Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Uzbekistan names 2022 a watershed year of reforms
In 2021, which is a turning point in the course of the ongoing transformations in Uzbekistan, a set of measures was completed to implement the Action Strategy in five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021. Reforms for the future are also determined, taking into account what has been done and what is to be implemented. The main tasks of the first stage of the economic reforms of the Strategy are to strengthen macroeconomic stability and maintain high rates of economic growth. How successfully it was solved is evidenced by the following data. During the pandemic, economic growth last year amounted to 1.6 percent, the volume of production in the agricultural sector increased by 3, the service sector - by 2.3, and industry - 0.7. Following the results of 9 months of 2021, GDP increased by 6.9 percent. Inflation continues to slow down: prices rose by 5.9 percent, down 6.3 percent from the same period last year.
Chief Abbot Wonhaeng of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order publishes a book
The Most Venerable Wonhaeng, the president of the Woljeong-sa Buddhist Temple of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order, hosts a meeting at the Press Center in Seoul on Jan. 25, 2022 to introduce the publication of his book entitled Seongin (聖人, The Saint). The book features the accomplishments of the first-term Chief Abbot Haneom. In connection with this plan, the Most Venerable Wonhaeng met with Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media and Editor-in-Chief Jimmy Kim at the Press Center in Seoul on January 6 and discussed ways to successfully host the most interesting event for the Korean society and the international community as well as for the Buddhist and other religious circles in Korea and around the world.
Woori Chairman Son says, "We will lead global ESG management practices"
Woori Financial Group, led by Chairman Son Tae-seung, announced on Jan. 10 that it is also taking the lead in global ESG management by urgently providing $100,000 (about 120 million won) to support the recovery of damage in the Philippines, which is suffering from the massive typhoon RAI in the Philippines. Typhoon RAI caused great damage to the region, with destruction of more than 500,000 buildings, over 400 deaths, more than 1,100 injured people, and more than 600,000 victims at the moment. Woori Wealth Bank Philippines, Woori Financial Group's local subsidiary in the Philippines, delivered news of damage by Typhoon RAI, which penetrated Cebu Island in the Philippines last month. Woori Wealth Bank Philippines was launched in 2015 and has expanded its network across the region with its headquarters in Cebu, currently operating 25 branches.
JCS: N. Korea Fires Unidentified Projectile toward East Sea
The Joint Chiefs of Staff(JCS) said North Korea fired an unidentified projectile toward the East Sea on Tuesday morning. The JCS announced it in a text message to reporters at around 7:30 a.m. but details have yet to be disclosed. Military authorities are reportedly analyzing the launch, such as the range and type of projectile. The launch comes six days after the North test-fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea from the northern province of Jagang, claiming it was a hypersonic missile. The military usually disclose missile launches to the media quickly when it detects a ballistic missile.
National Assembly Set to Hold Plenary Session to Handle 50 Bills
The National Assembly is set to hold a plenary session to handle about 50 bills, including one aimed at lowering the age limit for those joining political parties. The plenary session, set for 3 p.m. Tuesday, will put to a vote a revision bill for the political party act lowering the age limit from 18 to 16 for people seeking party membership. This is a follow-up measure to a previously passed amendment to the election act that lowered the age to run for a parliamentary seat or local office from 25 to 18. The parliament will also handle a bill that requires state-run and quasi-government agencies to include one non-executive board member approved or recommended by employees on their board of directors.
Pentagon: US Still Assessing Details of N. Korea's Jan. 5 Missile Test
The U.S. Department of Defense said on Monday that it was still assessing the details of last week’s missile launch by North Korea, which claimed it tested a hypersonic missile. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby issued the position in a press briefing, saying that the U.S. has no updates. When asked about the assessment of the missile launch, Kirby said that the U.S. has called it a ballistic missile, and it was still evaluating the details. The spokesperson added that the North’s ballistic missile program that launches such missiles continues to be in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. He said the U.S. also calls on North Korea to abide by those obligations and responsibilities and to look for ways to de-escalate.
Daily infections below 4,000 for 4th day amid tightened distancing rules
South Korea's daily coronavirus cases stayed below 4,000 for the fourth straight day Monday amid tightened distancing rules to curb the spread of COVID-19. The country added 3,007 new COVID-19 infections, including 2,768 local infections, raising the total caseload to 667,390, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). South Korea reported 34 more COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 6,071, the KDCA added. The fatality rate was 0.91 percent. The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients stood at 786, staying below 1,000 for the seventh consecutive day. As of 9 p.m., the country added 2,722 new COVID-19 cases, down 83 from the same time the previous day, according to health authorities and city governments.
Ahn tops presidential nominees in hypothetical alliance with Yoon: poll
Ahn Cheol-soo, the presidential candidate of the minor opposition People's Party, came out on top in a poll released Sunday in a hypothetical alliance with the major opposition nominee Yoon Suk-yeol. In a survey by Southern Post, Ahn earned 42.3 percent of support as the main opposition candidate in case of a unified presidential bid with Yoon, the People Power Party (PPP) nominee. Lee Jae-myung, representing the ruling Democratic Party, had 28.9 percent support in that scenario. The survey was conducted on 1,002 people from Friday to Saturday. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
S. Korea logs current account surplus for 19th straight month in November
South Korea logged a current account surplus for the 19th straight month in November, but the surplus was much smaller than a year earlier due to increased imports driven by high energy and raw material prices, central bank data showed Tuesday. The current account surplus amounted to US$7.16 billion in November, down from a surplus of $9.18 billion tallied a year earlier, according to the preliminary data by the Bank of Korea (BOK). The reading marked the 19th straight month that the current account has been in the black since May 2020. The November figure was slightly larger than a surplus of $6.95 billion in October, the data showed. During the January-November period, the country posted a cumulative account surplus of $84.23 billion.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Ahn’s rise splits presidential race three ways
People’s Party presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo has rapidly gained on his ruling and main opposition rivals in recent weeks, as he is appearing to absorb voters peeling away from People Power Party’s Yoon Suk-yeol. Ahn came out on top in a Realmeter poll of 3,042 people released Monday in a hypothetical alliance with the main opposition party. The poll, requested by local media outlet Oh My News, was held from Jan. 2 to Friday. Some 35.9 percent answered they would vote for him if Ahn and Yoon formed an alliance, while Yoon had a 32.5 percent support, recording a 3.4 percentage point gap within the margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points, with a 95 percent confidence level.
Can South Korea pay enlisted soldiers 2 million won a month?
Presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party vowed to raise the wage of enlisted soldiers to 2 million won a month, following the vows of his rival Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party made weeks earlier. The campaign promise draws discussions on its administrative and financial feasibility, following calls from the past for the government to assure at least minimum wage for conscripts. The issue also extends to whether it can start bringing long-overdue reforms to the military. Yoon said in a Facebook post Sunday that he will seek to drastically improve the wages and working conditions for conscripted soldiers in South Korea by raising their monthly salary from the current 676,100 won for sergeants to 2 million won during his term.
Parties focus on online for ‘viral’ campaign gimmick
As suspenseful music plays in the background, two politicians appear closely facing each other. One politician asks, “Did you know that the Moon Jae-in administration is raising the cost of electricity for charging electric vehicles?” The other answers, “Who will ride EVs then? What about the environment?” To this, his counterpart says, “We will freeze the electricity prices for the next five years!” This is the conversation between the main opposition People Power Party Chairman Lee Jun-seok, and the party’s election committee policy chief Won Hee-ryong, in a short-form video on YouTube, spanning just less than a minute.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Opposition candidates face growing pressure to form coalition
The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) faces growing pressure to form a coalition with Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People's Party for the March 9 presidential election, as surveys show that an alliance offers a greater chance for the opposition bloc to beat ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung. So far, the PPP has been downplaying the recent rise in Ahn's support rate, saying it is a "temporary phenomenon" stemming from infighting in the main opposition party between its presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol and party Chairman Lee Jun-seok throughout last month. However, anticipation is growing that the main opposition party may make a decision in the coming weeks in order to grab the public's attention before the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 Lunar New Year holidays.
Vaccine pass at large retailers criticized for lacking scientific grounds
riticism is mounting over the COVID-19 vaccine pass mandate for large supermarkets, discount outlets and department stores, which came into effect from Monday, with critics calling on the government to justify the scientific grounds for implementing the new measure. The vaccine pass system, which requires either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result to be presented to enter multiuse facilities, has been expanded to shopping malls, retail outlets, department stores and bookstores measuring 3,000 square meters or more in floor space. These large stores have been freshly added to the list of multiuse facilities subject to the vaccine pass system, including eateries, cafes, libraries and indoor gyms.
LG Energy Solution confident about overtaking CATL
LG Energy Solution (LGES), a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Chem, will be able to dethrone its Chinese competitor, CATL, the global top electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer, the firm's CEO said Monday. The LG subsidiary's capability is unmatched by its market peers, as clearly illustrated by a variety of intellectual property rights over key technologies that have earned the trust of clients and partner firms in the U.S. and across Europe, LGES CEO and Vice President Kwon Young-soo said. "We have clients in key global markets encompassing Europe, the U.S, and China, unlike CATL whose growth strategy is defined by heavy reliance on government policy whereby Chinese carmakers were mandated to use domestically produced batteries only," he said in a press conference held virtually at company headquarters in Seoul.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korea Extends Vaccine Pass Mandate
COVID-19 vaccine passes become mandatory in department stores and superstores measuring 3,000 sq.m or more from Monday. Shoppers now have to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result before entering. So far the mandate applied only to smaller crowded facilities like bars, nightclubs, restaurants and coffee shops. From Monday, anyone can be slapped with a fine of W100,000 if they go to a restaurant or a coffee shop with an expired vaccine pass. Vaccine passes are valid for only six months (US$1=W1,203). Restaurant or coffee shop managers will be hit with W1.5 million in fines for a first violation and W3 million for a second or more violations.
Increase in Online Transactions Means Longer Lifespans for Banknotes
A sharp increase in online transactions has resulted in longer lifespans for banknotes. The Bank of Korea said Thursday that the average lifespan of W50,000 banknotes is 178 months, an increase of four months compared to a year ago (US$1=W1,203). The lifespans of W10,000 and W1,000 bills also increased by a month each to 131 months and 61 months, respectively. The lifespan of W5,000 bills increased by three months to 63 months. The lifespan of a bill refers to how long it lasts from its issuance until it is collected and destroyed. W1,000 and W5,000 bills are commonly used to purchase petty items, so their lifespans are relatively shorter than higher-denomination bills.
N.Korea Informs China It Won't Attend Olympics
North Korea has officially informed China that it will not take part in the Beijing Winter Olympics that start next month. It had already been banned by the International Olympic Committee for refusing to take part in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo last year, so the notice was a mere formality. The North Korean regime sent a letter to China's Olympic Committee notifying it of the decision, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported last Friday, just two days after North Korea fired a hypersonic missile as President Moon Jae-in visited a military border unit on the east coast. "We could not take part in the Olympics due to the hostile forces' moves and the worldwide pandemic, but we fully support our Chinese comrades in all their work to hold a splendid and wonderful Olympic festival," it read.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon attempts to shore up support by stoking the flames of Korea’s gender war
People Power Party presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol has been making campaign promises that run counter to the value of gender equality, such as abolishing the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and implementing stronger punishments for people who falsely accuse another of a sexual crime. A strategic move targeting male constituents in their 20s and 30s, a crucial voting bloc that may well decide the upcoming presidential election, Yoon’s announcement of these promises came after several polls showed he was hemorrhaging support.
Ahn Cheol-soo comes out on top in hypothetical match-up against Lee
People’s Party presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo leads Democratic Party nominee Lee Jae-myung by a margin outside the margin of error in a hypothetical match-up between the two, a recent opinion survey showed. Other surveys have also shown Ahn’s campaign picking up momentum, with an overall support rating exceeding 15%. On Sunday, the polling organization Southern Post released findings from a survey of 1,002 voting-age South Koreans nationwide on Friday and Saturday at the request of the CBS network. When asked whom they would vote for if Ahn were the sole opposition candidate, 42.3% of respondents said they would pick Ahn — 13.4 percentage points more than the 28.9% who said they would choose Lee.
Hyundai says green vehicles will account for half of US sales by 2030
The Hyundai Motor Group says it’s planning for eco-friendly cars — including the Ioniq 5 electric vehicle (EV), which will soon hit the US market — to account for half of all its sales in the US by 2030. Last year, Hyundai pushed past Japanese automaker Honda to become the fifth largest automaker in the US market in terms of local sales. Jose Munoz, Hyundai Motor’s global chief operating officer (COO) and head of the automaker’s operations in North America, said on Wednesday that eco-friendly vehicles currently account for about 10% of Hyundai automobiles sold in the US and that the company is gearing up to raise that proportion to 40%-50% by 2030. Munoz made the remarks during an interview with the Korean press at Resorts World Las Vegas.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Lee Jae-myung pledges to prevent minors from inheriting debt
Ruling Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung on Monday pledged to revise the civil law to prevent minors inheriting their parents’ debt as part of his “small but certain happiness” pledges. The pledge would close the loophole in the law highlighted by The Dong-A Ilbo in its special feature, “Children who inherit debts” in May and “Children who got out of debts” in December. Lee wrote on his Facebook account on Monday that he would revise the civil law to prevent minors from inheriting parents’ debt. “I will amend the law so that minors can inherit with the benefit of inventory within a certain period of time after they reached the age of majority if the legal representative missed the chance to inherit with the benefit of inventory,” wrote Lee.
Foreign direct investment in Korea up 42% last year
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Korea amounted to 29.5 billion won last year. It was the biggest FDI in 58 years since the government began compiling such data in 1962. It appears FDI, which was centered on the large-scale manufacturing industry in the past, is rapidly shifting toward new industries, such as information technology (IT). According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Monday, FDI in Korea last year ( $29.51 billion, based on reported value) was up 42.3% from the previous year. By industry, $23.57 billion was invested in the service industry, up 64.2% from a year ago.” Greater investments were made in IT (317.2%), distribution (139.1%), and business support and rental (833.0%).
COVID-19 pass system to start at superstores and department stores
Starting from Monday, the COVID-19 pass scheme is put in place at large-size supermarkets and department stores. When citizens use a quarantine pass that expires the valid duration of 180 days after the second vaccination is administered on their visit to restaurants and cafes, they are subject to a penalty. The quarantine pass system will be put in place starting from Monday at large-size stores of 3,000 square meters or larger as defined by the Distribution Industry Development Act such as super supermarkets, department stores and bookstores, said the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Sunday.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Osstem Employee Purchased Other Shares Before Investing in Dongjin Semichem: Scale of Embezzlement Snowballed after Losses of Tens of Billions of Won
Yi (45), the head of the financial unit at Osstem Implant, who allegedly misappropriated 198 billion won of corporate funds, invested all the money he embezzled in stocks, losing tens of billions of won. Aside from the 30 billion won worth of losses Yi is known to have experienced after trading Dongjin Semichem shares, it appears he also lost billions to tens of billions of won after investing in other individual stocks. The police traced the money and revealed that Yi had lost money in the stock exchange by leveraging when trading with his own money before putting his hands on company funds. The police believe Yi’s losses in the market, which snowballed, could have been the motive behind the biggest embezzlement in the history of a listed company and are focusing their investigation in this area.
Hong Joon-pyo, “Yoon Seok-youl Must Show a Passion for Righteousness Strong Enough to Even Refuse to Forgive His Wife”
People Power Party lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo spoke on the party’s presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl and said, “He became popular in the beginning because of fairness, justice and conviction, and support for him is dropping because people feel that all those have collapsed after the allegations against his wife, corruption in his wife’s family, and allegations of instigating a criminal report.” He further argued, “Yoon needs to show a strong passion for what is right claiming he would take stern legal action against the corruption in his wife’s family when he becomes president, that he would not forgive even his wife, to create an opportunity for his support to bounce back up.” As for the possibility of holding hands with Ahn Cheol-soo, the presidential candidate of the People’s Party, and coming together under a single candidate, Hong showed his support for Yoon and said, “Naturally, we should support the candidate of our party (Yoon).”
Kim Chong-in Resigns from Chief of Youn Seok-youl’s Election Campaign, “If We Don’t See Eye to Eye, Then We Can Part”
On January 5, Kim Chong-in, chief of the People Power Party’s election campaign expressed his intention to step down as chief of the camp. This day, in a phone call with Yonhap News, Kim said, “We are trying to reform the election campaign to get our candidate elected as president, but they’re mentioning things like a coup d’etat and an abdicated king--if we don’t see eye to eye, then we can part,” and expressed his wish to resign. Kim Chong-in also said, “They dragged me (to the election campaign, I did not ask to join), so there is no need for me to linger.” As for the press coverage that the party’s presidential candidate, Yoon Seok-youl, delivered his plan to disband the election campaign with the removal of Kim Chong-in as a premise to Kim through Im Tae-hui, director of the general headquarters, Kim said, “I never heard anything like that,” and added, “If I quit, then I will quit. There will be no such thing as a removal.”
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
LG Energy Solution likely price initial shares this week at top end in $11 bn IPO
LG Energy Solution, the pure-play electric vehicle battery maker of South Korea’s LG Group, is pricing Korea’s biggest IPO of a $10 billion milestone this week. LG Energy Solution, the battery business spun off from LG Chem, holds book-building session for institutional investors Tuesday and Wednesday. Pricing will be announced on Friday and invite public subscription on Jan. 18-19 before Kospi debut on Jan. 27. LG Energy Solution will offer 42.5 million initial shares at an indicative price band of between 257,000 won and 300,000 won. Most analysts predict the IPO to be priced at the top end to raise 12.7 trillion won ($10.6 billion). The stock would zoom to No. 3 after chip bellwethers with market cap at 70 trillion won.
SK wireless, chipmaking, investment units join forces for AI chip and innovation
South Korean conglomerate SK Group is mustering flagships in investment, wireless network, and chipmaking to double down on the race for global leadership in artificial intelligence, next-gen chips, and metaverse based on the initial joint fund of minimum 1 trillion won ($834 million). The first byproduct would be SAPEON Inc. based in the United States to commercialize AI chips critical to power machine learning capabilities.
Korea Shipbuilding wins nine container ship orders worth $1.1 bn
Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE), the intermediate holding company for Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Group`s shipbuilders, said Monday it has received 1.33 trillion won ($1.1 billion) worth of container ship orders, off to a strong start to meet annual target of $17.4 billion. The three separate orders from shippers in Europe and Latin America are for four 16,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container vessels, four 2,500-TEU container ships and one 174,000 cubic meter liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier, the company said in a statement.
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