Thursday, April 21, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“Colombia and Korea, two cultures united with innovation and literature”
Colombia once again opened its doors in person to Bogotá International Book Fair, the country's most significant literary festival, on April 19, 2022 as part of the commemoration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between Colombia and Korea. Korea is the guest of honor at the Bogota International Book Fair (FILBo) 2022. "Colombia sent 5,100 soldiers to the Korean War and 72 years later, today we see the results. We were allies in the war, and today in innovation and literature. It is a good moment to commemorate the relations between Korea and Colombia in a cultural area, which makes us able to get to know each other better and share cultures despite the 15,000 kilometers of distance,” said the Colombian ambassador to Korea, Juan Carlos Caiza Rosero.
ICCK is in good hands--as it has been for many years
The newly elected chairman, Mr. Anil K. Sinha, has a total of 37 years of work experience in Indian and Multi-National Organization covering a wide range of functions, Strategic Planning and Team Management. Chairman Sinha is very strongly interested in further upgrading and promoting the close economic-commercial cooperation and relations between the two countries. In a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985, Chairman Sinha said, “India is looking for investment in many important areas, such as sunrise sectors like drones, robotics, electric vehicles and renewable energy, energy storage systems, AI & Machine Learning, Industry 4.0, IoT, especially in its Smart City initiative to renew urban life & provide robust technological solutions to improve life in rural areas.
Afghanistan denies reports on its plan to stop cooperation with Uzbekistan
On April 12-14, Termez hosted a meeting of the heads of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan railway departments. According to the official website of JSC "O'zbekiston temir yo'llari", the delegation of Afghanistan was led by the head of the Afghan Railways Bakhtulrahmon Sharafat. The Afghan side expressed gratitude for the measures taken by the Uzbek side to strengthen bilateral relations and the substantial assistance provided to Afghanistan. At the same time, the Afghan side denied reports that Afghanistan allegedly plans to stop cooperation with Uzbekistan Railways JSC.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
¼ of Young Korean Men Feel Hard Done-By
One in four men in their 20s think that Korea discriminates against males now, a survey suggests, though one-third of women also feel disadvantaged by the system. The latest survey was conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family among 8,358 people over 15. The proportion of respondents who feel there is more equality rose to 34.7 percent, up from 21 percent five years ago, but more people in the younger age groups felt resentful. Some 46.8 percent of men in their 20s felt there is more gender equality, while 24 percent felt Korea discriminates against males. But only some 22.4 percent of women in their 20s felt there is more gender equality in society, while 73.4 percent felt Korea is not equal for females.
Korea Detects 1st New COVID Subvariants
Health authorities have identified the country's first cases of the new XE and XM Omicron subvariants of COVID-19, they said Tuesday. Two cases of the XE strain and one of the XM variant were found. The XE variant is thought to be 10 percent more transmissible than the regular Omicron strain. Daily new COVID cases have shot back up. The tally plunged to 47,735 on Monday morning, but rose to 118,504 on Tuesday and 111,319 on Wednesday morning as more people got tested after the weekend.
U.S. Lifts Korea Travel Warning
The U.S. lifted a travel ban to Korea on Monday, switching the travel advisory from the highest level -- "do not travel" -- to the lowest. The State Department made its own decision independently of the advisories of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week that its travel advisory levels "will no longer automatically correlate with the CDC COVID-19 travel health notice level." On April 13, the CDC updated its COVID-19 notices, reserving Level 4 for "special circumstances such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse."
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
SK hynix Arm acquisition plan may not be clever enough
The SK hynix plan to create a consortium to buy Arm is the best idea that might never happen. While the proposed structure would reduce antitrust concerns, as the British chip designer would not be controlled by a single entity, competition regulators may still scuttle the deal. Chinese authorities are especially likely to nix the transaction. In late March, SK hynix co-CEO Park Jung-ho told shareholders that the company was considering working together with other companies to purchase Cambridge-based Arm. Efforts by SoftBank, the current owner, to sell it to Nividia for $40 billion fell through in February due to antitrust concerns.
LG Electronics JV breaks ground on Mexico EV parts plant
LG Magna e-Powertrain, a joint venture between LG Electronics and Magna International, has broken ground on a $100 million electric vehicle (EV) component plant in Mexico. Scheduled to be up and running in 2023, the plant is located in the city of Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila. It will produce inverters, motors and on-board chargers to support production at General Motors factories. The 260,000-square-foot (24,150-square-meter) plant will be LG Magna e-Powertrain's first production base in North America and is expected to create around 400 new jobs, according to a statement released by two companies. The location is near the production lines of General Motors and Magna Powertrain, a subsidiary of Magna International.
Korea-Asean forum is bullish on RCEP
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the largest free trade agreement to date, is a step in the right direction to create a single market between Northeast and Southeast Asia, said speakers at a forum hosted by the ASEAN-Korea Centre in Seoul on Wednesday. “The de-facto FTA among China, Japan and Korea created by RCEP not only catalyzed economic integration in Northeast Asia, but also created the momentum for Southeast Asian and Northeast Asian integration,” said Anna Robeniol, advisor to the secretary-general of Asean and deputy secretary-general for the Asean Economic Community at the ASEAN Secretariat, speaking virtually at the forum, "and this bodes well for supply chains and production networks in the entire East Asian region."
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Tchaikovsky Competition expelled from WFIMC
The Tchaikovsky Competition, one of the world-renowned music competitions in the world, has been expelled from the World Federation of International Music Competitions, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The WFIMC released a statement on Tuesday saying that in a vote following its Extraordinary General Assembly held on April 13, the World Federation of International Music Competitions decided with an overwhelming majority of member votes to exclude the International Tchaikovsky Competition with immediate effect. It is the first time that the organization, founded in 1957, has excluded a member competition on political grounds.
Democratic Party focuses on passing multiple laws
The Democratic Party of Korea has completed its preparation to pass a bill to deprive the prosecution of its function of investigation at the Legislation and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly. And now it is expected to pass multiple laws in the provisional session of the National Assembly this month. The Democratic Party, which took an extreme measure of its member Min Hyung-bae leaving the party on Wednesday, believes that passing the Agenda Coordination Committee and Legislation and Judiciary Committee won’t be too difficult. However, the bill needs to be brought into a regular session of the National Assembly to be legislated.
Wheat prices hit 13-year high in Korea
The import price of wheat has surged to 400 dollars per ton, for the first time in 13 years. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has driven up wheat prices, which has in turn increased inflationary pressure on restaurant prices. According to the Korea Customs Service on Wednesday, the price of imported wheat hit 402 U.S. dollars per ton last month, up by 8.8 percent from the month earlier and the highest since December 2008. It is first since the end of 2008 that the wheat price has surged over 400 dollars per ton. The prolongation of the war in Ukraine, weakening won against dollar, and surging ocean freight charge have together influenced on the rise in the wheat price.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Regulator classifies fractional music copyright ownership traded at Music Cow as investment
Fractional ownership in the copyrights of K-pop music traded at Music Cow should be treated as an investment product that must be offered with proper investor protection measures under the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act, according to South Korea`s financial regulator. Music Cow is the country’s first music copyright trading platform, where users can buy and sell a portion of ownership in music copyrights floated by Music Cow on the platform, and the owners are eligible to claim copyright fees according to their ownership size every month.
HD Heavy chair and CEOs discuss urgent challenges posing shipbuilding industry
Kwon Oh-gap, the chairman of South Korea’s biggest shipbuilding group HD Hyundai, formerly known as Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, on Wednesday held an emergency CEO-level meeting to address to “entirely new type” of crisis from multiple headwinds from China’s lockdown to spike in raw materials and higher borrowing cost. The CEO-level meeting was arranged in just four months after the annual meeting to set new year’s business target in December.
Remote hiring in Korean IT sector gains traction amid talent shortages
The ongoing shortage of skilled IT developers has forced South Korean companies, even small startups, to find talent abroad for remote cooperation, leading to the growth of related employment agencies and platforms in the country that connect companies with overseas experts. Supercoder, launched in November last year, is fast gaining ground in Korea with its remote developer hiring service conducted entirely online from document verification to coding tests and interviews.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Less than 3 weeks to inauguration, Yoon still hunting for a presidential residence
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has abandoned plans to move into the Army chief of staff’s official residence in Seoul’s Hannam neighborhood, citing the excessive renovations that would be necessary. The decision came after Yoon previously selected the site as his new official residence and earmarked remodeling expenses for it. With his plans for the relocation of the presidential office proceeding in a sloppy manner, Yoon now finds himself having to find a new official residence with less than 20 days left until his inauguration.
S. Korea’s last chance to prevent a “republic of prosecutors”
Korea is poised for the advent of a “republic of prosecutors” on a whole new level. That is, a nation in which the president effectively has direct control over state prosecutors. President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has already announced plans to bring in prosecutors to investigate the incumbent administration. An era of prosecutorial domineering backed by presidential control. Whatever happens under the next administration, it will surely go far beyond what we can imagine.
Vetting standards for Yoon’s Cabinet picks called into question
Criticism is mounting over President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s Cabinet picks, as many of the nominees do not seem to be meeting the public’s standards. Yoon’s team failed to filter out several ministerial candidates even after discovering they had obtained unfair privileges in connection to previous posts as well as other issues. Controversy is now mounting around Chung Ho-young, Yoon’s pick to lead the Ministry of Health and Welfare and his long-time friend of 40 years, whose vetting process was reportedly rushed.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Han Dong-hoon’s Apartment, An Expedient Gift from His Mother?
Justice minister nominee Han Dong-hoon purchased an apartment from a person who put the house as collateral for money he borrowed from Han’s mother before Han began serving as prosecutor. Circumstances show that Han practically paid for the apartment with his mother’s money, leading to allegations that his mother in fact gifted him the apartment using expedient measures. According to the real estate register of Sinbanpo Cheonggu Apartment in Seocho-gu, Seoul that the Kyunghyang Shinmun obtained on April 20, on February 25, 1998, Jeong, borrowed 100 million won from Han’s mother, Heo and purchased this apartment, which was put up as collateral.
Chung Ho-young, “My Son Will Be Re-examined Soon, But We Can’t Disclose the Specific Date and Place”
On April 20, minister of health and welfare nominee Chung Ho-young announced that he would have his son undergo another physical examination to clarify any speculation concerning his son’s military service. On his way to work at the confirmation hearing team office set up at the National Pension Service in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul this day, Chung said, “People continue to raise an issue with my son’s military service without any objective grounds,” and claimed that he would have his son receive another examination at a credible hospital soon to resolve the allegations. He went on to say, “We will bring past MRI images and medical records when he goes to get examined.” He also said, “This way, we will confirm whether my son really suffered from a spinal disease and whether the diagnosis at the time was appropriate.”
A 70-Min. Meeting Between President Moon and the Prosecutor General, “Regardless of the Prosecutors and the Police, Reforms Should Be for the People”
On April 18, President Moon Jae-in met with Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo. President Moon spoke about the bill that would completely separate the Prosecution Service’s investigative power from its authority to prosecute cases and said, “Reforms should be conducted for the people, regardless of the position of the prosecutors and the police. So should the legislation by the National Assembly.” The president appears to have asked the Prosecution Service and the Democratic Party of Korea to seek an agreeable compromise for the people instead of arguing for the interests of their respective organizations. At around 5 p.m. this evening, President Moon met with Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo at Cheongwadae for over an hour and discussed these issues, according to a written briefing by Cheongwadae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.
DP Begins to Form Agenda Coordination Committee to Ram through Reform Bill
The ruling Democratic Party(DP) is pushing ahead with a reform bill that would strip the prosecution of its investigative powers despite protest from opposition parties and the prosecution.The party on Wednesday began to form an agenda coordination committee as the legislative review subcommittee made no progress in its deliberations on the bill. If the bill is approved at the coordination panel with at least two-thirds support, it is automatically introduced to a plenary session of the judiciary committee where the DP holds a majority.
White House Can't Confirm Biden's Trip to S. Korea, Likely to Disclose More Soon
The White House said on Wednesday that it will soon be able to disclose details of U.S. President Joe Biden's possible trip to South Korea. Asked about Biden's possible visit to Seoul, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a press briefing that she did not have anything to confirm regarding the trip other than things that were already confirmed by the president. Psaki, however, added that she is confident that she will be able to tell more about the trip soon. There is speculation that Biden will visit South Korea on May 20 and hold summit talks that day or the next with President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol, who is set to take office on May 10.
IMF Cuts S. Korea's Growth Outlook to 2.5%, Inflation Forecast to Hit 4%
The International Monetary Fund(IMF) has marked down its economic forecast for South Korea for this year by half a percentage point to two-point-five percent. The organization issued its revised global outlook on Tuesday, three months after the initial forecast, reflecting rapidly increasing inflationary pressure around the world and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine among other recent factors. Despite the downgrade, South Korea fared better than many major economies, including Germany and Italy, which were predicted to grow one-point-seven percentage points and one-point-five percentage points less, respectively, than the previous projections.
Gov't to determine whether to lift outdoor mask mandate in early May: interior minister
he government will make a decision in early May on whether to lift the mask mandate in outdoor places, Interior Minister Jeon Hae-cheol said Wednesday. Starting this week, all COVID-19 social distancing requirements, except the mask mandate, were lifted, including a curfew on operating hours of restaurants, cafes and other small businesses, as well as the cap on the size of private gatherings. The government has said the indoor mask-wearing requirement will be unavoidable for "a considerable time," but it will decide whether to lift the mask mandate in less-risky outdoor places after monitoring the COVID-19 situation over the two weeks following the abolition of social distancing rules.
Transition team slams gov't's lifting of social distancing rules
The transition team of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday slammed the government for prematurely lifting all COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. In a statement read by a spokesperson, transition team Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo said many health workers are concerned the removal of all restrictions at once will cause the public to let down their guard at a time when daily COVID-19 cases are still in the hundreds of thousands and daily COVID-19 deaths are over 100. "It is not wise to lift all antivirus measures as if COVID-19 does not exist," he said, according to spokesperson Shin Yong-hyeon.
S. Korea, Sweden discuss deeper industry ties during inaugural committee meeting
South Korean and Swedish vice industry ministers on Wednesday discussed ways to boost cooperation on zero-emission goals and such key industry sectors as bio and digital, Seoul's industry ministry said. Seoul's First Vice Industry Minister Park Jin-kyu met with Stina Billinger, Sweden's state secretary to minister for business, in Seoul earlier in the day during the inaugural meeting of the Korea-Sweden industry cooperation committee. The committee was established in 2019 in accordance with their memorandum of understanding on industry cooperation, which was signed during President Moon Jae-in's visit to Sweden in June of that year.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Ruling party resorts to opposition cosplay to ram through prosecution bill
The Democratic Party has pulled out all the stops to ensure that the bill to strip prosecutors of their investigative powers can go through, despite escalating conflicts with the prosecution and opposition parties. Rep. Min Hyung-bae on Wednesday left the Democratic Party and became an independent, a move that would allow the party to push the controversial bill through referral to the agenda coordination committee. Min is a member of the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee, which handles amendments to the Prosecutor’s Office Act and the Criminal Procedure Act, to abolish the prosecution’s investigation function.
Foreign Minster nominee, US envoy agree on ‘impenetrable’ cooperation
South Korea’s Foreign Minister nominee Rep. Park Jin of the People Power Party met Wednesday with Sung Kim, US Special Representative for North Korea, and agreed to maintain an “impenetrable alliance” when the incoming government takes over. In their closed-door meeting, the minister nominee stressed how the series of missile launches by North Korea posed a “serious threat” not only to the Korean people but also to peace and stability of Northeast Asia and the international society, and underscored the importance of close cooperation between Seoul and Washington, according to Park’s office.
Lifting outdoor mask mandate to be decided early May
The South Korean government will decide in early May whether the outdoor mask mandate will be lifted, Interior Minister Jeon Hae-cheol said during a COVID-19 response meeting Wednesday. Jeon noted that the mask mandate will stay in place for the moment as wearing face masks is still important for preventing the spread of infection at the current stage of the pandemic. Regarding the government’s planned downgrade of the COVID-19 infectious disease level, Jeon said that the government will make its final decision by end-May, after discussing with the local governments and health authorities.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Companies upbeat about improvement in Korea-Japan ties
Expectations are running high among local companies that strained ties between Korea and Japan will improve, with only days left before President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol sends a delegation to Tokyo, data showed Wednesday. Two in five firms said they expect Korea-Japan ties to improve, while over half said they would increase trade and investment with their Japanese counterparts, according to a survey of 327 firms by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). Of these surveyed firms, 115 were trade partners with Japanese firms.
Yoon holds private meeting with visiting US nuclear envoy
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol had an unscheduled meeting with Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, Tuesday, and expressed his strong determination to coordinate with the United States on North Korea's mounting threats, according to his transition team, Wednesday. Yoon had dinner with the American envoy at the residence of Vice National Assembly Speaker Rep. Chung Jin-suk in Seoul, according to the transition committee. Chung, a longtime friend of Kim, arranged the gathering that lasted more than two hours. Rep. Cho Tae-yong of the main opposition People Power Party and former Vice Foreign Minister also accompanied them.
Transition team slams gov't's lifting of social distancing rules
The transition team of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol slammed the government Wednesday for prematurely lifting all COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. In a statement read by a spokesperson, transition team Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo said many health workers were concerned that the removal of all restrictions at once would cause the public to let down their guard at a time when daily COVID-19 cases are still in the hundreds of thousands and deaths are over 100. "It is not wise to lift all antivirus measures as if COVID-19 does not exist," he said, according to spokesperson Shin Yong-hyeon. "While returning to normal, we must simultaneously take steps to protect high-risk and vulnerable populations from the risk of COVID-19."
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