Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
KFS Minister Choi meets with new British ambassador to Korea
Minister Choi Byeong-am of Korea Forest Service (KFS) met with the newly appointed Ambassador Colin Crooks of Britain at the Daejeon Government Complex on March 22. They exchanged broad opinions on △ the British government’s support for participation in the 15th World Forestry Congress △ Korea's forest reforestation experience, △ Korea Forest Service's international forestry cooperation and the current status of inter-Korean forest cooperation.
POSCO Chairman Choi meets Argentine President to seek cooperation in secondary battery materials
POSCO Group Chairman Choi Jeong-woo met with Alberto Angel Fernandez at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on March 21 (local time) to discuss cooperation between POSCO Group and the Argentine government in secondary battery materials business. The meeting took place ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony for a lithium plant in Argentina. POSCO Group acquired Argentina's Hombre Muerto Salt Pan in 2018 and is set to start the construction ceremony of a commercialization plant on March 23 after three years of verification of infrastructure and demo plants necessary for local production.
Bangladesh celebrates its 51st Independence Day with pride and potentials
Bangladesh celebrates the 51st anniversary of the Independence and National Day on 26 March. After centuries of colonial rules, the nation finally achieved its independence in 1971 through a protracted struggle and a 9-month long blood-spattered Liberation War under the great leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The people responded to the clarion call of the Father of the Nation to accomplish their long-cherished dreams and aspirations.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Cured COVID Patients Feel Invincible
An increasing number of cured COVID-19 patients are speaking out about their relief that they survived the biggest pandemic of our time as cumulative infections in the country approach 10 million. For them the worst is over and further restrictions strike them as pointless. One 40-year-old office worker in Ulsan planned a party later this month with high-school classmates who are also cured. "Only after I was infected with COVID did I feel that the time to 'live with coronavirus' had begun," he recalls. Many of those who had feared infection, like students, jobseekers preparing for various exams, part-timers and freelance workers, are saying they felt relieved when they caught the bug in the end.
Moon Quails at Relocation of Presidential Office
President Moon Jae-in on Monday signaled that he wants to block with all his ebbing strength his successor Yoon Seok-youl's plan to move the presidential office out of Cheong Wa Dae. In a meeting of his outgoing Cabinet, Moon claimed the relocation to the current Defense Ministry in Yongsan "seems to be too hasty" citing security reasons, and refused to authorize Yoon's transition team tapping into the government's cash reserves to fund the W49.6 billion plan (US$1=W1,215).
Yoon Listens to Pent-up Frustrations of Businesses
President-elect Yoon Seok-youl met with the leaders of six business lobby groups on Monday and promised to slash red tape that hinders their enterprises. "You all must feel the obstacles to corporate activities and I ask for your advice," Yoon told them, unleashing a torrent of grievances. Among others, Sohn Kyung-shik, head of the Korea Enterprises Federation said, "Labor reforms are one of the most urgent matters. National competitiveness will increase only if labor reforms are achieved that boost foreign investment and create more jobs."
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon, Moon butt heads over moving president's office
The Blue House and incoming president are locking horns over relocating the presidential office to the Defense Ministry in Yongsan in central Seoul. President Moon Jae-in in a National Security Council (NSC) meeting said Monday he was worried that such a move could leave a "security vacuum" on the Korean Peninsula. He was responding to President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's plan to relocate the presidential office to the National Defense Ministry compound in Yongsan District right after his inauguration on May 10. The move would require major reshuffling within the compound, including the Defense Ministry moving into the adjacent Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) headquarters.
Moon finally sees a threat from the North
The sincerity of messages from political leaders or even ordinary people depends on consistency. No matter how stirring the language may be, people doubt a speaker’s sincerity if their words are inconsistent. What makes us think of this are recent remarks by President Moon Jae-in — with 48 days left before his term expires. On Tuesday, Moon stressed the significance of his responsibility as head of state to carry out what the Constitution demands from him. “There should not be any vacuum in protecting national security, the economy and public safety,” he said. Throughout a meeting with his aides, the president emphasized how unstable the situation is on the Korean Peninsula due to North Korean threats.
Koreans' gusto for supporting Ukraine is dwindling
When Russia invaded Ukraine late last month, Koreans were quick to lend a helping hand, relief groups here recall. Some booked accommodations in Ukraine with no intention of showing up as a way to donate, while others wired cash to a special account run by the Ukrainian Embassy in Seoul. Even as the top two presidential candidates were running neck-and-neck, far more people were looking up information on the war than on the race, according to website traffic data from Naver, Korea’s top search engine. But for some reason, that trend changed on May 5, the weekend before the election.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Issues in report to president are reasons for Yoon’s relocation of presidential office
“It will make things more inconvenient for me but I don’t work that way.” It was reported that President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s experience during his years in prosecution with the investigation into the presidential report system within Cheong Wa Dae affected his decision to relocate the presidential office.“The president-elect was deployed as the head of the special investigation into suspicions related to Choi Soon-sil and former President Park Geun-hye’s whereabouts for seven hours on the day of Sewol ferry’s sinking.
Only fried chicken restaurants saw sales increases last year
Amid the spread of the coronavirus, chicken meat consumption is reported to have increased, while Korean food restaurants and café saw decline in sales by more than 15 percent. According to the Fair Trade Commission’s report on the franchise industry in 2021 on Tuesday, the number of franchise businesses registered as of the end of 2021 was 7,342, the number of franchise brands 11,218, and the number of franchise stores 270,485.
Evidence shows China helped Russia hide $80 billion in Treasury securities offshore
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is facing a setback in his ambitious plan to relocate the presidential office to the defense ministry compound in Yongsan by inauguration in May as departing president Moon Jae-in and his cabinet refused to endorse the budget by opposing to the rush in fear of vacuum in security amid military provocations from North Korea.“I plan to fulfill my role as the chief executive of the state and military till the last minute
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S Korea’s new pres won’t move into Blue House despite snag to the relocation
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is facing a setback in his ambitious plan to relocate the presidential office to the defense ministry compound in Yongsan by inauguration in May as departing president Moon Jae-in and his cabinet refused to endorse the budget by opposing to the rush in fear of vacuum in security amid military provocations from North Korea. “I plan to fulfill my role as the chief executive of the state and military till the last minute
S. Korea innately “anti-fragile” can survive disaster better than others, Niall Ferguson
South Korea has survived the pandemic relatively well because it innately has to be “resilient” and “anti-fragile” against disasters in the face of military or war threat from North Korea and the experience of having combated global crises, according to Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and author of “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe.”
Creditors file petition against Edison Motors’ acquisition of SsangYong
Commercial creditors of SsangYong Motor Co. have officially opposed to the Edison Motors-led consortium’s acquisition of the cash-strapped Korean automaker and asked the Seoul bankruptcy court to renew M&A process. The petition against the Edison Motor consortium’s takeover of SsangYong signed by 258, or 92.3 percent of its 344 commercial creditors, was submitted to a Seoul Bankruptcy Court on Monday.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Blue House voices concern over Yoon’s plan to relocate presidential office by May
The Blue House expressed its opposition to President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s plan to relocate the presidential office to the Ministry of National Defense compound in Yongsan, stating on Monday that “executing the plan within an imminent date seems somewhat unfeasible.” As a result, it’s become much more unlikely that Yoon will realize his plan to take the presidential office out of the Blue House and open up the latter to the public by May 10. In response, Yoon expressed his disappointment, insisting that he “will fulfill the promise to completely open up the Blue House to the public as of the beginning of the day on May 10.”
Yoon would do well to listen to NSC’s concerns about moving presidential office
Citing the possibility of a security vacuum and insufficient time, the Blue House on Monday expressed its grave concern regarding President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s plan to relocate the presidential office to the Ministry of National Defense compound in Yongsan before his inauguration, which Yoon announced the day prior. The Blue House held a National Security Council (NSC) meeting and went over the matter, later stating that “the plan to relocate the Defense Ministry, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the presidential office and its supporting agencies such as the Office of the President and the Presidential Security Service within an imminent date while only a few weeks remain until the incoming administration kicks off seems somewhat unfeasible.”
Decision to leave Blue House highlights Yoon’s private, uncommunicative, unilateral leadership style
Criticism is mounting over President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s decision to relocate the presidential office to the Ministry of National Defense compound in Yongsan, with some referring to his decision-making style as “imperial leadership.” With Yoon already having made a major decision unilaterally without considering the opinions of his close aides, concerns are growing about how Yoon’s leadership style will affect state affairs over the next five years. Despite even his closest aides suggesting he take more time to plan things out, Yoon has chosen to push through with the relocation anyway, doubling down on his decision by holding a press conference on Sunday.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Cheongwadae Pulls the Brakes on the “Relocation of the Presidential Office” as Yoon Continues to “Ignore” President Moon
On March 21, Cheongwadae announced what was practically President Moon Jae-in’s opposition to President-elect Yoon Seok-youl’s plan to move the presidential office to Yongsan before his inauguration. Officially, President Moon opposed the move because he could not neglect the possible absence of security during the transition, but some experts believe the president expressed his frustration that had built up while Yoon continued to push ahead with issues that could violate the inherent authority of the president, such as his right to appoint his staff, to grant pardons and his right as commander-in-chief, without consulting Cheongwadae.
Sung Jang-hyun, Chief of Yongsan-gu, “Citizens Will Be Devastated if the Relocation of the Presidential Office Hinders the Development of Yongsan”
Sung Jang-hyun, mayor of Yongsan-gu spoke on President-elect Yoon Seoul-youl’s plans to relocate the presidential office to Yongsan and said, “We finally got a chance to do something, but if our development plans are reduced or canceled, the citizens of Yongsan will truly be devastated.” Sung said this at a press briefing on the Yongsan Museum of History on March 21, while criticizing the transition committee for not consulting Yongsan-gu on the relocation of the presidential office prior to the announcement. If the presidential office is relocated to the defense ministry building in Yongsan, it could cancel development plans currently promoted in the area due to security issues.
Government to Begin Distributing Enough Doses of the COVID-19 Pill Lagevrio for 100,000 Patients This Week
The government will begin distributing the COVID-19 pill, Lagevrio, this week, and will hand out enough doses to treat 100,000 patients. In a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters meeting at the government office in Seoul on the morning of March 21, Jeon Hae-cheol (minister of the interior and safety), second assistant director of the headquarters made an opening comment and said, “We will begin distributing Lagevrio, a drug from Merck, and we will distribute enough doses for 100,000 patients this week.” Lagevrio is a pill to treat patients with COVID-19.
Sullivan: N. Korea Working with Russian Cyber Criminals
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that North Korea is cooperating with cyber criminals the world over, including those in Russia. Sullivan made the remark at a briefing in response to a question on a media report that North Korea’s cyber-hacking organization is related to Russia’s cyber-criminal organization. He said the world is already aware of North Korea’s cyber capabilities, arguing North Koreans work with “all kinds of cyber criminals” around the world, including Russian cyber criminals. The official declined to elaborate.
Fitch Lowers S. Korea's Growth Outlook to 2.7% for 2022
Another credit ratings agency has cut its outlook for South Korea's economic growth this year, citing fallout from Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine. Fitch Ratings on Tuesday revised its growth outlook downward to two-point-seven percent from its earlier forecast of three percent, noting that rising energy prices will act as a drag on household consumption and business activity. In its economic outlook report, Fitch also said that diminished global demand this year will weigh on the export sector while supply chain disruptions could take longer to ease.
S. Korea Reaches 10 Mln. COVID-19 Cases
The number of people ever infected with COVID-19 in South Korea has surpassed ten million. The total caseload as compiled by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency as of 12 a.m. Tuesday stood at nine-million-936-thousand-540, some 60-thousand shy of the ten-million mark. Over 330-thousand additional cases were registered on Tuesday through 6 p.m., raising the cumulative number well above the grim milestone. The official daily and total tallies will be announced on Wednesday morning.
Moon vows to fulfill duty as commander-in-chief amid row over Yoon's relocation plan
President Moon Jae-in called Tuesday for watertight national security and vowed to fulfill his duty as commander-in-chief until his term ends, a day after his office voiced concern successor-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's plan to relocate the presidential office could leave a security vacuum. Moon, whose term ends on May 9, said during a Cabinet meeting that his "last mission" is to "fulfill duties as head of state, chief of the administration, and commander-in-chief of the military that the Constitution has granted to the president."
Yoon says N.K.'s recent artillery firing a violation of inter-Korean military agreement
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol said Tuesday that North Korea's recent artillery firing was a violation of an inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement. Yoon made the remark during a meeting with members of his transition team, two days after South Korea's military said North Korea fired four shots from multiple rocket launchers into the Yellow Sea. "Isn't it a violation of the Sept. 19 (agreement)?" he said. "It's a clear violation."
N.K. weekend artillery firing did not breach inter-Korean accord: defense minister
Defense Minister Suh Wook on Tuesday rejected President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's claim that North Korea's weekend artillery firing violated a 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction accord. During a parliamentary session, Suh said the North fired shots Sunday from a site "far north" of a buffer zone in the Yellow Sea that the two Koreas agreed to set up under their Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA). Earlier in the day, Yoon called the firing a "clear" violation of the CMA that stipulates the buffer zone spanning around 135 kilometers in the Yellow Sea and around 80 km in the East Sea. It bans artillery firing and naval drills in the zone.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
President, successor clash escalates over relocation plans
The plan to move the presidential office is bringing the incumbent and incoming administrations to a loggerhead, with each side raising concerns and complaints. President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday stressed the need to maintain readiness, in an apparent reference to President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s plans to relocate the offices of the president, Ministry of National Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff.
S. Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases rebound to over 350,000
South Korea’s daily COVID-19 infections jumped back up above 350,000 on Monday, the country’s health authorities said Tuesday, while the rapid spread of the stealth omicron variant cast doubt on the government’s projection that the peak of the current wave is ending. According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, the country added 353,980 new COVID-19 cases during the 24 hours of Monday, rising sharply from 209,169 reported a day earlier.
Ex-FM Kang competes for top ILO job this week
The election for the next director general of the International Labor Organization is scheduled for Friday, with all eyes on whether former Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has a chance at becoming the first woman and first Asian leader in the organization’s 103-year history. Kang, the country’s first female foreign minister, is competing for the ILO top job along with four other high-profile contenders.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Conflict intensifies over relocation of presidential office
Concerns are growing over a smooth transfer of power due to an escalating conflict between the incoming and outgoing administrations over President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's plan to move the presidential office to the defense ministry compound in Yongsan District. The ruling and opposition blocs are refusing to budge in their confrontation over the controversial relocation plan, with Yoon, President Moon Jae-in and their parties exchanging salvos every day. "Given the situation so far, (President-elect Yoon) may have to begin his presidency at the presidential transition committee office," Yoon's spokesperson and Rep. Kim Eun-hye of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) told reporters, Tuesday.
FTC considering designating Dunamu, Bithumb as large business groups
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly plans to designate two major cryptocurrency exchange operators as large business groups. The commission imposes such regulations on companies whose asset volume tops 5 trillion won ($4.1 billion) by May 1 of each year. Those designated as such are subject to tighter regulations from watchdogs especially when they make investments. Local media reported that the FTC considers designating Dunamu ― the operator of Korea's largest crypto exchange Upbit ― and Bithumb as large business groups.
Yoon transition team to enhance nuclear energy policy
Four mid- and senior-level officials from the industry, science and environment ministries with expertise in energy policy have joined the presidential transition team to advise President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, setting the stage to strengthen the incoming administration's nuclear-centered energy policies, according to market watchers, Tuesday. The four are expected to lead a drastic revision in cooperation with private sector experts to discard the much-blasted nuclear phase-out policy spearheaded by the Moon Jae-in administration.
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