Thursday, August 12, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Ambassador Daul Matute-Mejia of the Republic of Peru in Seoul said, “Yes, the Republic of Peru wants to continue increasing and strengthening her partnership and cooperation with the Republic of Korea.” Speaking with The Korea Post at an interview at the Embassy of the Peru in the prosperous downtown district of Jung-gu in Seoul on July 21, 2021, Ambassador Matute-Mejia reminded, “Even during the Corona Pandemic period last year, our exports to Korea amounted to US$2.25 billion and imports from Korea to US$4.7 billion.” Ambassador Matute-Mejia is considered among Koreans as one of the most friendly foreign envoys to Korea. He obviously enjoys his tour of duty in Korea and has even developed a taste for Korean food and beverage. Ambassador Matutue-Mejia is known to frequently visit genuine Korean restaurants and relish some of the widely known dishes such as Samgyeopsal (pork belly) luncheon, which is a favorite dish for many Koreans, including some gourmet National Assembly members.
Jaseng Hospital Korean Medicine obtains a formal CME certification from ACCME of the U.S.
Jaseng Hospital Korean Medicine announced on Aug. 9 that it has officially obtained a certificate of an institution offering Continuing Medical Education (CME) to doctors from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) of the U.S. It is the first "full accreditation" in about two years since obtaining a two-year "provisional accreditation" granted to new institution offering CME from ACCME in July 2019. ACCME is a non-profit independent institution that establishes standards for CME and certifies and manages CME institutions for 950,000 U.S. medical staff to strengthen their capabilities and improve patient care. Currently, there are a total of 13 CME providers that have obtained ACCME certification in countries other than the U.S., and only four of them have obtained formal certification, including Jaseng Hospital Korean Medicine. This is the first official certification case in Korea.
PCR-test laboratory of AMSBIO recently opened in Seoul
PCR-test laboratory of a Korean company, AMSBIO (part of the Omnisystem Corporation), recently opened the company in a ceremony attended by Ambassador Kemelova Dinara of the Kyrgyz Republic in Seoul and a number of Korean and Kyrgyz dignitaries, including Minister of Health and Social Development Beishenaliev Alymkadyr of the Kyrgyz Republic and President Ms. Park Hye-rin Omnisystem. The company specializes in the production of PCR tests and related equipment that are distinguished by their uniqueness.
Finance Minister: Economy to Show Fallout of 4th COVID-19 Round
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki expressed concerns that the latest wave of COVID-19 infections will begin to factor into major economic indices to be published this month. Hong presided over an emergency economic meeting at the government complex in Seoul on Thursday and said real economy indicators continue to show recovery, albeit on a limited scale. He pointed to the 46-point-four-percent growth in exports for the first ten days of the month from a year earlier, an on-year increase of 542-thousand jobs in July and on-year growth in credit card expenditure by seven-point-nine percent in July. However, the minister said it is inevitable to see the impact of the latest surge in cases manifested from August and urged officials to work hard to minimize the fallout and maintain the recovery trend.
Samsung Heir to Be Released to Probation
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is to be released from jail later this week to a probationary status. A Justice Ministry committee on Wednesday decided that those who will be freed on parole ahead of Liberation Day will be placed on probation as is the custom. Only those with serious health conditions or foreign nationals ordered to leave the country have been exempted from probation so far when paroled. Accordingly, Lee will be required to report to authorities should he embark upon overseas travel that lasts over a month. The 53-year-old has been serving a two and a half year sentence for a bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye, who is also behind bars. On Tuesday, the ministry announced a list of 810 people, including the Samsung heir, who qualified for parole ahead of Liberation Day, which falls on Sunday.
2nd Round COVID-19 Vaccinations for People Aged 60-74 Begins
The second round of COVID-19 vaccinations for those aged 60 to 74 will begin on Thursday. According to the state vaccine task force, around eight-point-two million people, including those in the age bracket of 60 to 74, will receive their second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Thursday. Those working at nursing homes, medical workers, flight attendants and first responders such as police officers and firefighters will also receive their second shots. Those under 50 will be given the Pfizer vaccine due to concerns over blood clotting associated with AstraZeneca. Meanwhile, vaccine reservations for those aged 18 to 49 are well under way as people with birth dates ending in the number one are able to make reservations until 6 p.m. Thursday. Birth dates ending with the number two can begin reservations from 8 p.m. Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday.
N. Korea says it will make S. Korea, U.S. feel serious security crisis every minute
North Korea on Wednesday slammed South Korea and the United States again for going ahead with joint military exercises, warning it will make the allies feel a serious security crisis every minute. Kim Yong-chol, head of the North's United Front Department handling inter-Korean affairs, made the remarks in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, saying the South Korean authorities have defied the opportunity to make a turn in relations. The denouncement comes just a day after the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un criticized Seoul and Washington as they kicked off a preliminary training Tuesday ahead of next week's main exercise. "We will make them realize by the minute what a dangerous choice they made and what a serious security crisis they will face because of their wrong choice," he said.
SK Bioscience's COVID-19 vaccine candidate to enter phase 3 clinical trial
South Korean drugmaker SK Bioscience Co. has won an approval to conduct the phase three clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, drug authorities said Tuesday. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said GBP510, under development by SK Bioscience, a unit of the country's No. 2 family-controlled conglomerate SK Group, is the country's first indigenous vaccine candidate to enter the last phase of clinical trial. SK Bioscience aims to produce an interim result of its final stage of the clinical trial during the first quarter of next year before seeking final approval. The clinical trial will compare GBP510 against the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and Oxford University to view immunogenicity and safety, the ministry said. It marks the second time in the world for such a comparative trial to be conducted, following French drug firm Valneva's phase three clinical trials against the AstraZeneca shots.
Court rules against forced Korean labor victim in suit against Japan's Mitsubishi Materials
A South Korean court on Wednesday ruled against a victim of forced wartime labor in Japan in a damages suit launched against Japan's Mitsubishi Materials Corp. citing the expiration of the case's statute of limitation. The Seoul Central District Court ruled against the surviving family of the late victim, surnamed Lee, who demanded 100 million won (US$87,000) from Mitsubishi Materials for the late Lee's forced labor in Japanese coal mines from 1941 to 1945. Lee claimed that he was forced to work in Japanese coal mines during those five years. The surviving family filed a damages suit against the company in February 2017. The court ruling is in contrast to a landmark October 2018 ruling from the Supreme Court, which upheld an appeals court ruling in 2013 that ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to pay each of four Korean plaintiffs 100 million won in compensation for their wartime forced labor and unpaid work.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
NK warns of ‘serious security crisis,’ upping threats against Seoul, Washington
North Korea on Wednesday stepped up threats against Seoul and Washington, saying that it will give the allies “a serious security crisis” for hosting joint military drills. “(North Korea) will make (Seoul and Washington) feel how close they are to a tremendous security crisis,” Kim Yong-chol, head of the North’s United Front Department handling inter-Korean affairs, said in a statement. Kim, saying that the South has rejected the chance to improve inter-Korean relations, also hinted at further measures without elaborating. “The price of answering our good intentions with hostile actions must be shown clearly,” Kim said, adding that North Korea will “continue with what we must do without pause.” Kim appears to have been referring to the revival of the inter-Korean communications lines. The North, however, has not responded to calls from the South since Tuesday.
Carbon neutrality costs astronomical for petrochemical, steel industries
South Korea’s aggressive goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 would cost the nation’s petrochemical and steel industries enormous amounts of money, data showed Wednesday. According to an internal document from the Korea Petrochemical Industry Association disclosed by Rep. Yang Kum-hee from the main opposition People Power Party, the domestic petrochemical industry will emit 110 million metric tons of carbon in 2050 and it would require 270 trillion won ($233.9 billion) to curb those emissions. Specifically, ditching fossil fuels and switching to bio-based fuels and hydrogen would cost roughly 218 trillion won by 2050. The steel industry is another sector that faces mounting uncertainties. According to data Yang obtained from the Korean Iron & Steel Association, the steel industry would need 109.4 trillion won to apply a technology that melts iron with hydrogen instead of coal.
Court confirms 4-year jail term for Cho Kuk’s wife
An appellate court on Wednesday upheld a four-year prison term for Chung Kyung-sim, the wife of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, for forging documents to help her daughter gain admission to medical school and for other actions concerning a private equity fund. But the Seoul High Court lowered Chung’s fine to 50 million won ($43,000) and lowered her forfeiture to 10.61 million won. In December the Seoul Central District Court had fined her 500 million won and ordered her to forfeit 140 million won. The 58-year-old Dongyang University professor was indicted in November last year on 15 charges, including falsifying official documents, obstruction of business, insider trading, embezzlement and withholding evidence.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Experts see no peak in Korea's COVID-19 infection numbers
The COVID-19 pandemic is spiraling out of control in Korea with daily confirmed cases for Tuesday reaching an all-time high of over 2,000. Medical experts also believe that this current fourth wave of infections, which is proving tougher to curb than previous ones, has not even reached its peak. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 2,223 daily new infections for Tuesday, a significant jump from the previous day which saw 1,537 cases, and bringing the total caseload to 216,206. The tally is the highest figure since the coronavirus outbreak began here in January 2020, breaking the previous record of 1,895 set July 27. The number has stayed above 1,000 for over a month since July 6. The latest uptick which came despite the month-long toughest anti-virus measures in the capital area have put the health authorities on high alert as they had assessed that current infections in the region were "gradually decreasing" just two days ago.
Moon urged to explain release of Samsung chief
Yoon Seok-youl, a presidential contender of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), is quickly losing support in polls, causing many to question whether the former prosecutor general has reached his limits as a politician. According to a poll conducted on 1,004 adults by the Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI), Aug. 6 and 7, Yoon's support stood at 28.3 percent, down 4 percentage points from a week earlier. While Yoon is hemorrhaging support, Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) has come from behind to lead presidential contenders with support of 28.4 percent, up 1 percentage point from a week earlier. Of notice in the polls was Yoon's drops in South and North Gyeongsang provinces, which are the traditional strongholds of the conservative party.
Pardons for ex-presidents looking unlikely following parole of Samsung heir
The government's decision to grant parole to Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is reigniting a yearlong issue over whether President Moon Jae-in will pardon his two incarcerated predecessors. On Monday, the justice ministry announced its plan to release Lee, along with 809 other inmates, on parole, Friday, considering the country's economic situation and the conditions of the global economy amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. The Samsung heir was convicted of bribery, embezzlement and perjury charges in connection with conservative former President Park Geun-hye, and sentenced to five years in prison. Park was impeached in December 2016 and removed from office in March 2017. She was convicted on 16 charges related to the abuse of power, corruption, coercion and bribery and sentenced to 25 years behind bars. Conservative former President Lee Myung-bak, Park's predecessor, is also serving a 17-year prison term for embezzlement, bribery and the abuse of power.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Moderna Fails to Deliver Vaccines Again
Shipments of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines that were supposed to arrive in Korea in August have been delayed yet again, the Ministry of Health and Welfare admitted Monday. Moderna already failed to meet an earlier pledge to deliver them by July. "Moderna informed us recently that it will deliver less than half of the 8.5 million doses slated for shipment in August due to problems related to production labs," Health and Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-chul said. But he refused to say what the exact number would have been. The minister claimed he could not reveal more details because of a confidentiality agreement with Moderna, an excuse the government has routinely been using. But due to the shortage of vaccines, the government abruptly decided to extend the interval between jabs from four to six weeks, delaying the entire vaccination process yet again. Earlier it announced that some of those who were to be given Moderna would be jabbed with Pfizer instead.
Korea Faces More Heat Waves Due to Global Warming
Korea faces more heat waves like the one that has held the country in its grip for the last couple of weeks, Korea Meteorological Administration said Monday. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at its 54th General Assembly that ended last week warned that the earth's temperature will rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 20 years compared to pre-industrialization days. Intensifying global warming will lead to more frequent heat waves in Korea as well as torrential rainfall and flooding. In Korea, the average temperature over the last 30 years increased 0.3 degree Celsius compared to the previous three decades. The number of summer days increased by four, while winter days dwindled by a week. The KMA forecasts that continuing greenhouse gas emissions will lead to an average annual rise in temperature by 1.8 degrees by 2040, 3.3 degrees by 2060 and up to seven degrees by 2100. Even a drastic reduction in carbon emissions will still lead to a 2.6-degree rise in temperatures 80 years from now.
Britain's Prince Andrew Faces Rape Lawsuit
Virginia Giuffre, an alleged victim of late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has filed a lawsuit against Britain's Prince Andrew, alleging he raped and sexually abused her several times when she was 17 years old. Andrew, who is Queen Elizabeth II's second son and ninth in line to the British throne, has consistently denied the accusations and has said he does not recall ever meeting Giuffre. In the civil lawsuit filed Monday at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Virginia Giuffre, now 38, said the prince sexually abused her on multiple occasions during visits arranged by Epstein, who committed suicide in his jail cell while awaiting trial in 2019. "I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me," Giuffre said in a statement. "The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions. I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but to reclaim one's life by speaking out and demanding justice."
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
US, N. Korean diplomats have first virtual contact at ARF meeting since Biden took office
Representatives of North Korea and the US sat down together at a meeting for the first time since the administration of US President Joe Biden took office earlier this year at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which took place via videoconference on Friday. Due to the constraints of the videoconference format, the two representatives were only able to state their views on the Korean Peninsula situation without engaging in additional discussions, sources reported. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was quoted as beginning his remarks during the ARF Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that afternoon by thanking North Korea’s representative, Ambassador to Indonesia An Kwang-il, for the opportunity to “speak directly to North Korea.” He was also quoted as saying that the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the US government’s goal” and that the US was “prepared to engage with North Korea and looks forward to a positive response from the North Korean representative to our proposal to meet anywhere and at any time.”
Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong to be released on parole Friday
The South Korean Ministry of Justice (MOJ) parole review committee decided Monday to parole Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. The committee’s decision was immediately approved by Minister of Justice Park Beom-kye, paving the way for Lee to leave prison 207 days after he returned there on charges related to a government influence-peddling scandal. Lee and other parolees will be released from 54 correctional facilities nationwide on Friday. “Lee Jae-yong was included among [the parolees] out of consideration for the national economic situation and global economic environment as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into the long term,” Park said in a briefing at the MOJ complex that day following the parole review committee’s meeting. Explaining the factors behind the decision, he added, “The decision was based on full consideration of various factors including social sentiments and [Lee’s] attitude during detention.”
Amid S. Korean, US gestures for dialogue, N. Korea signals its “will for peace”
South Korea and the US renewed their calls on North Korea to resume dialogue during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF), the only multilateral security discussion framework in the region where South and North Korea and the US are all formal members. North Korea did not respond directly but signaled its “will for peace,” sources said. During the 28th ARF Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which took place via videoconference Friday, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong called for “an agreement between the South and North Korean leaders to honor their promise to turn the Korean Peninsula into a place of peace without nuclear weapons or nuclear threats,” the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Saturday.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
S. Korea betrays the North, says Kim Yo Jong
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un harshly criticized the joint military drill of South Korea and the U.S. on Tuesday through Kim Yo Jong (photo), vice department director of the North's ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee. She expressed her “deep regret at the perfidious behavior of the south Korean authorities.” According to the Korean Central News Agency, Kim Yo Jong said she announced the statement based on her brother Kim Jong Un’s order. “The drill is self-destructive and puts the Korean Peninsula in a precarious condition, for which a dear price will be paid,” she said. “The dangerous war practice of South Korea and the U.S. that ignores our repeated warnings will bring even more dire security threats to the two countries.”
Gov’t extends COVID-19 vaccine interval to 6 weeks
Confusion continued a day after the government announced that it would extend the interval between shots for mRNA vaccines, such as Moderna and Pfizer, due to supply issues. Some people ended up getting their second shot more than six weeks after the first. Some hospitals are concerned that they might have to open during the Chuseok holiday to vaccinate people. A man surnamed Cho said on Tuesday that his second shot of the Pfizer vaccine has been delayed to Oct. 7 from right after the Chuseok holiday. The date was automatically changed on the vaccine reservation system. “Since the second inoculation date has been pushed back after the Chuseok holiday, I will have to wait six weeks plus one day to get my second shot,” Cho said.
PPP may lose in election by 5% points as of now, says Lee Jun-seok
The main opposition People Power Party’s leader Lee Jun-seok said in a talk show event held at Waterway Park around Lake Andong in North Gyeongsang Province on Sunday evening, “If we have a presidential election now, we would lose by five percentage points because Busan and Daegu have a fewer number of our supporters than before.” Lee analyzed that the victory in the 2012 presidential election by a gap of three percent points was thanks to former President Park Geun-hye but things have since changed. However, bringing up the Seoul and Busan Mayoral by-elections in April, he made it clear that the PPP can win the presidential election if it successfully garners support of voters in their 20s and 30s.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Kim Yo-jong Expressed Strong Regrets to South Korea’s “Betrayal” after the South Decided to Resume Military Exercises with the U.S.
Deputy Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Yo-jong released a statement on August 10, the first day of the preliminary training before the R.O.K.-U.S. joint military exercises, and said, “I express strong regret for the treacherous behavior of the South Korean authorities.” In the statement, Kim said, “Despite the constant denunciation and rejection from inside and outside the country, in the end, the United States and the South Korean military launched a joint military drill that would further fuel the instability in the region,” and added, “The joint military exercise is the most concentrated expression of the hostile policy toward North Korea implemented by the U.S., which is trying to crush our nation by force. It is a self-destructive act that threatens the safety of our people and puts the situation on the Korean Peninsula at risk. It is an act that can never be welcomed, and one that will most definitely pay a price.”
President Moon’s Approval Rating at 41.5%, While the People Power Party’s Approval Rating Climbs for 2 Consecutive Weeks
President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating fell 2.6% from the previous week, but it remained in the 40% level for five consecutive weeks. The People Power Party’s approval rating climbed for two weeks straight and managed to extend its lead ahead of the Democratic Party of Korea beyond the margin of error for the first time in four weeks. According to a survey of 2,530 adult men and women conducted by the poll firm, Real meter, from August 2 to 6, President Moon’s approval rating dropped 2.6% from the fourth week of July to 41.5% (24.1% answered that the president was doing very well, 17.4% fairly well). Negative evaluations accounted for 54.9% of the replies (bad 14.3%, very bad 40.5%), 2.5% higher than in the previous survey. People who answered, “I don’t know” or abstained from answering increased 0.1% to 3.6%.
The Case of a Nursing Assistant Who Suffered Paralysis Following Vaccination Recognized as an Industrial Accident: The First Case in South Korea
A, a nursing assistant who suffered from quadriplegia (paralysis of all four limbs) after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, was recognized as a victim of an industrial accident. This is the first case in which a side effect of the vaccine was recognized as an occupational accident. On August 6, the Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service announced, “After a review by the Occupational Disease Award Commission, we recognized A’s case as an industrial accident.” A, a nursing assistant who worked in a hospital in Gyeonggi-do, suffered from quadriplegia and binocular diplopia (double vision) and was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), related to an immune reaction, after she received the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 12. Her case was made known to the public when her husband posted a petition on the Cheongwadae petition website in April. On April 23, A’s family applied for recognition as an industrial accident, and the case was acknowledged after more than three months.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Hyundai, KAA offer unprecedented cash awards to national archery team
Hyundai Motor Group, the long-time official sponsor of Korea’s national archery team, will award generous cash prizes and Hyundai Motor and Kia cars to the archery players who together won four gold medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Hyundai Motor Group and the Korea Archery Association (KAA) held a welcoming ceremony for the national archery team on Tuesday to congratulate and reward the Olympic champions who set a record of bagging nine consecutive women`s team victories, two men`s team victories, the first gold medal in the mixed event, and three gold medals by one player at a single Summer Olympics for the first time in the Korean archery history.
SK Bioscience shares jump upon go-ahead for Phase 3 trial of its vaccine candidate
Shares of SK Bioscience Co. jumped Tuesday after the company became first Korean vaccine house to gain go-ahead from the government to proceed with a Phase 3 clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The company announced in a regulatory filing Tuesday that it has been authorized to undergo the final stage of a clinical trial of GBP510, a coronavirus vaccine candidate it has developed jointly with the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) at the University of Washington. It has become the first drug maker in the country to enter the final clinical study of Covid-19 vaccine. The news has boosted shares of SK Bioscience by 29.68 percent to 301,500 won ($262.06) on Tuesday on the nation’s main Kospi market.
Paroled Samsung chief not entirely free for full-fledged management or of court woes
Samsung Group’s de facto leader and Samsung Electronics Co. Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee finally becomes freed on Friday from confinement since January, but his full-fledged return to management to navigate the defending champion of chips and smartphones against multiple challenges at home and abroad remains uncertain due to restrictions to business return on a paroled status. Investors were equally wary, with Samsung Electronics shares finished down a tad – 1.6 percent – at 80,200 won on Tuesday despite the overnight announcement. Samsung Group’s flagships are immediately readying briefing to their chief upon release from jail as they are in a hurry to respond to a myriad of developments at home and abroad during his absence.
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