Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Minting, Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corp. (KOMSCO), which has been manufacturing and supplying currency and various identification cards for the past 70 years, has declared its transformation into a digital service company. “In response to the era of the 4th industrial revolution, we will strengthen the mobile business by expanding its ICT business, CEO Bahn Jahng-shick of KOMSCO said at the vision declaration ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of its foundation at its headquarters in Yuseong-gu, Daejeon on Oct. 1. “The new vision contains the meaning of providing trust as a partner for the national economy and life even in the hyper-connected era," said CEO Bahn. Bahn stressed, "In the past, we simply stayed in the role of a public currency manufacturing company, but in the future, we will leap forward as a platform partner trusted by the public."
SK Innovation, Ford to invest $11.4 billion in U.S. battery market via BlueOvalSK
A battery production company established by Ford of the U.S. and SK Innovation of South Korea will build the largest battery production plant ever in the U.S.SK Innovation and Ford announced the locations of the battery production sites of BlueOvalSK, the joint venture of two companies at Tennessee and Kentucky and their large-scale investment plan on Sept. 27. SK Innovation and Ford attended two announcement events on Sept. 28 in Stanton, Tennessee and Glendale, Kentucky, where BlueOvalSK will be located. Ford and SK Innovation plan to invest a total of $11.4 billion in constructing battery plants and EV assembly plants in the two areas. This is the largest investment announcement by Ford in its 118 years of history, and the largest investment for battery plants in the U.S. so far.
Samsung Electronics joins hands with KDDI to bring 5G vRAN to Japan
Samsung Electronics announced on Sept. 30 that it will deploy its cloud-native fully virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) solutions for the mid-band spectrum in KDDI’s 5G network. Samsung and KDDI have been collaborating on advanced research on vRAN to drive 5G innovation for KDDI’s network. Most recently, the companies successfully completed the first 5G Standalone (SA) call using Samsung’s vRAN and another vendor’s 5G Massive MIMO radios, which are O-RAN compliant. Powered by Samsung’s vRAN, KDDI’s 5G network will deliver exceptional performance, enabling KDDI users to experience the full potential of 5G. “We are delighted to extend our collaboration with Samsung and to become the first operator in Japan to use their 5G vRAN solutions, which are currently delivering superior performance in commercial networks,” said Chief Technology Officer Kazuyuki Yoshimura of KDDI.
S. Korea's FM Calls for Borderless, Joint Efforts to Overcome COVID-19
Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong has emphasized transnational efforts by countries to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Chung made the remark in a keynote speech at the Ministerial Council Meeting(MCM) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) in Paris on Tuesday, saying despite swift vaccine development, more efforts need to be done to overcome the crisis. He said countries need to share genetic information with one another to full enjoy benefits brought by modern science and open borders so vaccines and treatments will be more swiftly distributed the world over.
Ex-US Intel Official: N. Korea Likely Waiting Favorable Actions from US
A former senior U.S. intelligence official said that despite a recent string of missile launches, North Korea wishes to talk and may wait for favorable actions from the U.S. Andrew Kim, former head of the Korea Mission Center at the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA), shared his views on Tuesday in a webinar arranged by the Washington Times Foundation. Regarding several missile launches by Pyongyang this year, including what the regime claims to be a hypersonic missile last month, Kim assessed that the North remains in a “low key” and has not ditched hope to negotiate with the U.S. The Joe Biden administration has delivered its stance for months via envoys and spokespeople that it is ready to talk with Pyongyang unconditionally, but Kim said the North may be waiting for an “official statement” that the U.S. is willing to do so.
Prosecutors Report that Lawmaker Used Funds for ‘Comfort Women’ for Personal Use
Prosecutors believe independent lawmaker Yoon Mee-hyang used funds donated to support wartime sex slavery victims for personal purposes when she headed the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. In Yoon’s written arraignment that People Power Party(PPP) lawmaker Jun Joo-hyae acquired from the Justice Ministry on Tuesday, prosecutors assessed that Yoon embezzled some 100 million won on 217 occasions over nine years from November 2011. The arraignment stated that Yoon spent 260-thousand won at a barbecue restaurant in March 2015 and 90-thousand won at a facility presumed to be a spa in July of that same year, among other things.
Cheong Wa Dae sternly monitoring Seongnam land development scandal: senior official
Cheong Wa Dae is closely examining the circumstances surrounding a regional development corruption scandal that has recently shaken national politics over possible connections to Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, the front-runner in the ruling party's primary, a senior presidential official said Tuesday. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office is investigating whether Yoo Dong-gyu, former acting president of Seongnam Development Corp. (SDC), was given acquiescence or even tacit approval by Lee when he was Seongnam mayor for how the public-civilian land development project would be operated. Under the project, a swath of farmland in Seongnam, a city just south of Seoul, was turned into apartment complexes.
9 out of 10 S. Korean adults received at least one vaccine shot
Nine out of 10 South Korean adults have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine, helping the country to get closer to a goal of creating herd immunity, the health authority said Tuesday. A total of 39.7 million people have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 77.4 percent of the country's 51.3 million population or 90 percent of those aged over 18, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The number of fully vaccinated people stood at 27.2 million, or 53 percent of the total or 61.6 percent of the adult population, the KDCA said. Health authorities expressed optimism that the country will be able to fully inoculate over 70 percent of the population by the end of October thanks to people's willingness to get vaccinations and smooth vaccine supplies
Seoul expresses concerns over Washington's info-sharing request on chipmakers
South Korea's trade ministry on Wednesday expressed concerns over Washington's latest request to local chipmakers to share information on their supply chains amid growing concerns over the leak of major trade secrets. Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo met his U.S. counterpart, Katherine Tai, in Paris on the sidelines of the council meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), sharing opinions on various bilateral trade issues, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. During the meeting, Yeo said there has been growing concerns in South Korea that the information requested by Washington was too vast and may include trade secrets of related businesses.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
North Korea keeps developing nuclear, missile programs: UN experts
North Korea has continued its nuclear and ballistic missile programs this year, despite international sanctions and a dire economic situation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a UN report on Tuesday. A panel of experts monitoring sanctions on Pyongyang, in a report sent to the UN Security Council, said the North “continued to seek material and technology for these programs overseas.” “Despite the country’s focus on its worsening economic travails, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to maintain and develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” the report said, referring to the North by its official name.
No immediate Moon-Kishida summit in sight
A potential South Korea-Japan summit may face further delays despite Monday’s election of Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, amid protracted rows over wartime history and trade. President Moon Jae-in held no summit with Kishida’s predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, during his one-year tenure. The two governments had sought to arrange a meeting between Moon and Suga on the occasions of multilateral events, including the G-7 summit in June and the Tokyo Olympics in July, but related talks fell apart at the last minute due to discrepancies over timing and topics to be discussed.
Assembly speaker to visit Italy for G-20, climate summits
National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug is embarking on trips to Italy and Egypt to attend summits and discuss bilateral relations. The Assembly speaker will depart on Tuesday for Italy to participate in the seventh G-20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit slated from Thursday to Friday in Rome, according to Park’s office. Under the motto of “Parliaments for the People, the Planet and Prosperity,” the G-20 parliamentary leaders will discuss their joint responses to some of the most pressing issues on the global agenda, including overcoming the pandemic and ensuring sustainable development.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Japan's new cabinet signals no policy change on Korea
Relations between Seoul and Tokyo under Japan's new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida could continue to face a bumpy road ahead, after Kishida formed his Cabinet with hawkish figures mostly from the previous Yoshihide Suga and Shinzo Abe administrations. Japan's Diet elected Kishida as the country's prime minister Monday. The 64-year-old former foreign minister played a key role in a now-scrapped Seoul-Tokyo deal in 2015 to resolve the two countries' historic issue of sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial military before and during World War II, which created victims in Korea, China and other Asian countries. Kishida has been claiming that South Korea did not abide by the deal.
Finance minister apologizes for real estate policy failure
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Tuesday that instability in the real estate market has continued despite government policies over the past few years, essentially acknowledging the failure of policies to ameliorate the high cost of real estate here. "It is regretful that the real estate market shows no sign of stabilization, despite the fact that the government has exhausted all policy measures," he said at the parliamentary audit of the Ministry of Economy and Finance at the National Assembly. However, he made it clear that no policy course correction will follow under the broad policy objective to stem speculation and provide stable housing arrangements via an increase in the housing supply.
Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival to give sneak peek at Buddhism-inspired musical
Audiences will be able to see a part of the musical, "Lepaka Muryang," inspired by Buddhism during the 18th Odaesan Mountain Culture Festival, an annual event held by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism to promote Korean Buddhist culture at Woljeongsa Temple in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province from Oct. 8 to 10. The temple is one of Korea's five biggest temples and a cultural relic built during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C.-A.D. 935), making it over 1,000 years old. The musical revolves around a stonecutter and the queen of a Buddhist country who wishes to build a stone pagoda. Queen Hyeryu, who seized power in an early age, decides to build the pagoda to help build her political power.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Air Quality Best on Record in September
The air quality in the Seoul area was at the best on record in September partly thanks to reduced operation of coal-fired power plants in China. According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government on Monday, the average concentration of ultrafine dust particles or PM 2.5 was just 7 ㎍/㎥ in September, the lowest monthly level since observations began in 2014. The previous lowest level was 10 ㎍/㎥ in September 2018. The concentration of fine dust particles (PM 10) was 15 ㎍/㎥ on average, also the lowest since records began in 1995.
Korea to Launch Homegrown Rocket This Month
Korea will launch its first fully homegrown space rocket Nuri on Oct. 21, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT. If the weather is bad or technical problems arise, Oct. 22 to 28 have been set as reserve dates. The three-stage rocket is designed to put a 1.5-ton satellite into orbit 600-800 km above the earth and the government has invested around W2 trillion since 2010 to develop it (US$1=W1,184). The last launch rehearsal took place in August and final takeoff preparations are currently under way. If all goes as planned, the Nuri will blast off into space at 4 p.m. on Oct. 21 and the first-stage will separate at an altitude of 59 km. The second-stage rocket will climb to a height of 258 km, while the booster on the third stage will ignite to put the satellite into orbit at an altitude of 700 km.
N.Korea Restores Cross-Border Hotlines
North Korea on Monday reconnected cross-border hotlines amid tentative signs of a thaw after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his willingness to restore them. But the official [North] Korean Central News Agency warned South Korea to "make positive efforts to put the North-South ties on a right track and settle important tasks. bearing deep in mind the meaning of the restoration of communication lines." The North unilaterally disconnected the communication lines in June last year but briefly restored them this July, only to stop answering calls again a month later. The Unification Ministry welcomed the development, saying that it "lays the ground for peace on the Korean Peninsula and bringing relations between the two Koreas back on track." The ministry made no mention of the North's recent spate of missile provocations
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
What comes next after restoration of inter-Korean hotlines
The direct lines of communication between South and North Korea are back online after a 55-day hiatus. This came five days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced that the communication lines would be restored in early October during a policy address on Wednesday, during the fifth session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly. This is the first sign of a breakthrough in inter-Korean relations, which have been at an impasse for nearly a year and fourth months, since June 2020. That was when North Korea cut the lines of communication (June 9) and detonated the joint liaison office in Kaesong (June 16) in response to propaganda leaflets that were being floated over the border by North Korean defector groups in South Korea.
N. Korea condemns UN Security Council for “double-dealing” standards after missile test
Jo Chol-su, director of the Department of International Organizations at North Korea’s foreign ministry, advised that the UN Security Council (UNSC) “had better think what consequences it will bring in the future in case it tries to encroach upon the sovereignty of the DPRK again with the double-dealing stick, while attaching weight to the US-style brigandish way of thinking and judgment.” Jo’s remarks came in a statement published Sunday afternoon by the Korean Central News Agency. In the statement, he said the UNSC had been acting “at the instigation of the US” when it “convened a meeting behind closed doors on [Friday], where it faulted the activities of the DPRK for self-defence.”
Kang Kyung-wha announces candidacy for ILO director-general
Kang Kyung-wha, former Minister of Foreign Affairs for South Korea, announced her candidacy for director-general of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Friday. Kang pledged to help developing countries build their economies and promote dialogue between organized labor, big business and governments. Kang’s campaign platform on the ILO’s website included supporting the restructuring of industries for the climate crisis, promoting tripartite dialogue to aid those efforts, and expanding social security programs to cover platform workers. Kang also said she would expand technological cooperation projects for developing countries that have been greatly impacted by the pandemic and work to improve the employment situation in participating countries.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Cheong Wa Dae pays close attention to Daejang-dong scandal
In a meeting with presidential office staff on Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in urged to conduct thorough investigations on alleged favors related to the Daejang-dong development project, an urban development project at Seongnam City. Cheong Wa Dae announced that it “is considering the issue seriously and observing the allegations”, which is the first time for the presidential office to issue a stance against the scandal. Ruling and opposition parties had been in a heated debate in a national audit hearing at a National Assembly Standing Committee regarding the scandal and whether former Public Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-yeol was forced to report the case.
1 in 12 hydrogen charging stations on highways breaks down once a month
It has been reported that one in 12 hydrogen charging stations in highway service areas stops operation due to a breakdown once a month. While the number of hydrogen cars increased three times during the last two years in South Korea in accordance with the government’s efforts to boost the hydrogen economy, the relevant infrastructure remains poor. According to the report submitted by the Korea Expressway Corporation to Song Seog-jun, a member of the People Power Party and the Land Infrastructure and Transport Committee of the National Assembly, on Monday, there was a total of 221 cases of breakdown of hydrogen car charging stations in service areas from April 2019 when they first started operating to August 2021 – 61, 87, and 73 cases in 2019, 2020, and 2021 (as of August), respectively.
China imports coal from Australia again
The Financial Times reported on Monday that Chinese importers started to unload Australian coal as demand for coal surges despite the import ban imposed by the Chinese authority on Australian coal in retaliation against Australia for taking sides with the U.S. amid the U.S.-China rivalry. Critics argue that China gave in to Australia in the face of the suspension of coal-fired power plants and resultant power outages. According to the newspaper, at major Chinese ports, coals are unloaded from Australian vessels that were stranded in the sea. Nick Ristic, lead dry cargo analyst at Braemar ACM Shipbroking, reported that approximately 45 tons of coal were unloaded so far.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Kim Man-bae Entrusted His Registered Seal to Lee Han-sung 4 Days Before Police Investigation
Kim Man-bae, the largest shareholder of Hwacheon Daeyu, entrusted a certificate of his registered seal to Lee Han-sung (Yi Han-seong), a director at Cheonhwa Dongin 1, four days before he was questioned by the police. At the time, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) at the Financial Services Commission had notified the police of suspicious transactions of corporate funds at Cheonhwa Dongin 1 only, among the affiliates of Hwacheon Daeyu. This raised suspicions that Kim might have taken action, when the police launched the investigation, to justify the money he borrowed from Cheonhwa Dongin 1. According to the coverage by the Kyunghyang Shinmun on October 4, Kim Man-bae had Lee Han-sung act on his behalf and get a certificate for his registered seal issued on September 23.
“Tired of Promotional Marketing Events” Starbucks Employees Warn of First Collective Action
Starbucks employees are drawing attention after they announced plans to organize a truck demonstration in protest of an excessive workload. This is the first time that employees at Starbucks, which does not have a trade union, warned of engaging in collective action. According to the retail industry on October 5, some employees at Starbucks are using Blind, an application for an anonymous community of employees, to discuss plans for a truck demonstration on October 6 as a way to urge the company for improvements in working conditions. Reportedly, they are considering driving trucks decorated with placards and videos expressing their demands in the demonstration. Starbucks employees are demanding better treatment and improvements to the company’s wage structure. They also want the company to refrain from excessive promotional marketing.
Businessman who Received 10 Billion Won from Kim Man-bae Hired Park Young-soo’s Son for Several Months
On October 1, the government announced that it would extend the current social (physical) distancing level for two more weeks. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum presided over a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters meeting in response to COVID-19 at the government office in Seoul this day and made the announcement during his opening remarks. Thus from October 4 until 17, the distancing measure enforced in the greater Seoul area will be level 4, while it will remain level 3 in all other areas. During this period, there will also be no changes to the government restriction on private gatherings (gatherings of up to six people are permitted).
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Commodity volatility poses serious challenge to Korean key exporters
The uninterrupted surge in commodity prices fueled by China’s power crunch on top of ongoing supply and shipping woes are poised to unsettle South Korea’s manufacturing capacity from wafer-based production to car assembly lines that are largely behind the country’s exports and external-reliant economy. According to Korea Mineral Resource Information Service (KOMIS) on Tuesday, the price of magnesium, a key material for smartphones, PCs, aircraft, and vehicles, skyrocketed to $8,250 per ton on Oct. 1, breaking its previous record of $6,000 in 2007.
Kakao chief Kim loses $2.2 bn in stock holding value on Kakao stock plunge
The recent plunge in stock price of South Korea’s platform giant Kakao Corp. has wiped out 2.6 trillion won ($2.2 billion) in net worth of Kakao founder and Chairman Kim Beom-su. The value of stock holding assets by 38 business group leaders out of 50 in South Korea fell 12.6 percent from 60.8 trillion won at the end of June to 53.12 trillion won in late September, according to local market researcher CXO Institute on Tuesday. Kakao Chairman Kim saw the biggest loss of 2.66 trillion won in his stock asset value from 9.6 trillion won in late June to 6.98 trillion won in end-Sept.
K-pharmas active in fund-raising for R&D ammunitions during pandemic environment
Korean pharmaceutical companies are capitalizing on the drug momentum and spotlight on Korean vaccine consignment capacity under Covid-19 environment to raise funds to bolster R&D activity and novel drug pipeline. According to sources on Monday, seven major pharmas - ChongKunDang, ChongKunDangHoldings, Green Cross, Kwangdong Pharmaceutical, Daewoong Pharmaceutical, Suheung, Samsung Biologics – issued bonds worth 1 trillion won ($842 million) this year. Debt issuers from the industry stopped at three - Boryung Pharm, HK inno. N, and DongA Socio Holdings - last year. ChongKunDang had been most active with its biggest-ever issue. The traditionally debt-averted company raised a total of 100 billion won in 3-year bonds worth 80 billion won and 5-year bonds worth 20 billion won.
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