Friday, October 29, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Seoul greets a wonderful seasoned, ambitious lady ambassador from Cambodia
All these years since the resumption of diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Cambodia in 1997, the Republic of Korea has been favored with wonderful ambassadors from the country. However, this year it appears that Korea greets one of the most wonderful ambassadors. The ambassador, Madam Chring Botum Rangsay, spoke the English language in a manner which no one could really tell apart from that used by Britons or Americans. With the new ambassador from Cambodia, it appears that the two countries are now in for a one-notch upgraded level of relations, cooperation and friendship. At an exclusive interview with The Korea Post media (publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean news publications since 1985) on Oct. 26, 2021, Ambassador Chring disclosed that following the signing of free trade agreement (FTA) between Korea and Cambodia, the Cambodian Embassy planned to cohost a business investment event in Seoul in early December with the participation of economy- and business-related ministers of Cambodia.
“Incumbent President of Uzbekistan wins a landslide victory in Presidential election”
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, Monday, Oct. 25--President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of the Republic of Uzbekistan won a landslide victory in the Presidential elections held throughout the country yesterday. Early estimates indicated that Mirziyoyev won over 80% of the total number of votes that day. His successful re-election is expected to allow him to further strengthen his substantially successful reform campaign and to likely lead to Uzbekistan opening up further to foreign trade and investment. Shortly after voting ended at 8 p.m. yesterday, Chairman Zayniddin Nizamkhodjaev of the Central Election Commission said at a briefing session that voter turnout totaled 89.8%, which was larger than 87.7% reported in the previous elections in 2016 vote.
SK Innovation partners with Solid Power to lead next-generation battery market
SK Innovation in Seoul announced today a partnership with Solid Power, an industry-leading developer of all-solid-state battery cells, to develop all-solid-state batteries under a memorandum of understanding (“MoU”) and joint development agreement (“JDA”) on Oct. 28, 2021. According to SK Public Relations Manager Kim Ye-ji, SK Innovation also committed to make a US$30 million (approximately, KRW 35.325 billion) investment to acquire a stake in Solid Power. Solid Power is known as a leading developer of all-solid-state batteries. Besides SK Innovation, many global major automobile companies, including Ford and BMW, have acknowledged Solid Power’s all-solid-state cell development and production technology and already invested in the company.
Moon Arrives in Rome for Meeting with Pope, G20 Summit
President Moon Jae-in arrived in Italy on Thursday for a meeting with Pope Francis and a summit with the leaders of the Group of 20(G20) nations. Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook arrived at Leonardo da Vinci airport of Rome Thursday night, Korean time, for a nine-day Europe tour. The president will first make an official visit to the Holy See on Friday to meet Pope Francis and Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, marking Moon's second visit to the Vatican after his first in October 2018. The meeting with the pope is likely to discuss a potential papal visit to North Korea and ways to advance the Korean Peninsula peace process.
S. Korea's Spy Agency Dismisses Rumors of Kim Jong-un Body Double
South Korea’s intelligence agency says North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lost some 20 kilograms of body weight but displayed no particular health issues. According to Representatives Kim Byung-kee and Ha Tae-keung who each represents the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition People Power Party at the National Assembly Intelligence Committee, the National Intelligence Service shared its analysis on Kim’s health during a closed-door session on Thursday. The lawmaker said that the NIS adamantly denied rumors that Kim used a body double in recent public appearances, rejecting such speculation as groundless. The agency said it has closely monitored the North Korean leader’s health via data collected through facial and body shape recognition, artificial intelligence and through other scientific and technological tools.
Business Sentiment Improves in October
Business sentiment improved this month as the COVID-19 situation stabilized amid the rising rate of vaccinations. According to the Bank of Korea(BOK) on Friday, the business survey index(BSI) for all industries stood at 86 for October, up two from the previous month. A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists. The BSI for manufacturers remained unchanged from the previous month at 90. However, the BSI for non-manufacturers, which includes restaurants, wholesalers and retail businesses, jumped by five on-month to 84, the highest since May 2018.
Moon leaves for Italy for meeting with Pope Francis, G20 on Europe swing
President Moon Jae-in left for Italy on Thursday for a meeting with Pope Francis and a Group of 20 summit with other global leaders expected to focus on tackling the climate crisis and helping the world end the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting with the pope, set for Friday at the Vatican, is expected to focus on efforts to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula and resolve pending global issues, such as the pandemic, poverty and climate change, presidential officials said. A possible papal visit to North Korea is expected to come up during the meeting as the pope has previously expressed a willingness to visit the North as part of efforts to promote peace on the divided peninsula, officials said.
Moon set to meet Pope Francis at Vatican
President Moon Jae-in was set to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday to discuss peace on the Korean Peninsula and efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential office said. The Friday meeting will take place as Moon visited Rome to attend the Group of 20 Leaders' Summit over the weekend before traveling to Glasgow to join the global summit of the COP26 climate change gathering. It will be Moon's second meeting with Pope Francis since October 2018. Moon and Pope Francis are expected to exchange wisdom to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula and resolve pending global issues, such as the pandemic, poverty and climate change, Park said.
Production, consumption rebound in Sept. despite resurgence in virus cases
South Korea's industrial output and retail sales rebounded in September in the latest sign that economic recovery momentum has been maintained despite the fourth wave of the pandemic, data showed Friday. Industrial output rose 1.3 percent in September from the previous month, following a 0.2 percent on-month decline in August, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea. From a year earlier, industrial output rose 1.4 percent. Retail sales, a gauge of private spending, also rebounded in September as the accelerating vaccine rollout and eased social distancing rules helped spur spending. Retail sales grew 2.5 percent on-month in September, a turnaround from a 0.8 percent on-month fall in August.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
UNESCO conference on learning cities holds opening ceremony in Yeonsu-gu
An opening ceremony and plenary sessions of the fifth UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities were held on Thursday in Incheon’s Yeonsu-gu. The four-day event, hosted by Incheon’s Yeonsu-gu, began Wednesday under the theme of “From emergency to resilience: Building healthy and resilient cities through learning.” The opening ceremony drew around 200 in-person participants from South Korea and 24 other countries, the Yeonsu-gu office said in a press statement on Thursday. South Korean Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning David Atchoarena took part in the ceremony.
Korea offering COVID-19 booster to people age 50 and up, J&J recipients
People aged 50 and older and anyone who received Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will become eligible for COVID-19 booster vaccination shots beginning the second week of November in Korea, the national health protection agency said Thursday. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said COVID-19 boosters, which are being offered in order of priority set by its panel of immunization experts, will eventually become available to the general population, after high-risk groups are covered. Booster vaccinations are given between six and eight months after the primary two-dose series, with an mRNA-type vaccine made by Pfizer or Moderna, according to agency recommendations. Pfizer’s vaccine is 30 micrograms per dose, and so is its booster. Moderna’s booster, on the other hand, is half of the dosage of its original 100 micrograms.
Samsung breaks W70tr in Q3 sales first time
Despite the shortages of parts worldwide under the pandemic, South Korea’s No.1 conglomerate Samsung Electronics logged its largest-ever quarterly earnings in the third quarter of 2021, owing mainly to robust sales of chips and foldable smartphones. According to the earnings announced on Thursday, the tech giant posted 73.98 trillion won ($63.15 billion) in sales and 15.82 trillion won in operating profit during the July-September period. It is the first time that the world’s biggest memory and smartphone provider surpassed the 70 trillion won mark in quarterly sales.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Unification minister's rare trip with President shows Moon's determination for inter-Korean relations
Unification Minister Lee In-young will be participating in President Moon Jae-in's overseas trip, in a rare move during which he is expected to play a role in promoting peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula, according to diplomatic observers. Moon departed for Italy, Thursday, where he is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis and attend the G20 summit. Following this, the President will travel to the U.K. for the COP26 United Nations Climate Summit and visit Hungary afterward. As Moon is scheduled to visit the Vatican, Friday (local time), Lee is expected to talk with officials there about a possible visit to North Korea by the pope.
Korea's nuclear phase-out plan raises net-zero dilemma
With 24 reactors in operation, Korea ranks as the world's sixth-largest producer of energy from nuclear power. But the country began losing its luster as a leader in the industry after President Moon Jae-in introduced his plan to phase out the energy source when he took office in 2017, citing safety concerns. However, the Moon administration is facing a major dilemma, as the phase-out plan is emerging as a major stumbling block in its ambitious goal of achieving net-zero in carbon emissions. The presidential committee on carbon neutrality recently unveiled a new road map, according to which, Korea, the world's ninth-largest carbon emitter as of 2019, will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2018 levels by 2030, and achieve net-zero by 2050.
Stiglitz advises Seoul against easing financial regulations
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz emphasized the necessity of regulations for Seoul to attract more foreign investment. In contrast to the view prevalent among private financial companies that the city's tough rules have blocked its growth into a global financial hub, the former World Bank chief economist sided with the Korean financial authorities that have remained cautious about relaxing regulations. "It becomes even more important for Seoul to step up to be one of the critical financial hubs, and to open a transparent, well-regulated financial hub for Northeast Asia," he said in a keynote speech for the 2021 Seoul International Finance Conference, Thursday. "I believe that kind of transparency and good regulation will lead to innovation, the kind of innovation that leads to a financial system that has value-added for society."
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Will Koreans Go Back to the Office?
Businesses whose staff have been working from home since the coronavirus pandemic started are preparing for a return to the office. Most employees have been fully vaccinated and lockdown restrictions are being eased as Korea plans a phased return to normal next month. But many employers and workers alike are reluctant to resume the old office routines. Businesses have gotten used to reduced overheads thanks to telecommuting, and some employees like working from home instead of spending hours on public transportation. Others, however, have grown to hate working from home.
Kia Catching up with Big Brother Hyundai
Kia achieved an operating profit of more than W1 trillion for the fourth quarter running to rival its bigger affiliate Hyundai in terms of earnings (US$1=W1,173). Kia said Wednesday that third-quarter sales grew 8.8 percent on-year to W17.75 trillion, while operating profit soared 579.7 percent to W1.33 trillion. In the third quarter last year, operating profit shrank markedly because huge reserves were spent to cover a recall, which provided a low base comparison, but sales of high-margin SUVs also increased this year. Kia's quarterly operating profit surpassed W1 trillion for the first time in the final three months of 2020, narrowing the earnings gap with Hyundai from W580 billion in the first quarter of this year to less than W200 billion in the second and third.
Ex-President Roh to Be Given State Funeral
The government on Wednesday decided to give former President Roh Tae-woo a state funeral. But the putschist former president, who died Tuesday, will not be laid to rest at the National Cemetery. Cheong Wa Dae issued condolences on behalf of President Moon Jae-in but said the president will not be able to attend since he embarks on a nine-day visit to Europe on Thursday. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum will head the funeral committee, while Interior and Safety Minister Jeon Hae-cheol will oversee preparations. Roh will be buried on Saturday, and the government will consult his family about the details.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Decision to give late ex-President Roh Tae-woo state funeral sparks outcry
In a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning, the South Korean government decided to hold a state funeral for former President Roh Tae-woo, but not to bury him in a national cemetery. The decision has led to controversy, causing an immediate backlash from civic groups and even members of the ruling party. “It is true that Former President Roh made historic mistakes with respect to the military coup on Dec. 12, 1979, and the Gwangju Uprising, but we also considered the contributions he made after being elected under the direct electoral system, including the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement and other policies on North Korea, as well as efforts to pay compensation after receiving a criminal sentence,” said Hwang Myeong-seok, administrative affairs director at the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.
Former President Roh Tae-woo, mastermind of 1979 military coup, dies at 88
Roh Tae-woo, former president of South Korea and a mastermind of the 1979 coup alongside Chun Doo-hwan (now 90 years old), died on Tuesday. He was 88. Roh had been battling a bronchial condition and cerebellar atrophy for more than a decade. After his condition rapidly worsened on Tuesday afternoon, he was rushed to the emergency room at Seoul National University Hospital, in Seoul’s Yeongeon neighborhood. He died at 1:46 pm, about half an hour after reaching the hospital.
S. Korea to lift restrictions on business hours, adopt vaccine pass system starting Monday
With 70% of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, South Korea will take a big step toward a gradual return to normal life starting Monday. The adoption of a "vaccine pass" will remove time restrictions at all facilities except those for entertainment. Starting in December, events and gatherings of up to 500 people will be allowed and the limit on the number of people will be lifted altogether in January. The Central Disaster Management Headquarters, which operates under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, released these details on Monday at a public hearing for its draft plan to conduct a phased return to normal life.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Amid supply chain crisis, product price increases in U.S. and China
The supply-chain disaster is putting inflationary pressure on global economy, including the U.S. and China. U.S. businesses hit by labor shortage and supply chain crisis are raising product prices, after having endured ever-rising costs. China, which is dubbed as the world’s factory, has been hit by electricity outage and rising costs of raw materials, has seen a huge increase in inflation. As China’s inflation is likely to spread to the entire world, South Korea has been alarmed by import prices. Critics forecast that economic recovery interfered by supply chain crisis, U.S.’s economy growth in the third quarter might be expected to be half of the previous quarter.
Yoon: Corruption Investigation Office works according to ruling party’s instructions
The People Power Party claimed on Thursday that the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials is investigating according to the ruling party’s instructions with regards to the dismissal of a warrant of Prosecutor Son Jun-seong, a key figure in the allegation of criminal complaint incitement surrounding former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. The Democratic Party of Korea counterattacked by saying that it was a meaningless speech of a political maneuverer. Those on the side of Yoon focused their criticism on the fact that Song Young-gil, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, asked the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials to accelerate the investigation of Prosecutor Son and Kim Woong, a member of the People Power Party.
U.S. government issues first ‘X-gender’ passport
The U.S. State Department issued the first passport with an X-gender marker for sexually minorities who do not choose to identify as male nor female. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that the first “X-gender” U.S. passport was issued, adding that all applicants will have access to this new type of passport once a related system is upgraded earlier next year. Passport applicants are allowed by the U.S. state department to define a gender of their choice without having to verify it based on personal medical records. The current system requires submission of certificates verified by medical institutes if you want to choose a different gender from the one reported at the time of birth registration.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Who Will Defeat Lee Jae-myung? Hong Joon-pyo 38.2%, Yoon Seok-youl 33.1%
On October 28, a poll showed that lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo was ahead of former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl outside the margin of error in the People Power Party primaries. Hong was also ahead in a virtual two-way race against the Democratic Party of Korea’s presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung with a lead bigger than the margin of error. This day, Realmeter released the results of a survey commissioned by OhmyNews. The polling firm surveyed 2,035 people ages 18 and older nationwide on October 25-26, and the results showed that respondents supported the presidential candidates in the People Power Party in the order of Hong Joon-pyo (38.2%), Yoon Seok-youl (33.1%), former lawmaker Yoo Seong-min (10.9%), and former Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong (4.1%).
“Chun Doo-hwan Is Not Worth Considering” Lee Cheol-hee on the Debate over a State Funeral for Roh Tae-woo
On October 28, Senior Cheongwadae Secretary for Political Affairs Lee Cheol-hee spoke on the controversial decision to hold a state funeral for former President Roh Tae-woo, who died on October 26, and said, “In the case of former president Chun Doo-hwan, a state funeral or a burial in the national cemetery is not worth considering.” This day, Lee appeared for an interview on the CBS radio show, Kim Hyun-jung’s News Show and said, “There are some people who mention former President Chun, but we think it (former President Roh) is a completely different case.” Lee explained, “He (Roh) left his last words seeking forgiveness and his bereaved family also visited the May 18 cemetery and apologized in the past.” He further said, “The decision to hold a state funeral does not mean that we believe the evaluation of him by history and the people is over.”
Roh Tae-woo Served Time for Treason: Will His Funeral Be a State Funeral?
On October 26, former president, Roh Tae-woo died, and now attention is on whether his funeral will be held as a state funeral. Cheongwadae withheld announcing its position saying, “A state funeral is possible.” According to the State Funeral Act, when a former or incumbent president or a person respected by the people for his/her notable contribution to the country or society dies, the minister of the interior and safety can recommend a state funeral. The recommendation is reviewed in a cabinet meeting and the president makes the final decision on whether to hold a state funeral. A state funeral can last up to five days. During this period, all flags fly at half mast. The prime minister serves as the chair of the funeral committee, and the minister of the interior and safety oversees the execution. So far, the funeral of former President Kim Young-sam in 2015 was the only one held as a state funeral.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Samsung Elec plans “unprecedented” foundry invest Q4, uncertain about memory market
Samsung Electronics Co. Thursday indicated its capex for this year would be bumped up from last year’s $33 billion mostly to enhance foundry business amid murky memory market prospects after confirming income near at its 2018 heyday and best-ever revenue in the third quarter on strongest chip shipments. The world’s largest chipmaker which spent 38.5 trillion won ($33 billion) on facility expansion last year, or 32.9 trillion won on chips, has already invested 33.5 trillion won as of September this year- 30 trillion won on chips.
Samsung Elec to make AI chips for Qraft from 5-nano processing
Samsung Electronics will employ its advanced 5-nanometer lithography process next year to deliver customized neural processing units (NPUs) also known as artificial intelligence (AI) chips for Qraft Technologies to enhance its robo advisory solutions. According to sources on Wednesday, South Korea-based fintech startup Qraft Technologies, which runs 100 percent AI-powered exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on the New York Stock Exchange, recently placed an order for high-performance AI chips to Rebellions, a Korean fabless startup dedicated to AI chip design.
Kakao buys translation house as it readies digital comic foray into France
South Korea’s Kakao has added a multilingual translation and localization company as it readies to take a crack at the European comic powerhouse of France after prevailing over other key traditional cartoon publishing markets of Japan and the U.S. Kakao Entertainment Corp., a unit of South Korean internet giant Kakao Group, has recently completed the process to acquire Kiwi Media Company, a one-stop localization service firm offering translation, subtitling, dubbing, and media processing, for undisclosed amount, according to industry sources on Wednesday. Kiwi Media Company was founded in Korea in late 2016.
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