Friday, November 19, 2021
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
Oman Celebrates 51st National Day of the Renaissance
The event comes around at a time when Omanis ponder about the achievements made so far and brace for further accomplishments, with firm resolve, under the astute leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik who pledged to hold high the banner of Renewed Renaissance, since he assumed power in the country on 11 January 2020. The Renewed Renaissance kicked off on a high note when His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik called upon the people of Oman to do their best to enrich domestic development and foster progress in all fields. This is considered one of the major principles of Renewed Renaissance in its quest to attain the supreme national objective of “making Oman the central point in all that we strive to achieve”—an objective whose salient features already materialized in terms of updated laws and refurbished programmes of action across all sectors.
“Leading Korean companies actively take part in bilateral win-win cooperation”
Ambassador Vitaliy Fen of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Seoul said, “Today, hundreds of priority investment projects in various sectors of the economy have been implemented by leading Korean companies, and currently, about 900 enterprises with the participation of Korean investors operate in Uzbekistan.” Speaking at a gala reception hosted by Ambassador and Madam Fen at the spacious Crystral Ballroom of the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Nov. 15, 2021 in celebrationof the 30th anniversary of Indepdence of Uzbekstan and the 29th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between teh two countreis, Ambassador Fen then added: “In total, the volume of investments attracted from Korea exceeded US$7 billion.” (Further details of the speech are toward the end of this speech.)
Gap Narrows between Presidential Candidates from Main Parties
The gap between People Power Party(PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl and ruling Democratic Party(DP) candidate Lee Jae-myung narrowed to one percentage point, which is within the margin of error. In a poll conducted from Monday to Wednesday by Embrain Public, KSTAT Research, Korea Research and Hankook Research on roughly one-thousand adults, Yoon garnered 36 percent of support while Lee earned 35 percent in a hypothetical multi-candidate race. Lee has closed in on Yoon since last week's poll, which showed a rating gap of seven percentage points between the two nominees. Ahn Cheol-soo, leader of the minor opposition People's Party, garnered five percent, followed by Sim Sang-jeung of the minor progressive Justice Party with four percent.
State Dept.:US, Japan Reaffirm Importance of Trilateral Cooperation with S. Korea
The U.S. State Department said senior diplomats of the United States and Japan reaffirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation with South Korea on Thursday. The department issued the position in a statement after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman held talks with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori. The department said the trilateral cooperation seeks to tackle the global challenges of the 21st century. The statement comes a day after Mori pulled out of a planned news conference with Sherman and South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun over conflict with Seoul on the Dokdo islets. Mori and Choi were scheduled to appear along with Sherman after their talks on Wednesday in Washington, but only Sherman attended.
Producer Prices Rise for 12th Month in October
Producer prices rose for a 12th consecutive month in October due to the rising prices of oil and raw materials. According to the Bank of Korea(BOK) Friday, the producer price index for all commodities and services stood at 112-point-21 in October, up point-eight percent from a month earlier. The index, a key barometer of future inflation, posted growth for the 12th straight month since November last year. It also replaced new highs for seven consecutive months since April. Compared to a year earlier, the index jumped eight-point-nine percent, the largest on-year gain since October 2008 when it rose ten-point-eight percent. Prices of coal and petroleum products soared 12-point-six percent on-month in October, and electricity and gas prices rose two-point-three percent on-month. Prices of agricultural, fishery and forest products dropped four-point-seven percent on the rising supplies.
DP presidential candidate drops calls for universal COVID-19 relief grants
Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), said Thursday he will not insist on giving universal COVID-19 relief grants, after the government repeatedly expressed opposition over concerns of fiscal soundness. "I will not insist on giving relief handouts to all people," Lee wrote on his Facebook page. "It's a pity, but we cannot afford a fight with each other's opinion." Lee earlier proposed giving additional relief handouts of 300,000-500,000 won (US$250-420) to all people, claiming the relief amount given is too small considering the nation's GDP and in comparison with other countries. His party recently revised the amount downward to 200,000-250,000 won in consideration of the estimated tax revenue surplus and pushed to give the handouts in January.
N. Korean leader calls for boosting self-reliance at conference
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for strengthening the country's self-reliance despite "immediate challenges," including economic difficulties, during a conference on a mass movement aimed at developing its ideology, technology and culture, Pyongyang's state media reported Friday. Kim delivered the message in a letter to the participants at the 5th Conference of the Frontrunners of the Three Revolutions that kicked off in Pyongyang on Thursday, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "The meaning of the three-revolution lies in strengthening independent power in the path to carrying out socialist tasks, breaking through unexpected challenges and hurdles," he stressed.
Gov't to launch 'early warning system' on key raw materials amid supply shortage woes
The government said Thursday it will launch a system to monitor some 20 key raw materials, such as magnesium and tungsten, to ensure stable supplies and prevent the recurrence of a crisis similar to the urea solution supply crunch. The "early warning system" for the designated raw materials is aimed at prioritizing the supply management of materials highly dependent on imports so as to prevent shortages. The system intends to expedite the process in which the government takes necessary action if any production or supply issues emerge from foreign markets and shorten the monitoring period for high-risk materials. The government plans to extend the list of such materials to 200.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Japan calls off joint news conference over Dokdo dispute with S. Korea
Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori pulled out at the last minute from a joint news conference with his South Korean and US counterparts over a territorial feud with Seoul on the Dokdo islets. Mori and South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun were scheduled to appear alongside US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at a press conference scheduled after the three held talks over regional issues, including North Korea’s nuclear program, in Washington on Wednesday. But Sherman was by herself to take questions from reporters, saying there were some “bilateral differences” between Seoul and Tokyo, “that were continuing to be resolved” and “unrelated” to the earlier three-way meeting.
UN 3rd committee adopts N.Korea human rights resolution, urges timely vaccination
The United Nations on Wednesday passed a draft resolution condemning North Korea‘s dire human rights situation by consensus, urging Pyongyang to cooperate with the international community in delivering and distributing COVID-19 vaccines in a timely manner. The resolution was introduced by the European Union and approved by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly for the 17th consecutive year since 2005. The resolution, which will be introduced at the upcoming UNGA plenary for final passage, condemns "in the strongest terms the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights" in and by Pyongyang.
Samsung unveils foundry tech crucial for 3-nm chip manufacturing
Samsung Electronics unveiled its strategy to strengthen the foundry industry ecosystem as it announced new design tools and technologies crucial for 3-nanometer process for its foundry customers at a forum on Thursday. At its third annual Samsung Advanced Foundry Ecosystem forum held online, the chipmaker‘s foundry unit said it has also secured over 80 electronic design automation tools and technologies optimized for semiconductor design infra and package solution. It is pivotal for 3-nanometer (nm) gate-all-around (GAA) process technology, slated for production in the first half of 2022, according to the company.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Seoul likely to be under continuous pressure from Washington, Beijing to pick between two
The virtual summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Nov. 15 (local time), was a welcome sign that the two powerhouses are likely moving toward a managed strategic competition to stop mounting tensions from turning into a catastrophe. At first sight, South Korea, which has retained its longstanding course of keeping a "middle" ground in the U.S.-Sino competition, seems to now have some leeway from the rivalry. But many diplomatic observers believe nothing has changed for Seoul, which means competition will be the main theme governing U.S.-China relations in pursuit of their respective interests, with the South Korean government under constant pressure to choose between the two.
Ralph Lauren American website blocks Black Friday shopping from Korea
Ralph Lauren will block online customers in Korea from its official American website a week ahead of Black Friday, the biggest sales event of the year there, along with shoppers from the entire Asian region. "Local customers are restricted from directly purchasing Ralph Lauren products via the American online mall during the Black Friday sales. This policy will continue for a while and we are waiting for the headquarters in the Unites States to give us an explanation," a Ralph Lauren official in Korea said. Ralph Lauren, and many other brands, commence Black Friday sales from Nov. 26 when apparel and accessories will be offered with discounts of up to 90 percent.
Goyang City goes all-out as host of World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships
With the world still struggling against the COVID-19 pandemic, major sports events have been suspended too. But against such odds, the World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, scheduled to be held in Goyang City next April, will be the first major international sports event in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic, and the city is going all-out to host the event. "We stressed 'safety' when we were competing to host the poomsae championships. Goyang City had been in the spotlight around the world, having been the first to introduce drive-through testing centers during the COVID-19 pandemic," Mayor Lee Jae-joon said during an interview with The Korea Times. Located northwest of Seoul, the city led a number of innovations during the pandemic, which include tracking visitors in crowded facilities like cafes, restaurants or shopping malls by simply having them make a phone call, instead of writing down their phone number, which had the risk of personal information being shared without authorization.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea Shortens Interval for Booster Shots
The government on Wednesday decided to cut the minimum interval between full vaccination and booster shots from six months to four for elderly patients as the daily infection tally soared above 3,000. On Thursday morning, the daily tally of new infections stood at 3,292, the most since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Some 522 people were seriously ill with coronavirus, surpassing the conservative "red line" the government had set itself, and out of 345 beds available for COVID-19 patients in Seoul's ICUs, only 67 were left.
Korean Light Display in Istanbul Marks Bilateral Friendship
Illuminated video images of boy band Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, and the Korean flag were projected on a landmark tower in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday to mark the bilateral friendship. They flickered across the Galata Tower in Turkey on Tuesday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Korean Cultural Center in the Turkish capital of Ankara. The 10-minute clip also featured volleyball star Kim Yeon-koung, who played in Turkey for a long time, and the iconic Korean dish of bibimbap.
Historic Letter Throws Light on Empress Myeongseong's Assassination
A recently unearthed letter throws new light on the assassination of Empress Myeongseong by the Japanese in 1895. The letter, presumed to have been sent to a childhood friend by a Japanese diplomat who was involved in the murder, was found in Japan and could add more details to the enduring puzzle. According to the Asahi Shimbun on Tuesday, a total of eight letters written by Kumaichi Horiguchi, a consular assistant at the Japanese Consulate in Seoul at that time, have been found recently. Horiguchi part of a gang of assassins consisting of soldiers, diplomats and civilians who raided Gyeongbok Palace in the early hours of Oct. 8, 1895 and assassinated Empress Myeongseong under the command of Goro Miura, a former army officer and the then Japanese minister to Korea. Horiguchi was merely suspended from work for a year right after the incident.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Can the US get China to discuss nuclear arms reductions?
In their first summit held by videoconference on Monday, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to explore discussions on “strategic stability,” the White House said. The message was meant to stress that the US was taking the first steps to get China to the dialogue table for nuclear arms reductions, although the tepid response from China has raised questions about whether any meaningful results can be achieved. Whatever comes out of these discussions, however, will have a profound impact on the political situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula.
Former US special envoy calls 30 years of US policy on N. Korea a failure
The 17th Hankyoreh-Busan International Symposium, organized under the title “Reflection and Innovation for Sustainable Peace on the Korean Peninsula,” kicked off Wednesday at the Westin Josun Busan Hotel in Busan’s Haeundae District. The two-day event is jointly organized by Busan Metropolitan City and the Hankyoreh Foundation for Reunification and Culture. Participants focused their attention on examining why the progress seemingly made with peace on the peninsula has been repeatedly frustrated, while exploring avenues for future change. Robert Gallucci, a former US State Department special envoy on the North Korean nuclear issue, took part via videoconference to deliver a keynote presentation and take part in a special conversation with Moon Chung-in, chairman of the Hankyoreh Foundation for Reunification and Culture.
N. Korea experts stress building trust as key to peace on the Korean Peninsula
The balmy winds that blew on the Korean Peninsula in the spring of 2018 lost their warmth when the North Korea-US summit in Hanoi in 2019 ended without a deal. While South Korea, North Korea and the US are still at an impasse, they’ve been eyeing a chance at another breakthrough following South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal for an end-of-war declaration this past September. What lessons do the three sides need to learn in order to finally secure peace for the Korean Peninsula? That was the question asked at the first session of the 2021 Hankyoreh-Busan International Symposium, which was held on Wednesday at the Westin Josun Busan Hotel in the port city’s Haeundae District under the theme of “Trio of Discontent: Why Peace Hasn’t Come to the Korean Peninsula.” The session was moderated by Chun Hae-sung, former vice minister of unification, with presentations by Li Tingting, professor at Peking University; Chin Hee-gwan, professor at Inje University; and Jenny Town, director of the 38 North website.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
France says it will consider lending ‘Jikji’ to S. Korea
The French government said it would actively consider lending “Jikji Simche Yojeol,” currently kept at the National Library of France, to South Korea on condition that there is no concern of confiscation. Given that many European countries have recently begun returning cultural objects that they forcefully acquired in colonial times, public attention is focused on whether exhibitions of Jikji can be held in South Korea. Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hwang Hee said in a press conference in Paris, France that he and his counterpart, France’s Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, had a conversation to this effect. When Minister Hwang asked the French minister to lend Jikji to South Korea for the exhibition, Minister Barchelot-Narquin answered that she is concerned about Jikji being seized.
Queen Elizabeth seen for the first time in one month
Queen Elizabeth was seen for the first time after one month of hospital stay following advice from her medical team and spraining back, which held her back from public appearance. Reuters reported that the queen met Chief of the Defense Staff Sir Nick Carter in-person at Windsor on Wednesday. Having pulled out of the Remembrance Sunday service on Sunday for back sprain, Queen Elizabeth had a face-to-face meeting with General Sir Nick Carter at Windsor Castle, with her back straight and look healthy.
Three in 10 Koreans have less income than last year
A survey showed that 16.6% of adults worked from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Six out of 10 thought that working from home is more efficient, while three out of 10 replied that their income had declined from last year. According to 2021 Social Survey conducted and announced by Statistics Korea on Wednesday, 16.6% of respondents replied that they worked from home during the pandemic. The survey was carried out in May last year of 36,000 adults aged 19 years or older and the ratio of those working from home was highest in the order of professional management workers (34.6%), office workers (29.3%) and service sales (8.7%). Those who replied that work from home was more efficient (56.8%) was higher than those who replied as inefficient (43.2%).
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Will the Government’s Misjudgment Bring about Another “Hospital Bed Crisis”?
Just over two weeks since the nation began a phased return to everyday life in line with the government’s “With COVID” policy, the number of COVID-19 patients in critical condition has soared, quickly filling the ICU beds in the Seoul metropolitan area. Initially, the government claimed that it had secured enough hospital beds to respond to 5,000 new daily cases, but a red light has turned on the nation’s medical system with only 2,000-3,000 new daily cases. If the situation continues, experts expect a number of patients to die while waiting for hospital beds as when the third wave of the virus swept through the country. They argue that the situation was brought on by the government’s idle response, despite earlier cases overseas where the virus quickly spread after the countries shifted to a “with COVID” policy, and by its failure in determining the speed at which to ease disease control measures.
UAE Charmed by Cheongung Purchases South Korean Surface-to-Air Missiles Worth 4 Trillion Won
On November 16 (local time), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a plan to purchase the South Korean medium range surface-to-air missile Cheongung (M-SAM). The UAE Ministry of Defence announced on Twitter this day that the country was trying to introduce the South Korean air defense system, M-SAM, for quality improvements to its defense capacity. The UAE defense ministry also mentioned that the scale of the M-SAM contract with South Korea would reach 12.9 billion dirhams (approx. 4.15 trillion won). Cheongung is an anti-ballistic missile that a South Korean defense contractor developed under the initiative of the Agency of Defense Development to replace the old medium range surface-to-air missile, Hawk.
Kim Jong-un Inspects the Samjiyon Development Project on Site: First Press Coverage of Public Schedule in 35 Days
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a public outing for the first time in over a month when he conducted a site inspection of the Samjiyon City construction project. On November 16, the Korean Central News Agency reported that Chairman Kim visited Samjiyon to inspect the progress on phase-3 construction for a timely completion of the city’s development project. According to the coverage, the North Korean leader said, “The construction of Samjiyon is the starting point of a new revolution to help rural citizens leap toward a life of civilized material culture.” He further said, “We will actively encourage and expand the excellent experiences accumulated from the construction of Samjiyon and achieve a transition that will encourage development in rural construction and the building of a civilized general society.”
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Tickets to travel bubble destinations sell out fast as Koreans ready for revenge travel
Air tickets and hospitality booking for destinations relatively safe from virus spread are selling out fast on pent-up travel demand by South Koreans constrained to home turf for nearly two years. Booking for flights from Incheon, Korea to Saipan under travel bubble arrangement with no restrictions for vaccinated travelers numbered at 8,400 for the last two months of the year, showed data released by the Korea Customs Service on Thursday. From July to October, a total of 2,517 Koreans left for Saipan.
Smart solutions and robotics employment spread in Korean heavy-duty industrial sites
South Korean companies are speeding up the deployment of advanced smart and robot solutions across workplaces to increase operational efficiency and reduce work-related injuries. SK Innovation Thursday announced the introduction of a VR-based inspection training program at its Ulsan Complex to allow operators to look into internal facilities without stopping the operation of petrochemical plants or visiting the site. Through the simulation system, the company expects to strengthen its inspection capabilities. The VR education program provides inspectors with a 360-degree look at reactors and heaters used in the manufacturing process.
Korea’s Kyobo Life Insurance re-pursues Kospi IPO by June next year
Korea’s No. 3 Kyobo Life Insurance Co. may finally go public on the Kospi by June next year after long tantalizing. Its board on Tuesday approved initiation of IPO process next month for listing in the first half of next year, the insurer said Wednesday. Kyobo Life Insurance hopes to bolster capital base to meet new IFRS17 and K-ICS that will take effect in 2023 and expedite transition into a financial holding company in the long term through the public offering proceeds. The company reportedly has satisfied all requirements for its preliminary IPO review, such as the size of the business, financial and management performance, business continuity and stability.
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