Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 70 years of her accession
On Feb. 5, one day before the 70th anniversary of her accession, the Queen met with representatives of local volunteer groups, pensioners and women's group members at Sandringham Villa, the BBC and Sky News reported. The Queen in a light blue dress with a cane cut a cake made by local residents with a bright expression. The letters on the cake were directed at the photographers and not the queen, but the queen smiled and said it didn't matter. One reception attendee said the Queen was “sparkling.” According to the AP, the Queen was free to move despite recent health concerns, and the cane seemed to be used for support while standing rather than walking.
SKT, Joby of the U.S. join hands to bring air taxi service to South Korea
SK Telecom and Joby Aviation in the U.S. have decided to work together to introduce emissions-free aerial ridesharing services to cities and communities across South Korea, they announced on February 7. Joby Aviation is a California-based company developing an all-electric, five-seat aircraft that can take off and land vertically (eVTOL). CEO Ryu Young-sang of SKT and Joby’s founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt signed a strategic collaboration agreement at Joby’s manufacturing facility in Marina, California. The agreement will see the two companies work closely on introducing this revolutionary form of transportation in support of the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport’s “K-UAM” (Korean Urban Air Mobility) Roadmap, first announced in 2020.
Leaders of Korea, Turkmenistan exchange letters, celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations
President Moon Jae-in exchanged letters with President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan to celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and strengthened friendship between the leaders on February 7. President Moon evaluated the two countries' cooperation in various fields such as politics, economy, culture, and human exchange since diplomatic relations in 1992 and expressed expectations for expanding the field of cooperation in the future, Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Kyung-mi said in a written briefing.
Moon Calls for Voting Plan for Those with COVID-19 on Election Day
President Moon Jae-in has called for measures to guarantee the voting rights of people infected with COVID-19 and those in self-isolation in next month's presidential election. According to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee, in a meeting with senior aides on Tuesday, Moon underlined that the right to vote must be protected as he ordered related agencies to come up with and finalize relevant measures in a swift manner. Under current rules, people who test positive to COVID between the early voting period of March 4 and 5 and March 9 will not be able to cast their ballots on Election Day as there are currently no separate polling stations planned for infected persons.
Isolation Rules Further Eased to Simplify Oversight amid Spiking Cases
Starting Wednesday, the required isolation period for people with COVID-19 will be seven days from the time their samples were taken, regardless of symptoms or vaccination status. The Central Disease Control Headquarters on Tuesday announced the revised rules will take effect the following day and will also be applied retroactively to individuals currently in quarantine. Until now, COVID-19 patients who are fully vaccinated were to isolate for seven days, while those partially vaccinated or unvaccinated were to complete ten days of self-isolation. The new policy eliminates the disparity between the groups.
Daily COVID-19 Cases Above 30,000 for Fourth Day
Daily COVID-19 cases remained above 30-thousand for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Tuesday that 36-thousand-719 infections were reported throughout the previous day, including 100 from overseas. The total caseload came to one-million-81-thousand-681. The daily tally rose by over 14-hundred from a day ago and doubled from a week ago. It increased four-point-three times from two weeks ago. Despite the soaring case numbers, the number of critically ill patients is down by two to 268, remaining in the 200s for the eleventh consecutive day.
S. Korea to discuss 'creative' engagement on N. Korea in talks with U.S., Japan
South Korea will have in-depth consultations with the United States and Japan in the upcoming three-way ministerial talks to explore "creative" ways of engagement with North Korea, Seoul officials said Tuesday. The foreign ministry reaffirmed its commitment to diplomacy with Pyongyang, as South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Hawaii on Saturday following the North's recent missile tests.
Moon calls for measures to guarantee voting rights of virus patients, people in self-isolation
President Moon Jae-in called Tuesday for measures to guarantee voting rights of virus patients and people in self-isolation in the upcoming presidential election amid concerns that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis could prevent hundreds of thousands of voters from casting their ballots. Under current election rules, it is virtually impossible for those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 after the early voting period that falls on March 4-5 and people who go into self-isolation just before the March 9 presidential election to cast their votes.
Yoon, Ahn under pressure to merge candidacies ahead of election
Main opposition presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol and minor candidate Ahn Cheol-soo are under growing pressure to join forces to boost the opposition's chances of winning the March 9 election. Political watchers have long expected talks of a merger between Yoon of the conservative People Power Party (PPP) and Ahn of the centrist People's Party, as such political engineering is seen as the surest guarantee of success in a remarkably tight race. Polls have shown Yoon and ruling party candidate Lee Jae-myung of the liberal Democratic Party (DP) neck-at-neck at below 40 percent support each. Ahn, meanwhile, has recently climbed to below 20 percent.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Samsung Electronics CEO in Vietnam ahead of Galaxy Unpacked 2022
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman and CEO Han Jong-hee is in Vietnam to make final preparations for the South Korean tech giant’s annual Galaxy Unpacked event scheduled this Thursday. According to an industry source Tuesday, the executive arrived in Hanoi on Monday to check the production of Galaxy 22 smartphones. This is Han’s first visit to Vietnam since Samsung Electronics merged its smartphone and consumer electronics divisions into the mobile experience (MX) division in December. The last time the company‘s device business chief officially visited the Southeast Asian nation was in October 2020. At that time he accompanied Lee Jae-yong, Samsung’s de-facto leader, for a business trip.
S. Korea to file appeal with top sports tribunal for ‘unfair’ short track refereeing
South Korea is to file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) concerning refereeing decisions that disqualified two of the country’s short track speedskaters at Beijing 2022 Monday night. Yoon Hong-geun, president of the Korea Skating Union and the head of South Korea’s athletic delegation, said Tuesday that the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) will appeal with the highest international sports tribunal to “publicize the unfairness” that resulted in the disqualification of Korean skaters Hwang Dae-heon and Lee June-seo in the men’s 1,000-meter semifinals.
Opposition rivals raise talk of campaign merger as clock ticks
With less than 30 days to go to the March presidential election, candidates from opposition parties are bringing talks to merge their campaigns to the surface. Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party expressed for the first time his openness to unifying his candidacy with Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People’s Party in a media interview Monday. Ahn drew a line, however, saying has no intention to merge campaigns.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon, Lee court Ahn to form coalition government
Amid a close presidential race, Ahn Cheol-soo, the presidential candidate of the center-right People's Party, has become the most-sought-after politician as two leading contenders are wooing him to team up to field a unified candidacy for a coalition government after winning the election. But Ahn is turning a deaf ear to their calls, reiterating his position that he is in the race until the end. During a debate hosted by Kwanhun Club, an organization of journalists, Tuesday, Ahn dismissed any possibility of cooperating with another party to field a single candidate.
North Korea 'behaves' for China during Beijing Games
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's absence from the country's key parliamentary meeting ― as well as the lack of public message for South Korea or the United States ― is raising speculation that the reclusive contry is refraining from its saber-rattling mainly due to the ongoing Beijing Winter Olympics. According to its state-run Korean Central News Agency, the totalitarian state held the sixth session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) in Pyongyang, Sunday and Monday without Kim's attendance. The SPA is the highest organ of power under the North Korean Constitution, although it rubber-stamps decisions of the ruling Workers' Party.
What's behind fall of oil and chemical stocks despite record profits?
Despite achieving a record high operating profit last year, S-Oil's stock price still hovers some 25 percent below its 52-week high of 117,500 won set in October last year. In a longer time frame, the firm's stock is less than half of its highest intra-day trading record of 170,000 won set in 2011. It seems the oil refiner's impressive operating profit of 2.3 trillion won ($1.9 billion) and annual revenue of 27.4 trillion won were not enough to convince investors of the firm's bright future. SK innovation, another major company engaged in the petroleum and energy sector, is displaying similar stock price movements.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Olympic Gold Continues to Elude Korea in Short Track Speed Skating
Korea's medal drought continued for the third straight day at the Winter Olympics in Beijing after it again failed to win an Olympic gold medal in the women's 500-m short track speed skating. Choi Min-jeong was eliminated in the women's 500-m quarterfinals on Monday as she finished fourth after falling with two laps to go. Korea has dominated short track speed skating since it became an official sport at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville. But the country has never won a gold medal in the women's 500-m race in nine attempts. Its best results so far have been two bronze medals won by Chun Lee-kyung in Nagano in 1998 and Park Seung-hi in Sochi in 2014.
Protracted Pandemic Changes Consumption Patterns
Koreans' consumption patterns have changed over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Furniture and home appliances sold like hot cakes during the first year of the pandemic as most people had to spend all day at home, but the following year sales of bags and clothes soared. Statistics Korea said on Monday that sales of semi-durable products such as bags and clothes surged 12.4 percent last year. The surge appears to reflect pent-up demand as people who were cooped up at home during the first year of the pandemic started going out again after getting tired of the never-ending lockdown.
Immunocompromised People to Get 2nd COVID Booster
Immunocompromised people and nursing home residents will start getting their second COVID-19 vaccine booster later this month. High-risk groups such as the elderly who had their first booster last October and November could experience breakthrough infections or become seriously ill amid the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant. Jeong Eun-kyeong, the director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said Monday, "We're considering giving them the second booster four months after their first. We believe that they need to get a fourth dose in this timeframe, but we're going to ask an expert committee to review our decision."
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Worrying prospects for diplomacy and security in the race for the Blue House
In an election climate marked by unilateral pledges and negative campaigning, the fourth televised debate last week was an opportunity to get at least a little bit of a sense of the four participating candidates’ governing capabilities. The assessments that followed were generally self-serving, but the one I found most disappointing at a personal level concerned the field of foreign affairs and national security. The 30-minute debate on foreign affairs and national security was woefully inadequate in terms of time, form and content. Out of the four topics of the debate, it was the one where all the candidates showed their weakest performance.
Amid Omicron’s spread, S. Korea shifts at-home monitoring responsibility to individuals
Amid predictions that new daily confirmed COVID-19 cases could reach anywhere from 130,000 to 170,000 by the end of February, the system for managing home treatment is being reworked with a new focus on “intensive management” for high-risk patients such as those over 60 and people in their 50s with preexisting conditions. Other patients with mild or no symptoms will be subject to remote treatment by respiratory clinics and other local hospitals and clinics, while being responsible for monitoring their own health without home treatment kits or telephone-based monitoring.
No such thing as preventive war
“Preventive war is like committing suicide out of fear of death.” This was Otto von Bismarck's warning to the hard-line generals of the German army who insisted on carrying out a preemptive strike against Russia during World War I. Attacking first out of fear that your opponent will start a war is thus, according to Bismarck, foolish and tantamount to suicide. The illusion that a preemptive attack could be advantageous, the fear that an opponent might attack first, and the fantasy that a war could be ended within a reasonable period have long been the core causes of the repeated wars throughout mankind’s history.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases triple in a week
An increase in the number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases is overloading the virus’ diagnostic procedures. Concerns are raised that the number of PCR tests that can be taken in a day will significantly decrease as more people are confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19. Some say that rapid antigen tests using a COVID-19 self-diagnostic kit that have recently been introduced to triage rooms in preparation for an increase in infections are causing confusion contrary to the intended purpose.
CSIS: N. Korea has completed building a new ICBM base
It has been revealed that North Korea has built a new base for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) near its border with China and already begun its operation. Amid North Korea’s seven missile launches this year, the newly built missile base is thought to be one of North Korea’s 20 secret missile bases currently in operation. Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jennifer Jun on Monday (local time) published an analysis report on North Korea’s Hoejong-ni missile operating base in Beyond Parallel, a website specializing in North Korea.
U.S. says Russia could invade Ukraine any day during Beijing Olympics
The White House said that Russia may invade Ukraine before the Beijing Olympics ends (on Feb. 20). Russia has been known to deploy military forces around 20-30 kilometers from Ukraine borders, the largest since the Cold War. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that “Russia could invade Ukraine any day” and that “we need to prepare military invasion that may occur before the Olympic ends” on ABC and Fox News on Saturday Russia had invaded Georgia, who had been in conflict on whether to join NATO, on the opening day of the Beijing Olympics on Aug 8, 2008.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
New Home Treatment Policy: Authorities to Monitor People in High-Risk Groups Only
In the future, disease control authorities will concentrate their care on only people in high-risk groups among COVID-19 patients receiving home treatment, such as those ages 60 and older and people in their fifties with underlying diseases. So even if a person is confirmed positive for COVID-19, if she is under the age of sixty and has light to no symptoms, she will have to engage in self-care, checking her own status. Although this is a desperate measure due to the wave of the omicron variant, it raises concerns of a surge in COVID-19, since the government is practically taking its hands off disease control.
South Korea to Appeal Biased Refereeing in Short Track Speed Skating to the Court of Arbitration for Sport
Team South Korea has decided to appeal the referees’ decision in the men’s 1,000m short track speed skating semi-final match on Monday to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee announced, “Yoon Hong-geun, chef de mission of the R.O.K. Olympic team will hold an emergency press conference at the Beijing Winter Olympics main media center on the morning of February 8, and we will appeal the related case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.” The committee also said, “We will officially raise an issue with the unfairness of the latest referee decision and do our utmost to prevent our athletes from experiencing unfairness again in international skating and sports.”
Yoon Seok-youl Attacks Lee Jae-myung for Irrelevant Answers to Questions on Daejang-dong, Lee Fights Back Saying, “We’re Not Here to Select a Special Prosecutor”
The discussion on the morality of the candidates from the two major parties was one of the hottest scenes in the first televised presidential debate of the four major political parties on February 3. Three of the candidates concentrated their attacks on Democratic Party of Korea candidate Lee Jae-myung and his alleged involvement in the special favors granted in the Daejang-dong development project when Lee served as the mayor of Seongnam. There was a moment when Lee and Yoon Seok-youl clashed emotionally, with Lee arguing, “We’re not here to select a special prosecutor,” and Yoon accusing Lee of trying to avoid the topic. Yoon also came under fire for his wife, Kim Keon-hee, who allegedly defended Ahn Hee-jung, former governor of Chungcheongnam-do who was found guilty of sexual assault, in the “7-hour recording.”
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Former KEB Hana Bank CEO nominated as Hana Financial Group’s new chairman
Ham Young-joo, vice chairman of Hana Financial Group and former president and chief executive of KEB Hana Bank, has been nominated as the new chairman to spearhead the leading Korean financial group in digital transition. Hana Financial Group said Tuesday that its chairman nomination committee nominated Ham as sole candidate to succeed Kim Jung-tai who has been at the helm for a decade. The choice was made among a short list of five candidates – Ham, Hana Bank President Park Sung-ho, Hana Capital President Yoon Kyu-seon, former Bain & Company Korea chief Lee Sung-yong, and former Korea Investment Corp. Chairman Choi Hee-nam.
LGES to up capex 60% after ’21 profit, LG Chem vows $3 bn capex on record earnings
The world’s second largest EV battery supplier LG Energy Solution Ltd. (LGES) indulged its initial shareholders, promising to keep up strong earnings streak this year through 60 percent increase in capex to over $5 billion to fuel global leadership in EV power. LGES in its first earnings report upon Kospi listing on Jan. 27 Tuesday disclosed 75.7 billion won ($63 million) in operating income in the October-December period, reversing from a loss of 372.8 billion won in the previous quarter and 479.2 billion won in the previous year. Sales rose 10.2 percent on quarter and 1.9 percent on year to 4.4 trillion won.
Korean game publishers eager in P2E, NFT employment ahead of earnings release
South Korean game publishers are racing to adopt play-to-earn (P2E) business model and blockchain technologies to promise rosier outlook ahead of their earnings release for 2021. Game stocks have jumped on every mention of non-fungible token, metaverse, or P2E employment with digital tokens. In November, game publisher NCSoft shares rose by daily ceiling after it hinted it would review employment of NFT in the conference call after the earnings release.
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