Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Samyang Group's Sudang Foundation selects two winners of the 31st Sudang Award
Samyang Group's Sudang Foundation announced on April 25 that it has selected Oh Saeng-geun, a 75-year-old honorary professor of French literature at Seoul National University, and Lee Sung-hwan, a 59-year-old professor of artificial intelligence at Korea University, as the winners of the 31st Sudang Award. The Sudang Award was established to inherit and develop the spirit of human resources development of Kim Yeon-soo, founder of Samyang Group, and researchers who have contributed to the development of Korean studies are selected and awarded every year.
Economic relations, cooperation grow rapidly between Korea and India
Korea and India have a strong economic partnership which is rapidly expanding. According to data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE), bilateral trade between Korea and India reached US$23.7 billion in 2021, surpassing US$21.5 billion in 2018. This was the highest-ever trade volume between Korea and India, representing a 40% increase over the previous year's total of US$16.9 billion. Korea's exports to India increased by 30.7% to US$15.6 billion, while imports increased by 64.4% to US$8.1 billion, resulting in a US$7.5 billion trade surplus. This increase in exports and imports was aided by a rebound in economic activity and industrial output during July to December period.
Economic bodies petition for amnesty for Lee Jae-yong and Shin Dong-bin
With the Moon Jae-in government's last special pardon being mentioned ahead of the Buddha's Birthday, which falls on May 8, the nation’s five business organizations have petitioned for amnesty and reinstatement for some entrepreneurs, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin. The five economic organizations, including the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Korea International Trade Association, the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses, said they submitted a petition to Cheong Wa Dae and the Justice Ministry on April 25 for "special pardon and reinstatement for some businessmen for economic development and national unity" ahead of the Buddha's birthday.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Biden to Stop by Korea Next Month
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to visit Korea in the third week of May to meet with President Yoon Seok-youl. A diplomatic source told the Chosun Ilbo the schedule for Biden's visit to Korea is "virtually fixed." Biden is stopping over on his way to Japan to attend at a meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, an informal anti-China alliance consisting of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India, on May 24. A U.S. security team arrived in Seoul last Saturday to prepare the ground. Possible stops for Biden include the demilitarized zone, U.S. Forces Korea headquarters in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, and a Samsung semiconductor plant nearby.
Little Uptake for 2nd COVID Booster
Second COVID-19 booster shots for senior citizens started Monday, but the booking rate remains at only 22 percent. According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Sunday, a mere 2.39 million out of 10.75 million senior citizens who had their jab more than four months ago have booked their fourth. That means 7.62 million have yet to decide whether to receive their second booster, while 740,626 already had it through same-day appointments, which became available on April 14. More and more people seem hesitant to get any more COVID vaccinations due to the well-publicized side effects as new infections are declining.
N.Korean Hackers 'Work out of Chinese Hotels'
The U.S. government has issued a series of warnings against cyber attacks and hacking attempts, especially from North Korea. The Washington Post pointed out the contradictions. "In the world of government-backed hackers, North Korea stands out for its sheer weirdness," it said on April 22. "The vast majority of its residents have no Internet access... Yet Pyongyang has been able to build a hacking army that rivals nearly any on the globe." North Korean hackers are based in hotels in China because of the extremely threadbare internet connection network in their home country and because it allows them to evade detection. Eric Chien at Symantec described North Korea as being like the mafia or a criminal gang.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Moon meets the press for last time as president
In his final press conference Monday, President Moon Jae-in was positive about National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug's compromise deal reached last Friday on a controversial bill that would strip the prosecution of its investigative powers. Moon told reporters at the Blue House that his administration has worked for so-called reforms of the prosecution, but admitted, "However, even if it is a desirable direction, I think that any method or process to promote it should also be able to receive the understanding and support of the people. It is also necessary to discuss it in the National Assembly, and if possible, there needs to be consensus between the prosecution and the police." Moon said while the compromise between the rival parties "went well," he noted that neither side may be completely satisfied.
Blue House to be opened to public on May 10
Up to 39,000 people a day will be allowed to tour the Blue House compound in Jongno District, central Seoul after President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is sworn into office on May 10. Yoon’s transition team told reporters in a press conference Monday that unlike current Blue House tours, tours under the Yoon administration will be without a guide, basically allowing visitors to roam around permitted areas for two hours. While current tours handle 1,500 visitors a day, the new tours will be open to 39,000, the transition team added. The tours are a part of Yoon’s election pledge to “return the Blue House to the public.” The conservative president-elect has been adamant about not moving into the Blue House, calling it a symbol of “imperialistic” power.
SK bioscience's GBP510 one step closer to being country's first vaccine
SK bioscience's Covid-19 vaccine candidate GBP510 demonstrated statistically meaningful results confirming its immunogenicity in Phase 3 trials, the company said Monday, bringing it one step closer to becoming the country's first homegrown Covid vaccine. The Seongnam, Gyeonggi-based vaccine maker said it will announce its safety data within the week and will request authorization from the Ministry of Food and Drug by the end of the month. The Phase 3 clinical trials were conducted on a total of 4,037 people aged 18 or older in 16 institutions in Korea and five other countries including Thailand, New Zealand and Ukraine. Divided into two groups, one group was administrated with GBP510 and the other with AstraZeneca vaccines.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
French President Macron re-elected
It was at the Champs de Mars in Paris at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday when French President Emmanuel Macron arrived to give his victory speech on his re-election. Citizen welcomed his arrival, celebrating the victory against the far-right. President Macron, a centrist, won 58.6% of votes, winning over far-right rival Le Pen (age 58) in the run-off vote. Macron had set a record for France as the youngest president of France when he became president five years ago. Now he has set a new one again as the leader re-elected for the first time in 20 years since President Jacques Chirac.
Confirmation hearing for PM nominee Han Duck-soo adjourned
A confirmation hearing for Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo was adjourned 39 minutes after it began on Monday amid a boycott by the Democratic Party (DP) and the Justice Party. The DP and the Justice Party did not attend the hearing, saying Han did not submit all the documents requested while the People Power Party (PPP) argued that they are trying to hold back the new government.“No documents, no position. No verification means no confirmation,” the DP’s Emergency Committee Chair Yoon Ho-jung said during a meeting held before the confirmation hearing. “If someone who wishes to be prime minister refuses to be verified by the people, our party will reject the ineligible prime minister nominee in the name of the people.”
Korea’s share in Chinese chips imports drops by 5.5% points
The share of Korean exports in China’s semiconductor market has been reduced since Washington slapped sanctions against Beijing. The Federation of Korean Industries announced Monday that Korea’s share in the Chinese semiconductor imports has fallen by 5.5 percentage points from 2018 to 2021. The fall was even more drastic than that of America’s (fallen by 0.3 percentage points), the architect of the anti-Chinese sanctions. By contrast, the shares of other exporters in Asia rose compared to the pre-sanctions era as indicated by Taiwan (by 4.4 percentage points), Japan (1.8 percentage points), and six ASEAN countries (0.4 percentage point).
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s GDP growth slows to 0.7% Q1 with domestic demand all turning negative
South Korea’s economic growth slowed to under 1 percent in the first quarter on sluggish domestic demand due to rising interest rates and inflation on top of murky economic outlook from widened repercussions on the global supply chain and prices from Russian-Ukraine war. According to the Bank of Korea’s growth guidance for the January-March period, the country’s real gross domestic product was projected to have added 0.7 percent from October-December period, slowing from 1.2 percent gain in the previous quarter.
Seoul struggles to defend KRW at 2-yr low vs USD amid increasing downsides
South Korean authorities are called upon to take more aggressive action to bolster the Korean won that has sunk to a two-year low such as renewing currency swap arrangement with the United States against more downsides from foreign capital flight and higher U.S. interest rates. The U.S. dollar closed Monday at 1,249.9 won, up 10.8 won from the previous closing to its highest finish versus the Korean won since 1,266.5 won on March 23, 2020, amid the first wave of Covid-19. Verbal intervention from authorities warning of “close watch” over the exchange rate movement was of no use to stop the dollar nearing psychologically important 1,250.
Business lobby groups call for presidential pardon of Samsung, Lotte chiefs
South Korea’s major business lobby groups on Monday called for a presidential pardon and reinstatement of Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y Lee and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin for the sake of the national economy that is facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic, geopolitical uncertainties in Ukraine, and tensions between the United States and China. The five major lobby groups – the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Korea Enterprises Federation, the Korea International Trade Association, the Korea Federation of SMEs, and the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon’s delegation arrives in Japan seeking meeting with PM Kishida
A delegation sent by President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol for policy discussions with Tokyo departed on Sunday for a five-day visit to Japan. Many are now watching to see whether the delegation will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The delegation departed for Japan from Incheon International Airport on Sunday with a letter from Yoon, who is hoping to improve and restore relations between Seoul and Tokyo. Japan is the second country where Yoon has sent a delegation for policy discussions, after the US. Shortly after arriving in Japan, the delegation’s leader, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Chung Jin-suk, was asked by reporters about the content of Yoon’s letter.
Park Geun-hye’s backyard politics fall flat in Daegu mayoral primary
Attorney Yoo Yeong-ha finished a distant third in a People Power Party (PPP) primary for the Daegu mayoral race, after former President Park Geun-hye endorsed him and acted as the chairperson of his support association. Observers saw his poor showing as demonstrating the tepid response to Park’s “backyard politics.” The PPP nomination management committee announced Saturday that lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo had been selected as the party’s candidate for mayor of Daegu with a 49.46% rating in the primary to select a nominee — a total that included a 10% deduction for currently serving lawmakers and candidates with a history of running as an independent.
Yoon to commute using shortcut through US military base in Yongsan
For his first month in office, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will likely be passing through the US military base on his way to and from his presidential office in Yongsan. The original plan had been for Yoon to move into the Army chief of staff’s official residence in Seoul’s Hannam neighborhood. But it appears that Yoon will spend roughly a month remaining at his current home in Seoul’s Seocho neighborhood after deciding to take over the current residence of Korea’s foreign minister and make it his presidential residence. According to accounts from sources with Yoon’s presidential transition committee on Sunday, Yoon is considering a primary route from his Seocho home that would take him across Banpo Bridge and through the US military base to arrive at his presidential office in Yongsan.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Kim In-chul Received Orders to Correct Discrimination Against Foreign Lecturer as President of HUFS
When deputy prime minister for social affairs and minister of education nominee Kim In-chul was president of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), a foreign lecturer submitted a petition against the school to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea claiming he experienced discrimination in employment due to his nationality after the school decided to terminate his employment contract without stating a clear cause. At the time, the Appeal Commission for Educators ruled that the action taken by the school violated the Private School Act. According to the documents that Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Kang Deuk-gu, a member of the parliamentary Education Committee, received from the National Human Rights Commission on April 24, four petitions on discriminatory measures by Kim were submitted to the Human Rights Commission including the one by the foreign teacher, during the eight years (2014-2022) that Kim served as president of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
A Marine Returned to South Korea a Month after Unauthorized Departure to Fight in Ukraine’s War Against Russia
A, a private first class in the Marine Corps, illegally left the country while on leave claiming to join the legion of foreign volunteers fighting for Ukraine. On April 25, A returned to the Incheon International Airport, about a month after he left the country on March 21. A had been staying at a refugee camp in Poland after he was denied entry at a border check point between Poland and Ukraine. On April 25, the Marine Corps investigation team announced, “We secured private first class A, who deserted and went overseas on Monday, March 21. We arrested him after he was returned in custody today.” They also said, “We will question him on the details of how he came to desert and take strict action according to the law and regulations.”
Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un Exchange Letters, “We Can Strengthen Inter-Korean Relations If We Both Make an Effort”
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently exchanged letters. The two leaders agreed that if the two Koreas both made an effort, they could improve inter-Korean relations. On April 22, the Korea Central News Agency reported, “Comrade Kim Jong-un exchanged letters with South Korean President Moon Jae-in,” and explained, “Comrade Kim Jong-un received a letter from President Moon Jae-in on April 20 and sent a reply on April 21.”According to the North Korean state media, the two leaders shared the view that if the two Koreas both exerted constant efforts with hope, inter-Korean relations could improve and develop to meet the wishes and expectations of the Korean people.
Moon Expresses Support for Proposal on Prosecution Reform
President Moon Jae-in has expressed his general support for a bipartisan agreement on the prosecution reform bills aimed at reducing the prosecution's investigative powers. President Moon revealed his thoughts about the controversial reform bills on Monday during his last meeting with reporters at the presidential office. Moon reiterated his support for separating the prosecution's powers to lead investigations and indict suspects. However, he stressed that even if it is appropriate, the process resulting in the separation should gain the public's support and understanding.
N. Korea Stages Nighttime Military Parade
North Korea reportedly held a massive military parade on Monday night to mark the anniversary of its army's founding. According to the South Korean military on Monday, the North kicked off the parade at around 10 p.m. at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang after a pre-parade ceremony to mark the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army. It marks the 12th time that the North staged a military parade since Kim Jong-un took power in 2012. Tens of thousands of military personnel and citizens reportedly participated in the parade. It was not known whether North Korean leader Kim attended the Monday event. Kim has delivered a speech at similar events in the past.
Economy Grows 0.7% in Q1
The economy grew less than one percent in the first quarter as the omicron wave, supply disruptions and the war in Ukraine pulled down consumption and investment. The Bank of Korea said on Tuesday that the country's gross domestic product(GDP) is estimated to have expanded zero-point-seven percent on-quarter in the January-March period. The central bank projected in February that the economy would grow three percent this year, but it is unlikely to reach the forecast. The economy expanded one-point-two percent on-quarter in the fourth quarter of last year but fell back below one percent in the first quarter.
Yoon says will 'positively review joining' Quad if invited: report
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has said he will "positively review" South Korea's joining of Quad, a U.S.-led anti-China security partnership, if invited, according to a report. Yoon made the remark in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday (U.S. time), saying he does not expect South Korea to receive an invitation any time soon, but if approached, "will positively review joining." The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is made up of the United States, Australia, India and Japan, and is seen as a partnership aimed at countering China.
N. Korea holds military parade to mark key anniversary: source
North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang on Monday evening to mark a key national anniversary, an informed source said, in what was seen as a highly choreographed event to cement internal unity and highlight its military heft. The North kicked off the parade at Kim Il Sung Square at 10 p.m. on the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (KPRA), according to the source. The KPRA is the anti-Japanese guerilla force known to have been created by national founder Kim Il-sung in 1932. It was not immediately known whether the current leader, Kim Jong-un, attended the parade.
Moon voices support for compromise deal on prosecution reform legislation
President Moon Jae-in voiced support Monday for a compromise deal on prosecution reform legislation, urging the prosecution to make more efforts to ensure fairer and more efficient investigations. Moon made the remarks amid a resurgence of political clashes and fierce resistance by the prosecution over the compromise deal, which would curtail the prosecution's investigative right to two crime types -- corruption and economic crimes -- before removing it completely. National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug brokered the compromise deal last week, with both the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) accepting it.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon says will 'positively review joining' Quad if invited: report
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has said he will "positively review" South Korea's joining of Quad, a US-led anti-China security partnership, if invited, according to a report. Yoon made the remark in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday (US time), saying he does not expect South Korea to receive an invitation any time soon, but if approached, "will positively review joining." The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is made up of the United States, Australia, India and Japan, and is seen as a partnership aimed at countering China.
N.Korea, Russia develop ‘strongest ever’ mutual support on global issues: state media President-elect North Korea and Russia have developed their ties and sent the strongest ever support to each other on the international stage, as their reinforced relations have contributed to ensuring peace and security in Northeast Asia, the North Korean state newspaper said Monday in a special article. The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, published the special article to mark the three-year anniversary of the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 25, 2019.
Tension rises over bipartisan compromise on prosecution bill
Controversy over the move to reduce the prosecution’s investigative authority continued Monday, with both the president and president-elect chiming in on the issue. President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday broke his silence over the controversial prosecution reform bill, asking the political community to “deeply reflect” on what is needed for the people, as the prosecution continues to vocally oppose the ruling party’s move to strip them of their investigative powers. Rep. Bae Hyun-jin, spokesperson for the president-elect, in a press briefing Monday quoted Yoon, who said “no politics can prevail over the people.”“President-elect Yoon urged the entire political community to deeply consider the ways to protect the values of the Constitution and the lives of the people, and pool their wisdom,” Bae said.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon's delegation, Japanese foreign minister agree on need to mend frayed ties
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's policy consultation delegation and Japan's top diplomat concurred on the need, Monday, to bolster relations between South Korea and Japan on the occasion of Seoul's leadership change, according to the head of the team. However, the delegates did not go into detail about thorny issues over wartime history such as sexual slavery and forced labor that have prevented the neighboring countries from getting along with each other for years. The seven-member delegation, led by Vice National Assembly Speaker Rep. Chung Jin-suk, who flew to Tokyo on a five-day trip, Sunday, sat down with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori.
Yoon says will 'positively review joining' Quad if invited: report
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has said he will "positively review" Korea's joining of Quad, a U.S.-led anti-China security partnership, if invited, according to a report. Yoon made the remark in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday (U.S. time), saying he does not expect Korea to receive an invitation any time soon, but if approached, "will positively review joining." The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is made up of the United States, Australia, India and Japan, and is seen as a partnership aimed at countering China. During the campaign, Yoon had pledged to increase Korea's participation in its working groups.
Moon voices support for compromise bill on prosecutorial reform
President Moon Jae-in said Monday he supports the ruling Democratic Party of Korea's (DPK) efforts to separate the prosecution's powers to lead investigations and indict suspects and added that a compromise bill agreed by the DPK and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) is desirable. "You probably know that I support separating the prosecution's powers to lead investigations and indict suspects," Moon said during a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae. "Even if it is appropriate, its process should be able to win the public's support and understanding. In this regard, I believe the recent agreement between the rival parties, arranged by National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug, is desirable," he added.
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