Monday, February 21, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Ahn Cheol-soo declares abandonment of cooperation with main opposition Candidate Yoon
Presidential Candidate Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People's Party declared that he is giving up his offer to work together with Presidential Candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party. At a press conference on Feb. 20, 2022, Ahn said that he had waited for one week for a response from Presidential Candidate Yoon of the PPP—with no available. He said that he has decided it was meaningless to wait for Yoon’s affirmative response any longer.
LG Chem, Korea Univ. sign MOU to develop eco-friendly materials technology
CEO Shin Hak-cheol of LG Chem and President Chung Jin-taek of Korea University signed the MOU on “Joint R&D of eco-friendly materials” at Korea University’s main building in Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, LG Chem said on Feb. 17. Through the MOU, both sides plan on promoting joint research on bio-degradable plastic materials, high-efficiency waste plastic recycling process and next-generation mattery materials. In particular, the research will focus on securing eco-friendly source technologies such as plastic materials capable of natural decomposition in the ocean by using natural materials.
Stanford University teaches students about POSCO’s “Corporate Citizenship”
Stanford Graduate School of Business (MBA) is teaching “Corporate Citizenship,” which is the management philosophy of POSCO, the POSCO said on Feb. 17. The concept and practical activities of corporate citizenship of POSCO were officially registered as a strategy management case at Stanford Graduate School of Business (MBA) in November last year and have been used in their curriculum, such as “Strategy and Organization,” since January this year. A total of 600 Stanford MBA students will learn about POSCO’s corporate citizenship practices through various curriculum programs over the next five years.
Leading Candidates to Hold NEC-hosted TV Debate Monday
The four major presidential candidates will take part in a televised debate on Monday, the first since the official campaign period kicked off last Tuesday. Participating in the debate are Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party(DP), Yoon Suk Yeol of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), Sim Sang-jung of the minor opposition Justice Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People's Party. The TV debate is set to begin at 8 p.m. at broadcaster MBC in Seoul. This is the third TV debate among the four candidates and the first hosted by the National Election Commission(NEC).
NSC Holds Emergency Meeting on Ukraine Crisis, Korean Peninsula
The presidential office held an emergency meeting of the National Security Council(NSC) on Sunday to discuss the Ukraine crisis and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The meeting, presided over by national security adviser Suh Hoon, was attended by vice ministers from relevant ministries. Meeting attendees analyzed recent military movements on the Ukrainian border, diplomatic posturing by the United States, Russia and the European Union as well as the potential economic repercussions from the instability. The NSC meeting also re-assessed measures to ensure the safety of South Korean nationals and businesses in Ukraine.
Eligibility for COVID-19 Treatment Pills Expanded to Those in 40s
tarting Monday, Pfizer's COVID-19 oral treatment Paxlovid will also be available to people 40 and older with underlying medical conditions. Eligibility for the antiviral pill was initially limited to people with weak immune systems and seniors aged 65 and above, but health authorities expanded eligibility to individuals aged 40 and above with underlying conditions. The government lowered the age qualification to 60 last month before lowering it again early this month to include people over 50 with underlying ailments.
Ahn drops proposal to merge campaigns, vows to finish race on his own
Presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor People's Party said Sunday he is dropping his offer to merge campaigns with main opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol and will finish the presidential race on his own. The decision is expected to add to uncertainties in the already tight race in which Yoon and Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) have been running neck and neck at around 40 percent support each, with Ahn at around 10 percent support.
Yoon leads Lee by between 4.2 and 9.1 percentage points: polls
Main opposition presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol is leading his ruling party rival Lee Jae-myung by between 4.2 and 9.1 percentage points in public support, four polls showed Sunday. In a Realmeter survey conducted on 3,043 adults from last Sunday to Friday, Yoon of the conservative People Power Party earned 42.9 percent, while Lee of the liberal Democratic Party earned 38.7 percent. The gap between Yoon and Lee widened to 4.2 percentage points from the previous week's 2.5 percentage points. The latest survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
DP to raise gov't-proposed extra budget bill to 17.5 tln won
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) plans to increase the amount of a government-proposed extra budget bill to 17.5 trillion won (US$14.6 billion) to support more South Koreans suffering from the pandemic, officials said Sunday. The move came after the DP members unilaterally passed the original 14 trillion won supplementary budget during a parliamentary budget committee meeting on Saturday amid the boycott from the main opposition People's Power Party (PPP). The DP said it has decided to revise the bill before putting it to a plenary vote by adding another 3.5 trillion won to support some 1.4 million vulnerable workers, such as freelancers.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Conservatism no longer the realm of the aged
The divide among age groups’ political inclinations in South Korea is breaking down, with many younger voters supporting conservatives, joining older voters. However, though the two age groups may root for the same candidate and party, the reasons behind their support differ. While older conservatives’ support for Yoon Suk-yeol and the People Power Party has firmer footing, young conservative voters’ support is characterized by disappointment in the existing political situation.
Candidacy merger now off the table, Ahn Cheol-soo says
Presidential nominee Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People's Party announced he will no longer consider a candidacy merger with Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party, vowing to finish the race on his own even if the path ahead may be "rough and difficult." The presidential candidate said in an emergency press briefing Sunday that he will no longer wait for Yoon to respond to his offer to unify their candidacy as the opposition bloc from a week earlier, as it became evident that the People Power Party is not interested in the idea whatsoever.
South Korea’s fiscal deficit tops W100tr as spending surged amid COVID-19
South Korea’s fiscal deficit reached over 100 trillion won ($83 billion), while national debt logged a deficit of 240 trillion won, as the country was bogged down by COVID-19 woes in the past two years, data from the Finance Ministry showed Sunday. With an additional 70 trillion won in fiscal deficit and 100 trillion won of national debt projected to be added this year, based on the size of the supplementary budget currently being discussed by officials and lawmakers, onlookers are expressing concerns over the fiscal soundness.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon ahead of Lee within margin of error: poll
The two leading presidential candidates are still in a tight race with only 18 days left before the March 9 election. Main opposition People Power Party (PPP) candidate Yoon Suk-yeol was leading the pack within the margin of error, and ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) candidate Lee Jae-myung was trailing, according to a recent poll released on Sunday. In the survey conducted by Hankook Research at the request of Hankook Ilbo, a sister paper of The Korea Times, Yoon secured 42.4 percent of support, followed by Lee with 36.9 percent.
Lee, Yoon differ over how to support industries
Korea's economy has been struggling with the side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China. At a time when it is important to lift Korea's growth potential, the two leading presidential candidates ― Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party of Korea and Yoon Suk-yeol of the People Power Party ― have shown differences in their industry, science and technology and energy policies. Ahead of the March 9 presidential election, the two leading candidates are generally suggesting similar visions with regards to achieving digital transformation;
Bank of Korea set to freeze key rate ahead of presidential election
The Bank of Korea (BOK) is set to freeze its key rate during an upcoming rate-setting meeting, as household debt has risen sharply despite growing inflationary pressure, analysts said Sunday. The Korean central bank has already increased the benchmark rate three times since August 2021, as part of a preemptive move to bring rising prices and financial imbalance under control. Nonetheless, market experts argue that the BOK would take a wait-and-see approach this time ahead of the presidential election and the U.S. Fed's planned rate hike in March.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Most People Keep Their New Year's Resolutions
The general belief that nobody has the strength to keep their New Year's resolutions turns out to be untrue since a majority of people actually stick to them, a poll suggests. The Chosun Ilbo polled 4,022 people in their 20s to 50s to see what their resolutions were and whether they are still sticking to them. Around 1,000 people in each age group responded to the survey, and 55 percent said they made a New Year's resolution -- 47 percent in their 20s, rising to 51 percent in their 30s, 56 percent in their 40s and 66 percent in their 50s.
There Is No Rush to End Lockdown
The number of daily coronavirus infections in Korea has surpassed 90,000. But Kim Woo-joo at Korea University Guro Hospital said, "Even 90,000 cases could be an optical illusion and a form of fabrication." He explained that the official figures do not reflect the fact that the government gave up tracking people who came in close contact with infected individuals and give only senior citizens free PCR tests. Korea is capable of conducting 850,000 PCR tests a day, but only 410,000 were administered last week. Chun Eun-mi at Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital said, "The actual number of cases could be two to five times higher than the announced figures." The National Institute for Mathematical Sciences forecast 360,000 daily cases by early March.
Apartment Prices Drop in Prime Areas
Apartment prices in Gangnam, home to the most expensive real estate in Korea, fell for the first time in a year and three months. And in Yongsan, another high-priced residential district, they also declined for the first time in a year and eight months. The reasons seem to be toughened loan restrictions and rising interest rates that dampened demand. According to the Korea Real Estate Board on Thursday, apartment prices across Seoul edged down 0.02 percent this week compared to the previous week, a fourth week of declines.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Life finds a way in Arctic, where alien-like sponges feed on fossils
The deep-sea regions of the Arctic are one of the most inhospitable environments for life. In addition to the frigid temperatures, the area is covered in thick ice throughout the year, which blocks nearly all the sunlight needed for photosynthesis. The distance from land also means that there are no nutrients filtering in. Yet within this environment, a unique ecosystem has been discovered — one dominated by giant sponges. With an average age of 300 years and diameters of up to 1 meter, the sponges were found, surprisingly enough, to be feeding on fossil remnants from tubeworms that survived on volcanoes active thousands of years ago.
Yoon Suk-yeol leads Lee Jae-myung 39.2% to 35.2%; Sim and Ahn polling in single digits
A poll jointly commissioned by the three major television networks in South Korea found People Power Party presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol and Democratic Party nominee Lee Jae-myung locked in a close match. A nationwide survey of 2,006 voters from Tuesday to Wednesday found Yoon polling at 39.2% and Lee polling at 35.2%. The poll was commissioned by the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), and the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) and conducted by the polling companies Ipsos Korea, Korea Research International, and Hankook Research.
S. Korea opts to ease virus curbs despite cases soaring above 100,000
Amid record-shattering COVID-19 case numbers, the South Korean government announced adjustments to its social distancing measures on Friday. Private gatherings will remain capped at six participants, but the 9 pm curfew on business hours for cafes and restaurants will be extended to 10 pm. The changes will go into effect on Saturday. Small business owners have been demanding the closing time restrictions be lifted while health authorities are proceeding with caution amid record COVID-19 cases in the country.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Lee’s approval ratings of 36.4%, Yoon at 43.3% and Ahn at 9.9%
With the March 9 South Korean presidential election just around the corner, it was reported on Sunday that the ruling Minjoo Party of Korea’s Lee Jae-myung and the main opposition People Power Party’s Yoon Seok-youl showed approval ratings of 36.4 percent and 43.3 percent, respectively, in a public opinion survey of 1,006 men and women held over Friday and Saturday by Research & Research commissioned by The Dong-A Ilbo.
EU may de-route import gas to Europe from S. Korea and Japan
President of the Eurond Japan as the ongoing confrontation between Russia and Western countries over Ukraine may lead to a severe crunch of natural gas from Russia, 40 percent of European demand. Reportedly, the South Korean government hinted that it is impossible to exchange natural gas for some time due to high domestic heating needs during the cold although having natural gas assistance currently under review. According to the Sputnik new agency, President von der Leyen said at the Munich Security Conference in southern Germany on Saturday (local time)
Biden convenes National Security Council meeting on Ukraine
Heavy artillery bombing continued to occur focusing on the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas where pro-Russian militias are partially occupying, which left Ukraine soldiers killed. U.S. President Joe Biden convened a National Security Council meeting Sunday by issuing an emergency statement, saying, “I am certain that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered invasion” Ukraine’s defense ministry said on the day two government soldiers were killed and four others were injured due to artillery strikes by pro-Russian militias.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Restaurants and Cafes Will Be Open Until 10 p.m. Starting Feb. 19: Private Gatherings Remain Limited to 6 People
The government decided to extend business hours for cafes and restaurants one more hour to 10 p.m. from the current 9 p.m. However, the size of private gatherings will remain limited to six people. On February 18, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum presided over a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in response to COVID-19 and said, “Considering the economic challenges people face in their livelihoods, we deemed it inevitable to make minimum adjustments that our revised disease control and medical system could handle,” and announced the latest decision. The new distancing measure will be applied for three weeks from February 19 until March 13.
Pro-Park Heavyweight, Choi Kyung-hwan among Those Being Reviewed for Parole on March 1, Independence Movement Day
Choi Kyung-hwan and Hwang Ju-hong, former lawmakers of the Liberty Korea Party (current People Power Party) and the Minsaeng Party respectively, were included in the list of people the government is reviewing for parole on March 1 Independence Movement Day. Reportedly, it is likely for the two men to be released. If Choi, referred to as the “chairman of the pro-Park group,” is released, it could influence the presidential election just a few weeks away. President Moon Jae-in had granted a special pardon for former President Park Geun-hye in time for New Year’s Day.
Someone in Yoon Seok-youl’s Campaign Uploaded and Deleted a Post on an Accident Involving Lee Jae-myeong’s Campaign Vehicle Claiming, “Nothing Is Working”
On February 16, news got out that a member of the People Power Party (PPP) election campaign had written “Nothing is working. They are slowly sinking,” referring to an accident in which a campaign vehicle of the Democratic Party of Korea’s presidential candidate Lee Jae-myeong had rolled over, only to delete it later on. Kwon Young-se, head of Yoon’s election campaign, asked members not to make fun of an accident in another party and tried to keep members away from controversy.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea tastes the unfamiliar witches’ brew of twin deficit
Twin deficit, which had plagued the United States for decades, emerged as a threat to South Korea as trade balance deteriorates from surge in fuel costs while stretching fiscal spending may become a fixture due to thinning population. The term referring to a nation having both a current account deficit, which includes trade balance, and a budget deficit had been foreign to South Korea until spending spiked under the incumbent government combating a pandemic crisis and economic slowdown, while the world’s No. 8 trade power has been more used to surplus.
Emart, Kurly and food-tech startups go after Korea’s oldest organic store Chorocmaeul
Multiple big e-commerce players as well as food tech startups have jumped into the race for the controlling stake in The Chorocmaeul Co., South Korea’s oldest organic fresh food vendor with over 20 years history, amid fiery competition in the fresh food and grocery delivery market. According to multiple sources from the investment bank industry on Thursday, Daesang Holdings Co., the holding company of food conglomerate Daesang and Chorocmaeul’s largest shareholder, is offering near 50 percent stake in the well-established organic grocery chain for about 100 billion won ($83.4 milion).
Osstem Implant stock under delisting review, SillaJen fate decided today
Shares of Kosdaq-listed Osstem Implant Co. will stay suspended as the market authority embarks on review to decide whether to keep or kick out the scandal-ridden No. 1 dental implant maker while it on Friday will deliver the final ruling on Kosdaq member SillaJen under criminal charges. The Korea Exchange announced Thursday it will start reviewing whether to delist the dental implants maker from the country’s secondary bourse or give a one-year grace period for improvement in 20 business days before March 21.
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