Monday, July 5, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Papa John’s Chairman Seo inaugurated as governor of Rotary International District 3650
Seo Chang-woo, chairman of Korea Papa John’s, a premium pizza brand, took office as governor of the Rotary International District 3650 for 2021 and 2022 at Grand Hyatt Seoul in Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul on July 1. His term of office runs from the same day to June 30 next year. Seo was also elected chairman of the Korea Governors’ Club, which consists of 19 regional governors of Rotary International. The inauguration ceremony was held with the attendance of Yoo Jang-hee, former governor of the Rotary International District 3650 (also former chairman of the Commission for Shared Growth) and Lee Dong-gun, former chairman of the Rotary International (also chairman of Boobang Group), and other guests.. Founded in 1905 by U.S. Attorney Paul Harris, Rotary International is the world's largest private service organization with 1.2 million members from 203 countries. In 1927, when Japanese colonial era was established, Korea joined the Rotary International Club.
The 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon, the great journey
In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon, the first priest in Korea and selected as a UNESCO world monument figure in 2021, Dangjin City in Chungcheongnam-do and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Daejeon will hold a large-scale commemorative event in the area of Solmoe Seongji in Dangjin for nine days from August 14 to 22. The event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon is a “one heart event” where Catholics and general participants become one beyond religion, a “public interest event” that prioritizes social values, and a “sustainable development event” that reflects the UNESCO philosophy. aepo region and Catholicism, Catholicism in Korea has been continuously transmitted since the formation of a community of faith in the Joseon Dynasty in 1784.
Catholicism, which was adopted by the Southern scholars, was transmitted to Naepo and Jinsan in Chungcheong Province, and spread around these two places.
Hanwha Chairman Kim seeks stronger Korea-U.S. ties with U.S. Heritage Foundation chairman
Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon met with Edwin John Feulner Jr., chairman of the U.S. Heritage Foundation's Asia Research Center, for dinner at the Plaza Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on June 30, a group spokesman said. The dinner meeting took place on the occasion of Chairman Edwin Feulner's visit to Korea to participate in a domestic conference seeking ways for the Korea-U.S. alliance in the post-Covid-19 era. At the dinner, which lasted more than two hours, Chairman Kim and Chairman Edwin Feulner candidly shared their opinions on ways to promote Korea-U.S. coexistence and prosperity after the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, the spokesman said. Kim Dong-sun, Chairman Kim’s third son and managing director of Hanwha Hotel & Resort, and Executive Director Hwang Jin-woo, head of Hanwha Life Insurance's economic analysis office, were also present at the dinner.
S. Korea Begins Mix-and-Match Inoculations for 1.6 Million People
Starting Monday, South Korea will begin mix-and-match inoculations for one-point-61 million people who received a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. About 890-thousand people, including care workers aged over 30, medical workers, patients with chronic kidney diseases and essential workers, will be inoculated with Pfizer vaccines for their second jab through the end of this month. These people received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine after mid-April and were supposed to get their second jab on Monday, but couldn't because of supply issues. About 663-thousand people aged under 50 will also be eligible for the mix-and-match inoculation as the government adjusted the age limit for the AstraZeneca vaccine from 30 or older to 50 amid concerns over rare blood clots.
Inoculation of Unvaccinated Elderly to Begin Monday
Senior citizens who had made reservations for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine last month but had yet to be inoculated will begin to receive their first shot from Monday. According to the state task force for vaccinations, inoculations will begin for about 200-thousand people aged 60 to 74 who have yet to receive a vaccine after making reservations. About 110-thousand essential personnel aged under 30, including police, firefighters and Coast Guard officers, will also begin on Monday. These people will receive the Pfizer vaccine from Monday through July 17 at vaccination centers across the nation. South Korea will also begin mix-and-match inoculations on Monday for one-point-61 million people who have received a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. About 890-thousand people, including care workers aged over 30, medical workers, and patients with chronic kidney diseases, will be inoculated with Pfizer vaccines for their second jab through the end of this month.
Chinese Foreign Minister Urges US to Reflect on Exerting Pressure on N. Korea
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has criticized the United States for allegedly posing military threats to North Korea, calling for a resolution of the Korean Peninsula issues through dialogue and negotiation. According to China's Foreign Ministry on Sunday, Wang made the call the previous day in a speech at the World Peace Forum organized by Tsinghua University. The top diplomat reportedly urged Washington to reflect on the continuous pressure and threats it has been exerting on North Korea over the past few decades. Wang then stressed for a peaceful resolution of the peninsula issues through dialogue and negotiations. As for U.S. special representative for North Korea Sung Kim's recent trip to South Korea, Wang said that China supports all the moves that contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula.
Umbrella labor union holds street rally despite virus concerns
South Korea's major umbrella labor union pressed ahead with a massive street rally Saturday in central Seoul despite the government's warning of a stern response. Around 8,000 members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) gathered in the Jongno district, ignoring the government's call to cancel the assembly feared to affect the fight against COVID-19. The country is struggling to contain a resurgence of coronavirus cases. They had planned to hold it in the western Seoul area of Yeouido. But they changed the venue just ahead of the rally, as police blocked KCTU members' entry into Yeouido. They marched down the Jongno street starting at around 2 p.m., demanding a revision to the labor act. They are calling for the abolition of non-regular employment, halts to job cuts, hikes in minimum wages and measures to prevent industrial accidents.
Gyeonggi Gov. Lee ahead of ex-prosecution chief Yoon in latest poll
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung garnered more support than former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl in the latest poll on prospective presidential contenders released Sunday. In the survey by Global Research, Lee received 44.7 percent of support, while Yoon had 36.7 percent in a hypothetical one-on-one battle. The gap was larger than the poll's margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. It was conducted from last Wednesday to Friday on 1,000 people aged 18 and older and had a 95 percent confidence level. The two hopefuls have been back and forth in recent one-on-one polls. Yoon had been in front in the early days after stepping down as prosecution chief in March. But in a survey conducted from last Monday to Tuesday, Lee finished ahead of Yoon, 42.2 percent to 39.2 percent. Both male and female respondents favored Lee over Yoon. Among age brackets, Yoon only had the edge among voters in their 60s and 70s, while all others supported Lee.
New cases over 700 for 2nd day; authorities to reassess social distancing levels
South Korea's daily new virus cases stayed in the 700s for the second day Sunday, while authorities will decide whether to readjust distancing rules next week amid concerns over a virus resurgence in the greater Seoul area. The country reported 743 more COVID-19 cases, including 662 local infections, raising the total caseload to 160,085, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. The latest figure is down from 794 on Saturday and 826 on Friday, a nearly six-month high due to the sharp spike in new cases in the Seoul metropolitan area. However, it marked this year's highest level for any Sunday, when new cases usually remain lower than weekdays due to fewer tests. The country added one more death, raising the death toll to 2,026.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Korea’s push to reopen is already backfiring
Korean plans for a more normal summer appear to be dashed by a likely resurgence -- as delta, the latest alarming variant of COVID-19, gains traction globally. Seoul and nearby cities were excluded from the nationwide reopening Thursday, despite health officials vouching less than a week ago that the country was ready for it. Ahead of the weekend, Prime Minister Kim Bu-gyeom, alongside the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong, issued a special address calling on Koreans to continue to abide by safety precautions as the delta variant tightens its grip in the capital. “Our fight against COVID-19 is facing a grave crisis just as life was slowly returning to normal,” the prime minister said Friday, when the number of daily new infections rose past 800 for the first time since early January. “The trends in and around Seoul are especially troubling, with 90 percent of the highly transmissible delta variant cases found there.”
Police probe organizers of massive rally in Seoul
Police have set up a special team to investigate the organizers of Saturday’s rally held by the umbrella labor union, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. Police said they plan to seek charges against organizers and key participants of the KCTU on suspicion of holding illegal rallies and marches, traffic obstruction and violation of the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act. The Seoul Metropolitan Government also plans to file a criminal complaint against the KCTU for violating the same disease control act. Seoul City, which currently bans gatherings of more than 10 people, has notified the union five times to refrain from assemblies over the last month. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions held a rally in downtown Seoul on Saturday, despite the government’s call for self-restraint due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
FSC to decide on major Samsung Life’s shareholders
South Korea’s top financial regulator will give a ruling on whether the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s two daughters -- Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin and Samsung Welfare Foundation chief Lee Seo-hyun -- are qualified to become major shareholders of Samsung Life Insurance. This decision is expected to go in their favor, paving their way to become the company’s largest shareholders, industry sources said on Sunday. The policymaking Financial Services Commission is slated to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether to confirm the bereaved family members‘ application for the change of the largest shareholder of Samsung Life Insurance, which was submitted on Apr. 26. The family had reported to the FSC that they have shared the late chief’s 20.76 percent share in the life insurer, with the eldest son, Jae-yong, who owns a 10.44 percent stake.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
China's role growing in North Korean denuclearization
Amid a prolonged deadlock in North Korean denuclearization talks, diplomatic observers believe that China should play a critical role in resolving the impasse. Efforts to address the decades-long issue have stalled since former U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un failed to produce a nuclear deal in Hanoi, Vietnam in February 2019. Despite repeated dialogue offers by U.S. President Joe Biden, who took office in January, the reclusive country has been refusing to engage with the United States, increasing calls for Beijing to cooperate in dealing with Pyongyang. "As North Korea believes that it can achieve economic development via cooperation with China, the North has been refusing to engage either the U.S. or South Korea," said Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute.
KDB's HMM stock conversion to have limited impact
After Korea Development Bank (KDB) converted its HMM convertible bonds into stocks at the end of last month, market watchers are closely following the state-run bank's moves regarding the global shipping company's sizable shareholding. HMM's public disclosure last week showed that KDB exercised its right to convert 100 percent of the shipping company's convertible bonds ― worth 300 billion won ($264 million) ― into 60 million common shares on Monday, resulting in the state-run lender now owning 24.96 percent of all HMM shares, or 101.1 million shares. Convertible bonds are a type of bond that can be converted into a specified number of common stock shares. The number of such bonds that were converted into stocks this time only accounted for around 22 percent of KDB's entire holding of any HMM bonds. The state-run lender still owns 208 million perpetual bonds issued by HMM, which offers the bank a fixed-rate interest with no maturity date.
Biodiversity becoming next keyword in ESG disclosures
Biodiversity is becoming another keyword after climate change for listed companies in disclosing environmental, social and governance (ESG) information, according to multiple business and finance experts. During the "2021 Europe-Korea Virtual Business Conference" jointly hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea (ECCK) in Seoul, July 2, participating experts said large business groups should cope with both global and domestic issues at the same time when it comes to ESG management. The two chambers co-hosted the conference to share each other's experience of ESG that seeks joint prosperity between the business community and society. For listed firms, ESG management is becoming increasingly important with regards to their share values. Companies will be required accordingly to disclose mandatory ESG reports from 2025. "To predict future changes in the ESG ecosystem, we need to pay attention to the newly proposed disclosure standards along with monitoring major global disclosure standards," said Kim Dong-soo, head of the Korea Productivity Center and one of the speakers on ESG disclosure.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Ex-President Lee's House Auctioned for W11.2 Billion
The home of ex-President Lee Myung-bak, who is in jail for corruption and embezzlement, has sold at auction for W11.2 billion (US$1=W1,134). The house in Gangnam's swish Nonhyeon area was seized because Lee failed to pay W18.78 billion in fines and auctioned off by the Korea Asset Management Corporation. Lee bought the house in 1978 and has been living there ever since except during his five-year term as president. The three-story property measures 673.4 sq.m. The successful bidder has already paid a 10-percent deposit and must complete the payment within 30 days. Lee's attorneys plan to file a formal objection claiming that former first lady Lee Yun-ok owns half of the property. The Seoul Central District Court seized the property when Lee was indicted in April 2018 to prevent him from selling his assets until a ruling was made. Last October, the Supreme Court sentenced him to 17 years in prison and also slapped him with a W13 billion fine and W5.78 billion forfeiture of assets.
Kim Jong-un Sacks Officials over COVID 'Crisis'
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has fired several senior officials for causing a "crisis" in the fight against coronavirus. They included a member of the top standing committee of the politburo, which only has five members including Kim himself. The drastic action suggests either that there has been a major outbreak or that Kim is trying to deflect attention from his self-inflicted food crisis. The state-run Rodong Sinmun daily reported that Kim chaired an extended party meeting and quoted him as saying, "In neglecting important decisions by the party that called for organizational, material and science and technological measures to support prolonged anti-epidemic work in face of a global health crisis, the officials in charge have caused a grave incident that created a huge crisis for the safety of the country and its people." It gave no details of the incident or the decision they allegedly neglected.
Fiscal Budget to Surpass W600 Trillion This Year
The government's total fiscal budget will surpass W600 trillion for the first time ever this year if a second supplementary budget of W33 trillion announced Thursday is passed by the National Assembly (US$1=W1,134). With the extra budget, total fiscal spending will amount to W604.7 trillion, compared to W384.9 trillion in 2016 before President Moon Jae-in took office. The government said in its budget proposal to the National Assembly last September that total state expenditures would surpass W600 trillion in 2023. But emergency support during the coronavirus pandemic and greater welfare handouts brought the milestone forward by two years. Fiscal spending grew 5.6 percent in 2017 to W406.6 trillion, but then the government tapped into state coffers to cover the fallout of its "income-led growth" policy, causing spending to rise 6.8 percent in 2018 to W434.1 trillion and another 9.5 percent in 2019 to W475.4 trillion. Last year, after four separate supplementary budgets due to the pandemic, expenditures surged 15.7 percent to W549.9 trillion.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea is culture war capital of world, survey reveals
South Korea is suffering through some of the worst “culture wars” anywhere in the world, survey results suggest. The term “culture war” refers to a clash within countries among groups defined by different political perspectives, social class, income and assets, ages, genders, religions, ethnicities, and regions. The multinational research firm Ipsos and the Policy Institute at King’s College London recently shared findings from surveys of around 23,000 adults in 28 different countries. The results showed South Korea ranking at the top globally for the severity of “culture wars” as perceived by residents in seven out of 12 conflict categories, including conflicts between progressives and conservatives. Progressive/conservative conflicts are seen as one of the most important culture war categories. Eighty-seven percent of respondents, or nearly nine out of every 10, agreed that such conflicts exist in South Korea — the highest rate for any of the countries examined.
Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung says he is running for president in 2022
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung on Thursday announced his bid for the presidency of South Korea. Lee asked Korean voters to equip him to “apply my proven abilities for our country.” After losing in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary on April 3, 2017, Lee pledged to “return after building a dream for a new world.” In the video he released to announce his presidential ambitions, in lieu of an in-person event, Lee explained why he wants to be president and what he means to do if elected. The words that appeared the most in Lee’s video announcement were “economy” (18 times) and “growth” (11 times). Korea is currently in a crisis, Lee said, because of “unfairness and polarization.” He unveiled a plan for solving those problems through a “fair economy” and “growth.”
“We members of the older generation lived in a world where, despite hardships, we had new challenges to undertake, and the belief that tomorrow would be better. But people in Korea today are facing a crisis,” Lee said.
How Japanese right-wingers attack freedom of expression
Located in a residential section of Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood, the area around the Session House gallery garden started becoming quite noisy this past May 6. Strangers showed up walking through the side streets and chanting loud slogans. On some days, they would use vehicles and loudspeakers. “Stop the anti-Japanese exhibits! Stop with the comfort women statues!” , These were members of right-wing groups attempting to stop an exhibition titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression’?”, which was scheduled to run from June 25 to July 4. They appeared to have been spurred into coordinated action by the inclusion of items, including a statue symbolizing victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese military. As the intimidation tactics continued, the gallery finally gave in. It notified the exhibitors that it could not loan out the space it had already promised them on the grounds that it could not allow the inconvenience to local residents to continue.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
China criticizes U.S. for several decades’ menace to N. Korea
China has raised an unprecedentedly critical voice against the United States that it is supposed to show some remorse for intimidating and pressing North Korea for several decades. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in the 9th World Peace Forum in Tsinghua University on Saturday that nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula have been dragged with ups and downs all the way for the past 30 years, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday. "The default option to make is to resolve issues peacefully based on dialogue and negotiations. We should take the right path by working on denuclearization and peace-making efforts at the same time,” he said. Minister Wang said that issues regarding the Korean Peninsula are unfolding right in front of China's doorstep, stating that the Chinese government will have a constructive role in ensuring stability on the Korean Peninsula with consistency.
Xi: Those bullying China will have their heads bashed and bloodied
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said foreign forces that bully China will “find their heads bashed bloody against a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.” President Xi declared his intention to take a resolute action if foreign countries, such as the U.S. intervene in its own issues with Taiwan and Hong Kong, saying it is China’s “historic task” to complete reunification with Taiwan. His remarks are regarded as a declaration of war against the Joe Biden administration, which has continued pressure on China since it took office in January. “With a history of more than 5,000 years, China has made indelible contributions to the progress of human civilization,” President Xi said at the 100th anniversary celebrations held at Tiananmen Square on Thursday. “No one should underestimate the resolve, the will, and the ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Hyundai Motor Group spins off 3 in-house start-ups
Hyundai Motor Company announced on Sunday that it has spun off its three in-house start-ups with promising business ideas. The newly spun-off start-ups are Difon, AutoL, and Datamond. They developed and are preparing to commercialize a smart window film that allows users to control the amount of sunlight, a high-resolution lidar for self-driving, and an easy and convenient point service led by customers, respectively. Hyundai Motor Group will support them based on the belief that they can be used for not only cars but in other areas. Difon’s smart window film was developed as the company’s unique technology and can be used in not only cars, but also for buildings. It is easy to install and cost-competitive, while providing the benefit of blocking harmful UV rays and saving energy. AutoL’s lidar is more compact and capable of recognizing the surrounding environment more accurately, which makes it suitable for cars.
Yoon Seok-youl Cried for a “New Government” But His Vision Was Vague
On June 29, former prosecutor general Yoon Seok-youl (61) declared his bid for the presidency calling for a need to “put a new government in office by all means.” His announcement came 117 days after he stepped down as prosecutor general under the Moon Jae-in government last March. The “anti-Moon Jae-in” tendency was clear in his message. However, his vision for the future and ideas on state administration were vague. The time for “verification” to evaluate the governance capability and morality of the politician Yoon Seok-youl has now begun. This day, Yoon held a press conference at the Maeheon Yun Bong-gil Memorial Hall in Seocho-gu, Seoul and said, “I dare to state that I am prepared to give everything and devote myself to the future of the country and the people.” He also said, “I will by all means re-establish the collapsed liberal democracy and rule of law, and the value of fairness that can run through all ages and generations.”
The 52-Hour Workweek Applied to Workplaces with 5-49 Workers Beginning July 1
The Labor Standards Act amended in March 2018 stipulated the phased application of the 52-hour workweek starting with workplaces with 300 or more employees in July that year, moving on to companies with 50-299 employees in January 2020, and workplaces with 5-49 employees in July 2021. As of 2019, there were 783,072 workplaces with 5-49 employees, and they hired over 7.8 million workers. According to the amendment, if an employer fails to apply the 52-hour workweek despite employing five or more full-time workers, he can receive criminal punishment. However, workplaces with less than 30 employees are allowed overtime of up to eight hours a week until the end of next year, as long as there is an agreement between the employer and workers. In other words, such workplaces are allowed up to a 60-hour workweek. Earlier, the Korea Enterprises Federation argued, “Small businesses and SMEs hiring less than 50 workers face challenges in responding to the shorter working hours due to their management situation,”
Cases of COVID-19 & Delta Strain Surge: New Distancing System Pushed Back in Greater Seoul Area
On June 30, a day before the government was to enforce a new social distancing system easing restrictions on the size of private gatherings and the operation of public facilities, the government decided to maintain the current distancing system and delay implementing the new system for a week in Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon. The decision came after authorities confirmed nearly 800 new cases of COVID-19 and the number of cases in the Seoul metropolitan area approached level-3 standards. Authorities are on alert after they confirmed a case of the delta strain, known to be more contagious than the existing virus, among the cases from clusters of transmission around private academies teaching English in the greater Seoul area, linked to a gathering of native English-speaking teachers. As of midnight this day, authorities confirmed 794 new cases of COVID-19. This was the highest number in 68 days, and the biggest number of cases this year in the city of Seoul (375). Seoul confirmed 284 more cases by 6 p.m. this afternoon, so the total number of cases in Seoul surpassed 50,000 (50,271).
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Antitrust probe lands on Coupang on top of consumer boycott
South Korea’s leading e-commerce player Coupang Inc. is under a probe for unfair business practices by the local antitrust authority on top of consumer boycott for suspected laxity in safety compliance behind the deadly fire at one of its big warehouses in capital region. According to multiple industry sources on Sunday, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) carried out inspection at Coupang headquarters in Songpa District, southern Seoul, late last month. The industry No. 2 is accused of abusing its dominant power by manipulating its search algorithm so that its private label items appear above others. Such act is seen as a discriminatory behavior and unfairly inducing customers under the fair trade act.
Fiscal and monetary chiefs of Korea stress on “divided role”
Fiscal and monetary policy should be complementary while keeping to their primary role, policy chiefs of South Korea pronounced at a time when the government is expediting record spending plan while the central bank is poised to raise the policy rate to tighten cheap liquidity fanning asset prices and unrestrained borrowing. After a breakfast meeting on Friday, deputy prime minister and finance minister Hong Nam-ki and Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol agreed the need of “delicate balance” and “role divide” in fiscal and monetary policy “has become important than ever” to address imbalances and potential risks simmering in the financial sector despite recovery in the economy.
New OECD global tax rule may fall on big companies like Samsung Elec
Globally active and bulky South Korean companies like Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc. could face taxes from other governments under the inclusive tax framework in the making for rich members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). After virtual talks, 130 out of 139 nations represented in the OECD Inclusive Framework signed onto a statement on July 1, agreeing to comply with new international tax rules mandating minimum tax rate of 15 percent on companies with global revenue exceeding 750 million euros ($888 million) regardless of their physical presence starting next year. The aim is to stop competitive tax cuts by governments to draw more companies from abroad and impose fair share of levy on digital companies who have been skipping tax dues by basing their enterprises in low-rate jurisdictions.
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