Monday, April 11, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Yoon taps 8 Cabinet members, including defense, finance ministers
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announced his nomination of eight ministers of his government on April 10, 2022. The new nominees included Rep. Choo Kyung-ho as new Deputy Prime Minister for Economy and former Republic of Korea Armemf Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Lee Jong-sup as his new Defense Minister. Yoon also appointed Lee Chang-yang, a professor of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, as his Industry Minister and former Governor Won Hee-ryong of the Jeju Province as his new Minister of Land. Moon also named Lee Jong-ho, director of Seoul National University's semiconductor research institute, as his new Science Minister and former Director Chung Ho-young of Kyungpook National University Hospital as his new Minister of Health.
KOCCA releases an interview video with a U.S. media company
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Minister Hwang Hee) and the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) (President Jo Hyun-rae) said that they produced an interview video with a local media company in the US and released it on YouTube at the US Business Center to help K-contents advance into the North American market. The American Business Center of the KOCCA has produced a total of 18 videos under the theme of ‘Business Strategy for Korean Contents to Enter the North American Market’. In the videos, Adam Steinman, vice president of Warner Bros., Sebastian Lee, CEO of Enter Media Contents, Park Geun-hee, CEO of KOCOWA talked with KOCCA’s U.S. Business Center Director Joo Seong-ho on the U.S. broadcasting video content market trends and local expansion strategies.
POSCO launches control tower to achieve “Net-Zero Carbon 2050”
The Carbon Neutral Committee and Carbon Neutral Green Steel Technology Advisory Panel, which will play leading roles to achieve POSCO’s Net-Zero Carbon 2050, started operation in earnest. The Carbon Neutral Committee is a consultative group that was launched on March 16 to coordinate the net-zero carbon vision POSCO has established in all areas from a company-wide perspective, quickly make decisions, and examine major issues occurring along with the implementation of a net-zero carbon roadmap. POSCO Vice Chairman & CEO Kim Hag-dong will preside over the meeting every quarter as chairperson and examine the implementation status of the net-zero carbon roadmap to enhance its driving force.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Young Koreans' Home-Debt Burden Soars
According to Shinhan Bank, the average monthly income of indebted households last year was W5.21 million, up 3.1 percent from 2018, but their average debt load surged 40.2 percent to W102 million (US$1=W1,229). That means each household owes 20 times the size of their monthly earnings. The proportion of indebted households also increased from 57.2 percent to 66.7 percent over the same period. "At this rate, households are expected to face increasing difficulty in repaying their loans," the bank warned in a report. It gathered the data by surveying 10,000 economically active people aged 20 to 64 across the country last September and October.
Realtors Give up Expensive Street-Front Offices
Many realtors have moved out of their expensive street-front offices and gone upstairs or online as business dries up. Some move to cheaper offices on the second or third floor or even hot desk from co-working spaces. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, only 41,709 real estate transactions took place across the country in January, down a whopping 54 percent from a year earlier. "It's been a year since I handled a sale," says realtor Kim Wang-kyung (65) who has run an office in Seoul's Yeongdeungpo district for 30 years. "I'm barely able to pay the rent and overheads from my savings because business has come to a halt."
Airlines Fret Rising Oil Prices Will Thwart Post-COVID Recovery
Just as the aviation industry looked set to begin recovering from the impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions, it is now being hit by soaring oil prices. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Wednesday announced plans to increase the number of international flights from 420 per week this month to 520 next month and 620 in June, with the aim of returning to almost 50 percent of the pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. Buoyed by the plans, Korean flagship carriers are already moving to increase their international flights. Starting from next month, Korean Air will increase flights to Hawaii from three times a week to five. Its flights to Toronto and Paris will also be increased from three times a week to four, while those to Guam and Sydney will be doubled from twice a week to four times a week.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon picks half of his Cabinet
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announced eight Cabinet nominations including People Power Party (PPP) Rep. Choo Kyung-ho as finance minister Sunday. Yoon named his picks for key Cabinet posts such as defense, land and trade during a press conference at the presidential transition committee office in Tongui-dong, central Seoul. Choo, who will double as deputy prime minister for the economy, was a deputy floor leader of the PPP until last month and heads Yoon's transition team's planning and management subcommittee. A career economic bureaucrat, Choo served as a presidential secretary for economic and financial affairs and vice chairman of the Financial Service Commission in the Lee Myung-bak administration. The Daegu native also was first vice finance minister and chief of the government policy coordination office in the Park Geun-hye administration.
Prosecution power debate reignited ahead of Yoon's inauguration
Members of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and opposition People Power Party (PPP) are butting heads over the DP’s plan to strip the prosecution of its investigative power, a month before a former prosecutor general is inaugurated president.“[The DP] is trying to completely deprive the prosecution of its investigation power, so that key figures in the DP including President Moon Jae-in, former presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung and his wife would be immune from prosecutorial investigations,” said Kweon Seong-dong, PPP floor leader, in speaking with Yonhap News on Sunday. “This is the first and foremost problem we must resolve,” he said.
Lawmaker Kweon Seong-dong elected new PPP floor leader
Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, a fourth-term lawmaker of the People Power Party (PPP) and a close aide of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, was elected the conservative party's new floor leader. Kweon overwhelmingly defeated PPP Rep. Cho Hae-jin, a third-term lawmaker, 81 votes to 21 on Friday. He replaces Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon, who resigned as floor leader of the incoming ruling party Thursday. Kweon's election is seen as putting weight behind Yoon within the party. Known to be one of Yoon's closest confidants, Kweon is a childhood friend of the president-elect. Kweon is a native of Gangneung in Gangwon, and Yoon's family visited Gangneung frequently in his youth. Yoon and Kweon are the same age, both born in 1960, and both served as prosecutors before entering politics.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong nominated as minister of Land
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s nomination of politician and former Jeju governor Won Hee-ryong as Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation shows that he considers real estate issue as a political agenda and is determined to come up with a working solution.“I believe he is the optimal candidate that will provide sufficient supply of homes where there is demand, which will stabilize the real estate market, design fair access and metropolitan transportation framework, the key to balanced development,” Yoon said in a press conference held on Sunday. Won is a leading figure within the People Power Party, a three-time legislator and former governor of Jeju.
Samsung shares 276 technologies with SMEs
Samsung Electronics plans to transfer 276 technologies in seven sectors including semiconductors to small- to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) for free, helping them increase their competitive edge and grow further. The Ministry of Trade, industry and Energy announced on Sunday that it will collect applications of companies from Monday to May 13 for a joint project with Samsung Electronics to share technologies. The South Korean semiconductor manufacturer will this year release a total of 276 technologies in seven fields such as mobile devices, communications and networks, semiconductors and display.
Post-Omicron plans to be released on April 15
The number of confirmed COVID-19 castes in South Korea has dropped noticeably with the government’s social distancing measures to be scrapped next Monday. The government will issue new plans to deal with the Omicron variant on Friday at the earliest. According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, the number of daily new confirmed cases as of midnight on Sunday reached 164,481. Usually, the number of new confirmed cases tends to decline on the weekends when weekend tests are reflected. Still, the decline on the number of confirmed cases is evident, compared with a week earlier (234,265) and two weeks earlier (318,070).
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Shinhan Financial, Carlyle Group to jointly launch $1.6 bn investment fund
South Korea’s Shinhan Financial Group will join hands with global private equity firm The Carlyle Group to create an over 2 trillion won ($1.6 billion) fund for overseas investment over three years. According to multiple sources from the investment bank industry on Thursday, Shinhan Asset Management Co. will embark on a process to jointly launch an investment platform with The Carlyle Group in the first half of this year to create and manage funds for corporate buyouts, minor equity investment, infrastructure asset investment, and loans.
S. Korea’s grain self-sufficiency dips below 20%, threatening food security
Rising food prices in the wake of global supply chain disruption, aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is further threatening food security in South Korea that has recently seen its grain self-sufficiency rate dip below 20 percent, the lowest level. According to Maeil Business Paper’s analysis of the grain self-sufficiency data by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Korea’s rate registered at 19.3 percent in 2020, falling below the 20-percent level for the first time. Its rate stood at 30.9 percent in 2000, when the international organization first started to track internal self-sufficiency trends.
Korea’s Feb C/A surplus down $1.6 bn on higher commodity import prices
South Korea’s current account extended its positive streak to 22 months in February, but surplus contracted sharply from a year ago due rising import cost of crude and other commodities, according to preliminary data released by the Bank of Korea on Friday. The country posted a current account surplus of $6.42 billion in February, the central bank`s data showed. It was the 22nd month in a row for the country’s current account to stay in the black, but the value lost $1.64 billion from a year ago.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Reviewing Yoon’s first month as president-elect: Where’s the communication?
On Saturday, Yoon Suk-yeol will reach the halfway point in his time as president-elect. A month will have passed since he was elected, with a month remaining until his inauguration on May 10. When Yoon clinched his victory around 4 am on March 10, he pledged to “respect the legislature and the spirit of the constitution and work with the opposition parties to take care of the public.” But how well has Yoon kept that pledge? Unfortunately, several analysts say there have been few signs of communication, unity, or cooperation over the past month.
Samsung Electronics sees record Q1 operating profits amid larger uncertainties
Samsung Electronics announced Thursday that it recorded 77 trillion won in sales and 14.1 trillion won in operating profit in the first quarter of this year in the company’s earnings guidance. Despite the strong performance, however, it’s not all good news for Samsung as it does damage control for its “Game Optimizing Service” fiasco and faces questions about the company’s competitiveness in the foundry industry. Samsung Electronics’ sales in the first quarter of this year marked its best quarter to date. After exceeding 70 trillion won in sales for the first time in the third quarter of last year (July-September), the company has continued to exceed 70 trillion won in sales for three consecutive quarters.
For Korean children with long COVID, normal is nowhere in sight
A middle schooler surnamed Jeong tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 17 last year. During his 10-day isolation, he experienced a mild fever and a sore throat, but the symptoms weren’t severe enough to require hospitalization, which made his guardians think his case would be mild. But the problem began when Jeong was released from isolation. His sense of smell and taste, which had been faint but still functioning, disappeared for a month. Every smell felt like that of nauseating gasoline, and even with a bottle of perfume right under his nostrils, he said he couldn’t smell a thing.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Han Duck-soo’s Property Amounts to 8.25 Bn Won: Earned 4 Bn Won in the Last 10 Years and Has 5.1 Bn Won in Savings
Confirmation hearing procedures for the nation’s prime minister began after the National Assembly received a request for the confirmation hearing of prime minister nominee Han Duck-soo (73) on April 7. The confirmation hearing team for the prime minister nominee requested the National Assembly for Han’s hearing in the name of President-elect Yoon Seok-youl at around 3 p.m. this afternoon. In the written request, the president-elect backed his choice and wrote, “The nominee, Han is a former official well acquainted with the economy and has accumulated a wealth of experience in economy, trade and foreign affairs encompassing the private and public sector during his 37-year service in public office.” He went on to state, “We determined that he was the right man to assist the president by respecting the will of the people, to responsibly lead the cabinet, and to shrewdly tend to the people’s economic activities, foreign affairs and national security based on his rich experience.”
Park Geun-hye Supports Her Aide, Yoo Young-ha for Daegu Mayoral Candidate
On April 8, former president Park Geun-hye announced her support for Yoo Young-ha of the People Power Party as the Daegu mayoral candidate. This morning at 6:43 a.m. Yoo released a video in which Park Geun-hye said that she supported Yoo. This was the first time that Park made an official statement after she returned to her private residence in Dalseong, Daegu on March 24. Park is also the chairperson of an organization of Yoo’s supporters. This day, Park said, “I accepted to chair the organization of Yoo’s supporters because he asked, but also because we understood each other.” She also said, “Yoo Young-ha was with me by my side during the most difficult and painful time in my life, the past five years.”
Transition Committee Anxious about the Inflation Asks Incumbent Government for “Special Measures”
The presidential transition committee is urging the Moon Jae-in government for special measures to control rising prices. The committee appears to be pressing the incumbent government to aggressively fight the inflation, after failing to present suitable measures of its own. This is the result of a sense of crisis in the transition committee that the soaring prices could threaten the basic policy direction of the soon-to-launch new government. People are also voicing concerns that if the new government fails to resolve this urgent problem, the sparks could spread to the local elections in June. On April 6, President-elect Yoon Seok-youl instructed his staff to promote measures to stabilize the people’s economic activities, including consumer prices, amid challenging domestic and international conditions as the top priority of the new government.
Yoon to Visit Fmr. Pres. Park in Daegu Tuesday
President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol will visit former President Park Geun-hye in Daegu this week. Yoon's spokesperson said on Sunday that Yoon will visit the southeastern city and North Gyeongsang Province on Monday and Tuesday. The spokesperson said Yoon is making the visit to keep the promise that he made during the campaign that he would visit the area again after he wins the presidency. Yoon plans to visit Park's new home in the city on Tuesday. In 2016, Yoon was the lead prosecutor in the investigation into Park's corruption scandal that led to her impeachment and heavy punishment.
Chief Prosecutors to Discuss Responses to Controversial Bill
The heads of district prosecutors' offices across the nation will hold a meeting to discuss responses to a reform bill aimed at depriving the state prosecution of its investigative power. The Supreme Prosecutors' Office(SPO) plans to hold the meeting at 10 a.m. on Monday at its building in western Seoul. The face-to-face meeting will be attended by 18 heads of district prosecutors' offices nationwide along with Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo and the deputy prosecutor general. In an unusual move, the SPO plans to disclose the top prosecutor's opening remarks to the media.
Foreigners' Sell-offs of S. Korean Stocks Continues for Third Month
Foreign investors sold South Korean stocks worth over four-point-eight trillion won last month, continuing the sell-off for the third consecutive month. According to the Financial Supervisory Service on Monday, foreigners dumped a net four-point-86 trillion won-worth of local stocks in March. They sold a net four-point-99 trillion won in the main bourse, the KOSPI, in March, but purchased a net 127 billion won in the secondary tech-heavy KOSDAQ. As of the end of March, the value of local stocks held by foreign investors came to 725-point-two trillion won, accounting for 27-point-one percent of the country's market capitalization.
Yoon names 8 Cabinet members, including defense, finance ministers
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday announced his nominations for eight ministers, including Rep. Choo Kyung-ho as deputy prime minister for the economy and former Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Vice Chairman Lee Jong-sup as defense minister. Lee Chang-yang, a professor of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, was named industry minister, while former Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong was named land minister, Yoon said at a press conference. Lee Jong-ho, chief of Seoul National University's semiconductor research institute, was named science minister, while Chung Ho-young, former chief of Kyungpook National University Hospital, was nominated for health minister.
Finance minister nominee vows to seek extra budget in way not to stoke inflation
The nominee for South Korea's finance minister said Sunday the incoming government plans to draw up an extra budget to support pandemic-hit merchants but it will be pursued in a way that does not stoke inflation or hamper financial stability. Rep. Choo Kyung-ho, named to concurrently serve as deputy prime minister for economic affairs, made the remarks hours after his nomination amid concerns the creation of another massive extra budget is not in sync with the central bank's rate hikes aimed at curbing inflation.
N. Korea slams U.S. over Ukraine crisis, calls Joe Biden 'old man in his senility'
North Korea on Saturday condemned the United States for making the crisis surrounding Ukraine a human rights issue and imposing sanctions against Russia, denouncing U.S. President Joe Biden as "an old man in his senility" and a man of a "repeated slip of tongue." A commentary carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the Ukraine issue has suddenly become a human rights issue, as the U.S. and western media branded the case as a war crime, with a politically motivated plot to defame Russia and to achieve the collapse of its regime. "The latest story is the U.S. chief executive who spoke ill of the Russian president with groundless data," the English-language article read.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon makes first eight picks for Cabinet
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announced Sunday the first eight minister nominees for his incoming Cabinet, each of whom will undergo parliamentary confirmation hearings before final appointment.“The criteria for the personnel appointments was nothing more than whether the person would be the best suited to lead their designated fields,” Yoon said during a press briefing at the presidential transition committee headquarters in Seoul. For the first deputy prime minister and minister of economy and finance, Yoon named Rep. Choo Kyung-ho, a former finance vice minister.
China warns that US-led sanctions campaign could add ‘fuel to fire’
China’s top nuclear envoy criticized the US-led initiative to use UN sanctions as a tool to hold North Korea responsible for continuing banned ballistic missile launches, warning that it could be “adding fuel to the fire.” Liu Xiaoming, special representative of the Chinese government on Korean Peninsula affairs, voiced opposition in a series of talks with the US senior officials over the situation on the Korean Peninsula during a rare trip to Washington between April 4 to 7. Liu had meetings with US National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and the special representative for North Korea policy, Sung Kim.
Parties contemplate next leadership picks
South Korea’s two major political parties are gearing up for leadership change after the local elections and the start of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration. Inside the Democratic Party of Korea, the battle is between supporters of Lee Jae-myung, the former presidential nominee of the liberal party, and those supporting President Moon Jae-in, whose five-year term has only around a month left. Lee has been widely expected to run for the chairman seat at the party’s general convention to be held in August.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
President-elect nominates 8 Cabinet ministers
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announced his choices for eight Cabinet ministers on Sunday in the first batch of nominations. The nominations came a month before Yoon takes office on May 10. During a press conference at the transition committee's headquarters in central Seoul, Sunday, Yoon named the eight nominees, including Rep. Choo Kyung-ho of the main opposition conservative People Power Party (PPP) as next deputy prime minister and finance minister and former Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Vice Chairman Lee Jong-sup as defense minister.
North Korea-China trade on restoration path, but Pyongyang faces challenges
HONG KONG ― North Korea is steadily restoring trade with China after bilateral commerce dived in 2020 and 2021 as the reclusive state closed its border to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Trade with China totaled $318 million in 2021, down by 41 percent from the previous year and by 90 percent from levels before the pandemic, according to China Customs data. Last year's total was the lowest with its northwestern neighbor since Kim Jong-un assumed leadership in December 2011. But after mainly relying on shipping routes over the two years, railway transport resumed in January, with $60.9 million worth of trade crossing the border in February.
Finance minister nominee vows to execute Yoon's market-driven economic vision
Choo Kyung-ho, the nominee for deputy prime minister and the minister of economy and finance, is likely to capitalize on his experience as a seasoned former economic policymaker to implement the market-driven economic policies prioritized by President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol. Currently the head of the presidential transition committee's planning subcommittee, Choo has been regarded as an ideal figure to work as a team with the prime minister nominee, Han Duk-soo. Han, whose expertise is in macroeconomics, trade and diplomacy, was nominated to the country's No. 2 post last week in Yoon's apparent bid to emphasize the importance of the economy.
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