Monday, February 14, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Hyundai Motor takes top honor in 2022 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study
Hyundai Motor Group has become the top-ranked automaker in J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) with its Hyundai, Kia and Genesis nameplates taking three of the industry’s top four brand rankings overall, including the top spot. Kia is the top-ranked brand overall, including all mass-market and premium brands, and Genesis is the top-ranked premium brand and fourth overall. Hyundai Motor is ranked third overall, based on VDS’s PP100 (problems per 100 vehicles) scoring criteria.
Human rights, legitimate interests of the people are the highest value of the state, society
In the Republic of Uzbekistan, where more than 35 million people, representing more than 140 nationalities and ethnicities live, everyone has equal rights and obligations. It must be recognized that ensuring fundamental human rights and freedoms is a priority among the reforms carried out in Uzbekistan. First and foremost, reforms in the field of human rights are directly related to The Strategy of Actions on five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2017-2021, which was adopted at the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Resources-rich Kazakhstan is an ideal strategic partner for high tech-intensive Korea
“The economies of Kazakhstan and Korea are complementary. Kazakhstan has a rich resource base and a large territory and Korea has high technologies,” said Ambassador Bakyt Dyussenbayev of Kazakhstan in Seoul at an exclusive interview with The Korea Post media on Feb. 7, 2022. At the interview at the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Seoul with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985, Ambassador Dyussenbayev said, “I think that the relations of the two counties have very good prospects. Politically, we have no unresolved issues or questions.
Yoon Cautious about Ahn's Proposal of Unifying Candidacy
Presidential candidate Yoon Suk Yeol of the main opposition People Power Party(PPP) issued a cautious response to a proposal by his rival Ahn Cheol-soo that they unite candidacies for the March 9 presidential election. Minor opposition People's Party candidate Ahn officially proposed fielding a single presidential candidate to Yoon on Sunday in a bid to ensure a landslide victory against the ruling Democratic Party. Ahn floated the idea of conducting a primary of the two candidates based on public opinion polls. Yoon positively assessed Ahn's proposal, but gave a lukewarm response to the concept of using public polls. Yoon told reporters that he would consider the proposal, but added that it leaves something to be desired.
Top Diplomats of S. Korea, US, Japan Condemn N. Korea's Missile Tests, Call for Dialogue
The top diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan have condemned ballistic missile launches by North Korea, urging the North to halt provocation and engage in dialogue. South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi made the call in a joint statement after talks in Hawaii on Saturday. The statement said that the diplomats condemn the North's ballistic missile launches and express deep concern about the destabilizing nature of the actions. The top envoy called for the full implementation by the international community of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to North Korea, while asking the North to cease its unlawful activities and instead engage in dialogue.
BOK Expects Inflation Rate in 2022 to be Significantly Larger than Last Year
The Bank of Korea (BOK) projected that the inflation rate for this year will be significantly larger than that of last year. The central bank issued the projection on Sunday in a report, saying that the nation is recently seeing the inflationary pressure expanding across the board. The report said recently, the number of product items whose inflation rate posted over two percent more than doubled from a year earlier. In particular, prices of 38 of the 39 food items at restaurants posted growth in December last year.
Ahn officially proposes merging candidacies with main opposition candidate Yoon
Minor presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo officially proposed merging candidacies with main opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday to ensure an "overwhelming victory" against the governing party. Ahn of the centrist People's Party also proposed selecting a unified candidate between the two through opinion polls, just like he unified candidacies with Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon of Yoon's People Power Party ahead of last year's local by-elections. "Winning is important, but in order to overcome the current crisis and carry out future-oriented reform tasks, there should be an overwhelming victory amid people's trust.
Top diplomats of S. Korea, U.S., Japan urge N. Korea to halt provocations, resume dialogue
The top diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan on Saturday urged North Korea to halt its destabilizing actions and return to dialogue. The joint call came after a trilateral meeting between South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Honolulu. "We condemn the DPRK's ballistic missile launches and its unlawful nuclear ballistic programs, which are clear violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions," Blinken said in a joint press conference, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
New infections hit record 56,431 cases amid omicron surge
South Korea's daily COVID-19 cases hit a fresh record of 56,431 on Sunday, as the highly transmissible omicron variant continued to spread quickly across the nation. The fresh cases, including 56,297 local infections, raised the country's total caseload to 1,350,630, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The latest figure marks the fourth day in a row with daily infections above the 50,000 level. A total of 54,941 cases were reported Saturday. New daily infections have surged sharply recently in the country due to the omicron variant, reaching over 40,000 for the first time Wednesday, just four days after breaking the 30,000 mark on Feb. 5.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
S. Korea, US, Japan commit to aligning approaches on N. Korea, advancing security coordination
The top diplomats of South Korea, the US, and Japan committed to aligning their diplomatic approaches to North Korea and advancing trilateral security coordination in maintaining regional peace and stability. South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Saturday in Honolulu, Hawaii, that was followed by a joint statement. “They committed to close trilateral cooperation to achieve complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the English-language joint statement read.
Ahn Cheol-soo is only presidential contender with science literacy: adviser
Ahn Cheol-soo, the presidential candidate for South Korea’s centrist People Party, will prioritize sound judgments based on science over populism as Korea seeks a safe exit from the pandemic, according to his COVID-19 adviser. Dr. Park Jin-kyu, COVID-19 adviser to Ahn and the former Korea Medical Association vice president, told The Korea Herald that response has been swayed by political meddling.
Pandemic raises importance of restaurant hygiene, survey finds
Cleanliness has risen as a key factor in choosing where to eat out since the pandemic started, a survey showed Sunday. According to data from Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corp, 92.1 percent of 1,341 respondents aged between 20 and 69 said they thought restaurants cleanliness was important when choosing where to eat, compared to just 22.7 percent in 2019. The figure was the second most-important factor, behind taste and food quality on 94.3 percent. In 2019, cleanliness ranked fourth, while 71.6 percent chose taste as a priority.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Ahn proposes fielding single opposition candidate to Yoon
Minor opposition People's Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo officially proposed fielding a single presidential candidate to main opposition People Power Party (PPP) candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, Sunday, in a bid to ensure a "landslide victory" against the ruling party. His proposal came as the race for the March 9 presidential election enters the final stretch with most candidates of different parties completing candidate registration, Sunday, the first day of the two-day registration period of the National Election Commission (NEC). Four major candidates, including Lee Jae-myung of the ruling liberal Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), Yoon Suk-yeol of the PPP, Ahn of the People's Party and Sim Sang-jung of the minor opposition progressive Justice Party, have registered their candidacies.
Stock markets face tumble as Russian-Ukraine tensions rise
Local stock markets are forecast to feel a direct impact from global asset market turmoil, triggered by the heightening tension between Russia and Ukraine. Steeply soaring energy prices could also ultimately increase the risks of economic recession and inflation, analysts warned. Global asset markets ― such as for equities, raw materials and cryptocurrencies ― are showing jittery signs ahead of the heightened uncertainties surrounding the two neighboring countries, as the U.S.'s top security official warned Friday that Russia's military could begin an invasion of Ukraine any day now.
South Korea, US, Japan show unity against North Korea's provocation
South Korea, the United States and Japan demonstrated a united front against North Korea's provocations via trilateral talks among their top diplomats in Honolulu, Saturday. Experts, in general, gave a positive assessment of the high-level session among the regional powers meant to find ways to engage with North Korea, especially its timing, despite no immediate breakthrough in sight. "Such a meeting is always good to exchange views considering there is a high probability North Korea will continue to test more missiles ― and maybe even an ICBM ― between now and April," said Harry Kazianis, senior director at the Washington-based Center for the National Interest think tank.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Can Novavax Win over Vaccine-Hesitant?
Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine will be given to high-risk groups such as unvaccinated elderly people and nursing home residents from next Monday. The government hopes that the vaccine, which works like widely accepted flu or Hepatitis B vaccines, will persuade the vaccine-hesitant to get jabbed at last. Unvaccinated adults can also get the vaccine if they make a booking for daily leftovers, health authorities said Thursday. Two doses of Nuvaxovid, which was approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety last month, will be given three weeks apart just like mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. A third dose will be given three months after the second.
Suicide Rises Alarmingly Among Young People
The suicide rate among Koreans in their 20s surged an alarming 32 percent from 2016 to 2020. Police data show that the number of people between 21 and 30 who took their own lives rose from 1,137 in 2016 to 1,501 in 2020. The number of suicides aged 10 to 20 rose 15.6 percent to 400, and among children under 10 from zero to five. But the overall the suicide rate declined from 13,020 to 12,776 over the same period. The proportion of people below 30 among suicides increased from 11.4 percent to 14.9 percent over the period, especially among those aged 21 to 30, where it rose from 8.7 percent to 11.7 percent.
Big 3 Telecoms Post Record Profits
Korea's big three telecoms earned a combined W4 trillion in operating profits for the first time last year thanks to an increase in 5G subscriptions and their good performances in new business projects (US$1=W1,194). SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus earned W1.67 trillion, W1.39 trillion and W979 billion in operating profits in 2021, bringing the total to W4.04 trillion, up 18.1 percent from a year earlier. Their profit growth rates were 11.1 percent for SK Telecom, 41.2 percent for KT and 10.5 percent for LG Uplus. In sales, SK Telecom hit W16.75 trillion, KT W24.9 trillion and LG Uplus W13.85 trillion.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Fact-checking the debate over additional THAAD deployment in S. Korea
During South Korea’s four-way presidential debate held Feb. 4, Democratic Party presidential nominee Lee Jae-myung and People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol clashed over whether an additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, battery should be deployed in the country. Specifically, the two candidates offered two conflicting interpretations of a statement by former US Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Vincent K. Brooks. Lee said, “Former USFK Commander Brooks said an additional THAAD battery is not necessary [in South Korea], but [Yoon Suk-yeol is] stirring security concerns to gain votes, prompting critiques that [he will] ruin the economy.”
Moon notes heightened social division, antipathy in S. Korea in end-of-term interview
In a press interview published Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed feelings of regret over the state of real estate in the country, which he described as the “heaviest burden throughout my term.” Moon, who has three months left in office, shared written responses that day to a joint interview by seven global news agencies. When it comes to policies under his administration, Moon said that “having been unable to stabilize housing prices remains the most painful part.”
Moon voices ire over Yoon’s corruption probe remarks, demands apology
President Moon Jae-in on Thursday criticized People Power Party presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol for saying he’ll launch an investigation into alleged corruption by the current administration if elected president. Moon expressed “strong resentment” at Yoon’s remarks, saying his administration was being “groundlessly accused of criminality," and demanded that Yoon apologize. In response to the president’s comments, Yoon said he has no interest in "political retaliation.”“President Moon has always emphasized [the need for investigations] according to the law and principles without any special exemptions,” Yoon added.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Washington discloses the strategy for Indo-Pacific region
The Joe Biden administration suggested improvement of Seoul-Tokyo relations as a core action plan that Washington will seek over the next couple of years in its strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, which was disclosed on Friday. As the Biden administration has made it clear that three-way cooperation between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo as core means to check Beijing, the incoming South Korean administration will likely come under heavy pressure to improve Seoul-Tokyo relations soon after its inauguration.
Ahn proposes unifying of candidates through opinion poll
Ahn Chul-soo, the presidential candidate for the minor opposition People’s Party, told People’s Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol that he proposes ‘the unification of opposition party candidates for the grand cause of terminating the old system and change of the administration.’ Yoon replied by saying, “I am positively considering.” As for the way of unifying candidates, Ahn suggested an opinion poll and Yoon said that he will think about the method but there is something insufficient.
Five major OTT providers levied fines
Five over-the-top (OTT) media service providers including Netflix and YouTube have been fined 19.5 million won for interfering with their users’ cancellation of subscription. Some businesses notified their users that they cannot withdraw from their services although they are allowed without having to pay an extra cost. The decision will make it easier OTT service users to unsubscribe going forward. The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) announced on Sunday that it would issue a correctional order to five OTT service providers – Google, Netflix, KT, LG Uplus and Content Wavve – and fine them 19.5 million won for violation of the Act on the Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
No Kit, No Answer: People in Home Treatment, “It Feels Like Being Locked Up and Neglected”
On February 10, the new home treatment policy, including the self-care of COVID-19 patients under the age of sixty with light or no symptoms, was implemented nationwide. However, the new policy was introduced without giving local governments and hospitals ample time to familiarize themselves with the new guidelines, causing confusion on the field. Demand for the self-test kit surged, pushing prices up and hinting at a possible fiasco like the one when the price of masks soared in the early days of the outbreak. Thus, the government decided to distribute enough rapid antigen test kits for 1-2 tests a week for 2.1 million people in facilities vulnerable to infection, such as daycare centers and welfare facilities for the elderly from February 21. The government will also ban the online sales of test kits beginning February 13.
Labor Ministry Searches Sampyo Industry Head Office in Connection to the Death of Workers at Quarry
On February 11, the Ministry of Employment and Labor conducted a search and seizure of the Sampyo Industry head office, after three workers died, buried in a landslide at a quarry in Yangju-si, Gyeonggi. The new Serious Accidents Punishment Act will be applied for the first time to this accident, and the labor ministry booked the CEO of Sampyo Industry for violating the new bill. The Jungbu Regional Employment and Labor Office announced that they searched the head office of Sampyo Industry in Jongno-gu, Seoul in connection to the landslide at the quarry at 9 a.m. this morning.
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.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
CEO nominee vows to restore stock price as Kakao OP in Q4 falls amid confidence issue
Namkoong Whon, new chief executive nominee of South Korea’s No. 1 platform service provider Kakao Corp. following the resignations of two former controversial nominees, has vowed to give up his incentives and fat salary until the company’s stock price recovers 150,000 won ($125). On in-house bulletin, Namkoong on Thursday set first target as new CEO to recover Kakao stock price to 150,000 won and confidence from employees and shareholders after hefty gains by former executives by cashing out of their holdings through exercise in stock options caused broad scorns.
Korea’s Feb. 1-10 exports off 12.6%, flags third-straight-month trade deficit streak
South Korean exports in the first 10 days of February declined 12.6 percent on year due to shorter working days with Lunar New Year holiday falling early in the month, flagging the possibility of a trade deficit streak into the third straight month. According to data from the Korea Customs Service on Friday, the country’s exports totaled $15.7 billion in the first 10 days of February, down 12.6 percent from a year ago. Daily exports averaged $2.41 billion, up 14.2 percent from a year ago, based on six and a half working days, two days shorter than a year earlier. This year, Lunar New Year holiday was from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 10 days earlier than last year’s.
Lotte with share in Solus Advance Materials chases stake in unit Solus BioTech
Lotte Group is out to strengthen strategic ties with Solus Advanced Materials Co. through separate stake investment in Solus BioTech Co., a cosmetics and pharmaceutical materials producer commanding 95 percent share in Korean ceramides market. Lotte Chemical Corp., a Lotte Group unit, currently is in negotiation with SkyLake Equity Partners, a Seoul-based private equity firm owning controlling stake in Solus Materials (formerly Doosan Solus), for stake investment in Solus BioTech.
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