Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Andaz Seoul Gangnam Launches ‘Romance at Andaz’ Package
Andaz Seoul Gangnam, a lifestyle hotel of the Hyatt Hotels & Resorts located at Apgujeong, offers a perfect option for a romantic staycation. Themed around the concept of creating ‘Romantic Moments,’ the ‘Romance atAndaz’ package is available from January 14, 2022 to December 31, 2022. Breakfast, sparkling wine and cake, bath bomb set, etc. are included in the package, which is priced starting at KRW 320,000 (excluding 10% tax). For rooms, you can choose from Deluxe rooms, Premium rooms, Andaz suites, or Balcony suites. Immerse in a romantic atmosphere while relieving fatigue in Andaz's unique stylish bathtub with La Cuvee Maisonbath bomb made with the finest essential oils from France and carefully selected raw materials. Two types of bath bomb featuring the love story of Dionysus and Ariadne as a motif are included.
Taihan obtains a $50 million order from SP PowerAssets in Singapore
Taihan has won an order for a project to build a 400kV ultra-high voltage cable power grid ordered by Singapore's power company SP PowerAssets, the company said on Jan. 21. It is a large project with orders worth about $50 million (about 60 billion won). The project is to build an underground power grid on Jurong Island, located in the southwest of Singapore, and Taihan will supply all 400kV ultra-high pressure cables and connections, and performs the project in a full turn-key manner responsible for designing, laying, connecting and testing the power grid. The 400kV power grid is the highest voltage used in Singapore, and a thorough evaluation of technology and quality is conducted to ensure stability.
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul launches a comprehensive Romance-themed gift package
Lately, Four Hotel Seoul presents a romance-themed package dubbed, ‘Bubble Getaway,’ for guests so that they can enjoy a hotel ‘staycation’ filled with luxury and beautiful memories with loved ones on Valentine’s Day, honeymoons and wedding anniversaries. It includes one night in a suite, access to Executive Club Lounge, special bathroom decoration to add to the romantic mood, and a bottle of champagne. The "Bubble Getaway" package includes a night in the spacious Ambassador Suite of about 35 pyeong, a bottle of Dom Perignon and a strawberry amenity dipped in chocolate, a petal bathtub and LED candle decoration service, and access to Executive Club Lounge serving breakfast buffet, afternoon tea and evening cocktail hours, for guests to enjoy a romantic hotel staycation.
Pentagon Repeats Calls on North Korea to Stop Provocation, Return to Dialogue
The U.S. Department of Defense has repeated calls on North Korea to stop its provocations and instead return to dialogue. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby made the appeal on Monday during a press briefing when asked about the possibility of the North conducting intercontinental ballistic missile tests. Kirby said that the U.S. has been very clear about its concerns over the advancing nuclear ambitions and ballistic missile capabilities of Pyongyang. The spokesperson said the U.S. continues to condemn it and to call on the North to cease these provocations and abide by international law and Security Council resolutions. It also urges the country to try and find ways to de-escalate the tension.
Survey: 8 of 10 Foreigners Have Positive Image of S. Korea
Eight out of ten global citizens were found to hold a positive view of South Korea. According to a 2021 national image survey released by the culture ministry's Korean Culture and Information Service on Monday, 80-point-five percent of foreigners have a positive image of South Korea, up two-point-four percentage points from the previous year. In seven countries including Vietnam, Turkey, the Philippines and Thailand, more than nine out of ten people had a positive view of Korea. In Japan, positive responses jumped by more than seven percentage points to 35 percent, overtaking negative views, which hit 26-point-six percent, for the first time since the poll began to be taken in 2018.
Xi Sends Congratulatory Letter on Moon's 70th Birthday
The presidential office says Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a letter congratulating President Moon Jae-in on his 70th birthday Monday. Presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee reported on Monday that President Xi sent the letter to Moon, who then sent a letter of gratitude to Xi. Park said the two leaders agreed to further enhance bilateral exchanges and cooperation as this year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations. The two leaders also agreed to further develop a strategic cooperative partnership between South Korea and China. The countries are reportedly in consultation to hold a virtual summit between Presidents Moon and Xi.
S. Korea's economy grows 4 pct in 2021, highest in 11 years
South Korea's economy is estimated to have grown 4 percent in 2021, marking the highest growth rate in 11 years, central bank data showed Tuesday. The growth was higher than a 0.9 percent contraction tallied a year earlier when the country suffered from slumping spending and exports amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). The growth rate marked the highest tally since 2010, when the economy expanded 6.8 percent. It also met the central bank's annual growth outlook of 4 percent. For the fourth quarter of last year, the economy is estimated to have grown 1.1 percent, accelerating from the previous quarter's 0.3 percent gain, the data showed.
Yoon leads Lee in presidential election race: poll
Main opposition presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol is leading his ruling party rival Lee Jae-myung with 42 percent public support against Lee's 36.8 percent, a survey showed Monday. Yoon of the People Power Party (PPP) gained 1.4 percentage points from the previous week, while Lee of the Democratic Party edged up 0.1 point, according to the Realmeter survey conducted on 3,046 adults from Jan. 16 to 21. Yoon led Lee by 5.2 percentage points, which was outside the margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level. Ahn Cheol-soo, the presidential candidate of the minor opposition People's Party, lost 2.9 percentage points to post 10 percent, marking the first decline in six weeks.
S. Korea likely to report highest-ever new cases amid accelerating omicron spread
South Korea's daily coronavirus cases are expected to reach an all-time high amid deepening concerns over the fast spreading omicron variant that has become the dominant strain in the country, data showed Monday. As of 9 p.m. Monday, the country had reported 7,437 new COVID-19 cases, up 1,762 from the same time the previous day, according to health authorities and city governments. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning. Tuesday's dally virus tally will surely top 8,000. The record high to date was 7,848 on Dec. 15. The country added 7,513 new COVID-19 infections, including 7,159 local infections the previous day, raising the total caseload to 741,413, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon vows for stronger national defense, key to peace on Korean Peninsula
Presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party on Monday stressed the need to adopt strict measures to push North Korea’s denuclearization, and vowed to strengthen national defense, saying it is the key to prosperity and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Announcing his 20 election pledges on diplomacy and defense policies -- four on North Korea, 11 on diplomacy and five on national defense -- Yoon vowed to normalize inter-Korean relations and strengthen South Korea‘s strategic alliance with the United States.
Lee Jae-myung vows quicker commute for Gyeonggi residents
Presidential candidate for South Korea’s ruling party vowed to heavily invest in high-speed trains and reduce the commute time in the greater Seoul area to within 30 minutes. Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party announced Monday he will expand the construction of Greater Train Express commuter network of railways, subways and expressways to improve the access of Gyeonggi Province residents to Seoul and other parts of the province. The announcement was made in Lee’s campaign event held to appeal to voters in Gyeonggi Province, home to 13.41 million people, or 25.9 percent of South Korea’s population.
Campaign merger? What it is and why it matters
Will two presidential candidates, Yoon Suk-yeol and Ahn Cheol-soo, merge their campaigns to win the upcoming election? It remains one of the burning questions ahead of the March presidential election. Unification during an election campaign refers to two or more candidates merging their campaigns to win the election. And “unification” is a word that comes up time and time again in election season. The first attempt to unify was in the 1987 presidential election. Many Koreans who attained the right to a direct presidential election through the June democratic uprising against a dictatorship hoped for a regime change via the polls. Many voters wanted one of either Kim Young-sam or Kim Dae-jung, both of whom participated in the June uprising, to overcome Roh Tae-woo, a key player in the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. However, the two Kims ran separately and both lost.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
'Export insurance agreement to safeguard Korea-UAE hydrogen projects'
Export insurance and finance will play a crucial role in safeguarding the world's transition to a hydrogen economy and boosting the joint efforts between Korea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to take an early lead in the supply chain of the energy source, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) CEO Massimo Falcioni said. "Since the green hydrogen projects are in the nascent stage, it is costlier than traditional production processes, and there might have more risks associated with its massive production," Falcioni said during an email interview with The Korea Times. "Hence, safeguarding those initiatives with adequate insurance solutions is essential as this form of renewable energy is poised to contribute substantially to the decarbonization process of the world."
Extra budget feared to lead to rate hikes, inflation, burdening vulnerable
The government is drawing up another 14 trillion won ($11.7 billion) budget to support small business owners afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but ironically, it is feared that the extra budget will add yet more of a burden to affected households and businesses, as the situation is set to trigger a rise in lending rates as well as consumer prices. The extra budget will be used to provide 3 million won to 3.2 million small business owners who have been hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing social distancing measures on businesses. The government is seeking to issue 11.3 trillion won in debt to finance the 14-trillion-won budget, which will be done by issuing government bonds.
Korea's contradictory nuclear energy policy raises eyebrows
The Moon Jae-in administration has been under constant criticism for its double standards on nuclear energy, as it shows completely different attitudes toward nuclear power plants at home and abroad, according to economists and energy analysts, Monday. While abroad, Moon has been touting Korea's nuclear plants as the world's safest and most efficiently run, urging foreign governments to adopt the country's nuclear reactors. But here at home, the Moon administration has been eager to shut down local plants, calling nuclear energy an environmentally harmful and outdated energy source, and instead stressed the use of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
N.Korea 'World's 3rd Biggest Hacking Powerhouse'
North Korea is believed to rank third after only the U.S. and Russia when it comes to the power and ingenuity of its computer hackers. North Korean hackers paralyze entire countries with various kinds of cyberattacks and steal confidential documents or foreign currency by hacking agencies and banks. The North has focused on increasing hacking capabilities, convinced that hacking is the most powerful means of attack of the future since former leader Kim Jong-il was alive. His son Kim Jong-un has put a cyber command under his own control, calling his regime's cyberwarfare capabilities an "all-powerful blade."
Korean Vehicles Named 'Best Cars for the Money' in U.S.
Six vehicles produced by Hyundai and affiliate Kia have been named among the "Best Cars for the Money" by U.S. News and World Report. The U.S. publication's annual awards cover "11 different automotive classes, and the winners have the best combination of quality and value in their respective classes. They're not just good cars, they're also good deals over the long haul." In the SUVs and minivans segment, the Korean automakers won five awards -- Kona (subcompact SUV), Santa Fe (2-row SUV), Telluride (3-row SUV) and Tucson (two awards -- hybrid and electric SUV and compact SUV). In the cars segment, Hyundai's Elantra (sold as the Avante in Korea) won the award given to the best hybrid and electric car.
Corruption Investigation Office Is a Shameless Government Tool
The Corruption Investigation Office for High-Ranking Officials, a supposedly independent agency established to root out corruption in government, has been snooping into the phone records of main opposition presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl and his wife among a whopping 80 of the People Power Party's 105 lawmakers. They include Kwon Seong-dong, who serves as Yoon's chief of staff, as well as Chang Je-won and Yoon Han-hong, who are also close to the former prosecutor general. Yoon's spokesman Kim Byung-min's phone records were also scrutinized, and the list of victims is expected to increase. The investigation office was hastily set up early this year by the government to pull the teeth of independent prosecutors as they were getting too close in their probes to President Moon Jar-in's inner circle.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
China’s strong-arm diplomacy put to the test in Europe’s smallest nations
Last year, Slovenia followed the lead of Lithuania in announcing that it planned to establish mutual representative offices with Taiwan at the start of 2022. The move by Slovenia is unnerving China, which has downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania and even subjected it to trade sanctions. As smaller countries have begun hitting back, the Chinese model of strong-arm diplomacy is being put to the test. In this sense, it’s necessary to consider remarks made by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa in an interview with an Indian public broadcaster on Jan. 17. Commenting on the establishment of a representative office in Taiwan, Jansa referred to Taiwan as a “democratic country.”
Yoon’s mother-in-law poses yet another risk for PPP candidate
As controversy continues to rage over seven hours of telephone conversations involving Kim Keon-hee, wife of People Power Party (PPP) presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol, the party is now feeling the heat ahead of a scheduled ruling Tuesday in an appellate trial involving Yoon’s mother-in-law. Kim’s mother, a 75-year-old surnamed Choi, is scheduled to appear at the Seoul High Court on Tuesday on charges including fraud. On July 2 of last year, the Uijeongbu District Court sentenced Kim’s mother to three years in prison and had her taken into court custody. Choi, who is not a medical professional, was convicted of improperly accepting 2.29 billion won (US$1.9 million) from Korea's national health insurance system after establishing a long-term care hospital in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, in February 2013.
China’s “common prosperity” not enough to remedy inequality, Korea’s central bank finds
Though the Chinese government began a push for “common prosperity” to remedy worsening economic inequality within its borders, closing the gap between the wealthy and the poor will not be easy, the Bank of Korea (BOK) projected. In its world economy periodical released Sunday, the BOK stated that “although serious income inequality within the Chinese economy is an urgent problem that must be resolved from the Chinese government’s standpoint as it can threaten the legitimacy and stability of the country’s political system, redistribution policies will not be easy to institute smoothly.” The Chinese government previously announced “common prosperity” as its medium- to long-term policy goal last year, stating it would strengthen its redistribution policies.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Hanwha Systems conducts ground tests for electric propulsion system
Hanwha Systems announced on Monday that the company began ground tests for an electric propulsion system, a key technology for urban air mobility (UAM). The most important step to realize UAM has begun. Overair, Hanwha Systems’ subsidiary in the U.S., released a test for the electric propulsion system of UAM vehicle named ‘Butterfly’ in the desert of Southern California on Thursday (local time). Hanwha Systems invested 30 billion won in Overair, a company specialized in personal air vehicles, in December 2019 and became its largest shareholder. Hanwha Systems and Overair are co-developing Butterfly. The electric propulsion system has been tested indoors since August last year and was recently tested outdoor for the first time.
Recycling deposit of 300 won to be charged for disposable cup use
Effective from June 10, consumers will be required to pay 300 won as recycling deposit when using disposable cups made of plastic and paper at large coffee franchises and fast-food stores. The deposit will be returned in cash or money transfer when the cup is returned. The Ministry of Environment announced on Monday that the Enforcement decree on the Promotion of Resource Conservation and Recycling will be pre-announced for 40 days from Tuesday. Coffee, beverage, bakery, fast-food chains with more than 100 stores will be subject to the new regulation, including around 38,000 stores at Starbucks, Paris Baguette, Lotteria.
Presidential candidates clash over how to increase the extra budget
Ruling Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung on Friday proposed that all presidential candidates meet to discuss increasing the government’s extra budget to 35 trillion won. Lee made the proposal to increase the extra budget by more than 2.5 times an hour after the government approved a 14 trillion won supplementary budget through a Cabinet meeting. Critics pointed out that with only 46 days left until the presidential election, politicians scramble for increasing the additional extra budget, neglecting inflation, high interest rates and the burden of national debt. n a press conference held at the National Assembly, Lee said he 100% agrees and welcomes the 35 trillion won supplementary budget initially proposed by the ruling People Power Party (PPP), and would like to propose an emergency meeting between all presidential candidates to support small business owners and the self-employed.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Why Did President Moon Send a Gift with a Picture of Dokdo to Japan?
The Embassy of Japan in South Korea refused to accept the Lunar New Year’s present from President Moon Jae-in because of a painting of the sun rising over Dokdo decorating the box. The incident has sent ripples throughout the diplomatic circle, because it is very unusual for an embassy to refuse a gift from the leader of the host country. In addition to the reason the Japanese embassy refused the gift, why Cheongwadae sent a present with a picture of Dokdo to the Japanese embassy is also drawing much attention. On January 18, Cheongwadae sent local specialties--Munbaeju from Gimpo; plum extracts from Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do; magnolia berry syrup from Mungyeong, Gyeongsangbuk-do; and chestnuts from Buyeo, Chungcheongnam-do--as gifts to medical staff dedicated to the nation’s response to COVID-19 and people in social groups that require special care as well as foreign missions in South Korea. But the Japanese embassy protested the painting of a sunrise over Dokdo on the box and refused to accept President Moon’s gift. The Japanese press in South Korea, which too received the president’s gift, also showed discomfort.
“Completely Reconsider Trust in the U.S.” North Korea Hints at Plans to Resume Nuclear and ICBM Tests
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) hinted at intentions to resume its nuclear and missile tests claiming it would reconsider its preemptive measures to establish trust with the U.S. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced on January 20 that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the sixth Political Bureau Meeting of the eighth Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, listened to a report of the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula and international affairs, and discussed the direction of North Korea’s future response to the U.S. The North Korean state media reported, “The Political Bureau Meeting relisted national defense policy tasks to promptly strengthen and develop stronger physical means to firmly overpower hostile actions against the DPRK by the U.S.,
A Horse Died after the Shooting of the Hero Falling Off the Horse in the KBS Drama “The King of Tears, Yi Bang-won”
A scene which allegedly involved animal abuse was aired in the KBS drama The King of Tears, Yi Bang-won (Taejong Yi Bang-won), leading to a petition on the Cheongwadae National Petition website demanding an end to broadcasting dramas that treat animals like props. It was confirmed that the horse died a week after the accident. People are calling for the need to establish guidelines to resolve the issue of animal cruelty in filming TV shows. On January 19, the Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) and the Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA) pointed out on social medial a scene from the TV drama The King of Tears, Yi Bang-won, which allegedly involved animal abuse. The scene was aired on January 1, and it portrayed the actor playing Yi Seong-gye falling from a horse.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Kospi dips below 2,800 for the first time in 13 months on Fed concerns
South Korean stocks crashed further Monday, retreating to below 2,800 for the first time in 13 months amid concerns about tightening Federal Reserve monetary policy and instability in Ukraine, while the fast omicron spread and plunging cryptocurrency prices undermine investor appetite for risk. The benchmark Kospi lost 42.29 points or 1.49 percent to close at 2,792,00, with Kosdaq plunging 2.91 percent. After opening Monday 0.37 percent lower at 2,823.76, Korea’s main bourse Kospi lost further to 2,791.51 by 9:49 a.m., breaking below the key 2,800 level for the first time since Dec. 29, 2020. Individual investors sold net 195.9 billion won ($164 million) and foreigners 148.4 billion won in the Kospi, while institutions net bought 349.4 billion in the morning session.
OCI bets big on solar energy development in Texas after 10 yrs of entry
OCI Co., South Korean chemical and renewable energy company, is set to bolster its investment in solar energy business in Texas, the United States, after a decade of its successful business in the country where green energy development has gained further traction under the Joe Biden administration. OCI Solar Power, the U.S. entity of OCI, currently operates Alamo 1 and Alamo 2 solar power plants in Texas after selling the other eight operations after development. Alamo 1 – located south of San Antonio – manages 180,000 solar panels that are connected to nearby transformers, meters, and transmission facilities on a land of 445 acres, while Alamo 2 is located east of San Antonio near residential area.
Korea’s manufacturing sector loses 180,000 jobs over past 5 years
South Korea has seen a significant decrease in the number of workers in the manufacturing sector over the past five years while overseas employment has surged, losing its fame as a manufacturing prowess to rival countries. The country’s manufacturing jobs in 2019 fell by about 180,000 compared to 2015, according to the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) on Monday. The decrease is equal to the combined number of local employees of Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor, two of the largest companies in Korea. Between 2015 and 2019, the number of employees in the manufacturing industry decreased by 3.9 percent in Korea but increased in Japan, Germany, and the United States by 3.3 percent (340,000), 3.3 percent (250,000), and 3.1 percent (490,000), respectively.
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