Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Bangladesh celebrates Independence, National Day with great fervor and festivity
The Embassy of Bangladesh in Seoul hosted a reception at the Lotte Hotel, Seoul on March 28, 2022 to commemorate the Independence and National Day of Bangladesh. At the event filled with great fervor and festivity, a great number of foreign ambassadors, senior diplomats, high-ranking Korean and foreign government officials, business leaders, and their spouses attended. In this regard, the Embassy also arranged a discussion program on March 26 at the Embassy premises.
UAE Embassy in Seoul participates in the HUFS investment event
The UAE Embassy in Seoul participated in the investment event organized by the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) on March 25, 2022. The event was sponsored by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and co-organized with the Korea International Trade Association (KITA). Issa Al Samahi, Deputy Head of Mission, presented a presentation that addressed the UAE's efforts in carbon neutralization and introduced the opportunities for Korean foreign direct investment in carbon neutralization work in the UAE.
The 1st Tashkent International Investment Forum held in Uzbekistan
On March 24-26, the First Tashkent International Investment Forum was held in Tashkent. President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended the plenary session. The session was also attended by the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Odile Renaud-Basso, President of the Asian Development Bank Masatsugu Asakawa, Minister of Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Khalid Al-Falih, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization Xiangchen Zhang, Vice President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Konstantin Limitovsky, Senior Vice President of the International Finance Corporation Stephanie von Friedeburg.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Korean Volunteers Missing in Ukraine
A total of nine Koreans have so far traveled to Ukraine to volunteer their services as the European country tries to repel invading Russian forces. Of the nine, three have returned to Korea and the whereabouts of two are unknown, Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong told the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee on Monday. Chung said, "We've been making every effort to locate the two who are missing." Of the remaining four, one is a woman doing volunteer work and the other three are in contact with the government. Those Koreans, who include Rhee Keun, a former Navy special warfare officer and YouTuber, are believed to have been in Ukraine since March 2.
'Stealth Omicron' Now Dominant COVID Strain in Korea
The "stealth Omicron" subvariant, which is thought to be even more contagious than the Omicron variant, has become the dominant strain among new COVID-19 infections in Korea. Health authorities said Monday that the BA-2 subvariant accounted for 56.3 percent of all cases last week (March 20-26), compared to 22.9 percent in the first week of March, 26.3 percent in the second week and 41.4 percent in the third. The Delta variant, which accounted for 0.01 percent of cases in the third week of March, was not found at all last week.
Moon, Yoon Discuss Key Issues over Dinner
President-elect Yoon Seok-youl met his outgoing predecessor Moon Jae-in at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday evening for the first time since the presidential election early this month. They met at around 6 p.m. and talked for nearly three hours over dinner, accompanied by officials from both sides. Their rescheduled meeting came nearly two weeks after an earlier lunch between them was canceled at the last minute due to some disagreements. According to an aide of Yoon's who serves on his transition team, the outgoing and incoming presidents discussed key issues including more spending to help people ride out the coronavirus pandemic, North Korea's latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile and the relocation of the presidential office.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
North seems to be restoring Punggye-ri tunnel
North Korea is restoring a tunnel to a nuclear test site it demolished in 2018, raising the specter of a nuclear test soon, a nonproliferation expert has written. Writing for the Open Nuclear Network (ONN), a nuclear weapons risk mitigation program run by the Vienna-based One Earth Foundation, ONN senior fellow and former United Nations North Korea panel expert Katsuhisa Furukawa said the North is in the process of reactivating some parts of its mountainous nuclear weapons test site in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province. Commercial satellite imagery show “signs of increasing activities” since last December, especially at the southern access tunnel, or South Portal, of Punggye-ri, according to Furukawa’s report, which ONN released Monday.
Hoban Construction becomes Hanjin Kal's largest shareholder
Hoban Construction is replacing the Korea Corporate Governance Improvement (KCGI) fund as Hanjin KAL's largest single shareholder, buying stock owned by the activist group and acquiring additional shares to add to the total. Its acquisition of the stock could bring to an end a long period of uncertainty caused by shareholders forming alliances and battling for control of Hanjin KAL's board. The construction company is acquiring a 13.97-percent stake in the company owned by Grace Holdings for 564 billion won ($462.4 million). Grace Holdings is a special purpose company wholly owned by KCGI.
Moon, Yoon play nice, but Yongsan move still debated
After a display of concord at the first meeting between President Moon Jae-in and successor Yoon Suk-yeol, attention is now focused on the planned move of the presidential office. Moon and Yoon's dinner meeting Monday, which took an unprecedented 19 days after the March 9 presidential election to take place, came off without even a hint of major discord. Kim Eun-hye, Yoon's spokesperson, said in a briefing Tuesday morning, "I believe the handshake and dialogue between the incumbent president and the president-elect during the transition of government was meaningful in alleviating the worries of the people a little bit."
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
U.S. allocates $2.6 billion to defend against N.Korea’s ICBMs
In the new National Defense Strategy (NDS) released on Monday (local time), Washington has put responses to Beijing and Moscow a priority and described North Korea as “constantly emerging threats” along with Iran and violent extremist groups. The Biden administration has allocated $2.6 billion for the early deployment of next-generation interceptors (NGI), which are believed to be necessary to defend against North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
President-elect Yoon to dispatch delegation to the US in early April
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol finished putting together a South Korea-U.S. Policy Delegation to be dispatched to the U.S. in early April, spanning experts in Northeast Asian studies, economic security, and South Korea-U.S. joint training programs. Yoon will discuss whether to dispatch delegations to neighboring countries such as China and Japan after the delegation’s visit to the U.S. Yoon announced on Tuesday through journalist notice that the U.S. delegation would be led by Rep. Park Jin while Rep.
COVID-19 patients can visit local hospitals for treatment
COVID-19 patients can visit local hospitals or oriental clinics to treat medical issues, such as fractures or injuries. They will be temporarily allowed to go outside for medical treatment even if they are under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Tuesday announced its plan to expand outpatient treatment centers for COVID-19 patients under at-home treatment, which allows all hospitals and clinics wishing to treat COVID-19 patients to receive them.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Samsung Elec tops in patent trove and value, LG Elec at No. 4
Samsung Electronics has topped the list as the world’s leading knowledge company in terms of patent asset analyzed by the Maeil Business Newspaper in cooperation with data analytics firm LexisNexis. LG Electronics ranked fourth and five other Korean companies made the list of the world’s 100 innovative enterprises. LexisNexis will continue patent asset value analysis and release the results exclusively through the Maeil Business Newspaper starting this year.
Naver buys EBIJ to challenge Kakao over leadership in Japan’s e-comics market
South Korea’s online giant Naver Corp. has acquired Japan’s e-book platform company eBOOK Initiative Japan Co. (EBIJ) in hopes to recover command over digital comics market in Japan it had lost to latecomer and Korean archrival Kakao Corp. by leveraging on its partnership with SoftBank Group. According to IT industry sources on Tuesday, Naver’s third-tier subsidiary LINE Digital Frontier recently finalized its tender offer to buy EBIJ shares listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Hoban Construction replaces KCGI as the 2nd biggest shareholder in Hanjin KAL
South Korea’s mid-sized builder Hoban Construction Co. replaced activist fund KCGI as the second largest shareholder of Hanjin KAL through the purchase of a 13.97 percent stake for 564 billion won ($461.9 million), raising much speculation on the bulky investment in the parent of flag carrier Korean Air Lines vulnerable to challenge to the management over owner family risk.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Moon to cooperate with Yoon’s plan to move presidential office by examining budget, says Yoon aide
President Moon Jae-in said during his dinner meeting with President-elect Yoon on Monday that he will cooperate with Yoon’s plan to relocate the presidential office, Yoon’s camp shared. During their first meeting since the election, Moon and Yoon agreed to continue to discuss matters such as drawing up a revised supplementary budget to support small business owners, as well as the matter of appointing new personnel, which has stirred conflict between the two sides.
S. Korean foreign minister says signs point to N. Korea resuming nuclear tests
Concerning the possibility of North Korea resuming nuclear tests, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong said Monday that he “is aware things are pointing in that direction.” The answer came during a Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee meeting at the National Assembly when People Power Party lawmaker Kim Seok-ki commented that North Korea may resume nuclear tests in the future, as the nuclear testing site in the village of Punggye seemed to be undergoing restoration and expansion.
Why is S. Korea’s president-elect polling worse than incumbent Moon?
Predictions that President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will do a “good job” with governance after taking office were down for a second straight week in polling results, which also showed a rise in predictions that he would perform “poorly.” The 46% of respondents who expressed optimism over Yoon’s performance was nearly identical to the 46.7% who positively rated outgoing President Moon Jae-in, who is nearing the end of his term. At the request of MediaHerald, the public opinion polling agency Realmeter surveyed 2,512 adult South Koreans nationwide between March 21 and 25.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
People Power Party Lawmaker Kim Ye-ji, “Lee Jun-seok Needs to Be Aware of the Disabled People’s Right to Mobility and Transportation”
People Power Party lawmaker Kim Ye-ji said the party’s leader Lee Jun-seok needed to be conscious of the disabled people’s right to transportation after Lee criticized the demonstration by the Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination (SADD) held in the busy morning when people headed for work. Kim appeared on the CBS radio show Hanpan Seungbu (single round match) on March 28 and when asked, “Isn’t there a need to meet Lee and explain to him about the disabled people’s right to transportation?” lawmaker Kim said, “I don’t think he is doing what he’s doing because he doesn’t know the details.”
President Moon, “We Will Cooperate on the Budget to Relocate the Presidential Office,” President-elect Yoon, “We Will Inherit Successful Policies”
President Moon Jae-in and President-elect Yoon Seok-youl met on March 28. President-elect Yoon mentioned the relocation of the presidential office and said, “This time, I really want to do this.” President Moon said, “I think the decision on where to relocate the presidential office is one that should be made by the next government,” and added, “We will carefully examine the budget for the relocation plan and cooperate.” Yoon said, “We will continue to implement the successful policies and improve the policies that were less successful.” The two men did not discuss a special pardon for former President Lee Myung-bak. The meeting took place nineteen days after the election, the longest time before the first meeting between a president and a president-elect.
Positive Projections of President-elect Yoon Seok-youl’s Handling of State Affairs Reach 46.0%, While Negative Projections Reach 49.6%
On March 28, a survey result showed that more people had negative projections of President-elect Yoon Seok-youl’s handling of state affairs when he enters office than positive expectations. Realmeter conducted a survey of 2,512 people ages eighteen and older nationwide on March 21-25 upon request from Media Herald and released the results this day. According to the poll (fourth week of March), when asked, “Do you think President-elect Yoon will do a good job in handling state affairs after his inauguration?”
Report: Ahn Cheol-soo Does not Want Prime Minister's Position
The presidential transition team chief Ahn Cheol-soo has reportedly expressed his intent to not become the inaugural prime minister of the new government during a meeting with President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol. An aide to the president-elect told Yonhap News on Tuesday that Yoon and Ahn held a one-on-one meeting from around 5:30 p.m. It was known that Ahn told Yoon that he wants instead to focus on his work as the transition committee head. This comes as the transition committee was reportedly drafting a pool of around five nominees for the prime minister, including Ahn, whose last-minute decision to unify presidential candidacies with Yoon is viewed as a determining factor in Yoon’s election victory.
US Expresses Concerns over N. Korea's Nuke, Missile Capabilities
The Pentagon has expressed concerns over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and ballistic missile provocations. John Kirby, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Defense, relayed the position at a media briefing on Tuesday. Kirby said the U.S. has made it clear that the North’s ballistic missile program is a continual threat to the region, adding the threat includes the regime’s efforts to develop its nuclear program. He said the U.S. is concerned about the North’s attempt to continuously develop its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, describing it as provocative and threatening to the security of the U.S.’ allies and partners on the Korean Peninsula and the region.
More Hospitals Providing In-person COVID-19 Treatment Will Be Available from Wed.
The number of regional clinics providing in-person consultation and treatment for COVID-19 patients will significantly increase from Wednesday. According to health authorities on Wednesday, any hospital and clinic can now apply for the state-designation as an outpatient center for COVID-19 patients under at-home treatment as long as they meet minimum requirements. Hospitals are allowed to launch such treatment services from Wednesday while smaller clinics will be permitted to treat COVID-19 patients from Monday. COVID-19 patients under self-quarantine will be temporarily allowed to go out for in-person treatment.
Yoon speaks with Ukrainian president by phone
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday, his spokesperson said without disclosing details of the conversation. Kim Eun-hye said in a brief statement that the call took place at 5 p.m. "Please be informed that because Ukraine is currently in a state of war, the detailed contents of the phone call are difficult to disclose," she said.
U.S. still analyzing latest N. Korean missile test, but remains concerned
The United States is still analyzing the nature of North Korea's last missile test that probably involved an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a Pentagon spokesperson said Tuesday, amid reports that Pyongyang may have falsely claimed success in developing a new ICBM. John Kirby, however, said the U.S. continues to remain concerned about North Korea's efforts to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.
Uncertainty hangs over relocation of presidential office despite Moon's promise to cooperate
Whether President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will be able to relocate the presidential office in time for his May 10 inauguration remains a question even though President Moon Jae-in has promised to look into the matter and render cooperation. Moon's remark, made during a dinner meeting with Yoon on Monday, was seen as a step forward for Yoon, because Moon's office had effectively expressed opposition earlier, saying the envisioned relocation could leave a security vacuum, as it also involves moving the defense ministry in a short period of time.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon to decide on prime minister nominee by early April
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is expected to announce his nominee for prime minister by early April to make sure the entire appointment procedure is completed before the launch of the new government in May, his spokesperson said Tuesday.“Considering the schedule of the parliamentary hearing (for ministerial appointments), we expect to announce the prime minister nominee by early April to meet the launch of the new government,” Kim Eun-hye, Yoon’s spokesperson, said in a press briefing.
Australia imposes sanctions targeting North Korea’s ICBM launch
Australia has imposed its own sanctions against two Russian entities and a North Korean company linked with the reclusive regime’s recent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Canberra also condemned the launch as a serious escalation of the North’s “destabilizing behavior” that poses an “unacceptable risk to our region.” The Pyongyang-based Korean Ungum Corp. and two Russian firms, Russian Financial Society and Commercial Bank Agrosoyuz have been added to Australia’s latest list of entities under financial sanctions, which restrict the use of their assets, for helping the regime evade sanctions, according to a statement from Foreign Minister Marise Payne dated Friday.
Satellite imagery shows ‘visible’ signs of N.Korea reactivating nuclear test site
North Korea has been restoring access to a yet unused tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in a potential attempt to expedite a seventh nuclear weapons test, said Open Nuclear Network, a Vienna-based research institute. Commercial satellite images have shown “signs of increasing activities” since last December especially at the South Portal and the main administrative area within North Korea’s only known underground nuclear test site, according to the institute’s research report released Monday.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Korea's first lady mired in wardrobe scandal
First lady Kim Jung-sook has been hit with accusations of abusing public funds for clothing and accessories, and for instances of acting as a tourist rather than participating in the customary official events of Korean first ladies during state visits. The sudden emergence of a "wardrobe scandal" has prompted people to scramble online to gather photos of Kim at public events. With the photos showing her in an array of outfits, some raised questions about whether she purchased the clothes using her personal funds.
KDB's capability of salvaging financially troubled firms called into question
The botched sale of SsangYong Motor is calling into question the capability of its main creditor, the Korea Development Bank (KDB), in salvaging financially troubled companies. SsangYong Motor joins Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), also under KDB control, in remaining unsuccessful at finding new owners during the Moon Jae-in administration. Industry sources speculated on Tuesday that such circumstances faced by the state-run KDB may leave an unfavorable impression on the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol administration.
Yoon eyes solving polarization, demographic cliff
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol urged his transition team, Tuesday, to bolster pre-emptive and resolute efforts to achieve innovative growth, while focusing on pragmatism and the national interest to address polarization and a demographic cliff the country faces. He also urged the subcommittees of his transition team to step up cooperation to achieve those goals. "I hope that the transition committee can set clear goals and achieve intended results through cooperation among divisions," he said while presiding over the meeting with heads of subcommittees on his transition team.
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