million people on top of the ones Korea has already secured from overseas.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said SK Bioscience is in the process of winning a license from Novavax and could supply enough doses for 20 million Koreans.
Moon Sacks Loyal Foreign Minister
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday fired lackluster Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and replaced her with his security adviser Chung Eui-yong.
Moon also tapped Minjoo Party lawmaker Hwang Hee as the new culture, sports and tourism minister and MP lawmaker Kwon Chil-seung as the new SMEs and start-ups minister, replacing Park Young-sun, who is running for Seoul mayor.
The nominees either have a track record of working with Moon or are loyal to him.
Kang held on to her post through months of criticism of her laggard performance and private scandals because she is seen as a Moon loyalist, but eventually she stumbled over North Korea.
Google Accounts for More Than 25% of Korea's Internet Traffic
Google and its affiliated platforms account for over a quarter of the volume of Internet traffic in Korea.
The Ministry of Science and ICT said on Wednesday that Google, including YouTube, saw the highest percentage of daily average Internet traffic volume from October to December last year with 25.9 percent.
Next came Netflix with 4.8 percent, followed by Facebook (3.2 percent), Naver (1.8 percent), Kakao (1.4 percent) and Wave (1.18 percent).
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
U.S. Pres. Biden calls for unity and warns against lies
On his first day of taking office, U.S. President Joe Biden stressed the importance of unity, highlighting humility, collegiality, and diversity as America’s core values. “If you're ever working with me, and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” said President Biden, adding that there will be “no if, ands, or buts.” Citing a maxim he had learned from his later father, Biden said, “Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity.”
Gov’t could discuss S. Korea-U.S. military drills issue with N. Korea
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense confirmed Thursday that it is open to discuss South Korea-U.S. military exercises with Pyongyang. It also said it would proceed with the implementation of the September 19 military agreement by demolishing all GPs in the DMZ and allowing free movement at the Joint Security Area and finish the second stage of the transfer of the wartime operational control by the end of 2021 with the incoming Biden administration. Washington has been reluctant to conduct an evaluation of the full operation capacity (FOC) of the ROK/US Combined Forces Command, a requirement of the second stage.
SK Innovation acquires stake in China's Blue Park Smart Energy
South Korean battery maker SK Innovation gears up to target the Chinese replaceable battery market in collaboration with Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC Group).
SK Innovation announced on Thursday that it rose to become a major strategic investor by acquiring 13.3 percent of shares of Blue Park Smart Energy (BPSE) - a battery recycling service provider under BAIC Group. The total sum of investment was not released as per the two contractual parties’ agreement.
The KyungHyang Shinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
President Moon Determined to Restart the Process for Peace on the Korean Peninsula
The replacement of Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, the only cabinet member from the first days of the Moon Jae-in government, with Chung Eui-yong, former chief of the Cheongwadae National Security Office shows the president’s determination to accelerate efforts to revive the process for peace on the Korean Peninsula. The latest reshuffle shows that the government will concentrate all its diplomatic ability into creating momentum and restarting the process for peace on the peninsula, which had been suspended along with the stalled talks between North Korea and the United States.
“In the Red for the 23rd Quarter” Will LG Electronics Abandon the Smartphone Business?
Kwon Bong-seok, president and CEO of LG Electronics, sent an e-mail to employees on January 20 and said, “We are open to all possibilities as we review the issue,” on rumors of the company selling its mobile business. This shows that the company is indeed considering reorganization or sale to reduce the business. The e-mail appears to be an effort to calm the unrest by announcing that the company would retain the employees ahead of an important announcement, such as a sale or reorganization.
The mobile business of LG Electronics is at a critical crossroad because of the series of failures by the mobile arm and the reorganization of the business by LG Group chairman Koo Kwang-mo.
Time Spent on Housework by Seoul Citizens: Women 2 Hours 26 Minutes > Men 41 Minutes
Women living in Seoul spent two hours and 26 minutes a day doing housework, while men only spent 41 minutes on tasks at home. Even when both the wife and the husband worked, women spent more than three times the amount of time men spent on housework.
According to the 2020 Gender Awareness Statistics that the city of Seoul released on January 19, of the Seoul citizens aged fifteen and older, women spent a daily average of two hours and 26 minutes doing housework, while men only spent 41 minutes. Even in families where both the husband and the wife worked, women spent two hours and one minute on housework, while men only spent 38 minutes, showing that there was still a significant gap between the sexes.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea ups subsidies for eco-friendly cars to speed up green push
South Korea will offer up to 19 million won ($17,000) in subsidies to people who buy an electric car this year and up to 37.5 million won for a hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle to ensure more eco-friendly cars on the road as part of the country’s green push, according to the government’s expanded subsidy plan.
The government said on Thursday it aims to add 136,000 electric and hydrogen vehicles this year by upping its subsidy to 1.02 trillion won for 121,000 EVs, and to 365.5 billion won for 15,000 hydrogen vehicles. This year’s target number of EVs and hydrogen vehicles is up by 21.4 percent and 49.2 percent, respectively, from a year ago.
S. Korea’s Jan. 1-20 exports up 10.6% on robust demand for chips, cars
South Korea’s exports in the first 20 days of January jumped 10.6 percent from the same period a year ago thanks to strong demand for semiconductors and automobiles, suggesting a solid rebound in double digits for the second month.
According to data released by Korea Customs Service on Thursday, the country’s outbound shipments totaled $28.2 billion in the Jan. 1-20 period, up 10.6 percent from the same period last year. Daily exports averaged $1.95 billion, also gaining 10.6 percent from a year earlier based on the same number of working days from a year ago.
Phase 2 trials of Hanmi’s two orphan drugs cleared by FDA
Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co. said on Thursday that Phase 2 clinical trials of its two investigational orphan drugs, Glucagon Analog (HM15136) and GLP-2 Analog (HM15912), have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Korean company has developed a once-weekly formulation of Glucagon Analog for the treatment of congenital hyperinsulinism with its proprietary LAPSCOVERY (Long Acting Protein/Peptide Discovery) technology.
Congenital hyperinsulinism is a rare disease that affects one in 50,000 people. There is no approved cure for this disease until now, forcing patients to rely on off-label medicines or surgery.
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