Wednesday, August 11, 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.
Hanwha Solutions to acquire RES France for 1 trillion won
Hanwha Solutions, led by CEO Kim Dong-kwan, will acquire RES France, a French renewable energy company, for 1 trillion won. This is the first time Hanwha Group is making an M&A in the renewable energy sector. It is planning to secure renewable energy technology and human network amid global carbon-neutral growth trends while solidifying its business base in the European market. Hanwha Solutions held an extraordinary board of directors’ meeting on Aug. 9 and announced that it will acquire a 100% stake in RES France for about 727 million euros (about 984.3 billion won.) Hanwha Solutions plans to complete the contract process for the development and construction management of RES France and the acquisition of 5 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind power plants development license (pipeline) by October. Hanwha Q Cell, which is part of Hanwha Solutions’ green energy division, currently holds 10 GW of renewable energy business rights worldwide. When the acquisition of RES France is completed, only business rights in Europe will be increased to 10GW. By global standards, it will increase to 15GW.
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.
N. Korea Continues Criticism of S. Korea-US Military Drills
North Korea continued its criticism of joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States for the second day. Kim Yong-chol, head of the North's United Front Department handling inter-Korean affairs, warned on Wednesday that the North will make the South realize that it is approaching a "massive security crisis every minute" due to its wrong choice. In a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA), Kim said that South Korean authorities have rejected the opportunity to reverse the situation and engaged in a war rehearsal again on Tuesday. Kim said Pyongyang should let Seoul pay the price for blowing away the opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations and to respond to the North's good will with hostile behavior. He added that as long as South Korea and the U.S. have chosen confrontation with North Korea, the North has no other choice.
S. Korea Posts Job Growth for 5th Straight Month in July
South Korea posted job growth for the fifth consecutive month in July, but the pace has slowed for three straight months. Statistics Korea said on Wednesday that the number of employed people stood at 27-point-64 million last month, up 542-thousand from a year earlier. Job additions hit 652-thousand in April to post the largest on-year growth in six years and eight months, but slowed to 619-thousand in May, 582-thousand in June and 542-thousand in July. The employment rate for those aged 15 or older rose by point-eight percentage points from a year earlier to 61-point-three percent. The jobless rate dropped point-eight percentage points on-year to three-point-two percent.
S. Korea's Exports Rise 46.4% in First 10 Days of August
Exports rose by over 46 percent on-year in the first ten days of August. According to tentative data from the Korea Customs Service on Wednesday, the country’s outbound shipments stood at 12-point-seven billion U.S. dollars in the cited period, up 46-point-four percent from a year earlier. Average daily exports also grew by 36-point-seven percent, with the number of working days increasing by half a day from last year. Shipments of semiconductors and petroleum products jumped 44-point-six percent and 33 percent, respectively, while auto exports plunged 39 percent. Imports increased 63-point-one percent on-year to 17-point-four billion dollars during the cited period. The nation witnessed growth in exports to most of its key trading partners, with shipments to the United States rising 55-point-eight percent and China 42-point-seven percent.
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.
S. Korea to urge Moderna to swiftly supply vaccine amid delayed shipments
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Tuesday the government plans to call on Moderna Inc. to swiftly supply its COVID-19 vaccine as the U.S. drugmaker is expected to delay the planned shipment for this month. Moderna has notified the government that it plans to supply less than half of the 8.5 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine planned for August, spawning concerns that the country's vaccine rollout may hit a snag amid the fourth wave of the pandemic. "The government should make all-out efforts to call on Moderna to swiftly supply the vaccine and seek international cooperation so as to help achieve the goal of inoculating 36 million people before the fall harvest Chuseok holiday," Hong said while presiding over a Cabinet meeting.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
After NK warning, South on watch for response to drills
The presidential office is monitoring North Korea for a further reaction to the South Korea-US military exercises as the four-day preliminary drills took off Tuesday, a senior Cheong Wa Dae official said in response to Pyongyang’s accusation earlier in the day that the drills threatened peace. Previously the Defense and Unification ministries had communicated with their North Korean counterparts by phone twice a day, but the North did not respond to a call from the South on Tuesday afternoon. “We will not jump to any conclusions and will monitor North Korea’s response,” the official said, not giving a direct answer when asked whether President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had exchanged any more letters.
NK refuses to answer calls from S. Korea in apparent protest against military drills
North Korea did not answer daily phone calls from South Korea via liaison and military hotlines on Tuesday afternoon, hours after the sister of the North’s leader Kim Jong-un blasted Seoul and Washington for going ahead with combined military exercises. The inter-Korean communication lines -- the liaison hotline and the military channels in the eastern and western border regions -- were in normal operation until the morning but the afternoon calls went unanswered, officials said. “The daily call via the inter-Korean liaison office at 5 p.m. did not take place,” a unification ministry official said, adding that they are closely monitoring the situation. The disconnection, just two weeks after the lines were restored following a yearlong severance, came after Kim Yo-jong issued a statement expressing “deep regret” to South Korea for going ahead with the exercise with the United States despite her earlier warning the maneuvers will cloud inter-Korean relations.
FSC chief urges banking group heads to strengthen household debt control
Financial Services Commission Chairman Eun Sung-soo on Tuesday called on the heads of five major banking groups here to ramp up efforts to curb snowballing household debt. “A steep increase in household debt was inevitable for the real economy to minimize the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the growth pace of household debt has been too rapid, raising calls for tighter household debt control measures,” Eun said during a meeting held with chairmen from KB Financial Group, Shinhan Financial Group, Woori Financial Group, Hana Financial Group and NH Financial Group. Total household debt increased 9.5 percent on-year to a record high of 1,765 trillion won ($1.53 trillion) as of March, according to the Bank of Korea. Meanwhile, the proportion of Korea’s household debt to its GDP came to 98.6 percent at the end of June last year. The level of household debt in Asia’s fourth-largest economy outstripped the global average of 63.7 percent and the average in advanced countries of 75.3 percent, data showed.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
When will Asia's missing consumers return?
The global COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but the contours of a global recovery are emerging. In the U.S. and Europe, this recovery is built on a rapid vaccine rollout and substantial policy stimulus, including help targeted directly at households. Across much of Asia, the picture is different. Here the vaccine rollout has been slower and policy stimulus has, for the most part, been less directly supportive for household incomes. The result is a lopsided global rebound in which consumer demand from the U.S. and Europe has been the thruster that has helped pull Asia along in its wake. This is not sustainable, however, and Asia will need its consumers to start spending more if its recovery is to maintain momentum in the next year or so.
Has opposition contender Yoon reached his limit?
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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