Monday, September 6, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“Malaysia, Korea share National Day in August, are headed for increased cooperation”
Charge d’Affaires Ahmad Fahmi Ahmad Sarkawi of the Republic of Malaysia in Seoul said, “The 31st day of August is the official National Day of Malaysia and it marks the day when Malaysia became free from British colonial rule.” It is the happy day for the people of Malaysia like the Korean people who enjoys the 15th of August when they won their independence in 1945. To mark the auspicious occasion, The Korea Post media (publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean news publications since 1985) recently had a special interview with CDA Sarkawi of Malaysia at his office in Seoul. Details of the interview follow: Question: Please introduce your National Day in full detail. Answer: The 31st day of August is the official national day of Malaysia. It commemorates the Malayan Declaration of Independence on 31 August 1957, marking the day Malaya is free from British colonial administration. This year's Independence Day is the 6th anniversary. 'Malaysia Prihatin' which literally means Malaysia Cares, is retained as the theme for this year's Independence Day.
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.
SK Lubricants unveils the “legit” environment-oriented SK ZIC Zero campaign
SK Lubricants has launched a new “legit” environment-oriented SK ZIC ZERO campaign that reflects the company’s commitment to green business practices. SK Lubricants, a SK Innovation’s subsidiary specialized in lubricant business, said on Sept. 1 that it prepared this advertising campaign to showcase eco-friendly elements from the video production to a giveaway event, let alone SK ZIC ZERO product itself. This is consistent with the Green Transformation strategy that is being enforced all companies of SK Innovation. The new SK ZIC ZERO campaign is considered a “legit” eco-friendly advertisement for its special making process. The advertising crew used natural lights and self-powered lighting for filming and kept the background image composition for the product minimum.
S. Korea to Accept Applications for COVID-19 Relief Payouts Monday
South Korea will begin to accept applications for the government's COVID-19 relief payouts on Monday. The government will hand out relief funds of 250-thousand won per person to the lower 88 percent of the income bracket. Eligibility will be determined by each household's national health insurance payment in June. People can check their eligibility online or through the call centers of credit card firms as well as the homepage of the National Health Insurance Service. The payouts will be given as vouchers or prepaid cards, or through credit or debit cards. Online applications will start Monday, while offline applications begin next Monday.
Gyeonggi Governor Wins Landslide Victory in First Round of Presidential Primary
Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung won a landslide victory on Saturday in the first round of the ruling Democratic Party's primary to select its candidate for next March's presidential election. Lee earned 54-point-81 percent of the votes in the primary held among registered DP members of the Daejeon-South Chungcheong Province region at the Daejeon Convention Center. The governor secured a sweeping victory against Rep. Lee Nak-yon, who finished second with 27-point-41 percent. Former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun came in third with seven-point-84 percent of the votes and former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae finished fourth with six-point-67 percent.
Report: UNSC Discussing Easing Sanctions against N. Korea
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is reportedly discussing easing sanctions against North Korea in consideration of the difficult humanitarian situation in the country. Russia's Interfax news agency on Saturday quoted a source as saying that the mood for some symbolic steps has been created within the UNSC at the moment. The source reportedly said that the issue of lifting sanctions was recently raised again at the UNSC meeting and the proposal is still on the negotiating table. However, the United States is said to have immediately blocked it. North Korea is reportedly having severe economic difficulties due to international sanctions and its voluntary border closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Questionable vaccines administered to 104 people at Pyeongtaek hospital
Over 100 people were given Pfizer vaccines that had passed their recommended usage dates at a general hospital in Gyeonggi Province last week, health officials said Sunday. Pyeongtaek St. Mary's Hospital in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, gave Pfizer vaccines to a total of 104 people on Thursday and Friday that exceeded their expiration date of Wednesday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. The latest incident comes after one hospital in Seoul and another in the southeastern city of Ulsan gave Pfizer vaccine doses nearing their expiration dates or exceeding them to over 230 people last week. The KDCA said it will regularly check local hospitals' stockpiles of vaccine doses nearing their recommended expiration dates to make sure they are properly administered.
Opposition party's election commissioner withdraws resignation offer
The election commissioner for the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) decided to maintain his post after he earlier offered to step down amid a dispute over the party's push to revise rules for the primary race ahead of next year's presidential election. Chung Hong-won decided to stay put as election commissioner after he met with PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok, according to the party leader. "Chung delivered his concern that his authority could not stand, and I persuaded him (not to step down)," Lee told Yonhap News Agency. "I promised to provide all possible support in order to help him work without any inconveniences." Chung expressed hope for full cooperation from presidential contenders in carrying out his obligation and urged them to respect whatever decision will be made on the party's election rules to pick the standard-bearer for the March presidential election.
Gyeonggi governor scores another dominant victory in ongoing ruling party presidential primary
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung claimed another solid electoral victory Sunday in the ruling Democratic Party's ongoing national presidential primary race. Lee finished first in the primary vote held among registered DP members in the Sejong-North Chungcheong Province region at the CJB Convention Center, garnering 54.54 percent of the ballots cast. Former DP chief Rep. Lee Nak-yon came in second with 29.72 percent, followed by ex-Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae with 7.09 percent and ex-Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun at 5.49 percent. Rep. Park Yong-jin finished fifth with 2.22 percent of the votes, followed by Rep. Kim Doo-gwan with 0.93 percent. The latest results marked the Gyeonggi Province governor's second consecutive victory in the DP primary, which kicked off Aug. 31 for a total of 11 rounds of regional votes to select the party's final candidate to run in the March 9 presidential election.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Gyeonggi Gov. Lee confirms lead in ruling party primary race
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung achieved a landslide victory in the ruling Democratic Party’s first and second round of primaries for the presidential election, solidifying his standing as the front-running contender for the next presidency. According to the ruling party on Sunday, Gov. Lee finished the second round of Democratic Party’s national presidential primary elections of Sejong and North Chungcheong Province by winning 54.54 percent of all cased votes. Rep. Lee Nak-yon followed Gov. Lee to earn 28.19 percent, and former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun earned 7.05 percent. Former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae recorded 6.81 percent. Gov. Lee, one of the strongest contenders for next year’s presidential race, also achieved similar level of victory a day earlier from party’s first round of presidential primaries held for Daejeon and South Chungcheong Province.
Hyundai Glovis to enter gas shipping market after striking deal with Trafigura
Hyundai Glovis, the logistics arm of Hyundai Group, announced on Sunday it will enter the gas shipping market in 2024 after striking a multi-year deal with major commodity trading company Trafigura. The shipping deal with the Switzerland-based company will see the Hyundai Glovis carry ammonia and liquefied natural gas for up to 10 years for global markets. Two very large gas carriers (VLGC), which boast 86,000 square meters in capacity, will be built with 200 billion won ($173.2 million) in investment, the company said. Unlike LPG carriers, the cargo holds of Hyundai Glovis VLGCs are made with special materials to allow for carrying ammonia –- a feature only around 10 percent of VLGCs around the world have, the company explained.
M&As up 49% in H1; big firms lead deal activity
The value of corporate mergers and acquisitions executed in South Korea rose 48.7 percent in the first half of this year, with conglomerates leading deal activity in a bid to identify new growth opportunities. According to data released Sunday by the Korea Fair Trade Commission, a total of 489 deals have cleared the FTC’s review process in the first half of this year, with their total value amounting to 221 trillion won ($191.2 billion). That is a 15.3 percent increase from a year earlier in terms of the number of deals made and a 48.7 percent jump in the transaction amount. A noticeable growth was seen in the purchase of unaffiliated companies by those categorized by the watchdog as “large business groups,” the KFTC said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
President Moon unlikely to veto 'fake news' bill
The conservative main opposition People Power Party (PPP) is increasingly urging President Moon Jae-in to veto a controversial media law revision, widely referred to as the "fake news" bill. But it appears unlikely that Moon will use his right, in a bid to prevent his moves from affecting the liberal ruling Democratic Party of Korea's (DPK) popularity in the upcoming presidential election. According to the National Assembly, the DPK will table the proposed revision at a plenary session on Sept. 27. The revision was initially set to be put to vote at an Aug. 30 plenary session, but the plan was postponed amid strong protest from opposition parties, media organizations and civic groups.
Gyeonggi governor consolidating lead in ruling party primary
Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung is solidifying his dominance in the liberal ruling Democratic Party of Korea's (DPK) primary for next March's presidential election. As he took more than half the votes in the primary held in two key regions over the weekend, speculation is that it may be difficult for the runner-up, former DPK Chairman Rep. Lee Nak-yon, to keep up. At the DPK's primary vote for party members and the public of Daejeon and South Chungcheong Province, Saturday, Governor Lee earned 54.81 percent, doubling the support rate of his main rival Lee Nak-yon, who is also a former prime minister, at 27.41. The DPK's other four presidential contenders gained support rates of between 0.84 percent and 7.84 percent. On Sunday, Governor Lee scored another landslide win at the primary vote for the region of Sejong and North Chungcheong Province with 54.54 percent of the votes, followed by Lee Nak-yon with 29.72 percent.
Korea Foundation charts new path in Mt. Halla Forum
The Korea Foundation (KF) presented a two-day forum last Thursday and Friday in commemoration of its 30th anniversary. Korea's only official public diplomacy institution offered insights on the future of Korea and the world at the 2021 KF Mt. Halla Forum. The forum, held in an online-offline hybrid format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, centered on the theme of "Opening a New Chapter: Future Game Changers." KAIST professor Suh Chang-ho presented three artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that will change the future, while Seoul National University professor Lee Hyun-sook brought up the issue of biotechnology. Other speakers included art curator Lee Dae-hyung, Jeju Research Institute President Kim Sang-hyup on the environment, Song Gil-young of VAIV Company on big data and Hongik University professor Yoo Hyun-joon on architecture.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Are Tax Breaks for Top-End Electric Cars Fair?
Complaints are growing about the tax breaks the government offers even on top-end electric cars to promote a reduction of carbon emissions. The breaks are so drastic that even millionaires who buy a Tesla Model X electric SUV priced between W116 million and W136 million pay only W130,000 in tax, while the humble drivers of a Kia Morning that costs less than W15 million are charged nearly the same (US$1=W1,161). Gasoline and diesel cars are taxed according to engine displacement, but the tax on EVs is a flat W130,000. But that means that the huge showoff Tesla Model X and the modest Renault Twizy microcar that takes up barely any space on the road are taxed the same. As the number of EVs increases, so do complaints. The number of registered eco-friendly vehicles in Korea surpassed 1 million in July of this year.
U.S. to Include Korea in 'Five Eyes' Spying Pact
The U.S. House of Representatives wants to include Korea and three other countries in the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance. It currently includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K.
The House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations stressed the need to include Korea, Germany, India and Japan in the alliance when it submited last month a draft amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for next year. "The committee directs the director of national intelligence, in coordination with the secretary of defense, to provide a report... not later than May 20, 2022, on current intelligence and resource sharing agreements between the United States and the countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom; as well as opportunities to expand intelligence sharing with South Korea, Japan, India, and Germany." The alliance aims to build a united front against China and Russia.
U.S. to Include Korea in 'Five Eyes' Spying Pact
The U.S. House of Representatives wants to include Korea and three other countries in the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance. It currently includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. The House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations stressed the need to include Korea, Germany, India and Japan in the alliance when it submited last month a draft amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for next year. "The committee directs the director of national intelligence, in coordination with the secretary of defense, to provide a report... not later than May 20, 2022, on current intelligence and resource sharing agreements between the United States and the countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom; as well as opportunities to expand intelligence sharing with South Korea, Japan, India, and Germany."
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Victory for Taliban and defense contractors, defeat for US
After dragging on for 20 years, the War in Afghanistan ended with the US’ defeat. The war was begun by US President George W. Bush in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks with the purpose of wiping out the Taliban, a group of Islamist militants who had harbored terrorists. The US succeeded at capturing the Afghan capital of Kabul and setting up a new government, but the Taliban began to regroup after the US launched the Iraq War in 2003. The situation in Afghanistan worsened after 2005, and US casualties began piling up. The fighting in Afghanistan involved sporadic skirmishes at small bases, attracting little attention from the press. The Bush administration agreed to pull out American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, and the Iraq War ended with little accomplished.
Prosecution service under Yoon Seok-youl accused of aiding opposition party in general election last year
The South Korean prosecution service has been accused of encouraging members of the United Future Party (UFP, now known as the People Power Party, or PPP) to file criminal complaints against members of the ruling Democratic Party and of the press shortly before the parliamentary elections last year. This was apparently an attempt to counter allegations raised about then Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl and his family members and about collusion between the prosecution service and the press. Yoon is considered one of the leading candidates for the opposition in next year’s presidential election. The Democratic Party has condemned this as a “political operation” by Yoon and has called for a parliamentary probe and an investigation by Korea’s Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials.
What Japan is trying to achieve with its Type 12 surface-to-ship missiles
South Korea and Japan both announced their 2022 defense budgets on Tuesday. While there may be some adjustments during their parliamentary passage process, South Korea’s budget is likely to total 55.2277 trillion won (US$47.6 billion), up 4.5% from this year, while Japan’s is likely to be 5.4797 trillion yen (US$49.8 billion), an increase of 2.6%. Within Japan, some analysts are saying that the two sides’ defense budgets are now at “more or less the same level.” Indeed, an article published by the Nikkei newspaper Wednesday quoted the Japanese government as claiming that in terms of purchasing power, South Korea’s defense budget had already surpassed Japan’s by 2018. With Japan’s economy still around 2.5 times larger than South Korea’s, this effectively means that South Korea’s per capita defense budget is around two times higher.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Paralympic athletes show can-do spirit and passion
The South Korean Paralympic athletes maintained their grits until the end but failed to achieve their goals. As South Korean badminton players Kim Jung-joon earned a silver medal at WH2 singles and Lee Dong-seop and Kim won a silver medal at WH2-WH1 doubles on Sunday – the last day of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, South Korea ended up in 41st place with 2 golds, 10 silvers and 12 bronzes. The Paralympic squad of South Korea arrived Tokyo with the goal of entering the top 30 list by wining four golds, nine silvers and 21 bronzes. However, the team showed the lowest ranking since its first joining of the Tel Aviv Paralympic Games in 1968.
Container ship orders hits record amid soaring shipping fees
The total volume of new orders for container ships carrying freight has reached a record level ever in history this year. This comes as shipping companies are aggressively placing orders for new container ships as the fee for oceangoing freight hit an all-time high due to a soaring volume of international freight. According to Clarkson Research, U.K.-based the shipbuilding and shipping market survey agency, on Sunday, the total global volume of new orders for container ships amounted to 15,071,478 million CGTs (Compensated Gross Tonnage) for the first eight months of the year. The volume is the largest ever since the agency started tallying the market in 1996.
I will take my own path of politics, says PPP leader
Main opposition People’s Power Party leader Lee Jun-seok said Friday, “I have been swayed due to criticism that I was trying to do my own politics. However, I will try and take my own path in the belief that my way is right. I will adopt the old saying “pabuchimju” as the keyword for the upcoming presidential election. I will prepare measures that go beyond the old saying.” Pabuchimju means “breaking the cooking pot and sinking the boat for returning (home)” when engaging in combat, meaning “determination to risk one’s own life in a battle.” “I will take the path as a challenger who strove to change politics in Yeouido, rather than as a party leader who draws attention due to young age,” Lee said during a debate organized by the Kwanhoon Club (veteran journalists’ club) at the National Press Center in Seoul on the day.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
“Money Deposited by Inmates Are No Longer Safe.” Seoul to Confiscate Prison Deposits for the First Time
When a person enters a correctional facility (prison or detention center), he gets an account for deposits. All the money he has in his wallet when entering the facility and any money sent by his family is all deposited in this account. There is a limit to the amount of money a person can save in this account. All prisoners can save up to the same limit, three million won in this account while they are in prison. They can spend the money to buy food, blankets, clothing, medicine, books, etc. They can spend up to 20,000 won on food a day. This deposit is “precious” money to an inmate, which is why no one had touched it until now. But the city of Seoul has begun to dig into the deposit accounts of people with huge amount of back taxes.
Debate over Yun Hee-suk’s Resignation Steals Attention from the Verification of Real Estate Allegations Concerning Public Officials
On August 29, the fifth day since People Power Party lawmaker Yun Hee-suk expressed her intention to give up her parliamentary seat following her father’s alleged violation of the Farmland Act, ruling and opposition lawmakers continued their debate on whether Yun’s resignation was appropriate. If the Democratic Party of Korea opposes, Yun’s resignation is not likely to be accepted. As attention shifts to the debate on Yun’s resignation, questions concerning irregularities linked to the real estate owned by elected officials and their families are getting less attention. This day in politics, the nation witnessed members of Yun’s party encouraging her to step down as lawmaker, while the members of the Democratic Party tried to stop her. This was an unusual scene that occurred after Yun expressed her intention to step down on August 25, the day after the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission announced officials with questionable real estate transactions.
The Ultra-low Interest Rate after the Outbreak of COVID Ends: Base Rate Raised 0.25%
The Bank of Korea is closing the curtains on the low base interest rate, which it had maintained in response to the economic situation following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The Bank of Korea Monetary Policy Board raised the base rate by 0.25%. On August 26, the Monetary Policy Board held a meeting at the central bank in Jung-gu, Seoul and decided to raise the base interest rate 0.25% from an annual 0.5% to 0.75%. The Board had frozen the base rate after lowering the rate by 0.5% in March and by 0.25% in May last year because the economy rapidly froze due to the spread of COVID-19. The Board then decided to freeze the base rate nine times in July, August, October and November last year and in January, February, April, May and July this year, but it finally decided to raise the rate for the first time in fifteen months this day. The decision to raise the rate and not simply maintain the existing rate comes after two years and nine months (33 months), since the Monetary Policy Board last raised the interest rate from 1.50% to 1.75% in November 2018.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Hawkish FSC chief and BOK head agree to cooperate on containing household debt
Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol and Financial Services Commission (FSC) chairman Koh Seung-beom on Friday agreed to “mutually keep pace” and “closely cooperate” in monetary and financial policy maneuvering, particularly to ease financial imbalances from surging household debt. Their meeting comes after the former hawkish member of the monetary board until recently has been recruited as the government’s financial policy chief and the central bank has shifted to monetary tightening in the face of inflationary and household buildup. In the last monetary policy meeting, the BOK lifted the base rate by a quarter of a percentage point from the record low of 0.50 percent and hinted another hike in near future.
S. Korea’s online shopping hits record high in July, topping $86 bn in Jan-July
South Korea’s online shopping hit a fresh record of 16.2 trillion won ($14 billion) in July as the Tokyo Olympics on top of Covid-19 resurgence kept people more at home, bringing the total turnover for the first seven months of this year to over 100 trillion won. According to the data from Statistics Korea released on Friday, the value of online shopping transactions in July came to 16.2 trillion won, gaining 24.9 percent from a year earlier. The figure marked the highest since 2001 when the statistics agency began compiling related data. The cumulative merchandise transactions value in the January-July period topped 100 trillion won, reaching 108.07 trillion won.
FSS finds Samsung chief qualified to be Samsung Life’s biggest shareholder
South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has found Samsung Electronics Co. Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee fit to maintain his position as the largest individual shareholder of Samsung Life Insurance Co. commanding the largest single ownership in Samsung Electronics. Lee, the de facto leader of the country’s top conglomerate Samsung Group, inherited half of his late father Lee Kun-hee’s 20.76 percent ownership in Samsung Life Insurance, pushing his holding to 10.44 percent in the top life insurer. Under the act on corporate governance of financial companies, the financial authorities review changes of majority stake ownership and qualification of the largest shareholder.
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
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