Friday, July 2, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“My goal is to make Pyeongtaek an international city full of diverse cultures”
Pyeongtaek (平澤) is a region consisting mainly of rural areas, and is a village where noble people who love “nongak” (traditional Korean music performed by farmers) and preserve purity live. There is a nice man from Pyeongtaek, whose hometown is a flat and beautiful pond that reminds us of our hometown. He is CEO Kim Soo-woo of Brain City Co. CEO Kim's career is truly spectacular. He boasts of a wide spectrum that will cover the whole country beyond the Pyeongtaek City area. While serving as the 7th member of Pyeongtaek City Council, Brain City CEO Kim created a resting space and exercise facilities so that the citizens of Pyeongtaek Sosabeol New Town have no choice but to love them, and installed a fountain in the middle of the lake. He did a great job making it a landmark lake park.
2022 Daejeon World Federation of Local Governments General Assembly Organizing Committee’ officially launched
Daejeon City will officially launch the organizing committee for the successful hosting of the ‘2022 Daejeon World Federation of Local Governments General Assembly’ (2022 UCLG General Assembly) on July 1, 2021. Since last year, the Daejeon City has been promoting the establishment of a separate organization dedicated to preparing for the 2022 UCLG General Assembly, and then held the inaugural general meeting last month and completed all related administrative procedures in advance--such as completing the establishment permit and corporate registration. In the meantime, Daejeon City has established detailed action plans for each field for the successful hosting of the 2022 UCLG General Assembly, and has been preparing in advance for smooth operation with the launch of the organizing committee.
"Our association actively pushes for promoting Korea's aesthetic and personal content to the world”
"The Global K Model Association is hosting the Global K Model Contest with the goal of promoting Korea's aesthetic and personal content globally and making Korea the center of the global model market," said Lee Young-ji, chairperson of the association. In an interview with The Korea Post, Chairperson Lee said, "We will provide right directions to those who dream of becoming models by combining their experiences, paths and aptitudes with appropriate model education to foster them as a global model, not to mention a domestic model.” Our association was established in June 2020, but we will gradually develop it by holding a series of contests in large markets to actively foster Korean models, ranging from kids to juniors, Miss, Mrs. and senior models." Details of the interview are as follows.
S. Korea Reports 826 New COVID-19 Cases to Hit 6-Month High
Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung, who is leading the presidential hopefuls from the ruling Democratic Party(DP), has declared his bid to become the next president. Lee made the declaration on Thursday in pre-recorded videos released on various media platforms, including YouTube and Facebook, emphasizing economy as his top priority. He stressed augmentation of infrastructure and restructuring of industrial economy, saying they will expand opportunities for investment and open the door to sustainable fair growth. The governor pledged that if he becomes the president, he will immediately begin strong economic stimulus policies that will turn a crisis in the era of great transformation into an opportunity for economic rebound. He also promised to lead a transition into a future-oriented economic and industrial system, increase quality jobs and expand the government’s fiscal capacity to lay a groundwork for a universal welfare state.
Ex-Pres. Secretary, Ex-Minister Indicted over Reactor Shutdown
A former presidential secretary and former industry minister have been indicted for allegedly abusing their power and interfering with business in the government’s decision to close a decades-old nuclear reactor. The Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office said on Wednesday that it indicted Chae Hee-bong, a former presidential secretary on industrial policies, and former Industry Minister Paik Un-gyu for their alleged roles in the early closure of the Wolsong-1. The nation’s second-oldest nuclear reactor was permanently shut down in 2019, three years before its original mandate. The prosecution argued that Chae pressured the operator of the reactor, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power(KHNP), to phase it out early and Paik colluded with him in the process. Prosecutors suspect that the economic viability of the nuclear reactor was unreasonably undervalued to enable the early closure, causing damages worth 148-point-one billion won to the company.
OECD: 130 Countries Agree to 15% Global Minimum Tax
Some 130 countries have agreed to establish a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15 percent. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) said on Thursday in a statement that the 130 countries representing more than 90 percent of global gross domestic product made the agreement. According to Reuters, Ireland and eight other countries have not signed the global deal. The OECD estimates the minimum rate is expected to generate around 150 billion dollars in additional global tax revenue annually. Under the agreement, the countries also agreed to reallocate some taxing rights on global companies' profits based on where sales are made rather than where earnings are declared. The OECD plans to produce a detailed agreement by October and implement it from 2023.
Inflation growth hits over 2 pct for 3rd straight month in June
South Korea's consumer prices grew more than 2 percent for the third straight month in June on higher prices of farm and oil products, data showed Friday, underscoring expectations that a rate hike within this year may become more plausible amid an economic recovery. The consumer price index rose 2.4 percent on-year in June, slowing from a 2.6 percent on-year gain the previous month, the fastest rise in more than nine years, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea. The inflation gain is due largely to last year's low base and the tight supply of farm and livestock products, according to the statistics agency. Compared with a month earlier, the index fell 0.1 percent last month, compared with a 0.1 percent on-month rise in May. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and oil prices, rose 1.2 percent on-year in June.
U.S. shortlists N. Korea among worst nations in trafficking of humans
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to elevate relations with China to a new strategic point as he sent a congratulatory message to Chinese President Xi Jinping to mark the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China, state media said Thursday. In an apparent reference to the deepening Sino-U.S. rivalry, Kim also said in the message that "hostile forces" are engaged in "vicious slander and all-round pressure" upon China, but they can "never check the on-going advance of the Chinese people," according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "Despite the complicated international situation, the two parties and the two countries, with firm faith in the justice of the socialist and communist cause, accelerate their advance toward a brighter future, tiding over difficulties and ordeals by dint of their militant friendship and bonds of kinship," Kim was quoted as saying by the KCNA.
U.S. aware of NK leader Kim's remarks on 'grave incident' in anti-pandemic steps: State Dept.
The United States is aware of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's remarks about a serious incident with regard to the North's fight against the new coronavirus, a State Department spokesperson said Wednesday. Jalina Porter, principal deputy spokesperson for the department, however, offered no immediate U.S. plans to provide humanitarian assistance, including COVID-19 vaccine, to the impoverished North. "We are certainly aware of the report -- what Kim Jong-un has said -- but we don't have any comments from here," she said in a telephonic press briefing. Kim said on Wednesday (Seoul time) that officials in charge have caused a "grave incident that poses a huge crisis to the safety of the nation and its people" by neglecting important decisions made by the ruling Workers' Party in its antivirus fight. The details or nature of the incident were not immediately known.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Clumsy probe bred conspiracy theories, Cheonan captain says
Conspiracy theories over the 2010 sinking of the warship Cheonan still hold sway over a significant portion of South Koreans because Seoul bungled the initial probe, the ship’s former captain says. A joint investigation by South Korea, the US, the UK, Australia and Sweden in May 2010, two months after the sinking, found that the North attacked the South’s corvette, leaving 46 seamen dead. North Korea has denied any involvement. Some in South Korea believe there could be another explanation. “The government got off on the wrong foot with the initial inquiry,” Cheonan Capt. Choi Won-il said in an interview with The Korea Herald. He retired in February and has since been fighting what he calls a systematic disinformation campaign built on decadeslong conspiracy theories.
With distancing set to be eased, daily case count hits two-month high
South Korea’s daily new COVID-19 case count surged to its highest since April as eased social distancing guidelines were set to take effect. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday reported 794 virus cases confirmed the previous day. Over 80 percent of the new infections were found in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. With the less strict social distancing guidelines set to take effect Thursday, health authorities are closely monitoring daily infection tallies. “Over the past week, an average of 465 patients a day has been reported. Infection is spreading in daily spaces including universities, workplaces and restaurants,” said Yoon Tae-ho, a senior Health Ministry official. “With people in their 20s and 30s at the forefront, infection among the young and elderly who have not been vaccinated is significantly increasing.”
Manufacturer’s Q3 sentiment hits 7-year high on vaccine rollout
South Korean manufacturers’ business sentiment reached a seven-year high for the third quarter this year, as the global economy shows signs of recovery amid vaccine rollouts against the coronavirus pandemic, a poll revealed Wednesday. According to the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Business Sentiment Index, which it compiles quarterly, stood at 103 for the July-September period, up four points from the previous quarter. It was the first time in seven years that it surpassed a reading of 100. A reading above 100 means optimism outweighs pessimism. By category, the index stood at 112 for exports and at 101 for domestic demand. The KCCI conducted the BSI poll to about 2,400 manufacturing companies in the country.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung launches presidential bid, vowing to reduce inequality
Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung officially launched his high-profile presidential campaign Thursday, pledging to alleviate inequality between the powerful and the weak. The front-runner by a wide margin among the nine contenders of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), Lee announced his bid to run in the March 9 presidential election through a prerecorded video, released on YouTube and other online platforms, in consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Through the politics of moderating the privilege and foul play-driven desires of the powerful and embracing the lives of the weak, (the country) must move toward a world of unity where everybody prospers together," Lee said. "Society has its future only when people or regions don't get to suffer a loss for abiding by the rules, the opportunities are fair, and a reasonable reward is given as the result of fair competition." Lee pinpointed growing inequality and social polarization in the nation, saying they hold back economic growth and quicken economic depression..
Korea launches electronic travel authorization system
Border management has become one of the biggest challenges for countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, as strict control is needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, while the right to essential cross-border movement should also be guaranteed. Korea Immigration Service (KIS) Commissioner Cha Gyu-geun said that swift COVID-19 response measures have been a major task for the immigration authority over the past 18 months, since the coronavirus was first reported here in January 2020. But now, as many countries around the world, including Korea, scramble to reopen borders in the coming months, the KIS is preparing for a possible surge in the number of inbound travelers. To cope with this, it plans to launch the Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) program, an entry system for people from countries that have visa-free agreements with Korea, starting in September. Before the pandemic, Korea allowed people carrying passports from 112 countries to enter the country without having first to get a visa from the appropriate Korean Embassy.
Finance minister warns of 'excessive leverage'
Sharp rises in housing prices despite an overall decline in household incomes and excessive debt are two major downside risks to home values, creating a major downside risk to housing prices in the future, the country's top policymaker said Wednesday. The comments came in response to the continued "panic-driven" demand for leveraged investments in the real estate market, where most "cheap loans" have ended up amid a record-low central bank rate put in place to weather the pandemic-induced economic crisis. "Although the recent housing market instability is in part explained by a supply and demand factor, the volume of occupancy remains average and demand continues for apartments in redevelopment zones in Seoul including southern areas. Prices will also drop sharply in the second half of the year," Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said at a meeting of economy-related ministers at the Seoul Government Complex.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
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.
Gyeonggi Governor Announces Presidential Bid
Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung on Thursday announced his official bid for the presidency on the ruling Minjoo Party's ticket. He made the announcement in a pre-recorded video message rather than a public rally to ensure social distancing. Lee now heads to his hometown of Andong, North Gyeongsang Province to steal a march on his rivals in the party and remind voters that he is a competitive candidate in the North Gyeongsang region, which is a traditional stronghold of the main opposition People Power Party. Lee spent Wednesday putting the final touches to his speech and editing the video, which was posted on YouTube and Facebook at 7:30 a.m.
Pew: U.S. Seen More Favorably Than China Among Advanced Economies
A recent Pew Research survey among 17 advanced economies shows the global opinion of the United States has improved, while the view of China continues to be mostly negative. Both countries experienced historically low ratings in a similar poll last year. Korea has the highest positive view of the U.S., with 77 percent having a positive view. In Italy, Japan, France and the United Kingdom, about two-thirds of those polled viewed the U.S. positively. "These broadly positive views reflect a significant shift since last summer, when ratings of the U.S. were at or near historic lows in most countries," Pew said in a press release. With China, the numbers are almost the reverse, with Japan having an 88-percent negative view of China, Sweden having an 80-percent negative view, Australia having a 78-percent negative view and Korea having a 77-percent negative view.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Former prosecutor general’s candidacy lacks substance
The main question that reporters asked former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl in his press conference Tuesday was why he ought to be South Korea’s next president. Yoon answers that he wants “to restore common sense and rebuild the rule of law.” A more thorough answer appeared in his opening remarks. Following my resignation from public office, Korean citizens understood why I had to step down and have shown me unceasing encouragement and support. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the meaning of that. It means that I should dedicate myself to leading a change of government so that the forces that are undermining fairness and good sense and denying freedom and the rule of law don’t hold on to power and cause people any more pain.” In a nutshell, Yoon said that Koreans’ continuing support for him means he ought to take the lead in bringing the opposition party to power. He points to the polls for his mission, which he says is taking down the Democratic Party.
S. Korean Navy’s newly commissioned ROKS Marado can accommodate two V-22 Ospreys
The ROKS Marado, a landing platform helicopter (LPH) ship with a standard displacement of 14,500 tons, was commissioned Monday as the second Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship, the largest warship class in the South Korean Navy. Its arrival provides a key platform for the takeoff and landing of the Osprey, the US Marines’ leading transport helicopters. In addition to signaling the deepening of the South Korea-US alliance’s military integration, it also raises the risk of South Korea being forced into a difficult strategic decision if a clash erupts between the US and China around Taiwan or elsewhere in the Korean Peninsula’s vicinity. The Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) announced Monday morning that a commissioning ceremony for the Marado was held on the vessel’s flight deck while it was at anchor at the naval port in Jinhae. During the ceremony that day, Navy Chief of Operations Adm. Boo Suk-jong said that the Marado would “perform various roles as a multipurpose joint forces platform, while serving alongside the ROKS Dokdo as a guide for the construction of a Korean model of light aircraft carrier.”
Choe Jae-hyeong becomes first head of S. Korean audit agency to quit to enter politics
Choe Jae-hyeong, chairman of South Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), resigned on Monday, with six months left in his term. I submitted my resignation to the president today because I thought it would be inappropriate to continue chairing the board given all the controversy over my future plans,” Choe said Monday. When asked if he intends to run for president, Choe said, “That’s not something I should talk about while announcing my resignation. I will spend some time pondering what role I should play for the future of the Republic of Korea.” There’s no precedent in Korea’s constitutional history for a BAI chairman — whose chief values are political independence and neutrality — stepping down before their term is over to engage in politics. Former BAI chairmen Lee Hoi-chang and Kim Hwang-sik did enter politics, but only after a stint as prime minister — which is an appointed position, not an elected one, in the Korean political system.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
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.
Presidential secretary indicted for allegedly orchestrating travel ban
Lee Kwang-cheol, presidential secretary for civil affairs, was indicted on Thursday for allegedly orchestrating the illegal travel ban on former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui in 2019. The indictment was filed one day before the investigation team on the case is disbanded on July 2 due to personnel reshuffle of the prosecution. The investigation team at the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office said the indictment was filed with the Seoul Central District Court. Lee has been working for the administration for four years and two months. He joined Cheong Wa Dae in May 2017, immediately after the Moon Jae-in administration took office, as a senior officer at the Office of the Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs and was promoted to presidential secretary for civil affairs. Lee was investigated by the prosecution as part of a probe into an election-meddling case involving the Ulsan Mayor in 2018 but this is the first time that he has been indicted.
Critical pandemic incident occurred, says Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un strongly criticized key leaders saying that a “severe situation” had occurred regarding COVID 19 prevention measures. He replaced several key positions including standing committee members of the Workers’ Party, the highest political positions in North Korea. Some anticipate that citizens’ anger towards prolonged food shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic might have exploded or that COVID-19 cases might have been confirmed due to lacking prevention measures. According to the Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday, the North Korean leader convened a meeting on the previous day and pointed out that a “critical incident” making a major crisis to national and peoples’ safety. “Key executives responsible for major national affairs have neglected their duty when executing key decisions to build systematic/material and technological measures to respond to prolonged pandemic situations that are threatening the global health crisis.
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.”
Choe Jae-hyeong Resigns, Undermining the Neutrality of the BAI for a Presidential Bid
Choe Jae-hyeong, chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), expressed his intention to resign to President Moon Jae-in on June 28, six months before the end of his term. President Moon said, “You have created an undesirable precedent” and accepted his resignation. Choe is expected to join the race for the presidency. On June 29, Yoon Seok-youl, former prosecutor general will declare his bid for the presidency. Two figures from the Board of Audit and Inspection and the Prosecution Service, who confronted the ruling party in the name of political neutrality, have rushed to resign in order to jump into politics. This day, Choe met with reporters after expressing his intention to step down and said, “I decided that it was inappropriate for me to continue performing my role as chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection amid the controversy over my future plans.” When asked about his plans to enter politics and the presidential race, he said, “I don’t think it is appropriate to talk of those issues when I have just expressed my thoughts to resign today. I will gradually speak on those issues.” He hinted at a possible presidential bid.
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/)
Excess tax revenue finances Korea’s $29 bn extra budget plus debt payoff
Excess tax revenue from heated asset market and faster economic recovery this year is helping South Korea to finance a bulky second supplementary budget of 33 trillion won ($29.2 billion) plus paying off 2 trillion won debt in advance,. According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance on Thursday, the country’s estimated tax revenue was revised up to 314.3 trillion won, 31.5 trillion won more from earlier estimation, in line with around 4 percent growth projected for this year’s gross domestic product. The ministry counts extra 16 trillion won in corporate tax, value-added tax and dividend income tax revenue. It projects 13.2 trillion won addition from asset-related taxes - capital gains tax, stock exchange tax, farming and fishing villages special tax and gift tax plus another 2.3 trillion won gain in inheritance tax.
Korea’s mega mergers being delayed by overseas antitrust reviews
The creation of an air monopoly in South Korea through the merger of Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines now leaves the last stage of gaining antitrust approval from key economies whereas another state-arranged mega-merger in 2019 to launch the world’s biggest shipbuilding entity is being delayed due to stalled blessing from rivaling nations. Korean Air said in a disclosure on Wednesday that it has finalized its post-merger integration (PMI) business outline after three months of review by state lender Korea Development Bank (KDB) and government offices. The state lender becomes a major shareholder after putting up 800 billion won for the acquisition of Asiana Airlines through purchase of new shares in November last year.
New U.S. DCM Chris Del Corso to serve as acting ambassador to Seoul.
Christopher Del Corso has been serving as a new deputy chief of mission (DCM) of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul since last week, according to sources on Wednesday. He will replace Robert Rapson to become the U.S. acting ambassador to South Korea within this month. The position of the U.S. ambassador to South Korea has been vacant since the Joe Biden Administration took off and former Ambassador Harry Harris resigned in January.
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