Friday, March 25, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Bangladesh celebrates its 51st Independence Day with pride and potentials
Bangladesh celebrates the 51th 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. Unity and firm determination of the people enabled the nation to triumph over the occupation forces.
Uzbek Embassy, Keymyung University co-host Festival of Culture of Uzbekistan
On March 21-22, 2022, as part of the events dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Uzbekistan and South Korea, as well as on the occasion of Navruz, the “Uzbekistan Culture Festival,” was held in one of the South Korean cities, Daegu. The event was organized with the support of the Center for Silk Road and Central Asian Studies at Keimyung University in cooperation with the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul, the Representative Office of the World Youth Association of Uzbekistan in the Republic of Korea and our compatriots abroad.
Peru honors former ROK Chief of Naval Operations with Peruvian Cross of Naval Merit
On Wednesday, March 16th, the ambassador of Peru in Korea, Daúl Matute Mejía imposed the decoration of the Peruvian Navy, "Cruz Peruana al Mérito Naval” (Peruvian Cross of Naval Merit), in the degree of Grand Cross, granted by the President of the Republic and Minister of Defense, to Admiral Boo Suk-jong, former Chief of Naval Operations of the Korean Navy, for his contribution to strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries in the field of defense.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Ambulance Services Reach Capacity Amid COVID Surge
Emergency services have reached capacity amid a surge in coronavirus infections, with some patients having to wait more than an hour for an ambulance. According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government on Wednesday, a daily average of 1,966 emergency calls for ambulances were made from March 1 to 15, up about 50 percent from a year earlier and up 28 percent from January and February. It is also taking longer time for ambulances to reach hospitals and return to their headquarters. In 2020, when the pandemic started, it took just on average 50 minutes, rising to 59 minutes last year, but now it has reached an hour and three minutes
Companies Paying Salaries over W100 Million Triple
The number of businesses that pay average annual salaries of more than W100 million has tripled to 24 over the last two years (US$1=W1,216). The Korea Economic Research Institute has found that 24 of the country's top 100 companies excluding banks paid more than W100 million in annual salaries last year, up from just eight in 2019. Mobile app giant Kakao was the biggest payer, with salaries surging 60 percent thanks to a stock-option windfall for employees, but the company said the average salary without the combined W249 billion in stock options last year was just W89 million.
Yoon's Inauguration to Take Place at National Assembly
President-elect Yoon Seok-youl will officially launch his administration on May 10. The inauguration ceremony will take place in a square in front of the National Assembly, a space that can accommodate up to 50,000 people. Presidential inaugurations have taken place at the National Assembly since 1987, when the country adopted a direct voting system. Lee Do-hoon, who was behind the iconic, tech-savvy drone show at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, will plan and direct the ceremony. Under the theme of unity, 16 experts from various fields will take part in organizing the ceremony.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Moon lashes out after North tests possible ICBM
North Korea fired what South Korea and Japan's militaries said was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and other unidentified projectiles into the eastern waters off the Korean Peninsula on Thursday afternoon, eliciting an unusually sharp rebuke from President Moon Jae-in. Presiding over an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) at the Blue House at 3:50 p.m., Moon condemned the test – possibly the first full launch of an ICBM by Pyongyang since 2017 – as a “blatant violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and a serious threat to the Korean Peninsula and the international community," according to a press release by the presidential office.
Former President Park addresses crowd in Daegu, dodges one soju bottle
Former President Park Geun-Hye promised to devote "whatever little strength" she has to the country's development, upon arriving in her hometown of Daegu following her discharge from the hospital on Thursday morning. Park was granted a pardon by outgoing President Moon Jae-in just before Christmas last year while serving a 22-year sentence for her role in a vast corruption scandal that led to her impeachment and removal from office. Smiling brightly as she exited the hospital at 8:32 a.m., Park thanked the medical staff at Samsung Medical Center in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, as well as her supporters for their good wishes, crediting them for her recovery.
Omicron wave keeps on with 2nd highest case count
Despite seeing its second-highest number of Covid-19 infections Wednesday, Korea will no longer offer intensive monitoring to elderly and immunocompromised virus patients. Korea on Wednesday reported 490,881 new Covid-19 cases, a jump of nearly 140,000 from the previous day. It was the second highest count ever after 621,205 new cases registered last Thursday. As seen in previous weeks, a peak was hit in the middle of the week. Health authorities earlier predicted cases would peak and then decline from this Wednesday. In fact, cases have been lower than the previous week for four days since the weekend, with officials carefully raising hopes that the epidemic is slowly fading out.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
President-elect Yoon to visit former President Park Geun-hye
South Korean President-elect Yoon Seok-youl said Thursday he would make a visit to former President Park Geun-hye. The ironical history between the two politicians is also holding the spotlight as the president-elect himself was once infamously dubbed as the “downfall of South Korean conservative politics,” and Park used to be the “backbone of the conservative camp.” In a meeting with reporters on Thursday, President-elect Yoon said he was planning on visiting local provinces from next week and he might visit former President Park Geun-hye as she was recently discharged from hospital.
Posco Holdings invests 1 trillion won in lithium plant in Argentina
Posco Holdings announced Wednesday (local time) that it held a groundbreaking ceremony for a lithium extraction plant at Salar del Hombre Muerto in Argentina with Posco Group CEO Choi Jeong-woo attending the ceremony. The plant is designed to produce lithium for electric vehicle batteries, with the aim of completing the construction by the first half of 2024. The plant is to produce 25,000 tons of lithium hydroxide each year. Posco Group took on the entire process of acquiring the mining rights, explorations, construction, and operations, with an investment worth 830 million dollars (approx. 1 trillion Korean won).
U.S. waives tariffs for some Chinese goods
The Biden administration decided to waive some tariff duties on imports from China. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced Wednesday that it has reinstated 352 expired product exclusions from U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, which will be effective retroactively from Oct. 12, 2021, and extend through Dec. 31, 2022. The reinstated product exclusions include industrial components and consumer goods, including TV screens, backpacks, bicycles, and pillows. Former Trump administration hit Chinese imports with 300 billion dollars of punitive tariffs in 2018, starting a trade war with China.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
LGES expedites $3 bn spending to command 2.5 mn capacity in N. America by 2025
LG Energy Solution Ltd. (LGES), the pure-play electric vehicle (EV) battery maker of South Korea’s LG Group, on Thursday acted out on expansion plans in North America by endorsing $1.5 billion for a joint venture with Stellantis in Canada and another $1.5 billion for its first cylindrical battery facility in Arizona to boast a capacity to power 2.5 million EVs from North America by 2025. LGES and Stellantis N.V. on Wednesday, local time, in Windsor, Ontario, formally announced their joint EV battery manufacturing facility in Canada.
Kakao Pay CEO vows not to receive pay and buy back shares, but stock loses 3%
Shin Won-keun, the CEO nominee of Kakao Pay Corp., will be receiving minimum wage until Kakao Pay’s stock price reaches 200,000 won ($163.89) as part of the measures to win back investors’ trust after stock option scandal by former executives. Other actions included cap in employee stock options exercise, stock buyback, enhancement of reliable management and vote of confidence to judge if the management has fulfilled its obligation.
S. Korea’s private-sector debt more than doubles GDP as of Dec
South Korea’s private-sector debt has come to more than double the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2021, with household debt also nearly doubling disposable income, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). Private-sector credit, or borrowings to the household and corporate sector by financial institutions, versus nominal GDP reached 220.8 percent as of December, the highest to date since data compiling from 1975 and adding 0.3 percentage points from three months earlier, the BOK said
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Does Yoon Suk-yeol know how to compromise?
Despite concerns and criticisms, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is continuing to push ahead with his plan to move the presidential office out of the Blue House, prompting observers to wonder why he’s being so insistent on the matter. Yoon’s experience making a successful bid for the presidency after plunging into the worlds of politics following a bull-like track record as a prosecutor, as well as his political inexperience dealing with conflict, are some of the factors those within political circles and beyond say are influencing Yoon’s behavior.
BOK chief nomination becomes latest point of contention between incoming, outgoing presidents
On Wednesday, President Moon Jae-in nominated Rhee Chang-yong (62), Director of the Asia and Pacific Department at the International Monetary Fund to head the Bank of Korea (BOK) after incumbent Lee Ju-yeol’s term ends on March 31. While the Blue House reported that the decision was made “after receiving input from President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol,” those on Yoon’s side claim they were never consulted. Already at loggerheads over the relocation of the presidential office, the two sides are now engaged in a battle for the truth over the appointment of the new BOK governor, suggesting that the stand-off between outgoing and incoming power is growing in intensity rather than subsiding.
Yoon falsely accuses N. Korea of violating 2018 inter-Korean military agreement
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol erroneously argued Tuesday that recent rocket launches by North Korea were a “clear violation” of a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement, despite being unfamiliar with the details of the document. South Korea’s defense minister disagreed with Yoon, saying the launches did not violate the agreement. Yoon called the North’s launches a “clear violation” of the inter-Korean military agreement signed Sept. 19, 2018, during a meeting with his transition team on Tuesday. His remarks came after North Korea launched four projectiles into the Yellow Sea at 7:18 am on Sunday from South Pyongan Province.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Park Geun-hye Leaves the Hospital and Greets the People for the First Time in 5 Years
Former President Park Geun-hye was discharged from the Samsung Medical Center in Ilwon-dong, Seoul on March 24. As she left the hospital, she said, “Thanks to your concern, I have recovered my health.” At 8:32 this morning, Park, with a bright face, left the hospital building with her attorney, Yoo Young-ha. She then met with reporters and said, “I was able to greet the people for the first time in five years. Thanks to your concern, I have already recovered my health.” She said, “I would like to thank the medical staff and related personnel for their devotion to my treatment in the last four months.” She did not respond when reporters asked if she had anything else she would like to tell the public before she got in the car.
Presidential Transition Committee “Refuses” to Receive Justice Ministry Report, “Park Beom-kye Was Disrespectful to Oppose the Pledges of the President-elect”
On March 24, the presidential transition committee announced it would postpone plans to receive a report from the Ministry of Justice. This was an act in protest of the press conference held by Justice Minister Park Beom-kye on March 23, in which he expressed his opposition to President-elect Yoon Seok-youl’s pledge to abolish the justice minister’s authority to lead an investigation and to grant the prosecutor general independent authority to allocate the budget. The transition committee practically refused to receive the ministerial report.
Why President-elect Yoon Seok-youl Can’t Back Off in the “Battle over Yongsan”
Despite several obstacles, President-elect Yoon Seok-youl is refusing to take a single step back on his decision to relocate Cheongwadae, because the “post-Cheongwadae vision” has a symbolic meaning and is one of the few projects that is realistically possible for Yoon. When Yoon enters office, he will face a National Assembly dominated by the opposition party, which holds an overwhelming majority, and from Yoon’s perspective, the relocation of the presidential office is something that he can do regardless of such a challenging situation. It is also important for the Yoon Seok-youl government, which was born under an anti-Moon Jae-in slogan, to present a vision unique to Yoon Seok-youl.
KCNA: Kim Ordered, Guided Test Launch of Hwasong-17 ICBM
North Korea said it test fired its new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, on Thursday under the direct guidance of leader Kim Jong-un. The North's official Korean News Agency(KCNA) said on Friday that Kim issued a written order on Wednesday to conduct the test and visited the launch ground to personally oversee the complete test-launch process on Thursday. After the launch, Kim reportedly said that the new strategic weapon of the country would make the world clearly aware of the power of the North's strategic armed forces once again.
KBS Poll: 53% of S. Koreans Against Relocation of Presidential Office
A KBS poll finds that five out of ten South Koreans are opposed to President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol's plan to relocate the presidential office to the defense ministry compound. According to the survey of one-thousand adults conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, 53-point-eight percent of the respondents said they are against Yoon's relocation plan. Forty-point-six percent were in favor of the relocation. As for reasons for opposing the plan, over 38 percent cited "lack of sufficient review" of the plan, while 24-point-four percent said there is "no need" to relocate the top office. Twenty-two percent cited the high cost.
US Slaps Sanctions on Entities in N. Korea, China, Russia over N. Korean Missile
The United States has imposed sanctions on entities and individuals in Russia, North Korea and China for violating a U.S. weapons non-proliferation law. According to the State Department on Thursday, the U.S. announced sanctions on one entity and one individual in North Korea, two entities and one individual in Russia and one entity in China. The U.S. imposed the sanctions for proliferation activities under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act. Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that the move underscores the continuing need for all countries to remain vigilant against efforts by North Korea and Syria to advance their proliferation programs of concern.
N. Korea confirms 'successful' test-firing of Hwasong-17 ICBM
North Korea said Friday that it successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), called the Hwasong-17, the previous day on the direct order of its leader Kim Jong-un. Making an on-site inspection of the test, Kim stressed his country would be "fully ready for long-standing confrontation with the U.S. imperialists," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Kim was quoted as adding, "The new strategic weapon of the DPRK would make the whole world clearly aware of the power of our strategic armed forces once again."
U.S. imposes sanctions on 5 N. Korean, Russian entities over N. Korean missile program
The United States on Thursday imposed fresh sanctions on five entities based in Russia and North Korea related to North Korea's missile program, the U.S. Department of State said. The move came after North Korea fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in over four years Thursday (Seoul time), lifting its self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile testing that has been in place since late 2017. "The United States today announced sanctions on five entities and individuals located in Russia and the DPRK, and one entity in the People's Republic of China (PRC) for proliferation activities under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act," Sate Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press release.
New cases below 400,000 for second day; concerns linger over spike amid eased curbs
South Korea reported less than 400,000 new cases for the second day in a row Friday as the omicron variant tightens its grip on the country. The country had reported 339,514 new infections as of midnight, raising the total caseload to 11,162,232, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. Friday's daily tally was down from 395,598 on Thursday and 490,881 on Wednesday, which was the second-highest daily caseload. The death toll from COVID-19 came to 14,294, up 393 from Thursday, the KDCA said. The fatality rate came to 0.13 percent.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
N. Korea fires ICBM, breaks self-imposed moratorium
North Korea on Thursday fired an intercontinental ballistic missile after more than a four-year hiatus, breaking its self-imposed moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests. Pyongyang launched an ICBM-class projectile that flew more than one hour and 10 minutes toward the East Sea at 2:34 p.m. from the Sunan area of the capital city Pyongyang. The ICBM flew around 1,080 kilometers at an altitude of 6200 km or higher, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that the missile is presumed to have been fired at a high angle and with a lofted trajectory.
Moon-Yoon strife continues
Friction between President Moon Jae-in and President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol appears to be intensifying, with the two sides openly criticizing one another. Since the presidential election earlier this month, Moon and Yoon have been at odds over multiple issues, such as the relocation of the presidential office and appointment of high-ranking officials, including the governor of the Bank of Korea. A meeting between Moon and Yoon has still not taken place, marking the most prolonged delay between a president and his elected successor.
Impeached Park discharged from hospital, returns home
Former President Park Geun-hye was discharged from hospital on Thursday and took residence in her new home, after spending four years and nine months in prison for a series of corruption charges. Appearing in front of the Samsung Medical Center where she was treated for chronic illnesses from November, Park said she has recovered and expressed gratitude to the medical staff. “I offer my greetings to the public in five years. With all your care, I was able to recover my health. I would like to express my gratitude to the medical team and staff of Samsung Medical Center,” Park said to reporters and a crowd of supporters that were gathered in front of the hospital to welcome the former president.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
US imposes sanctions on 5 North Korean, Russian entities over Pyongyang's missile program
The United States on Thursday imposed fresh sanctions on five entities based in Russia and North Korea related to North Korea's missile program, the U.S. Department of State said. The move came after North Korea fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in over four years Thursday (Seoul time), lifting its self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile testing that has been in place since late 2017. "The United States today announced sanctions on five entities and individuals located in Russia and the DPRK, and one entity in the People's Republic of China (PRC) for proliferation activities under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press release.
Korea shares digitalization strategy in taxation with UK, Bulgaria
Korea's tax agency has shared its digitalization strategy in taxation with its counterparts in the U.K. and Bulgaria and also agreed to coordinate closely with them to tackle offshore tax evasion. The National Tax Service (NTS) said its commissioner Kim Dae-ji had a meeting with Jim Harra, First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of the U.K. HM Revenue & Customs, in London, March 22. At the meeting, the chiefs of the tax agencies of the two countries agreed that exactly grasping incomes and setting up an income data hub are essential in getting rid of blind spots in social welfare as well as enhancing efficiency in budget spending.
Biden pledges new Ukraine aid, warns Russia on chem weapons
President Joe Biden and Western allies pledged new sanctions and humanitarian aid on Thursday in response to Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine, but their offers fell short of the more robust military assistance that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for in a pair of live-video appearances. Biden also announced the U.S. would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees ― though he said many probably prefer to stay closer to home ― and provide an additional $1 billion in food, medicine, water and other supplies.
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