Tuesday, August 17, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“Peru hopes to further bolster her partnership with Korea”
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.
Gwangju City holds the 12th Int’l Climate & Environment Fair on Aug. 25-27
The 12th International Climate & Environment Fair will be held at the Kim Dae-jung Convention Center in Gwangju from Aug. 25 to 27, Gwangju Metropolitan City said. The international fair will be jointly hosted by South Jeolla Province and Gwangju City and co-managed by Kim Dae-jung Convention Center, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and Korea Commission for Corporatre Partnership (KCCP). The exhibition consists of four themes: carbon neutrality, resource circulation, water treatment, and climate change response. About 100 companies, including Kia Motors, Korea Air Safety Institute, Gwangju Environmental Corporation, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), and Jeollanam-do Environmental Industry Promotion Agency, will participate to operate 230 booths.
President Moon releases Vice Chairman Lee of Samsung in Liberation Day parole
Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong of Korea’s top business conglomerate, Samsung, was released on parole on August 13 on the occasion of the Liberation Day of Korea on August 15 after his internment for two years and six months on charges of involvement in “Kukjeong Nongdan” (which translates “abuse of authority, unauthorized use of state power, coercion, fraud, monopoly,” etc.). President Moon Jae-in said, “We know that there are different opinions on the release of Mr. Lee but we thought that it is appropriate to share the view that Mr. Lee’s contribution to the healthy economy of Korea is very important.” Former President Madam Park Geun-hye is in prison on similar charges. Many people are wondering what would happen in case of the government’s change in the future, and hope that the unfortunate happening would stop.
S. Korea, US Kick off Scaled-Back Joint Exercise
South Korea and the United States have kicked off a scaled-back summertime combined exercise. Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that the computer-simulated Combined Command Post Training will be held for nine days in consideration of the COVID-19 situation and the combined defense posture as well as diplomatic efforts to achieve denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula. The JCS said that outdoor drills are not included, venues will be dispersed and only essential personnel will take part in light of the pandemic and strict quarantine rules. It also noted that some drills will be conducted under Full Operational Capability(FOC) conditions in order to maintain progress on the conditions-based transition of wartime operational control(OPCON).
S. Korea Temporarily Closes Afghan Embassy, Evacuates Staff
South Korea has temporarily closed its embassy in Afghanistan to ensure the safety of its diplomatic staff as the Taliban militant group took control of capital Kabul. The Foreign Ministry made the decision Sunday and had most embassy staff evacuate to a third country in the Middle East. A few personnel, including the ambassador, remain in a safe place in close communication with Seoul to support the evacuation of Korean nationals. The government said it is closely consulting with the U.S. and other countries to ensure a safe evacuation. Most South Korean citizens in Afghanistan left the country upon government request in June. As the U.S. completes its troop withdrawal from the war-torn country, the Taliban has been gaining sweeping control, eventually entering capital Kabul over the weekend.
Moon Welcomes Return of Freedom Fighter's Remains from Kazakhstan
President Moon Jae-in said the repatriation of the remains of Korean freedom fighter and general Hong Beom-do from Kazakhstan is very meaningful. According to his spokesperson Park Kyung-mee, Moon made the remark at Seoul Air Base Sunday evening while meeting with delegates who were sent to the Central Asian country to bring back the remains. Moon asked one member, actor Cho Jin-woong, for efforts to promote the late general as some Koreans may not know of his fight for independence. Cho will be serving as PR ambassador for Hong's memorial foundation. Patriot and Veterans Affairs Minister Hwang Ki-chul who led the team said the process of retrieving the remains went well. President Moon and first lady Kim Jung-sook observed the coffin as it was unloaded from the plane in a solemn ceremony and paid silent tribute.
S. Korea, U.S. start joint training amid N. Korea's protest
South Korea and the United States kicked off their annual joint military training Monday, undeterred by North Korea's strong protest and threats of a serious security crisis. The nine-day command post exercise staged on the peninsula is based largely on a computer simulation with no field training, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The drill is defensive in nature as usual, it stressed in a statement. The number of participating troops will be restricted in consideration of the COVID-19 situation, with the scale of the joint exercise smaller than the one held in March. The United Nations Command has not formally informed North Korea of the beginning of the training, an informed source said. The command usually gives it a prior notice on the schedule and characteristics of the allies' regular exercise. Pyongyang has accused the two sides of pressing ahead with the war games despite its efforts for dialogue and peace.
Evacuation of S. Korean embassy staff in Afghanistan aided by friendly countries: official
Sunday's rushed evacuation of the South Korean Embassy staff in Afghanistan proceeded smoothly with the help of friendly countries, including the United States, a foreign ministry official said Monday. South Korea has temporarily closed its embassy in the war-torn country and evacuated most of its diplomatic staff to a third country in the Middle East amid the Taliban militant group's faster-than-expected advances to retake full control of Afghanistan. The evacuation decision came during Sunday's emergency virtual meeting where Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, Ambassador to Afghanistan Choi Tae-ho and other officials discussed the security conditions in the war-torn country, the safety of diplomats and other issues.
Korean Air mulls rerouting flights to avoid Afghan airspace
Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea's biggest carrier, said Monday it will consider rerouting flights to avoid Afghanistan's airspace following the Taliban's takeover of Kabul. Korean Air said some of its cargo flights have used the Afghan airspace at high altitudes, though its passenger flights have not. "We are closely monitoring the (political) situation in Afghanistan and may change our routes if necessary," a company spokeswoman said over the phone. The move is in line with major airlines' plans to reroute flights to avoid Afghanistan's airspace after the Taliban advanced to Kabul as U.S.-led forces departed. In July, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration imposed new flight restrictions over Afghanistan for U.S. airlines, according to media reports.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Moon leaves door open for dialogue with Japan
President Moon Jae-in on Sunday reiterated Korea was open to dialogue with Japan but no specific offers were made, signaling no immediate breakthrough in the strained relationship between the two neighbors. “Our government has always kept the door open for dialogue to jointly respond not only to our two countries’ pending issues but also threats facing the world, including COVID-19 and the climate crisis,” the president said in a speech marking the 76th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule. “For historical issues that need to be rectified, we will resolve them through actions and practices that are consistent with universal values and the standards of the international community.” In his final Liberation Day speech as president, Moon again refrained from criticizing Japan’s wartime atrocities and put an emphasis on cooperation for a future-oriented relationship.
US envoy for N. Korea expected to visit Seoul this week
Sung Kim, the US special representative for North Korea, is expected to visit Seoul later this week, fanning speculations of a possible trilateral session among Seoul, Washington and Moscow. Kim is expected to arrive here on Saturday for a four-day stay, about two months after his first visit in June, local media outlets reported on Monday. During Kim’s stay, Russia’s nuclear envoy, Igor Morgulov, could also visit Seoul, raising possibility of a trilateral session with their South Korean counterpart, Noh Kyu-duk. The official announcement is expected soon, after Washington and Seoul finalize details of Kim’s visit. The US and Russian envoys’ trip comes as South Korea and the US began their joint military exercises Monday despite Pyongyang’s warning that the drills will cast a pall over inter-Korean ties.
As infections rise, concerns emerge over collapse of medical system
There are fears that the medical system could collapse under the weight of the fourth wave of COVID-19, with some hospitals reporting bed shortages and a woman dying at a treatment center while waiting for care. As of Sunday at midnight, the daily number of newly confirmed cases was 1,556, the highest Sunday figure ever recorded in South Korea. The number of confirmed cases now stands at 225,481. Of the newly confirmed cases, 1,493 were locally transmitted and 63 were imported, with 857 of the coronavirus-positive individuals from the Greater Seoul area. The number of coronavirus patients in quarantine increased by 450 to 27,116. As infections continue to surge, hospitals in some cities are reporting shortages of beds for critically ill patients. Of the 810 beds set aside for very sick coronavirus patients nationwide, only 293 were empty as of Saturday, officials said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Gabonese ambassador fights misperceptions on Africa
Gabon is a country in Central Africa, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and on the Equator. It was one of the first African countries to establish diplomatic relations with Korea back in 1962, while opening an embassy in Seoul in 1975. The Central African country celebrates its Independence Day, Aug. 17, and Ambassador of Gabon to Korea Carlos Victor Boungou shared how the country commemorates this in an interview with The Korea Times, Aug. 10. "Gabon got independence from the French on Aug. 17, 1960 and this year marks the 61st anniversary of Gabon's independence," Boungou said. "In terms of celebration, what we do at the highest point is the military parade, which attests the state of the nation, the solidarity of the institutions and the stability of the country." Gabon's president also seizes the opportunity to award honorary distinctions to citizens who have achieved high merits in various fields.
Ruling party's leading presidential contender receives calls to quit governor post
Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung, the leading presidential contender of the liberal ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), is facing growing criticism from other presidential hopefuls of both the DPK and the conservative main opposition People Power Party (PPP). They say the governor is taking advantage of his post in the campaign for the presidential race, calling for Lee to quit as governor post to compete "fairly" in the next presidential election slated for March of next year. Such criticism grew especially after the governor announced his decision to offer universal COVID-19 relief funds to all provincial residents, Friday, contrary to the central government's plan to provide selective relief payments for individuals in the bottom 88 percent income bracket, endorsed by the National Assembly in late July.
US nuke envoy likely to visit Seoul later this week
Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, is expected to make a four-day trip to South Korea starting Aug. 21, according to a diplomatic source. The visit would mark his second in two months since he took office in May. In June, he visited for talks with his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk. His trip comes as Seoul and Washington kicked off their annual combined military exercises, Monday, which again drew a fiery response from Pyongyang last week.
In that sense, the timing of his visit is raising questions over whether the Joe Biden administration will offer enticements to North Korea in a bid to restart their stalled nuclear negotiations.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Artificial Jobs for Elderly 'Distort Employment Figures'
The National Assembly Research Service in a recent report slammed the government's job creation programs for the elderly for distorting employment figures. The report published on Aug. 2 was the first that openly criticized President Moon Jae-in's failed job creation policy in what may be a sign that his administration has entered its lame-duck phase. The jobs are mostly menial, from picking up leaves or telling people where to park their cars to making little video clips at home. The city of Daegu started a program for senior citizens last year that hires them to promote the city's job program for them on YouTube and blogs. They are paid up to W710,000 a month for five hours a day, three days a week (US$1=W1,166).
Lockdown Blights Wedding Plans
The extended lockdown measures are blighting wedding plans. Couples complain that while up to 5,000 people can attend concerts and churches a maximum of 100 people, weddings are limited to fewer than 50. One 35-year-old resident of Seoul says he simply skipped the formal wedding altogether and just got hitched at the registry office. "How can you say weddings are a higher risk than other gatherings? I simply can't understand the restrictions for weddings only," he said. In February, health officials raised the limit for weddings in the greater Seoul area from 50 to 100 but kept the cap on babies' traditional first birthday parties at a draconian four people. When that caused a backlash, they raised the limit to under 100 as well. But in the latest lockdown, weddings are restricted to fewer than 50 people again.
Ex-President Park's House Auctioned for W3.86 Billion
Ex-President Park Geun-hye's house in Naegok-dong in Seoul's Seocho District has been auctioned off for W3.86 billion (US$1=W1,163). The house was seized when she failed to pay her fines for corruption and abuse of office, and according to the Korea Asset Management Corporation it was sold at auction held from Monday to Wednesday. There were only three bidders, and the identity of the successful bidder was not disclosed. The rightwing lawyer and YouTuber Kang Yong-suk took part in the auction because he claimed he wanted to make sure that Park had somewhere to stay once she is pardoned, but he dropped out at W3.62 billion. Park has never lived in the house. She bought it for W2.8 billion after selling her previous palatial house in Samseong-dong for W6.6 billion to pay for her legal fees in March 2017 when she was jailed.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Moon reiterates need for coexistence with N. Korea, dialogue with Japan in Liberation Day speech
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called on North Korea to help him achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and lasting peace on the peninsula during a speech Sunday celebrating the 76th anniversary of Korea’s liberation. In comments directed toward Japan, Moon noted the “bold and inclusive sense of history” exhibited by Koreans shortly after their liberation. But rather than personally offering any concrete proposals, Moon appeared to focus on laying out the main principles of policy toward North Korea and Japan that South Korea should pursue in the future, likely out of the awareness that only eight months remain in his presidency. Moon delivered his remarks at Culture Station Seoul 284 — the former home of Seoul Station.
Moon leaves door open for dialogue with Japan, but Suga makes no mention of Japan’s responsibility for WWII
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that Seoul has “always kept the door open for dialogue” with Japan in remarks commemorating the 76th anniversary of Liberation Day, when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.
While Moon didn’t have a new proposal for Japan on the final Liberation Day of his presidency, his speech did call for improving relations through dialogue.
“Since normalizing diplomatic relations, Korea and Japan have long been able to achieve economic growth together through a division of labor and cooperation based on the common shared values of democracy and a market economy. This is the direction our two countries should continue to go in,” Moon stressed.
S. Korea won’t consider relaxing COVID-19 measures until Chuseok while debate on living “with COVID” intensifies
The South Korean government suggested that gradual changes to the COVID-19 disease control system may be possible around the upcoming Chuseok holiday in the fourth week of September, by which time 70% of all South Koreans will have received a first vaccine dose. Recently, the domestic COVID-19 fatality rate has been in the 0.2–0.3% range, much closer to the 0.1% rate associated with the flu. This has led some experts to suggest the need for changes to the current disease control strategy of intensive social distancing based on confirmed case numbers. The government said it planned to develop a new disease control strategy but still appears to view the current situation as too soon for its implementation. “The immediate goal of disease control authorities right now is swiftly stabilizing the fourth wave and increasing inoculations according to our plan so that we reach the stated goal,” said Son Young-rae, director of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters social strategy group, in remarks Sunday.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Akhundzada, the new supreme commander of Taliban
With the sunni militants grabbing power again in Afghanistan in 20 years, the leaders of the Taliban are drawing attention from the media. According to BBC, the current leader of the Taliban is a 60-year-old Islamic scholar named Hibatullah Akhundzada. Hailing from Kandahar, the southern part of the country and the stronghold of the militants, Akhundzada has served as the decision-maker of the Taliban since 2016 for its religious, political and military affairs. Dubbed “the Leader of the Faithful,” he is a reclusive leader who rarely makes public appearances. According to The New York Times, Akhundzada is bold enough being calm even when he was held at gunpoint by an assailant during his lecture. Rumors circulated that he was killed by the coronavirus last year, but it was denied by the Taliban.
Doosan Heavy Industries wins water treatment project in Britain
Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction has won a large-scale water treatment project in Britain. Doosan Enpure was chosen by Thames Water, the U.K.’s largest water and wastewater company, to carry out the relocation of the Guildford sewage treatment facility in southwest London. In a consortium with the British construction company BAM Nuttall, Doosan Enpure will serve as a main operator of the 180 billion won project. The subsidiary of Doosan Heavy Industries will demolish the existing sewage treatment facility and build a new one on a nearby site. The new sewage treatment facility will be equipped with a sludge treatment system that can treat sewage sludge created during sewage treatment process. Doosan Enpure is scheduled to complete the construction of the new sewage treatment facility by 2026, taking charge of general engineering, equipment purchase and installation, and test operation.
Hyundai Tucson PHEV tops in Auto Bild’s performance review
Hyundai Motor’s Tucson plug-in hybrid electronic vehicle (PHEV) topped a German automobile magazine’s performance assessment of SUV models. The Tucson PHEV scored 543 out of 800 points in a comparison review of SUVs by Germany’s Auto Bild, outperforming any other competitor of an equivalent class, according to the largest South Korean carmaker on Sunday. The Tucson was followed by Land Rover’s Discovery Sports PHEV (516 points) in 2nd place, and Peugeot’s 3008 PHEV and Toyota’s RAV4 PHEV tying for third place (514 points). The magazine made an all-out assessment about the world’s top four popular models in terms of car frame, drivetrain, eco-friendliness, etc. Hyundai’s PHEV showed the highest level of braking performance to put itself to a full stop from 100km/h to zero. It not only garnered a great deal of acclaim in terms of driving performance and space utilization but also outcompeted rivals by more than 10 points when it came to cost. The Tucson PHEV was rated as a well-rounded and versatile player by Auto Bild.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Because of the Battle of the “Two Stones”? Approval Ratings Rise for the Democratic Party and Fall for the People Power Party
On August 16, a poll showed mixed results in the approval ratings for the Democratic Party of Korea and the People Power Party. Support for the People Power Party, which had climbed for two consecutive weeks, snapped, while the Democratic Party’s approval rating rebounded. The approval rating for President Moon Jae-in and his handling of state affairs also climbed slightly. According to a YTN survey of 2,512 people conducted by Realmeter on August 9-13, the People Power Party’s approval rating dropped 0.5% to 37.3%, while the Democratic Party’s approval rating rose 1.4% to 33.5%. Support for the People Power Party seems to have fallen due to the drop in support from the conservatives, the party’s key support base. Although support increased somewhat among the centrists, there was no significant change. But among the conservatives, support dropped 3.1% from the previous week to 61.3%.
Scattered Children: Three out of Five Return to Shelters
“I felt so betrayed when I found out about the abuse. I was sorry to my child because I felt like I was making her suffer due to my unstable life. Then I got really angry at myself,” said A (26), on August 15. A had placed her daughter A-yeong (alias, 2) in the hands of Spring of Life Church in Seocho-gu, Seoul, an unregistered child welfare facility. The Spring of Life Church closed its doors in May after it was revealed that the children there had suffered abuse. The staff forced the babies and children to drink baby formula by themselves, provided poor meals, and shoved the children to the ground for complaining. Including A-yeong, there were only five children remaining when the facility shut down. Did the abused children find a safe home? With the help of Moving Youth Center EXIT, the Kyunghyang Shinmun tracked down the five children and checked how they were doing.
Approval Ratings Dropped for Yoon Seok-youl and Lee Nak-yon, But Rose Slightly for Lee Jae-myung: Why the Subtle Change Within the Margin of Error?
The approval ratings of former prosecutor general Yoon Seok-youl and former leader of the Democratic Party of Korea Lee Nak-yon (Lee Nak-yeon), major presidential candidates in the ruling and opposition parties, dropped slightly according to a recent survey. Meanwhile, the Gyeonggi governor, Lee Jae-myung’s approval rating lightly rose. The race for the lead is fierce and close, with approval ratings in a two-way race that only show a difference within the margin of error, but politicians are noticing signs of a subtle change. In the case of Yoon, his approval rating seemed to be affected by a number of slips of his tongue after he joined the People Power Party, along with conflicts with the party’s leader Lee Jun-seok. As for Lee Nak-yon, the comment by Sul Hoon, his chief campaign manager, suggesting the possibility of rejecting the results of the party primary, appear to have had a negative effect. The Gyeonggi governor, Lee, who declared an end to negative campaigns, saw his approval rating make a significant come back among Democratic Party supporters and among voters in the Honam region.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
GS Retail acquiring Yogiyo envisions becoming delivery giant
South Korea’s GS Retail Co., operator of convenience store GS25, has won an 800 billion won ($684.3 million) acquisition deal for the entire stake in the country’s No. 2 delivery app Yogiyo, adding heat in the crowded food delivery market with other retailers eager to expand the service. Under the contract signed with Germany`s Delivery Hero in a consortium with private equity firms last Friday, it will inject 240 billion won for a 30 percent stake in Yogiyo. GS Retail plans to complete the acquisition process within the year and envisions becoming a comprehensive retail and distribution company by bolstering its convenience store, supermarket and online delivery networks based on Yogiyo’s delivery knowhow, according to industry sources on Sunday.
Posco sells 1.1 bn euros 5-yr convertible green bonds at 0% coupon
South Korean steel giant Posco has tapped 1.1 billion euros ($1.29 billion) in 5-year green bonds convertible into its shares, joining the world’s green-theme debt pipeline under its environmental, social and corporate governance drive. The zero-coupon notes with a maturity yield of minus 0.87 percent can be converted into 2.93 million Posco shares at 494,450 won ($422.97) apiece, or a 45 percent premium based on the Friday closing price of 341,000 won, it said Sunday. This marks the largest issuance of convertible bonds by a Korean company. Posco was able to successfully issue the exchangeable bonds thanks to its international creditworthiness. Through the financing with no burden of interest, it now is planning to invest more in secondary batteries, hydrogen and other eco-friendly projects for future growth engines.
Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee promises to live up to expectations amid foggy chip prospects
Samsung Group de facto leader Jay Y. Lee on Friday bowed deeply in show of regret and appreciation of expectations for his return to the helm at the country’s largest conglomerate and Samsung Electronics upon ending a 30-month prison sentence for bribing former confidant of impeached President Park Geun-hye on a parole. “I am well aware of the concerns, criticism and big expectations,” said masked and tie-less Lee upon walking out of the Seoul Detention Center in the morning amidst a mixed rowdy crowd either cheering or protesting his release. “I will do my best (to meet the expectations),” he said, without responding a bombardment of questions from reporters on investment plans and navigation strategy against the signs of early fizzling-out in the chip boom.
What’s ticking around the world at this second?
See what the world media around the world have to report:
Le Monde www.ilemonde.com
Sydney Morning Heraldwww.smh.com.au
Colombia Reports http://colombiareports.com
El Universal http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english
Ecuador Times http://www.ecuadortimes.net
The Jordan Times https://www.jordantimes.com
Philippine Daily Inquirer https://www.inquirer.net
Daily News Hungary http://dailynewshungary.com
Budapest Times http://budapesttimes.hu
The Korea Post is running video clips from the different embassies.
And many other countries.
What are you waiting for?
The Korea Post media are more than eager to be used, and to serve you—with the following five news outlets, 36 years old this year!
Korean-language Internet edition: http://www.koreapost.co.kr
English-language Internet edition: http://www.koreapost.com
Korean-language print newspaper:
English E-daily: http://www.koreapost.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=10690