Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“Remarkable developments are made in the UAE for prosperity, innovation”
Ambassador Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi of the United Arab Emirates in Seoul said that remarkable developments are occurring the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and that they relate to development, prosperity, and innovation. Then he said that the UAE has reached a historic achievement in the Middle East peace process through the signing of a peace agreement with Israel in September 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords. On Korea-UAE economic relations and cooperation, Ambassdor Al Nuaimi said, “Bilateral trade has performed well in recent years and in 2020 it totalled US$9.4 billion, and we look forward to further expanding this figure in the years to come.” Asked to introduce areas where Korean companies are wanted to invest in the UAE, Ambassador Al Nuaimi said, “There are many UAE sectors in which Korean companies seek to invest. These include the logistics, biological medicine, automotive, shipbuilding, mining, tourism, supply chain, fintech, renewable energy and information and communication technology sectors.”
Kore.AI to provide 'AI secretaries' to UAE’s Mashreq bank
Kore.AI, a global interactive artificial intelligence (AI) and digital user experience (UX) company, made an announcement on June 17 that it has supplied 'Bank Assist', an interactive AI-based virtual assistant, to Mashreq Bank, an UAE financial institution. Mashreq Bank can help more than 500,000 retail financial customers, who are private and small business clients, quickly solve various questions in Arabic and English through Bank Assist. More than 100 small deposits, loans and remittance services are available by voice and text. Kore.AI's Bank Assist provides such services with natural language processing (NLP) technology. It maintains the context of past conversations to ensure consistent experiences when customers change communication channels for counseling, go directly to banks for follow-up services, or connect with real-world counselors.
Korea Energy Agency holds Korea-UAE Renewable Energy Business Meet-up Day
Korea Energy Agency announced on June 17 that it held the "Korea-UAE Renewable Energy Business Meet-up Day" at Intercontinental COEX in Seoul to support domestic energy leading companies' overseas expansion and create new business opportunities. In 2018, the agency signed a "business agreement to promote Korea-UAE renewable energy investment cooperation project" to combine Masdar's capital and Korean companies' technology to use it as an opportunity to promote domestic renewable energy investment. The conference was attended by Korea Midland Power Co., Korea East-West Power Co., SK Eco Plant, and Korea Electric Power Corp., along with UAE's Masdar Co. and only Korean company officials attended the conference on-site due to the influence of Covid-19. On the day, the consultation session was conducted in a one-on-one investment consultation method by each company, including sharing performance in the renewable energy sector, introducing projects planned and promoted by companies and discussing future cooperation.
State Department: US Hopes N. Korea will Respond to Outreach for Dialogue
The U.S. State Department said the United States certainly hopes North Korea will respond positively to its outreach and offer to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions. Department spokesman Ned Price made the remarks on Monday in a telephone press briefing after U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim expressed hope for a positive response for dialogue from Pyongyang. Price reaffirmed that the U.S.' North Korea policy is an approach that's open to and will explore diplomacy with the North. He added that Kim emphasized the importance of trilateral cooperation among the U.S., South Korea and Japan in working toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The spokesperson also said that Kim will double as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, expecting his deep involvement in direct diplomacy with North Korea should it occur.
S. Korea, US Agree to Consider Ending 'Working Group' on N. Korea Policy
South Korea and the United States have agreed to consider ending their "working group" on North Korea policy in what appears to be a conciliatory gesture to Pyongyang. Seoul's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that top nuclear envoy Noh Kyu-duk and his U.S. counterpart Sung Kim reached the agreement during their talks in Seoul on Monday. The ministry said that during the talks, the two sides examined the operation of the existing working group and agreed to consider terminating it. It added that they agreed to strengthen their director-general level consultations in addition to dialogue between chief nuclear negotiators. The working group was created in November 2018 to help Seoul and Washington coordinate on North Korea policies, including inter-Korean cooperation and international sanctions on the regime. But the joint group has been criticized for hindering inter-Korean relations as it called for strict standards and requirements for inter-Korean cooperation projects.
S. Korea, Japan Hold Working-Level Talks on Wartime History, Other Issues
South Korea and Japan held working-level talks in Seoul on Monday to discuss issues of mutual concern including wartime sexual slavery and forced labor. Lee Sang-ryeol, director general for Asia and Pacific affairs at Seoul's Foreign Ministry sat down for talks with his Japanese counterpart, Takehiro Funakoshi at the ministry in Seoul. The talks came about 80 days after similar discussions during Lee's trip to Tokyo in early April. Seoul's Foreign Ministry said that the two sides shared the understanding that advancing bilateral ties in a stable and forward-looking manner is important to peace and stability in Northeast Asia and beyond. The ministry said both sides also agreed to continue close communication and consultation regarding pending issues. In the talks, Lee reportedly stressed that Tokyo needs to show sincerity in efforts to resolve the row over forced labor and sexual slavery, noting that Seoul has been meeting with the victims' representatives and advocacy groups to hear their opinions.
U.S. envoy hopes N. Korea will accept offer to meet 'anytime, anywhere without preconditions'
The United States has offered to meet with North Korea "anywhere, anytime without preconditions" and looks forward to a positive response from Pyongyang, the new U.S. special envoy for the North said Monday. Ambassador Sung Kim made the remarks during trilateral talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, Noh Kyu-duk and Takehiro Funakoshi, in Seoul, where they discussed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's recent remarks that his country should be ready for both dialogue and confrontation. "We continue to hope that the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach and our offer to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions," Kim said, referring to the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Kim also stressed that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will continue to implement U.N. Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.
New virus cases back under 400; alert high over Delta variant
South Korea's new coronavirus cases fell below 400 on Monday due to fewer tests over the weekend, but health authorities remain vigilant over rising cases of the more contagious Delta variant and pandemic fatigue. The country reported 357 new cases, including 317 local infections, raising the total caseload to 151,506, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. Daily infections stayed in the 400s or 500s in the past five days after reporting 373 cases on June 15. The country added two COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 2004. The fatality rate came to 1.32 percent. As of 9 p.m. Monday, 324 additional infections were reported nationwide, down 21 from the same time the previous day, according to health authorities and local governments. Among them, 228 cases, or 70.4 percent, were in the greater Seoul area.
S. Korea, U.S. agree to consider ending 'working group' forum on N. Korea policy
South Korea and the United States have agreed to consider terminating their "working group" forum on North Korea policy, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, in what appears to be a conciliatory gesture to Pyongyang that has decried the forum as a hurdle to inter-Korean ties. Seoul's top nuclear envoy, Noh Kyu-duk, and his U.S. counterpart, Sung Kim, reached the agreement during their talks in Seoul on Monday, as they sought a coordinated strategy to resume nuclear diplomacy with Pyongyang. "During the talks between the top nuclear envoys, the two sides checked the operation of the existing working group and agreed to consider terminating it," the ministry said in a press release. The ministry said that the two sides agreed to strengthen their director-general level consultations in addition to dialogue between their chief nuclear negotiators.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Nuclear envoy says US ready for NK talks ‘anywhere, anytime’
The US is willing to meet North Korea for dialogue “anywhere, anytime, without preconditions,” President Joe Biden’s point man on North Korea said, expressing hope for a positive response from the reclusive regime. Sung Kim, US special representative for North Korea, made the remarks in Seoul during trilateral talks with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan, Noh Kyu-duk and Takehiro Funakoshi, saying the Biden administration’s policy called for a “calibrated, practical approach” that is open to diplomacy with Pyongyang. “We continue to hope that the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach and our offer to meet anywhere, anytime, without preconditions,” said Kim, referring to the North by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In the meantime, the US would continue to implement the UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea, said Kim, and would urge other UN member countries to do the same. The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions over the North’s nuclear weapons program.
Assembly speaker urges NK to engage in dialogue
National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug said he hoped North Korea would take a proactive role in inter-Korean dialogue, stressing that South Korea’s National Assembly was considering the ratification of the inter-Korean summit agreement. “The Korea-US summit was an important achievement,” said Park on Monday at a press meeting. “The position of South Korea in relation to the peace process on the Korean Peninsula is evaluated to have been well reflected.“It was good that (the leaders) decided to resolve the (North Korean) issue through diplomatic dialogue based on prior agreements,” Park said. In a joint statement announced after the summit, US President Joe Biden said he would deal with the North Korean issue based on existing agreements, including the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration and the Singapore-US joint statement.
Labor, business far apart on 2022 minimum wage demands
The obstacle-strewn journey to setting next year’s minimum wage level has effectively kicked off, with those representing labor and business presenting starkly different views on how the rate should be set to assist those suffering from COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic setback. This year’s negotiation is the last one to be held during the Moon Jae-in administration, which the labor side has claimed is the final chance to uphold his campaign promise to hike the rate to above 10,000 won ($8.82) per hour during his term. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, the two major umbrella labor groups in South Korea, are planning to announce their demand for next year’s rate on Thursday just before attending the fifth plenary meeting of the Minimum Wage Commission.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Osstem Implant chief wins KATUSA award
Choi Kyoo-ok, chairman of Osstem Implant, one of the pioneers of the nation's dental implant industry, has received an award commemorating KATUSA veterans for their contribution to the decades-long military alliance between Korea and the United States. The KATUSA Veterans Association (KVA) held the 2021 KATUSA Awards Ceremony and Dinner at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, June 16. To celebrate the event, ranking U.S. and Korean service personnel, including Eighth U.S. Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Bill Burleson, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Cobb, as well as KVA members attended. "I will not forget the honor that was granted to me today, and cherish my KATUSA experience that I had 40 years ago, and I will try to do my best to be with our fellow ROK-U.S. soldiers marching toward our proud future," Choi said in his acceptance speech. The ROK refers to the Republic of Korea, the country's official name.
Probe under way into hacking attempts against Daewoo Shipbuilding: gov't
Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering, a major South Korean shipbuilder specializing in submarine and other naval vessels, has suffered hacking attempts by unidentified entities, prompting the authorities to launch a probe, the arms procurement agency said Monday. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) confirmed hacking attempts against the Daewoo database recently but declined to say if those attempts were successful and who appeared to be behind the attack. "The company reported the case to police," DAPA spokesperson Col. Suh Yong-won told a defense ministry regular briefing. "Police and related military agencies are looking into the case." But the official denied recent news reports that hackers presumed to be from North Korea broke into Daewoo Shipbuilding last year and recently, stole some research data, including on the development of a homegrown nuclear-powered submarine.
Finnish foreign trade minister discusses post-COVID-19 cooperation
As the world tries to pull out of the COVID-19 pandemic together, Finland is seeking to strengthen diplomatic and trade ties with Korea. Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari flew to Korea last week for a three-day visit to discuss bilateral trade relations as well as a green transition and post-COVID-19 exit strategies. "Finland has the ability to combine development cooperation and foreign trade for one minister, and, actually, it's very unique, globally speaking. It's very important for multilateral and global cooperation, because we can combine development aid and trade together. And that's why Finland is very successful at the global level," Skinnari told The Korea Times, June 18, explaining the singularity of his post. Diplomatic relations are very important for Finland, which has been a very active player when it comes to global relations for decades, he said.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Not Enough Elderly Koreans Can Access Mobile Services
Many elderly Koreans are cut off from mobile services even if they have a smartphone because they do not know how to use it. The Chosun Ilbo checked up on 50 senior citizens in Seoul earlier this month and found that most were not making the best use of their smartphones. Only 34 use them at all, but only nine of them said they knew how to download apps by themselves. They had an average of 49 apps on their phones, which is plenty, but around 35 of them come pre-installed with the phone. By contrast, people in their 20s have 128 apps installed. Most of the seniors admitted that they only bought the phone because that was what was available and use it chiefly to text, watch YouTube videos and look at pictures. Many are unable to use financial apps, shopping and even social media on their phone. The difference translates into a gap in the quality of life. A person in his or her 20s can use their smartphones to make hospital appointments, transfer money and order food, but senior citizens are often more isolated.
U.S.' N.Korea Envoy Meets S.Korean, Japanese Officials
Sung Kim, the new U.S. special representative for North Korea, met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul on Monday. He arrived here last week. Sung's five-day trip comes about a month after U.S. President Joe Biden announced his appointment in a press conference with his Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House. On Monday, he sat down with Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, and Japanese Foreign Ministry official Takehiro Funakoshi. He will meet with Unification Minister Lee In-young and other South Korean experts on Tuesday. Facebook Sung Kim, the new U.S. special representative for North Korea, met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul on Monday. He arrived here last week. Sung's five-day trip comes about a month after U.S. President Joe Biden announced his appointment in a press conference with his Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House. On Monday, he sat down with Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, and Japanese Foreign Ministry official Takehiro Funakoshi. He will meet with Unification Minister Lee In-young and other South Korean experts on Tuesday.
N.Korean Hackers Target S.Korean Submarine Data
Suspected North Korean hackers last year stole a vast cache of data from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, which is manufacturing a new 3,000-ton submarine for the Navy. They also recently attacked the state-run Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, which was involved in the development of a small reactor to power nuclear submarines. North Korea probably wanted the information to develop its own nuclear-powered submarines. A staffer in the office of People Power Party lawmaker Ha Tae-keung, who revealed the hacking attacks last week, said, "Most of the data stolen from Daewoo was related to submarines." The Defense Acquisition Program Administration admitted there was a hacking attack but denied that military secrets were stolen, saying the firewalls held out. North Korean hackers have persistently targeted Daewoo, which has been building all of the Navy's submarines.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Sung Kim visits S. Korea after Kim Jong-un mentions "dialogue"
After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un broached the possibility of dialogue with the Biden administration for the first time, attention is focusing on what message South Korea and the US' senior envoys on the North Korea nuclear issue will send to the North when they meet Monday. Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, and Sung Kim, the US special representative for North Korea, will be holding their first meeting in a hotel in Seoul on Monday. Their meeting is part of Kim's five-day trip to South Korea, which began on Saturday. Sung Kim will be accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Jung Pak, who serves as the US deputy special representative for North Korea affairs, as well as by officials from the White House's National Security Council.
S. Korea, US need to bring N. Korea to negotiating table
South Korea and the US’ senior representatives on the North Korea nuclear issue are meeting in Seoul on Monday after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made the first official mention of the possibility of dialogue with the Biden administration. As North Korea stands at the crossroads of dialogue and confrontation, we hope that South Korea and the US will send a calibrated message that will bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table. Sung Kim, the US special representative for North Korea, is currently visiting South Korea to explain the results of the US review of North Korea policy to figures from various areas. Kim will be meeting with Noh Kyu-duk, Seoul’s special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, on Monday and with South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young on Tuesday. Depending on how the two sides follow up their summit last month and on what message the US sends to North Korea via Sung Kim, this could be a major step toward restarting the Korean Peninsula peace process.
S. Korea ranks ninth out of 12 countries examined for corporate governance, report shows
South Korean companies are having a tough time shedding their image of lagging far behind when it comes to their governance structures. They tend to rate very poorly even in international comparisons that are restricted to Asian countries. It’s a situation that bears some connections with routine violations of the rules, including the funneling of work to affiliates and questionable tactics to pave the way for later generations to inherit the management reins. Is there a possibility that this backward situation might now be improving? On Sunday, the Federation of Korean Industries released findings from an analysis of corporate governance structure reports from 175 non-financial companies. The results showed an average adoption rate of 64.6% for 15 total indicators as of 2020. The rate was up from 52.9% from an analysis in 2018 (161 companies), the year that mandatory publication of corporate governance structure reports was first instituted, and from 58.6% in a 2019 analysis (171 companies). This suggests that gradual improvements have been made over the past three years.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
College student becomes presidential secretary for youth-related matters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in chose Park Seong-min, a 25-year-old undergraduate who served as Democratic Party of Korea’s Supreme Council member, as secretary for youth-related matters and Kim Han-gyu, 47-year-old former legal counsel for the ruling party with no political career at the National Assembly, as secretary for political affairs. With the rise of People Power Party’s 36-year-old leader Lee Jun-seok who has never been part of the National Assembly, the waves of political innovation sweeping across the political spectrum have led South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae to make such surprise staffing decisions. Joining the ruling party as a spokesperson to youth in 2019, Park became a top member of the party under the leadership of Lee Nak-yeon. Born in 1996, she is currently studying Korean Language and Literature at Korea University.
Iran, world powers announce a pause on nuclear deal
Negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been suspended one day after Ebrahim Raisi, the hardline head of Iran’s judiciary, was elected as Iran’s new president. There are speculations that the Iran nuclear agreement will be stalled until Raisi officially takes office in August. According to Reuters, world powers, including the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany on Sunday announced a break in the talks, which have been ongoing in Vienna, Austria, for consultations in their capitals. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said in an interview with a state-run television that they are “closer to a deal” but they are not still there, adding he is returning to Tehran today.
Sung Kim discusses N. Korean nuclear with S. Korea and Japan
The U.S. special representative for North Korea Sung Kim will start his official schedule by beginning a bilateral discussion with North Korean nuclear envoy in Korea and a trilateral discussion with Korea’s and Japan’s envoys. Kim’s message toward North Korea is garnering attention as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently announced his first official statement to the Joe Biden administration that his country should be ready for dialogue and confrontation with the U.S. A special representative for North Korea is a position that negotiates with North Korea. Sung Kim will meet with his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk at a hotel in Seoul on Monday morning after arriving in Korea on Saturday and having personal time until Sunday. It is the first discussion between North Korea special representatives in South Korea and the U.S. after the U.S. President Joe Biden publicly announced the appointment of Kim at a press conference after the South Korea-U.S. summit on May 21 (local time).
Democratic Party to Officially Promote the End of News Editing by Web Portals, “We’re at Their Disposal”
The Democratic Party of Korea will officially promote changes to remove news editing from web portals like Naver and Daum (first covered in the July 17, 2021 issue of the Kyunghyang Shinmun). By having users instead of web portals select the news from media outlets, the ruling party plans to rectify the sensational reporting of media outlets, which occurred when they were dependent on web portals. Reportedly, Naver has agreed to this measure, while Daum plans to make a decision according to future social consensus. In the first report by the Democratic Party of Korea’s special committee for media innovation on June 17, the party’s leader Song Young-gil said, “We will take the right to edit the news from web portals and return it to the people, allowing users to determine their media outlets.” Song said, “Most of the members of the press have not been able to say anything, but they are forced to rely on web portals and are at their disposal.” He further explained, “In the case of Naver and Daum, there was a need to resolve the problem of the portals editing and determining the news, despite that they did not create those articles.” Song referred to the web portals as the “Naver newspaper” and the “Daum newspaper.”
“Yoon Seok-youl to Announce His Presidential Bid at the End of This Month”
Former prosecutor general, Yoon Seok-youl (pictured), a rising opposition candidate in the next presidential election, announced on June 15 that he would officially declare his bid for the presidency as early as the end of June. Yoon had not stated any clear position on this issue only communicating through his acquaintances for over three months since he stepped down as prosecutor general on March 4. This was the first time that he expressed his intention to run for president along with a timetable. However, Yoon has yet to reach a conclusion on whether to join the People Power Party and if so, when he will join the major opposition. This day Yoon’s spokesperson, Lee Dong-hoon told reporters, “Yoon is considering an announcement on his entering politics,” and said, “It will be in late June or early July.” Lee further said, “Yoon suggested that we use a shared office in Yeouido for his office,” and added, “He is reviewing everything including these details.”
Restaurants to Open Until Midnight. Restriction on Gatherings Lifted Outside the Greater Seoul Area
On June 20, the government released new physical (social) distancing guidelines after four months of deliberation. The government significantly eased preventive measures from the draft released in March and drew up more detailed guidelines for public facilities. The government plans to restore everyday life more quickly and broadly than it originally planned. The new system, which will be applied beginning July 1, reduced the number of distancing levels from five to four. The current 0.5-level margins had been criticized for failing to sufficiently reflect the difference in risks in each level, and it was difficult to quickly adjust the level of distancing. Authorities also considered the fact that current regulations to prevent contagion resulted in damages concentrated on self-employed business owners and store owners. “It was group punishment where the majority of the good groups who faithfully followed the guidelines suffered damages because a few facilities failed to abide by the guidelines,” said Kim Yoon, a professor at Seoul National University College of Medicine.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Hyundai Mipo Dockyard building the world’s largest fleet in methanol fuel for Maersk
South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Mipo Dockyard will be making a fleet of the world’s biggest methanol-powered vessels for Maersk, another demonstration of Korean shipyard’s leadership in green maritime technology. According to multiple sources from the shipbuilding industry and foreign media sources, the dockyard under Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. (KSOE) signed a letter of intent with world’s biggest container line Maersk to build three 3,500 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) methanol-fueled freight carriers including options in what would be the largest fleet in the novel fuel.
K-bio firms anticipate another bumper year in out-licensing
Korean healthcare companies anticipate another bumper year in out-licensing agreements, having already achieved more than 5 trillion won ($4.4 billion) in the first half, or half of last year’s best record. According to Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association (KPBMA) on Sunday, the local pharmaceutical and biotech industry won a total of eight license deals in the first six months this year. The combined confirmed value is 4.81 trillion won and it would exceed 5 trillion won if undisclosed deal values of LG Chem and Nibec are included.
Korea United Pharm stock rally upon winning $54 mn deal to provide drugs to Mexico
Shares of Korea United Pharm Inc. rallied Monday after it won a deal to supply $54 million worth anti-cancer medicines to Mexico by 2024. The Korean drug maker signed a contract with Medimex, a medical supplies procurement company designated by the Mexican government, to supply 16 types of anti-cancer drugs to seven state-led medical institutions including the Institute of Health for Welfare (INSABI) and the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS). ‘ The Kospi-trading stock ended Monday 4.7 percent higher at 53,300 won. The company will ship a total of $54 million worth anti-cancer medicines to the country by 2024, with the first batch of $14.04 million worth drugs to be delivered this year. The Mexican government visited Korea United Pharm in March as part of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)’s medicine export support program in an effort to relieve the country’s medicine shortage.
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