Friday, August 27, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Is President Moon turning a bit business-friendly for the Korean economy?
This is the first installment in a series of special feature articles of The Korea Post media on the leading business conglomerates of Korea, which sheds light on the past, present and future prospects of the company.—Ed.
In Korea whenever a new political party comes into power, big businesses called Jaebeol, all but invariably, undergo the ordeal of having to adjust themselves to the new surroundings under the new government. Here in the ‘Land of the Morning Calm,’ there is a very often-used old adage, “When you dust a person, there is not a single one who is clean!”
However, President Moon Jae-in seems to be trying to differentiate himself from some of his predecessors, and recently released Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong of Korea’s top business conglomerate, Samsung, in a parole measure for a number of prison-term servers on the occasion of the Liberation Day of Korea on Aug. 15, 2021. This day is in celebration of Korea’s winning freedom from the yokes of colonial rule of the then Imperialist Japan on that historical day.
“Trade, economic relations continue to grow significantly between the two countries”
Ambassador Carlos Victor Boungou of the Republic of Gabon in Seoul said that the volume of trade between Gabon and Korea has increased significantly over the last decade from US$41 million in 2010 to US$71.2 million in 2018.
Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 Engish and 2 Korean-language news publications on the occasion of the Indepednence Day of Gabon on August 17, Ambassador Boungou said added, “Gabon and Korea also cooperate closely together through e-government implementations project that has been conducted by Samsung C&T Corporation and KT Network Corporations since 2008. Details of the interview follow: Question: The Republic of Gabon celebrates her Independence Day on August 17. What is the significance of the National Day? Answer: August 17, 2021 marks the 61st anniversary of the independence of Gabon, officially known as the Gabonese Republic when the country became independent from France colonization on 17 August 1960.
KITA Chairman Koo says, "We should join forces to help companies entering the New Southern region”
Koo Cha-yeol, chairman of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), asked member companies to join forces to help companies entering the New Southern region, which are suffering from the COVID-19, on Aug. 25. Chairman Koo, who is also chairman of the New Southern Business Federation, made the remarks at the 9th general meeting of the New Southern Business Federation held online at the Koreana Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul. "As the pandemic situation is prolonged, Korean companies operating in the New Southern region are experiencing many difficulties such as restrictions on entry and departure, shutdown of factories and curfews. The role of the association is more important than ever," Chairman Koo said. "We would like to ask member companies once again to help such companies overcome the crisis and win-win cooperation with New Southern countries by utilizing the resources and networks that each member company has," he added.
BOK Raises Key Interest Rate to 0.75%
The Bank of Korea(BOK) has raised its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to point-75 percent. The central bank's monetary policy board announced the decision on Thursday, marking up the key rate for the first time in 15 months. The BOK slashed its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point to point-75 percent in March of last year before cutting it by another quarter of a percentage point two months later. It then kept that rate for nine consecutive months. The move comes after BOK Governor Lee Ju-yeol had hinted at raising the key rate last month when he told the monetary policy committee that it should discuss in August possible adjustments to easing monetary policies.
Afghan Evacuees to Arrive in S. Korea on Thursday Afternoon
A group of Afghans who assisted with South Korean operations in Afghanistan is set to arrive in the country on Thursday afternoon. According to the Foreign Ministry on Thursday, a military transport aircraft carrying the people and their families departed Islamabad International Airport in Pakistan at 4:53 a.m., Korea time, and will land at Incheon International Airport at 3:53 p.m. A total of 391 Afghans had been transported from Kabul to Islamabad in two separate operations via South Korean military aircraft by Wednesday. About 100 are said to be children aged five and under. Of them, 378 people are aboard the military transport transport plane currently heading to South Korea. The other thirteen are under the protection of the South Korean Embassy in Islamabad and will soon arrive via another military plane.
S. Korea, US to Wrap up Scaled-Back Joint Exercise
South Korea and the United States are set to wrap up their combined summertime exercise on Thursday. According to the South Korean military on Thursday, the alliance has proceeded with the drill as planned, working together since the latest exercise began on Monday of last week, except for the weekend. The two sides originally planned to involve twice as many personnel as the spring exercise, but ended up dropping involvement to 30 percent of that one in light of COVID-19 and diplomatic efforts to engage with North Korea. With the computer-simulated training scaled back, the allies conducted only a rehearsal of a Full Operational Capability(FOC) test, which is an important step to examine South Korea’s readiness for the transfer of wartime operational control from the U.S.
Afghan co-workers, family members on way to S. Korea on aerial tanker
A South Korean military plane departed for home from Islamabad on Thursday, carrying Afghan people evacuated from the war-torn nation after working for the South, as part of operations to bring a total of 391 Afghan co-workers and their family members to the country. The KC-330 tanker transport aircraft took off from an airport in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad at 4:53 a.m. (Seoul time) and is expected to land at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, at 3:53 p.m., the foreign ministry said. "All but 13 have departed on a KC330," a ministry official said on condition of anonymity, suggesting that 378 Afghans are on the plane. "They were unable to board the plane due to a lack of seats."
BOK delivers 1st pandemic-era rate hike amid rising inflation, household debt
South Korea's central bank delivered its first pandemic-era rate hike Thursday to fight rising inflation and rein in surging household debts, ending 15 months of record-low interest rates as the economy showed signs of improving. The monetary policy board of the Bank of Korea (BOK) voted to raise its key rate by 0.25 percentage point to 0.75 percent in this year's sixth rate-setting meeting. It marked the first rate hike since May last year, when the BOK cut the key rate to a record low of 0.5 percent. It is also the first time since November 2018 that the BOK has lifted the key rate. Raising the key rate, the BOK kept this year's growth outlook at 4 percent, while lifting its 2021 inflation outlook to 2.1 percent from 1.8 percent projected in May.
N. Korea to hold Supreme People's Assembly session next month: state media
North Korea will convene a meeting of its rubber-stamp legislature in Pyongyang next month to discuss adopting laws on youth education and modification to national economic plan, state media said Thursday. The standing committee of the Supreme People's Assembly met in Pyongyang on Tuesday and decided to convene an SPA session on Sept. 28, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. The KCNA said the session will discuss the issue of "adopting the law on developing cities and counties and the law on ensuring education of young people, the issue of modification and supplementation of the law on national economic plan, the issue of inspecting and supervising the enforcement of the law on recycling and the organizational issue." The SPA is the highest organ of power under the constitution, but it rubber-stamps decisions by the ruling party.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Korea, Colombia to bolster post-COVID partnership
President Moon Jae-in and Colombian President Ivan Duque held summit talks in Seoul on Wednesday and agreed to further bolster bilateral ties that mark the 60th aniversary next year. Duque and his wife Maria Juliana Ruiz arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for a three-day state visit, becoming the first presidential couple to visit Korea since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. For the Colombian president, it was his first trip outside Latin America amid the pandemic. The state visit was made upon Moon’s invitation to mark the 10th anniversary of strategic partnership between the two countries and the 70th anniversary of Colombia’s participation in the Korean War. At the summit talks, the two leaders agreed to further bolster bilateral ties that celebrate the 60th anniversary of official establishment next year, especially in innovation-based high-tech areas.
South Korea set to accept 391 Afghan evacuees Thursday
South Korea is airlifting a total of 391 Afghans out of the war-ravaged country, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, as part of Seoul’s mission to evacuate civilians who worked alongside the Korean government and are therefore vulnerable to retaliation. Afghan allies and their families were expected to arrive at Incheon International Airport aboard military jets Thursday. In the operation, code-named “Operation Miracle,” Korea deployed three military planes to Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday. They began ferrying Afghans out of Kabul to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Tuesday and were set to depart for Seoul on Wednesday.
Assembly vote on 'fake news' bill delayed
South Korea’s National Assembly postponed a plenary meeting scheduled for Wednesday, preventing the ruling party from passing two controversial bills that have drawn fierce protests from opposition lawmakers. Early Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug notified the political party floor leaders that the plenary meeting scheduled later in the day would be postponed, since bills should not go through two legislative stages on the same day. At around 4 a.m. Wednesday, a controversial bill on “fake news” passed the Legislation and Judiciary Committee under the lead of the ruling Democratic Party -- the final stage before it is put to a final plenary vote. If it passes in the plenary session, journalists and media outlets will be penalized for producing news that is deemed fake.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
391 Afghans to arrive here Thursday in evacuation operation
A total of 391 Afghans, who helped the Korean government's activities in their war-torn country, will arrive in Korea today. They are being evacuated amid growing fears of possible Taliban retaliation against those who have aided the United States and its allies, the foreign ministry said, Wednesday. Upon arrival, they will stay at a government-run training facility in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, which also accommodated hundreds of Koreans airlifted from the Chinese city of Wuhan last year amid mounting fears over COVID-19. "Some 380 Afghans will be airlifted by military aircraft to Incheon International Airport, Thursday," Second Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-moon said in a briefing. The foreign ministry readjusted the number to 391 later in the day.
Korea, Colombia to strengthen partnership in defense
President Moon Jae-in and his Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in national defense, as part of their efforts to expand the two countries' relations to a comprehensive and future-oriented partnership, upon the latter's state visit to Seoul. During their summit, Wednesday, the presidents adopted a joint statement containing their visions on the future direction of bilateral relations, and both governments signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on medical cooperation, excavation of the remains of deceased Colombian soldiers who took part in the 1950-53 Korean War, cultural exchanges, an ecosystem for startups and agricultural cooperation.
S. Korea expresses 'strong regret' over Japan's Fukushima water release move without consultations
South Korea on Wednesday expressed strong regret over Japan's move to release contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant without consultations with neighbors, following new reports of an undersea tunnel construction plan to release radioactive water from the plant. The government convened a vice-ministerial interagency meeting in response to news reports that the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima plant, was planning to construct an approximately 1 kilometer-long undersea tunnel to release radioactive water from the suspended power plant into the sea.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Job Creation Stagnates as Big Business Salaries Rise
The average salary in the country's major conglomerates has surpassed W100 million (US$1=W1,168). According to the corporate reports of the top 30 companies, the average salary for the first six months of this year was W45.47 million, bringing the total for the year including bonuses to an estimated W100 million. Already last year, Samsung Electronics paid on average W127 million, SK Energy and SK Telecom W121 million, SK Global Chemical W117 million, and S-Oil W109.24 million. But that has led to stagnation in job creation, business groups warn. According to the Korea Industry Alliance Forum, Korea's hourly wage adjusted for purchasing power parity increased 20.1 percent over the last five years.
Dubious Cryptocurrency Exchanges to Be Shut down
One in 10 of Korea's burgeoning cryptocurrency exchanges will be shut down from Sept. 25 because they do not meet even the country's lax requirements to stay in business. The government published a list on Wednesday. Cryptocurrency exchanges must report their certificates for the information security management system (ISMS) and investors' real-name bank accounts to financial authorities by Sept. 24. But of the 63 exchanges in Korea, 24 including DOCOIN, COCOFX, Ellex, UKE, and GRNBIT, have not yet applied for an ISMS certificate from the Korea Internet and Security Agency and are unlikely to meet the deadline. "It normally takes at least three months to get an ISMS certificate, so those who applied after July won't get it before the reporting deadline," a government official said.
Household Debt Reaches Yet Another Alarming Milestone
Household debt has reached yet another alarming milestone by surpassing W1.8 quadrillion in the second quarter of this year (US$1=W1,167). It increased even faster than in the first quarter. The main reason is unremitting demand for housing loans as housing prices spiral out of control due to the government's failed real estate policy. The Bank of Korea on Tuesday said households' credit balance stood at W1.81 quadrillion at the end of the second quarter, up W41.2 trillion from the previous quarter. That was up W168.6 trillion or 10.3 percent on-year, the fastest increase since the second quarter of 2017. Financial authorities told banks in April to keep the increase in household loans at five to six percent a year, but it seems that has not been effective in curbing them so far.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea to airlift some 380 Afghans to Incheon airport
The South Korean government said it has launched an operation to bring locals who assisted government programs in Afghanistan and their family members to Korea. Those Afghans are likely to arrive in Korea very soon. South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced the move in a message to reporters on Tuesday. Three military transport aircraft have been sent to Afghanistan and neighboring countries to bring back local employees and family members who aided government activities in Afghanistan. These individuals worked for years at our embassy, our hospital and at an occupational training center,” MOFA said in the message. Suh Hoon, director of the Blue House National Security Office, addressed the issue of these Afghans during an appearance at a plenary session of the National Assembly House Steering Committee on the previous day.
S. Korea’s total household debt reaches new high at $1.54 trillion
South Korea’s total household debt balance topped 1.8 quadrillion won (US$1.54 trillion) for the first time during the second quarter of 2021, increasing by a quarterly high of 41.2 trillion won (US$35.2 billion), according to the Bank of Korea (BOK) on Tuesday. The rise was the result of an unabated trend of households incurring debt for public offering subscriptions and other investments amid continued demand for housing transactions. Observers are now watching to see whether government efforts to beef up loan regulations and raise the benchmark interest rate will have an effect in checking the increase in loans during the second half of the year. It was the highest-ever increase for a second quarter, propelling the total balance past 1.8 quadrillion won. Household credit — which could also be characterized as household debt — represents the sum of household loans combined with sales on credit, including credit card use.
Taliban’s latest enemy is internet
A photograph of the Taliban command occupying the president’s office in the Presidential Palace in Kabul sent the message that the group had regained control over Afghanistan after 20 years. The photograph, posted on Aug. 15, showed members armed with rifles, along with others filming the events by smartphone. Back in 2001, the Taliban were considered symbols of a backlash against “civilization,” with their demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, a UNESCO World Heritage, and their bans on education of and activities by women. Now they have returned as active users of the latest information technology. Twenty years ago, the Taliban banned the internet. Now they are sending messages out by smartphones and social media to demand the world’s acknowledgment.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
S. Korea sends chartered planes to evacuate Afghanistans
“When I was about to enter the airport in the morning, the Taliban stopped me,” said an Afghan man, who decided to escape the country and relocate to South Korea, recalling the morning of his departure. “I was able to get into another car and enter the airport through another distant gate,” the man described his dangerous journey into the airport. During an interview with the South Korean government at the Kabul Airport the previous day, the man explained the reason for his decision to head to Korea, saying he felt threatened as the Taliban could harm those who worked for a foreign government agency. But his face darkened for a while when he said his family including his mother is still in Afghanistan. A woman, who worked for the South Korean Embassy in Afghanistan for two years and four months, was fortunately able to get to the airport without passing Taliban checkpoints.
Asahi Shimbun denounces Korean ruling party’s media reform bill
“South Korea’s ruling party is set to revise a media law that will silence news organizations.” The Asahi Shimbun stated as above in its editorial published on Wednesday and criticized that the most detrimental effect of the amendment bill of the Act on Press Arbitration and Remedies, etc. for Damage Caused by Press Reports would be to allow the courts to order heavy damages on media outlets. “It is never easy to determine accuracy or prove actual malice of news reports,” the editorial argued. “Fake news is out of control not only in Korea but also across the globe. Some countries try to regulate it by law. Nonetheless, the amendment should not discourage journalism,” commented the newspaper.
Samsung to invest 240 trillion won and hire new 40,000 employees
South Korean conglomerate Samsung plans to invest 240 trillion won by 2023 in having a competitive edge in future strategic industries such as semiconductors, biotechnology and next generation communications. In particular, it will spend a total of 180 trillion won on the domestic market while directly hiring more than 40,000 employees over three years. Samsung’s regular public recruitment system stands to be in place for the sake of employment stability and predictability whereas other major domestic businesses have abolished or plan to remove the system. Samsung published the largest ever investment and recruitment plan on Wednesday. “We plan to prepare us for a series of major changes in industries, international order and social structures that will happen after the COVID-19 pandemic is over,” Samsung said. “Samsung will make the investment decision to make sure that it fulfills its corporate roles for large investments and job creation for next generations.”
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Hong Joon-pyo, “Yoon Seok-youl Should Apologize to the Nation for Investigation into Long-established Irregularities”
On August 25, lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo, a candidate in the People Power Party presidential primary said, “It was Yoon Seok-youl who led the investigation to root out the so-called long-established irregularities (believed by some to be an investigation targeting the conservative government and political party). He suddenly came to power with a promotion allowing him to skip five levels and become the chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. Then thanks to his investigation, he jumped another seven levels and became prosecutor general.” Hong asked, “If he came to our party after doing such a thing, shouldn’t he apologize to the nation?” In an interview on CBS radio this day, Hong said, “When Yoon conducted the investigation (into long-established irregularities) and our camp was being crushed by the opposition camp, I was the leader.”
Government to Review Readjusting the Time Between First and Second Doses Following Supply of Moderna Vaccine
The government decided to consider readjusting the time between the first and second vaccine shots after it confirmed that Moderna, a U.S. pharmaceutical company, would supply 7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this month. On August 23, when the press asked the COVID-19 vaccination response team on possible adjustments to the time between the first and second Moderna vaccine shots, authorities said, “We will comprehensively review any adjustments to the time between the two doses along with our vaccine rollout plan for September and October.” Previously on August 6, when Moderna notified the government that the company could only deliver less than half of the 8.5 million doses scheduled to arrive in August due to problems in its laboratory, the government temporarily extended the time period between the first and second shots for messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines from four to six weeks on August 9.
Army Major General Removed from His Position for Alleged Secondary Victimization of Sexual Assault Victim
Major General A, a division commander of an Army frontline unit, was discharged for allegedly engaging in secondary victimization of a sexual assault victim. The military appears to have taken a strong measure--removing a division commander suspected of secondary victimization from his position--due to a series of incidents in the military, where secondary victimization of sexual assault victims led to the suicide of the victims. On August 19, the Army announced, “Army Headquarters decided to remove A, a division commander, from his position on August 18.” A was removed from his tasks after the military authorities launched an investigation following a report by B, a female noncommissioned officer who was a victim of sexual assault, that A engaged in secondary victimization early this month.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
BOK lifts the base rate from record low to 0.75% amid undying household debt
South Korea’s base rate has been raised to 0.75 percent Thursday as the central bank moved ahead with normalization of its record loose policy to contain the unfazed gains in household debt and asset frenzy from cheap liquidity despite ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol had hinted in July that the monetary policy board would study rate liftoff within the year. Still, most had anticipated the action to come either in October or November as the country struggles with the worst flareup of Covid-19 and variants despite extended de facto lockdown. The accelerated rise in inflation and household debt would have persuaded the monetary board to take preemptive action.
Posco Chemical to invest $240 mn on key EV battery materials’ plants in China
Posco Chemical Co. will invest 281 billion won ($240.6 million) to build cathode and precursor plants in China, its first overseas production base for secondary battery materials business, to take the lead in the global markets for the two key electric vehicle (EV) battery materials. The Korean secondary battery materials maker said on Wednesday, the two plants will roll out high-nickel cathodes and precursors with an annual production capacity of 30,000 tons, each, from 2023. The new lines will be added to the company’s existing plants to produce the key EV battery materials under a joint venture run by steelmaker Posco and its local partner Huayou Cobalt in Zhejiang Province.
Facebook, Netflix, Google fined for disobeying Korea’s personal data act
Multinational online players Facebook, Netflix, and Google have been slapped with 6.7 billion won ($5.8 million) in combined fines by South Korea’s data protection body on Wednesday for violating the country’s personal information protection act. The Personal Information Protection Commission on Wednesday voted to issue remedial orders while fining 6.66 billion won along with surcharge of 29 million won on Facebook, Netflix, and Google. Facebook was given the biggest fine of 6.4 billion won for creating and storing facial recognition templates of local users without their consent from April 2018 to September 2019. Templates are a form of identification through information obtained from user photos and videos. Photos of individuals are automatically identified with their names.
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