Monday, November 8, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
“Angola marks Independence Day on Nov. 11, has many Korean firms contributing to bilateral cooperation”
Ambassador Edgar Gaspar Martins of the Republic of Angola in Seoul said, “Angola celebrates her National Day on November 11 marking her winning of independence from Portugal in 1975.” Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post at the Embassy of Angola in Seoul, Ambassador Martins said that many Korean companies are contributing to the promotion of cooperation and friendship between the two countries. He said, “In the recent past, Korean companies, such as Sonangol E.P. and DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering), have developed several projects in the field of shipbuilding and equipment for the oil industry. Then he cited many other Korean companies actively engaged in the promotion of economic cooperation between the two countries as well as to the economic growth and development in their host country of Angola.
Bangladesh marks 50th year of independence, birth centenary of Father of the Nation
Ambassador Delwar Hossain of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Seoul said, “Bangladesh and Korea have been enjoying friendly relations and ever-expanding partnership since the establishment of diplomatic relationship on Dec. 18, 1973.” Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985, Ambassador Hossain then noted, “The countries have commonality in their history of the struggles for independence from the occupation forces and for preservation and promotion of the dignity of their respective mother languages.” Ambassador Hossain of Bangladesh has recently been accredited to Korea then noted that the bilateral cooperation between the two countries covers a wide range of fields including trade and commerce, investment, manpower, development assistance, education and human resource development, ICT, cultural exchanges and other areas.” Excerpts from the interview follow:
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.
S. Korea to Begin Administering Booster Shots for J&J Vaccine Recipients
South Korea will begin administering COVID-19 booster shots for some one-point-four million recipients of Johnson and Johnson's one-shot Janssen vaccine from Monday. Most of the eligible people will be given the Moderna vaccine for booster shots, with Pfizer and Janssen vaccines also available for those who want the vaccines. The state vaccination task force is recommending that the recipients of the Janssen vaccine get booster shots as soon as it is available from two months after the completion of vaccination in light of higher COVID-19 infection rates among them. Additional shots for people in their 50s and priority groups including health workers and people with underlying illnesses are administered from six months after the completion of vaccination.
Kyodo: Japanese Nuke Envoy Called War-ending Declaration 'Premature'
Japan has reportedly voiced disapproval of a proposal by South Korea to declare a formal end to the Korean War, calling it "premature." Japan's Kyodo News issued the report on Saturday quoting diplomatic sources. Top nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan held a meeting last month in Washington, the first such meeting since the launch of the Fumio Kishida administration. In the meeting, Takehiro Funakoshi, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, reportedly said it is "premature" to discuss the proposal, citing that North Korea has repeatedly test-fired missiles. The report said that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim did not argue the pros and cons of the proposal during the meeting.
KDI: Recovery in Manufacturing Weakens due to Supply Chain Issues
A state-run think tank has assessed that the recovery in manufacturing has weakened due to disruptions in global supply chains. The Korea Development Institute (KDI) made the assessment in its November report released on Sunday, saying that the nation's economic recovery momentum has weakened recently due to external factors. The KDI said that the service industry has somewhat rebounded due to relaxed virus curbs, but the economic recovery is weak as global supply chains issues and rising prices of raw materials dampened the recovery in the manufacturing industry. Last month, the KDI said that the economy’s recovery was slowing down due to the decline in the in-service industry and "downside risks" are growing with rising global uncertainties.
Crowds pack religious facilities on 1st weekend under 'living with COVID-19'
People flocked to churches and temples in South Korea on Sunday to attend worship services on the first weekend since the country began easing virus restrictions as part of steps to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. South Korea on Monday kicked off the first of the three-stage "living with COVID-19" scheme to gradually phase out coronavirus restrictions as more than 70 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated. Under the eased rules, in-person worship services are now allowed to take up to 50 percent of their capacity regardless of attendees' vaccination status. If the attendees are comprised only of fully vaccinated people or those who submit negative PCR test results, no such cap is applied.
Yoon ahead of Lee in survey on suitability for president
Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential candidate of the main opposition People Power Party, is ahead of Lee Jae-myung, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, beyond the margin of error, a survey on their suitability for presidency showed Sunday. Yoon earned 45.8 percent against 30.3 percent for Lee in the survey of 1,005 people conducted Friday and Saturday by the pollster PNR. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence level. In the survey, Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People's Party came third with 4.7 percent, trailed by Sim Sang-jeung of the minor progressive Justice Party with 3.2 percent and former Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Kim Dong-yeon with 0.9 percent.
U.S. diplomat coordinating to arrange talks with presidential candidates in Seoul: sources
A senior U.S. diplomat is coordinating a schedule to arrange talks with the presidential candidates of two major South Korean political parties during his visit to Seoul this week, sources said Sunday.
Daniel Kritenbrink, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, is seeking to have separate talks with Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, and Yoon Seok-youl of the main opposition People Power Party during his planned trip here from Wednesday to Friday, the sources said Kritenbrink is on his first Asia trip since taking office in September. He will fly to South Korea on Wednesday after a four-day trip to Japan. Should the talks with Lee and Yoon take place, Kritenbrink could use them to build ties with prominent politicians ahead of the March 9 presidential election.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Number of critically ill COVID patients rises after rules relaxed
The number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients has risen steadily since Nov. 1, when rules were eased for public gatherings and working hours at public facilities such as restaurants and cafes. The change came into effect as part of a step-by-step transition by health authorities to remove all restrictions by February. This weekend some 3,000 South Koreans attended rallies in downtown Seoul, while many others took advantage of the increased freedom in public places. But Korea is seeing an increasing number of critically ill patients who need ventilators. As of midnight at Saturday, the number was 405, up from 343 a week prior. Newly diagnosed infections on the day stood at 2,224, with the tally hovering around 2,200 for five consecutive days.
Presidential race begins in earnest
The four-month presidential campaign has fully begun in earnest, but both the ruling and main opposition candidates face a series of hurdles ranging from a lack of appeal outside party supporters to allegations that could potentially bring them under the scrutiny of law enforcement. For both the ruling Democratic Party of Korea’s Lee Jae-myung and main opposition People Power Party’s Yoon Seok-youl, winning over younger generations and female voters are critical tasks, amid unprecedentedly low public support for the contenders. A recent Gallup poll identifies more than 30 percent of Koreans as swing voters. Although 57 percent of respondents said that the next presidential election should see regime change, it does not mean that Yoon would get that full support.
Banks in Korea to see mass voluntary retirement this year
South Korea’s banking sector is expected to no longer guarantee job security the way it once did. This year, the industry is seeing a mass exodus of its workforce, with lenders offering lucrative early retirement packages to accelerate digitalization of banking services and trim down their physical operations for the transition, data showed Sunday. The Korea Herald looked at individual employment data from six banks released this year. Along with Citibank Korea shutting down its consumer banking “in phases,“ market rival Standard Chartered Bank Korea appears to be speeding up structural reorganization in line with its digital policy.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Can Moon finish his term without lame duck period?
With about six months left before President Moon Jae-in leaves office, his support is still hovering at around 40 percent, far higher than the approval rates of other former presidents in their final year, which often fell below 20 percent or 30 percent. The solid high approval rate is notable especially when so many people are critical of his policies, specifically those on real estate. According to a poll conducted on 1,000 adults from Nov. 2 to 4 by Gallup Korea, Moon's approval rating stood at 37 percent. In the previous nine weeks, the rate fluctuated between 36 percent and 41 percent. In the latest poll, 25 percent of those who approved of Moon's job performance said they acknowledge his diplomatic activities, followed by 20 percent who recognized his COVID-19 response.
Korea to promptly import diesel additive from China, Australia
The government will make all-out efforts to solve the ongoing shortage of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) ― sometimes called "urea water" ― an essential additive for diesel-powered vehicles, by seeking to import it from major producers including China and Australia. It will also temporarily simplify customs clearance and offer tax incentives for its importation. The mandatory testing period for DEF exclusively manufactured for diesel engines will be shortened from the current 20 days to three to five days, while urea used for industrial purpose will be allowed in the production of DEF for diesel-powered vehicles. These were measures discussed during an emergency meeting on the external economy and security, Sunday, presided over by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy Hong Nam-ki.
Prime minister to visit POSCO for job-creation project
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum will visit the headquarters of POSCO in Seoul, Wednesday, to seek the support of the country's leading steelmaker for a project he started to have private companies to hire young jobseekers. The "Youth Hope ON" project was initiated by Kim after he took office in May, in conjunction with four other business groups ― Samsung Electronics, LG, SK and KT ― already pledging to create 108,000 jobs over the next three years. Industry sources expect the prime minister will meet POSCO CEO Choi Jeong-woo on Wednesday. The sources noted Kim previously met chiefs of Samsung, LG, SK and KT to ask for their help to expand the "Youth Hope ON" project.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
N.Korea Shows up at UN Climate Conference
A delegation of North Korean officials unexpectedly showed up at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday. The North is among 190 countries that have signed up to the 2015 Paris Climate Accords and has sent representatives to subsequent meetings. But instead of a team from Pyongyang, the North's ambassador to the U.K. attended the meeting because North Korea's borders are completely sealed and nobody can come in or out. Ambassador Choe Il and other delegates were almost barred from the venue when they tried to attend the opening ceremony and speeches delivered by world leaders without special tickets. They were finally able to enter after showing their North Korean passports.
Recovering Shipbuilding Industry Suffers Labor Shortage
The shipbuilding industry is one of Korea's top manufacturing sectors, but labor is in short supply after several years of massive layoffs. Korean shipbuilders have seen a surge in orders for environmentally friendly vessels recently, and the shortage of workers is causing problems for them. The situation is the same for transportation companies and small and mid-sized manufacturers. Younger Koreans are being increasingly reluctant to work in factories, and the 52-cap on the working week means the workers who remain can only work limited overtime. The country's top three shipbuilders -- Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, Samsung Heavy Industries -- managed to meet their annual order targets for the year already in the third quarter but are now hard-pressed to keep up with production.
Infected Candidates Must Sit University Entrance Exam in Hospital
Candidates who test positive for coronavirus from Thursday will have to sit the annual university entrance exam in designated hospitals. The Education Ministry on Thursday said students who test positive within two weeks before the test on Nov. 18 will be hospitalized or quarantined at designated facilities even if they have no symptoms. If they recover before the test date they will be able to take the exam in ordinary test centers. To minimize the risk of infection, all high schools across the country will shift back to online classes from Nov. 11, a week before the exam, or even before then if they want. A majority of seniors at some high schools have already applied for home study to protect themselves from infection.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon Seok-youl clinches People Power Party nomination with 47.85% of votes
Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl has won the People Power Party’s presidential primary, officially becoming its nominee for next year’s presidential election. Yoon received 47.85% of the votes at the party’s national convention, held Friday at the Kim Koo Museum and Library in Seoul’s Yongsan District. Runner-up Rep. Hong Joon-pyo received 41.50% of the votes, while competitors Yoo Seong-min and former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong trailed with 7.41% and 3.17% of the votes, respectively. Yoon won a total of 347,963 votes, with 210,034 votes from electors and 37.94% of public opinion poll votes, which converted to 137,929 votes. His toughest competitor was Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, who came second with 126,519 votes from electors and 48.21% of public opinion poll votes (converted to 175,267 votes) for a total of 301,786 votes.
With deadline looming, S. Korean chipmakers will partially comply with US’ data demand
The deadline for submitting major internal data on semiconductor supply chains requested by the US government in September is now just four days away. Domestic chipmakers, which have voiced dismay over this unprecedented demand, are expected to submit their data in a way that will minimize the exposure of sensitive information. According to reporting by the Hankyoreh published Wednesday, domestic chip giants like Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix will submit data to the US Department of Commerce by the Monday deadline so long as the information does not violate non-disclosure agreements with customers. Following a White House summit on Sept. 23 on semiconductor supply chains, the department asked semiconductor makers worldwide to fill out a questionnaire with information on major customer lists, sales share, inventory and yield.
First lady thanks Hungary for sharing 18th-century map denoting East Sea
While visiting the National Archives of Hungary on Wednesday, South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook was given a copy of an 18th-century European map that labels the sea off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula with the Latin phrase “MARE ORIENTALE MINVS,” meaning “Small East Sea.” Kim was on a state visit to Hungary with her husband, President Moon Jae-in. Korea is identified here as ‘CAOLI KUO, COREA, CHAO SIEN,’” said Blue House spokesperson Park Kyung-mee on Thursday, while viewing the map she’d received from the first lady. “This map, which was produced in Europe in 1730, shows that the sea on the eastern side of the Korean Peninsula was regarded as the ‘East Sea’ in 18th century Europe,” Park added.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Lee Jae-myung claims land is supposed to be all of us
Ruling Minjoo Party of Korea’s presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung reaffirmed his will to root out unearned income out of real estate transactions by arguing that houses should be part of public goods, which was met with criticism by the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) describing it as a communist notion. “It is worth noting that properties are supposed to be shared by members of society. The public sector needs to consider various approaches,” Lee said on his visit to a share house among young residents on Saturday. “Some of you may complain about why the government minds individual citizens’ business in terms of how many houses they own. Such a way of thinking requires some self-reflection and change.”
Japan: ‘It is premature to push to declare end of Korean War’
The Japanese government said it is premature to declare end of the Korean War, which is still in armistice, the Kyoto News Agency reported on Saturday. It is the first time that the Japanese government’s position has been made public with regard to the proposed declaration of end of the Korean War, which Seoul is pushing for. According to Kyoto, Roh Kyu-deok, head of the Korean Peninsula Peace Negotiation Headquarters at the South Korean Foreign Affairs Ministry, stressed the benefit of declaring end of the Korean War based on President Moon Jae-in’s speech at the United Nations when Roh was attending three-way talks in Washington, D.C. between the chief negotiators for Pyongyang’s denuclearization from Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.
Iraqi PM survives drone assassination attempts
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi managed to avoid being victimized by assassination attempts by drone equipment, left unaffected, with at least seven security guards injured. Following the incident, tensions are only growing across the nation. Armed with explosive arms, an unidentified unmanned air vehicle stroke Prime Minister Kadhimi’s official residence located in the Green Zone area in Baghdad early on Sunday morning, reported Reuters. Such risk attacks were attempted on one of the most securely protected areas in the capital city, home to government buildings and foreign embassies. Not any armed group has yet publicly claimed that it was involved in the attacks. In the meanwhile, suspicions are growing that the Fatah Alliance, which sides with the pro-Iran Shiite militia, might have led the terrorist act as it has mounted anti-government protests arguing that the current Iraqi regime rigged the general elections on Oct. 10.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Cheongwadae, “Kim Jong-un’s First Mention of the End-of-War Declaration, Its Significance Is Not Light”
Cheongwadae mentioned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent comment on President Moon Jae-in’s proposal for an end-of-war declaration and said, “The North Korean leader expressing interest in the end-of-war declaration to the outside world has significance, and it’s not light.” On November 3 (local time), a senior Cheongwadae official met with reporters during President Moon’s trip to Hungary and said, “North Korea expressed its position on a declaration to end the war on several occasions, but this is the first time that Chairman Kim mentioned the declaration to the outside world.” The official continued and said, “When it comes to a declaration to end the war, other than South Korea, the United States and North Korea will be the important parties involved, and South Korea will be able to continue its role to encourage talks between North Korea and the U.S.” He also said, “We will have to seek room to talk with the North based on an agreement on the end-of-war declaration with the U.S.”
Jeong Young-hak, Who Designed the Daejang-dong Project, Illegally Raised 5 Billion Won for Capital to Establish the Daejang PFV
Accountant Jeong Young-hak, known as the mastermind behind the development project in Daejang-dong, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi, illegally raised a significant portion of the 5 billion won capital when establishing the Daejang project financing vehicle (PFV) in 2009. According to the coverage by the Kyunghyang Shinmun on November 4, when the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office investigated lobby allegations in connection with the Daejang-dong project and politicians and public officials in June 2015, they obtained a statement from Lee Kang-gil, CEO of C7, claiming that Jeong illegally raised the startup capital for the Daejang PFV. The prosecutor’s investigation at the time confirmed that private developers including Lee, Jeong, and their partner Gim, had established the Daejang PFV for the Daejang-dong development project in 2009.
North Korean Government Officials Were Present When President Moon Gave a Speech on “Inter-Korean Cooperation in Forest Restoration”
On November 1 (local time), President Moon Jae-in gave a keynote address at the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26) and suggested inter-Korean cooperation in forest restoration. North Korean government officials were on site and listened to the president’s speech until the end. However, President Moon was not able to meet with the North Korean officials. This day, President Moon gave a keynote speech at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, where the COP 26 summit is taking place. The president said, “Cooperation in forest restoration is a way to promote peace in the border area,” and added that the two Koreas could reduce greenhouse gases on the Korean Peninsula through cooperation in forest restoration.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Seoul lifts entry restrictions on migrant workers starting this month
South Korea will re-allow migrant workers into the country from later this month in line with the country’s return to normalcy to ease the labor shortage in smaller production lines and manual industry. The Ministry of Employment and Labor on Friday announced its entry normalization scheme for migrant workers who have taken the required prevention measures like vaccinations. Under the scheme, nationals from 16 countries eligible to Korea’s temporary labor migration program dubbed the Employment Permit System (EPS) will be fully allowed to enter Korea. The entry cap of 50 per day and 600 per week will also be lifted so that 50,000 workers in waiting can find jobs in Korea.
SK On invests $2.53 bn to build fourth EV plant in China
SK On Co., pure-play battery unit recently spun off South Korea’s SK Innovation Co., will invest $2.53 billion to build its fourth EV battery in China in 30 Gigawatt-per-hour (GWh) annual capacity under direct management for shipments devoted to the world’s largest EV market. According to foreign media outlets and industry sources on Thursday, SK On has recently signed a $2.53 billion investment contract with Yancheng city in Jiangsu Province, China, to build a new factory. The company has already invested $1.06 billion in its local entity for the expansion in September. SK On plans to launch construction of its new battery cell as early as next year for the goal of mass production from the end of 2023.
Nuclear power stocks in Korea rally on China’s $440 bn plan to add 150 reactors
Nuclear reactor-related stocks in South Korea have gained upward momentum upon news that China is planning on a $440 billion-project to build at least 150 nuclear reactors across the country over the next 15 years to reduce carbon emissions and deal with power shortage. Shares of Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. gained 6.71 percent to close at 26,250 won ($22) on Thursday. KEPCO Engineering & Construction Co., a nuclear reactor developing unit of KEPCO, soared 23.9 percent to 87,600 won. In Friday morning session, Doosan Heavy edged down 0.57 percent to 26,100 won and KEPCO E&C 0.8 percent to 86,900 won.
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