Thursday, January 13, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
32nd anniversary of Black January of Azerbaijan
On the night of January 19 to 20, 1990, by order of the USSR leadership, 26,000 Soviet troops invaded Baku and Sumgait, as well as other cities of Azerbaijan. As a result of this military intervention, 147 civilians were killed and 744 were seriously injured. This event went down in the history of modern Azerbaijan as “Black January”. Before these tragic events, the groundless territorial claims of Armenia against Azerbaijan in the late 1980s, as well as the violent and brutal deportation of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from Armenia spurred the expansion of the movement against the Soviet Government in Azerbaijan. The Soviet Army deployed to the country in order to prevent the national movement and break the will of the Azerbaijani people for independence, committed an unprecedented massacre against the peaceful population, violating the norms of international law, the Constitutions of the former USSR and the Azerbaijani SSR.
If unified, either Yoon Suk-yeol or Ahn Cheol-soo will beat Lee Jae-myung
If the Presidential candidates Yoon Suk-yeol of the People Power Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People Party unite, either of them will beat the Presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party, according to a recent survey result. According to a survey conducted by Realmeter of 1,011 people on Jan. 10 to 11 at the request of YTN, if Yoon Suk-yeol becomes the unified Presidential candidate, Yoon will lead Lee Jae-myung 43.6% to 38.1%. The gap between the two candidates was 5.5 percentage points, which was within the margin of error. The Presidential candidate Shim Sang-jung of the Justice Party took 4.3 percent support, and Kim Dong-yeon of the New Wave earned 1.5 percent.
Pernod Ricard Korea launches the Time Well Spent campaign with Ballantine’s new brand ambassadors Ju Ji-hoon and Minho
Pernod Ricard Korea today announced that it selected Ju Ji-hoon and Minho as the new brand ambassadors of the modern classic scotch whisky brand Ballantine's and launch the new global campaign “Time Well Spent" to solidify its position as a leading whisky brand in Korea. Pernod Ricard Korea will hold a press meeting at King's Vacation in Dragon City, Yongsan, Seoul on January 12, where it explains the growth and background of the international whisky market and the contribution of Ballantine's to the growth. At this meeting, Kim Kyung-yeon, marketing director of Pernod Ricard Korea, said that the domestic imported whisky market showed exceptional growth in 2021, up by 58% compared to 2019. As the background of this growth, she explained that as interest in whisky increased, the malt whisky and high-end whisky categories saw significant growth in addition to Scotch whisky, which has been mainstream in the Korean market. They grew by 59% and 64%, respectively, from the previous year.
US Slaps Sanctions on N. Korea after Missile Tests
The United States has imposed sanctions on North Korean and Russian entities after the North's recent missile tests. The U.S. Treasury said on Wednesday that the sanctions were imposed on six North Koreans, one Russian and a Russian firm responsible for procuring goods for the North's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile-related programs. It added that the steps aimed to prevent the advancement of North Korea's programs and impede its attempts to proliferate weapons technologies. Most of the sanctioned North Koreans reportedly work for the North's Academy of National Defense Science, formerly the Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which the Treasury says is heavily involved in the North's military defense programs.
Lee Pledges to Raise Annual Exports to $1 Tln, Yoon Promises Fairness in Game Industry
The ruling Democratic Party(DP) presidential candidate pledged to see the nation's annual exports surpass one trillion dollars under his government, while his main opposition People Power Party(PPP) rival promised to root out unfair practices in the game industry. On Wednesday, DP candidate Lee Jae-myung announced his industrial transition plan, pledging financial support and deregulation in ten future industries, including semiconductors, secondary batteries, robots and aerospace, in order to boost exports. Lee promised to support the digital transition in the automobile and shipbuilding industries, and assist medium enterprises by fostering the materials, parts and equipment industry.
21,000 Courses of Pfizer COVID-19 Pill Set to Arrive Thursday
The first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral pills will arrive in South Korea on Thursday. According to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, 21-thousand courses of the pill, named Paxlovid, will arrive at Incheon International Airport around noon. The government said another ten-thousand courses will be delivered by the end of this month and the remainder of the agreed upon amount will be brought in gradually. The government signed pre-purchase deals for 762-thousand courses of Pfizer's oral drug and 242-thou sand courses of Merck's antiviral pill Molnupiravir. Health authorities expect the oral drug will slow down the spread of the virus and enable a response to the omicron variant.
N. Korea says it has succeeded in final test-firing of hypersonic missile
North Korea said Wednesday it has successfully conducted the "final" test-firing of a new hypersonic missile a day earlier as its leader Kim Jong-un called for the strengthening of the country's "strategic military muscle both in quality and quantity" during an on-site inspection. "The superior maneuverability of the hypersonic glide vehicle was more strikingly verified through the final test-fire," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. "The test-fire was aimed at the final verification of overall technical specifications of the developed hypersonic weapon system."
S. Korea to spend 6.3 tln won for corporate investment in vaccine development
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Thursday the government plans to spend 6.3 trillion won (US$5.3 billion) to support corporate facility investment in vaccine development by 2024. The move is aimed at nurturing the vaccine industry as a key sector at a similar level to the semiconductor industry as South Korea seeks to foster new industries to secure engines of growth, according to the finance minister. Hong said the government will continue to support the development of homegrown COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, including coronavirus pills.
Import prices down for 2nd month in Dec. on lower oil, raw material costs
South Korea's import prices fell for the second straight month in December from a month earlier as the costs of importing oil and other raw materials declined, central bank data showed Thursday. The import price index dropped 1.9 percent last month from November, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea. This marked the second on-month decline following a 1 percent contraction in November. The December decline is attributed to lower costs of purchasing energy-related products and other raw materials.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
After ‘hypersonic’ missile test, Kim eyes more ‘strategic military muscle’
North Korea successfully conducted the second consecutive test-firing of a “hypersonic missile” in less than a week for “final verification” on Tuesday, while the country’s leader Kim Jong-un urged bolstering “strategic military muscle” according to state media reports the following day. The North Korean state media suggested that the country successively test-fired an identical maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) to the one launched on Jan. 5, although Pyongyang labels the projectile as a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV).
Ministry for feminists? Pledge to abolish gender ministry reignites debate
The idea of abolishing the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has reemerged as a hot topic, after presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party proposed it as an election pledge. When the conservative party candidate made the simple pledge in plain words, “Abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family,” via Facebook on Saturday without further elaboration, it immediately drew criticism from rivals as a move to woo male voters in their 20s. Putting aside the political intentions, the existence of the ministry has been in question for over a decade, and The Korea Herald has taken a look into what the issue is in the controversy.
Omicron is COVID-22’: Korea’s top national hospital doctor spells hope
Omicron may spell the beginning of the end of the pandemic, a leading infectious disease doctor at South Korea’s top national hospital said Wednesday. Dr. Oh Myoung-don, who heads the National Medical Center‘s committee for clinical management of emerging infectious diseases, told a news conference Wednesday, “Omicron is a distinctly different virus from the coronavirus as we know it. COVID-22, if you will.” While COVID-19 is known to infect the lungs, growing evidence suggests omicron primarily targets the upper airways, he said. “From the way it infiltrates human cells to results from animal studies to clinical data from many parts of the world, omicron looks like it’s much less severe than delta.”
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Park Hyatt Seoul finds success with agility, originality
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to every business sector and urban tourism is no exception. As a result of strengthened social distancing measures and minimized human contact, the latest trend in the hotel industry is to depend less on location as a travel destination than on its originality. Park Hyatt Seoul, located in the center of the business and entertainment district of Gangnam in southern Seoul, has successfully adapted to new trends, according to Andrew Ashdown, the new general manager of the property, by quickly shifting its target clientele and developing original experiences.
All construction by HDC halted in Gwangju following disaster
The Gwangju Metropolitan Government has ordered a halt on all construction ongoing by HDC Hyundai Development Company in the city, following the partial collapse of an apartment building, Tuesday, the second deadly building collapse attributed to the developer in the southwestern city in about seven months. Rescue authorities resumed search operations for six missing workers, Wednesday. The suspension of construction came a day after the exterior wall of the apartment building between the 28th and 34th floors crumbled at 3:46 p.m. Three workers trapped in a container below were rescued, and one of them was hospitalized for injuries. The city government said, Wednesday, it ordered suspension of all construction projects being carried out by the company. HDC is currently building apartments in three locations in downtown Gwangju, and they were scheduled to be completed between July and October this year.
US designates 6 North Koreans over WMD, ballistic missile programs
The United States said Wednesday that it is designating six North Korean individuals related to North Korea's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs. The Department of Treasury said it is designating five North Korean individuals ― one based in Russia and four in China ― for illegally procuring materials for the North's WMD and ballistic missile programs. The Department of State also designated an additional North Korean individual based in Russia for a similar reason. "Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) individuals responsible for procuring goods for the DPRK's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile-related programs," the treasury department said in a press release, referring to North Korea by its official name.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Citizens Flee Seoul over Soaring Housing Prices.
One in five homes bought in Gyeonggi Province last year were bought by a Seoul resident as property prices in the capital went through the roof. The Korea Real Estate Board said 19 percent of 173,002 apartments that were sold in Gyeonggi Province from January to November last year were purchased by Seoul residents, up from 15.8 percent on-year. The same is true in Incheon with 12.7 percent of 45,070 apartments sold in the western port city purchased by Seoul residents, up from 8.5 percent over the same period.
Samsung Flies COVID-Infected Staff Home from U.S. Trade Show
Samsung Electronics chartered three planes on Tuesday to bring home about 20 employees who were stranded in the U.S. after testing positive for coronavirus. They visited the U.S. to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. The electronics giant said, "We plan to fly home our employees infected with COVID-19 and put them in a safe quarantine facility." Around 400 Korean businesses set up exhibition booths at the CES, which was the second-highest number after U.S. companies. The international electronics fair was held from Jan. 5 to 7 and some 5,000 people from Korea took part.
Omicron on Course to Becoming Dominant Strain in Korea
The Omicron variant has risen to over 10 percent of all COVID-19 infections in Korea over the past month. According to health authorities on Monday, Omicron made up a mere 1.7 percent of infections in the third week of December, rising to 4 percent in the fifth week of December and 12.5 percent in the first week of January. Accumulated Omicron infections jumped from 38 on Dec. 7 to a whopping 2,351 on Jan. 7. "Omicron infections will spread faster and faster," said Lee Sang-won of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. "There's a high chance of Omicron becoming the dominant variant in the country by the end of January."
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
In face of denials of its hypersonic capabilities, N. Korea fires Mach 10 missile
Reaching a maximum speed exceeding Mach 10 and rated by military authorities as more advanced than its previous missile tested days earlier, the ballistic missile fired by North Korea on Tuesday is being taken as a sign that the North’s hypersonic missile development is proceeding faster than anticipated. North Korea also claimed to have tested hypersonic missiles in September 2021 and on Jan. 5, a possibility that the South Korean military had been dismissing. As if to refute the position of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, the North’s latest missile nearly doubled the speed of the one fired just six days earlier.
N. Korea fires second missile in 6 days
North Korea launched what is thought to be a ballistic missile on Tuesday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. We detected a projectile presumed to be a ballistic missile that North Korea fired from an inland location toward the East Sea at 7:27 am. South Korean and American intelligence authorities are conducting a detailed analysis of additional information,” the Joint Chiefs said in a statement sent to reporters on Tuesday. That analysis reportedly covers data including altitude and distance traveled. The launch on Tuesday came just six days after North Korea fired a ballistic missile — which it claimed to be a hypersonic missile — from the area of Jagang Province into the East Sea on Wednesday. That makes the North’s second show of force since the New Year.
S. Korea mulls priority PCR testing for COVID-vulnerable amid Omicron spread
Health authorities are considering adopting a COVID-19 testing strategy that prioritizes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for older populations and those with underlying diseases to cope with the Omicron variant becoming the dominant form of the COVID-19 virus in Korea. In addition to increasing the testing capacity from roughly 750,000 tests per day to 850,000, health authorities are also considering introducing supplementary rapid antigen tests (self-diagnosis kits) for those who do not belong to this priority group. At a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Monday, Minister of Health and Welfare Kwon Deok-cheol said, “Around 10% of COVID-19 infections in South Korea are with the Omicron variant, but with its high transmissibility, experts predict that it will become the dominant variant within one to two months.”
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
World Bank predicts growth rates to fall to 4.1% this year
The World Bank said on Tuesday (local time) that the global economy’s growth rate for this year and next year will significantly deteriorate compared to last year, due to COVID, inflation risks, increased debt, widening income gap and higher interest rates at major economies. According to the bank’s World Economic Outlook released on the same day, World Bank predicted that the global economic growth, which had been 5.5% last year, would fall to 4.1% this year. Growth rate for 2023 is expected to be even lower at 3.2%.
Ministry of Food and Drug Safety designates GBL as narcotic
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced the designation gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL) as a temporary narcotic, which is an ingredient of Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) known as a date-rape drug and also commonly called ‘mulpong.’ GBL turns quickly into ‘mulpong’ in the body and causes unconsciousness and respiratory inhibition. It is often misused in sex crimes,” said the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Wednesday, designating GBL as a temporary narcotic. The Dong-A Ilbo reported in November that GBL turns into GBH in the body and has a bigger effect than GBH but its use for sex crimes goes unpunished under the Narcotic Control Act as it is not designated as a narcotic.
UNSC fails to come up with a response regarding N. Korea’s missile launch
Two hours before North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile on Tuesday morning, an urgent, closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was underway at the UN Headquarters in New York. The UNSC members were discussing how to respond to North Korea’s firing of ballistic missile last week, which the country claimed to be a hypersonic missile. According to diplomatic sources, the UNSC meeting continued for an hour from 3 p.m. on Monday. North Korea launched another missile one and a half hour after the UNSC ended discussions.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Safety “Collapses” Again in Gwangju Because of “That” Construction Company
The outer wall of a high-rise apartment building under construction in Gwangju collapsed severing communication with six workers. Authorities urgently evacuated nearby residents due to further risk of the building collapsing, while continuing the search for the workers. At 3:46 p.m. on January 11, at the construction site of the Hwajeong IPark Complex 2 in Hwajeong-dong, Seo-gu, Gwangju, the external wall of one apartment building crumbled. The outer wall between the 24th and 34th floors collapsed while workers were casting concrete on the 39th floor. Authorities are searching for the whereabouts of six workers who were working between the 28th and 31st floors of the building in question.
Number of New Daily Cases of COVID-19 Drops 15% from the Previous Week: Authorities Confirmed over 4,300 Cases This Day
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 in South Korea dropped nearly 15% from the previous week. However, the number of new daily cases increased to exceed 4,000 for the first time in six days since January 6. On January 12, Jeon Hae-cheol (minister of the interior and safety), second assistant director at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said in his opening remark at the headquarters meeting, “In the past week (Jan. 5-11), the average number of new daily cases was 3,608, 15% down from the previous week (Dec. 29-Jan. 4), but today, we expect to confirm over 4,300 cases.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff Announced, “North Korea Launched Ballistic Missile into the East Sea,” One Minute after the Japanese Government’s Announcement
On January 11, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced, “North Korea launched an unidentified projectile into the East Sea.” At around 7:30 this morning, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a text message with these details to the journalists assigned to the military headquarters. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent another text at 8:38 this morning and explained, “At around 7:27 this morning, we detected the launch of one projectile presumed to be a ballistic missile from the North Korean inland to the East Sea,” and added, “As for additional information, the intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are currently conducting a close analysis.” This day’s launch was the second demonstration of military power this year,
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korean chip stocks restrained in uplift by sanguine DRAM prospects
Excitement from stock upgrade and bullish outlook by foreign institutions on South Korea’s memory majors was short-lived. In its latest report, Goldman Sachs raised its rating on SK hynix stock to a buy from a neutral and hiked its target price by 41.6 percent to 170,000 won ($142.85). In late October last year, the global investment bank had slashed SK hynix stock target price by 30 percent to 120,000 won. The bank also raised price target for Samsung Electronics Co. stock to 107,000 won from 100,000 won.
LG Energy Solution secures 700,000 lithium concentrate supply from Australia
South Korea’s top pure-play battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd. has inked a contract to purchase 700,000 dry metric tons of lithium spodumene concentrate from Austrian miner Liontown Resources Ltd. in a preemptive action to secure stable supply of the key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries amid soaring prices from ever-rising demand. Under an offtake agreement, LG Energy Solution will receive the lithium spodumene concentrate supply from 2024 to 2028, according to industry sources on Wednesday.
S. Korean public enterprises mandated to seat labor member on board
From as early as July, Korean public enterprises such as Korea Electric Power Corporation and National Pension Service will have to seat a labor representative on their managing board under a revised bill that passed the National Assembly on Tuesday despite concerns about the ramifications on the private sector in the longer run. Lawmakers from both left and right wing approved a controversial bill revising the Public Enterprise Management Act mandating labor representation at public companies as a bid to win over union votes in the presidential election in March.
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