Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
President Moon exchanges congratulatory message with President Fernandez of Argentina
President Moon Jae-in exchanged a letter of congratulations with President Alberto Angel Fernandez of the Republic of Argentina on Feb. 15, 2022. This was disclosed by Presidential Spokesperson Park Kyung-mi at a press briefing at the Presidential Mansion of Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on that day. In the letter, President Moon said that the relations between Korea and Argentina have been growing continuously since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962 and have grown into a Comprehensive Cooperation Partnership, and expressed hopes that the bilateral relations will grow further on to a one-notch higher level.
Argentina has many areas, projects where Korean businesses can actively participate
Ambassador Alfredo Bascou of the Argentine Republic in Seoul said, “There are many sectors and projects in Argentina that may be of interest for Korean companies.” Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post media (publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean news publications since 1985, Ambassador Bascou then added, “Above all, Argentina has ideal conditions for the development of renewable energies.” Ambassador Bascou also stated that on a larger scale Argentina implements the most ambitious infrastructure plan of transport section in the history of the country, fostering its growth and development.”
Orji Uzor Kalu: The Presidential aspirant who'll strengthen South Korea - Nigeria relationship
The 2023 Nigerian presidential election will be held on February 18, 2023 to elect the President and Vice President. Incumbent APC President Muhammadu Buhari is term-limited and cannot seek re-election to a third term. The primaries will be scheduled for late 2022 or early 2023. The winners of the election will be inaugurated on 29 May 2023, the former date of Democracy Day. With the tenure of the Buhari administration winding down, another set of politicians is being positioned as the country’s saviors come 2023. To steady the ship of the Nigerian state, Nigerians must elect a candidate who has the capacity and demonstrated ability to deliver as president in 2023.
Seoul, Washington Discussing Biden's Possible Visit to S. Korea in Late May
Foreign affairs authorities of South Korea and the United States are reportedly discussing a possible trip by U.S. President Joe Biden to South Korea in the first half of this year. According to diplomatic sources on Wednesday, the two countries are reviewing the possibility of Biden visiting South Korea in connection to his potential trip to Japan in late May, where he will attend the Quad security summit. Japanese media outlets earlier reported that Biden accepted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s invitation to visit Japan for a meeting with his counterparts from the regional bloc aimed at keeping China in check. The group, of which South Korea is not a member, is composed of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India.
N. Korean Defector-Activist Files Court Request on Anti-Leafleting Law
A North Korean defector turned activist has filed a request with a Seoul court, asking it to consider the constitutionality of a law that prohibits sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border to the North. Park Sang-hak, the director of Fighters for a Free North Korea, through his lawyer Lee Heon confirmed the request submitted to the Seoul Central District Court. If the court accepts Park's request, it will ask the Constitutional Court to determine whether the anti-leafleting law conforms to the Constitution. According to Lee, Park took this action to defend the true identity and independence of the Republic of Korea and to restore its dignity, which he believes has been damaged due to the controversial law.
Consul General to Meet New York City Official to Convey Hate Crime Concerns
Amid growing concerns about hate crimes targeting Asians in the U.S., South Korea's consul general in New York will meet with local authorities to call for preventive measures. Seoul's foreign ministry said Tuesday that Consul General Chung Byung-hwa is scheduled to hold talks with New York City's Commissioner for International Affairs Edward Mermelstein on Friday. A ministry official said Chung will convey concerns over the rising number of violent crimes targeting people of Asian descent and ask for more aggressive efforts by the city. In the latest incident, a Korean American woman in her 30s was allegedly stabbed to death by a homeless man who managed to follow her into her Manhattan apartment on Sunday.
N. Korean leader attends national meeting to celebrate late father's 80th birthday
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has attended a national meeting to celebrate the 80th birthday anniversary of his late father Kim Jong-il, according to Pyongyang's state media Wednesday. Kim was present at the event to pay tribute to the former leader, which was held in the northwestern city of Samjiyon the previous day, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. "A floral basket in the name of Kim Jong-un was laid in front of the statue of the Chairman (Kim Jong-il)," it said. Kim was accompanied by senior party officials, including his influential sister, Kim Yo-jong, at the event, as Ri Il-hwan, a member of the ruling party's powerful politburo, made a related report.
Biden remains committed to eradicating hate crimes against Asians: Psaki
President Joe Biden is fully committed to cracking down on hate crimes targeting the Asian American community, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. Her remarks came after two-time Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim said she daily feared for her and her family's lives amid a steady rise in hate crimes against people of Asian descent in the United States.
2 campaign workers for minor presidential candidate Ahn found dead
Two campaign workers for minor opposition presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo were found dead in a campaign bus Tuesday, apparently from gas poisoning, party officials and police said. Ahn, the flag bearer of the centrist People's Party, suspended campaign activities following the accident, which occurred on the day when the 22-day official campaign for the March 9 presidential election kicked off. The two people, in their 70s and 50s, respectively, were unconscious when a party member found them in a bus parked on the road in the central city of Cheonan, about 90 kilometers south of Seoul, at 5:24 p.m.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Presidential candidates travel across country, official canvassing period kicks off
With the official canvassing period for this year’s presidential election kicking off on Tuesday, contenders traveled to regions across the country in colorful uniforms to reach out to voters. The presidential candidates currently leading the race, Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party, traversed between the cities of Seoul and Busan on their first canvassing day.
Two years into pandemic, international programs continue despite obstacles for students
For nearly two years, international programs at universities and schools had to adapt to change as mandatory quarantine and remote learning were brought in. But recent data shows there has been little change in demand despite the COVID measures. A total of 152,281 students came to South Korea to study last year, according to data from the Korean Educational Development Institute.
How much does an election cost?
In every election, candidates backed by major parties -- as well as minor league lone rangers -- travel across provinces, appear on TV, buy adverts on newspapers and run large-scale campaign teams staffed with experts and heavyweights across industries. All of these obviously come with hefty price tags, and while each election is mostly remembered as a competition among candidates appealing to meet the eyes of voters, each campaign only comes to existence with billions of won gathered and spent backstage.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Official campaigning kicks off; no progress in Yoon-Ahn coalition
The official campaign period for the March 9 presidential election began on Tuesday, with candidates and their supporters now allowed to use campaign trucks, leaflets, placards and other campaign items to woo voters. Rival candidates of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) spent the first day of the official campaign period traveling cross-country from Seoul to Busan, with DPK candidate Lee Jae-myung stressing pragmatism and bipartisanship and the PPP's Yoon Suk-yeol highlighting the necessity of leadership change.
CJ Logistics hurt by prolonged dispute with delivery workers
CJ Logistics has been in a prolonged dispute with a national parcel delivery union that has been on strike for nearly two months, according to company officials and industry analysts Tuesday. The union has been claiming that the country's largest parcel delivery company took most of the profits it earned from a delivery fee increase, but company management refutes the claim, saying the revenue from the increase was used appropriately to improve the conditions of workers and consequently filed a complaint with the police against the union members that occupying its headquarters building.
Parents divided over mandatory at-home tests for young students
Parents showed mixed reactions to the fact that the education ministry is mulling over requiring kindergarteners and elementary students to take rapid antigen COVID-19 tests at home twice a week before going to school, starting from next month. The Ministry of Education (MOE) said that the plan is under discussion, as students at kindergartens and elementary schools are currently not subject to receiving the vaccine, despite their vulnerability to infection.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Most S.Koreans Dislike China as Much as N.Korea
China scored a mere 2.6 out of 10 points in a Chosun Ilbo poll of South Koreans' views of other countries. China scored even lower than former colonial power Japan and as low as North Korea. Some 30.5 percent of respondents gave zero points to China, vastly outnumbering the nine percent who gave it high marks from 6 to 10 points. By political orientation, centrists and progressives gave China fewer points than conservatives, but the range was only between 2.55 points and 2.69 points. Anti-Chinese sentiment was particularly strong among the under-40s.
Full-Time Workers Dwindled by 2 Million Under Moon
Full time secure jobs have declined by 2 million over the course of President Moon Jae-in's term in office, defeating claims by the government that the employment situation has vastly improved. If people who work 40 hours a week are considered fully employed, their number dwindled by more than 2 million over the last four years. The findings come from a report Monday by a team led by Prof. Park Ki-sung at Sungshin Women's University, who counted a person working 40 hours a week as one employed person and one working 20 hours a week as 0.5 employed person. The OECD uses the same method, which is known as "full-time equivalent."
All Schoolkids Must Take COVID Self-Test Before Returning to School
The government on Monday said it will only allow schoolkids to come to class if they test negative for COVID-19 in rapid antigen or home tests. The Education Ministry will distribute home test kits to 3.3 million elementary school students in March so they can test themselves twice a week. But the number of self-tests for middle and high school students and teachers has not been decided yet. The announcement sparked an immediate backlash from parents, and the ministry the same day promised to "come up with ways" to allow students to return to school even if they did not test themselves.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon under fire for pledging to bolster prosecutors’ authority
People Power Party (PPP) presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol laid out his pledges for judicial reforms on Monday. They included broadening prosecutorial authority to investigate high-ranking public officials, guaranteeing prosecutors authority to independently assign its own budget, and doing away with the minister of justice’s authority to direct investigations into the prosecutor general.
S. Korean foreign minister proposes new ways to engage N. Korea in summit with US
The foreign ministers of South Korea, the US, and Japan issued a statement Saturday condemning North Korea’s ballistic missile launches and urging the country to halt illegal activities such as missile testing and take part in dialogue.
The joint statement was announced after a trilateral meeting in Honolulu that day among South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi.
Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy aims to rein in China via alliances with S. Korea, Japan
The administration of US President Joe Biden has put forward a strategy for the Indo-Pacific with the chief aim of containing China’s rise. In particular, the Biden administration’s foreign policy has stressed the importance of alliances, with a noticeable emphasis on the role of allies in the Quad framework and trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan. A 12-page document titled “Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States” released by the White House on Friday referred to the US as “an Indo-Pacific power,” stressing that the US would “focus on every corner of the region, from Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, to South Asia and Oceania, including the Pacific Islands.”
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Ahn urges Yoon to make a decision on unifying candidacies
Kicking off the official campaign period, minor opposition People’s Party presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo chose Daegu as the first spot on Tuesday, targeting conservative voters. As for unifying candidacies with the main opposition People Power Party’s presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, Ahn said he hopes that Yoon makes his decision as soon as possible. After starting his campaign on the Beomeo crossroads in Daegu on Tuesday, Ahn visited the birthplace of former President Park Chung-hee.
Canada’s logistics paralyzed by truckers’ protests
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers to quell trucker protests, which have been held nationwide since Jan. 28 against the government’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements. It is the first time in 34 years that the Emergency Act was invoked. Prime Minister Trudeau held a press conference in Ottawa on Monday and announced that “illegal actions will not be tolerated.
NIS is trying to destroy evidence ahead of election, says PPP
The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) said on Monday that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) is trying to replace its main server, where all the details of its activities are stored, raising suspicions that the spy agency is attempting to destroy evidence ahead of the presidential election. The NIS immediately issued a statement and dismissed the claim, saying it has no plans to replace the main server this year.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
One Spouse and Underaged Children Only: Government “Selectively” Accepted Family Members of Special Afghan Contributors
The government selectively received family members of “special contributors” from Afghanistan, who requested to come to South Korea to escape threats of Taliban. According to the Kyunghyang Shinmun coverage on February 14, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs limited family members when allowing the entry of 390 special Afghan contributors to South Korea on August 26-27 last year to one spouse, parents and underaged children. The decision did not take into consideration the socio-cultural characteristics of Afghanistan, which has an Islamic culture of polygyny.
“The Legs Were Up for 10 Minutes. We Apologize” Lee Jun-seok Speaks on Yoon Seok-youl’s Controversial Shoes on Train Seat
People Power Party leader Lee Jun-seok explained about how the party’s presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl had placed his feet, shoes and all, on a train seat and said, “The candidate put his legs up for a while when speaking with his aides, while I was away (in the broadcasting car).” On February 13, Lee wrote on his social media account, “The seat in question was where I sat and talked face to face with the candidate, and while I was away for about ten minutes in the broadcasting car, he put his legs up because he had cramps from talking with me for nearly an hour knee to knee.”
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.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea ranks 10th in number of unicorns with fresh high of 18 in 2021
South Korea is one of the top 10 countries in the world with the most unicorn startups worth more than $1 billion after reporting an all-time high of 18 in 2021 partly thanks to massive investments by venture capitalists in promising startups amid ample liquidity. According to data from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups on Tuesday, Korea had 18 unicorn businesses as of the end of December 2021 versus 13 in 2020.
Korea’s import prices add 4% on mo, 30% on yr Jan to suggest trade deficit streak
South Korea’s import price jumped more than 4 percent in January, faster than export price gain, to suggest a trade deficit streak for the first time since 2008 may go on with little sign of easing in fuel and commodity prices. According to data released by the Bank of Korea on Tuesday, the country’s import price index rose 4.1 percent in January from previous month to reach 132.27 after easing in the previous two months. Against a year ago period, the index jumped 30.1 percent, extending its gaining streak for the 11th straight month.
KCGI warns of proxy contest at upcoming Hanjin KAL shareholders’ meeting
South Korea’s activist fund KCGI is readying another proxy challenge versus the management of Hanjin KAL, parent of flag carrier Korean Air Lines, at the shareholders’ meeting next month after a controversial member of the family returned to the C-suite. KCGI has sent a letter to Hanjin KAL shareholders, complaining of “passive” communication with the market as it has failed to raise corporate value despite operating profit accumulating to 715 billion won ($596.5 million) at flagship Korean Air Lines as of the third quarter last year.
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