Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
38th Eurasia Business Insights Seminar to be held online on April 29
The 38th Eurasia Business Insights Seminar will be held online at 7:00 a.m. on April 29. Under the title, “Changes in the Russia/CIS financial environment in the wake of Russia-Ukraine War. How can Korean companies transfer money and pay for settlements?” Park Hyun-wook, head of the Moscow branch of KDB Bank, is scheduled to deliver a lecture at the seminar. Those who have interest in the online seminar can join the zoom conference through the link below: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87557345998?pwd=azlHZHRiTXFIRldzNThOTHRUMjVoUT09 Conference ID: 875 5734 5998 Password: 096005
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.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Cheong Wa Dae to Open to Public on Inauguration Day
President-elect Yoon Seok-youl will start his term on May 10 in a nondescript government building in downtown Yongsan as he moves the presidential office out of the palatial Cheong Wa Dae. People Power Party lawmaker Yoon Han-hong, who heads the taskforce handling the relocation of the presidential office, told reporters on Monday that once the Defense Ministry, which currently occupies the building, moves after Korea-U.S. joint military exercises end, the second to fourth floors will be remodeled until mid-June. Yoon will use the fifth floor temporarily and move once renovations are finished. The main presidential office will be on the second floor, while the sixth floor will house the offices of the presidential secretaries and the security team will be on the ninth floor.
Won Plummets to 25-Month Low
The Korean won plunged W10.8 against the U.S. dollar on Monday to W1,249.90, the lowest in 25 months. The won opened at W1,243.50 but weakened to W1,250.10 at one point in trading. The last time the won fell below W1,250 was on March 24, 2020. The only time it surpassed W1,250 was during the eurozone fiscal crisis in 2010 and after the coronavirus pandemic started in 2020, but it never lasted long. The won is being battered by forecasts of a further interest rate hike in the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has warned of a 0.5 percentage point increase in May and even bigger rate hikes.
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 )
Pyongyang parade finally held, Kim makes nuclear threat
A North Korean military parade expected on Sunday at midnight was held Monday night, and leader Kim Jong-un ordered his military to “prepare nuclear weapons" to be used "at any time,” according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Tuesday.“We will continue to take measures to further strengthen and develop our nuclear weapons at the fastest possible speed,” Kim said in a speech at the parade, the state news agency reported. “The basic mission of our nuclear force is to deter war, but we cannot keep our weapons bound to one mission when a situation is created on this land that we do not wish for.”“If any force attempts to usurp the fundamental interests of our country,” he added, "our nuclear weapons will have to resolutely carry out their second mission."
Yoon's delegation delivers his letter to Kishida
Yoon Suk-yeol’s special delegation met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday and delivered a personal letter from Korea's president-elect. Following the meeting with Kishida Tuesday at his residence in Tokyo, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Chung Jin-suk, who led the delegation, told reporters that the visitors and Kishida “agreed that Korea and Japan, which now stand on a new starting line, should work for the forward-looking development of relations, and for shared interests.” The delegation arrived in Tokyo on Sunday for a five-day trip to meet with government officials and private organizations to try to repair the deeply frayed ties between the two neighbors.
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.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Kim Jong Un vows to use nuclear power when N. Korea is under threat
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster nuclear capability if anyone tries to take away the fundamental interests of the country. “Our nukes can never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent,” said Kim in an apparent threat to strike back if attacked. North Korea has been developing nuclear weapons under the banner of “deterring a war,” but now it has made it clear that it would expand the purpose and scope of the use of nuclear weapons.
At a nighttime military parade on Monday held to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army, Kim said that North Korean military will continue to take steps to strengthen and develop the nation’s nuclear capabilities at the fastest pace, practically forewarning the seventh nuclear test and raising tension with the inauguration of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration to come soon.
Deputy PM nominee says he will normalize real estate tax system
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister nominee Choo Kyung-ho said he would reform the real estate tax system, such as comprehensive real estate holding tax and transfer tax. He also implied lowering corporate tax with a current maximum rate of 25 percent.“It is necessary to normalize the overuse of the real estate tax system to manage the real estate market and reform it based on the basic taxation principles to stabilize the market,” said Choo in his response submitted to the National Assembly on Tuesday regarding the real estate tax system ahead of a confirmation hearing to be held on May 2.
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.”
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 Russia-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.
Korean securities issues fall 11% March on negative fundraising environment
Korean Inc. may be facing fund-raising setback in rising interest rate and bearish stock environment with securities issues in March sinking 10.6 percent on month. According to data released by Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) on Tuesday, stock issues fell 32.1 percent on month to 960.5 billion won in March. Initial public offerings plunged 58 percent to 98 billion won with debutants restricted to seven on the secondary Kosdaq market amid stagnation in the bigger Kospi market due to foreign selling.
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)
Moon says he’ll clock out from Blue House by 6 pm on eve of Yoon’s inauguration
President Moon Jae-in repeatedly expressed that after leaving office he “will not play a part in real politics” and “doesn’t want to live a life that draws special attention.” Moon added that “in the past, President Roh Moo-hyun would take time to greet [supporters] who came to visit him in the countryside once a day,” but that he wouldn’t follow in Roh’s footsteps. The comments came during a farewell press conference at the Blue House presidential garden Monday afternoon, where the president shared his last thoughts as his term nears its end.
Yoon wades into prosecution reform debate, causing PPP to rescind bipartisan deal
A move by the People Power Party (PPP) to backpedal on an agreement with the Democratic Party and call for renewed discussions on a bill that would separate the investigation and indictment powers currently held by the prosecution service has prompted an outcry from the Democratic Party, which declared its plans to pass the legislation unilaterally. The two sides now appear to be racing toward another full-scale collision as the PPP attempts to back out of its agreement in response to the position of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who opposes the legislation.
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.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Kim In-chul’s Family, All Recipients of the Fulbright Scholarship: Did Kim Leave This Information Out Intentionally?
Deputy prime minister and education minister nominee Kim In-chul’s daughter received a Fulbright scholarship amounting to 100 million won for two years when Kim served as the chairman of the Korea Fulbright Alumni Association, triggering a heated debate over “favors from Daddy.” What’s more, it was confirmed that Kim’s son was also selected as a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship. Thus, it turns out that Kim’s wife and two children as well as Kim himself had been selected for the Fulbright Program in Korea. The latest revelation is expected to fuel the controversy of possible privileges in the scholarship applicant review process. According to the coverage by the Kyunghyang Shinmun and Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Kang Min-jung, a member of the parliamentary Education Committee, on April 26, Kim In-chul’s son (30) received a Fulbright scholarship that included his tuition, living expenses, family allowance, and round-rip international airfare in 2016, when Kim was an auditor of the Korea Fulbright Foundation (KFF).
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.
Walzer "Movements open the political process to repressed or marginal interests"
In Korea, social movements such as the student movement, labor movement, and civic movement were evaluated as the main driving force for democratization. However, as the number of various movement organizations increased and many movement elites entered politics, trust and support for the movement decreased. Citizens who regularly occupy the streets pour out intense dissatisfaction and criticism against the regime and established politics, but cynicism is repeated after aspirations have subsided. This situation does not appear to be much different in the United States. Michael Walzer, an emeritus professor at Princeton University‘s Institute of Advanced Studies, said in an interview with the Kyunghyang Shinmun that a movement that provides channels of participation for the marginalized in the political process is essential in democracy.
Moon Defends Peace Process after N. Korea's Provocation
President Moon Jae-in has defended his peace initiatives on the Korean Peninsula amid growing tension following a series of North Korean provocations. In a recorded interview with journalist Sohn Suk-hee that aired on cable channel JTBC Tuesday night, Moon was asked about criticism that his peace process is back to square one due to a recent set of provocative actions by North Korea. Moon shot back, stressing that it cannot be denied that there has been peace over the last five years. While there could be regrets over inter-Korean relations not being further advanced, that still does not warrant criticism, he said.
DP Passes Revised Prosecution Reform Bills at Parliamentary Committee Despite Protest from PPP
The ruling Democratic Party(DP) passed prosecution reform bills out of the National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee early Wednesday morning despite strong opposition from the main opposition People Power Party(PPP). The DP, which holds 172 seats in the 300-member parliament, unilaterally approved two bills, both revising the Criminal Procedure Act and the Prosecutors’ Office Act, at a subcommittee of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee at around 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday while the PPP lawmakers walked out in protest.
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.
In military parade, N. Korean leader vows to strengthen nuclear power
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared a resolve to further strengthen his regime's nuclear capabilities, as the country showcased a "giant" intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at a military parade earlier this week, according to its state media Tuesday. Delivering a speech during the event, Kim vowed to boost the country's nuclear capabilities at the "fastest possible speed" at the nighttime parade to celebrate the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (KPRA) held Monday, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
Moon urges incoming administration to make efforts to resume dialogue with N. Korea
Outgoing President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday the government of incoming President Yoon Suk-yeol should work with the United States to restart talks with North Korea, voicing concern over Pyongyang's continued testing of weapons, including an intercontinental ballistic missile. Moon, who is set to leave office on May 9, made the remarks during a JTBC TV interview broadcast after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened to bolster the country's nuclear arsenal while showcasing a "giant" intercontinental ballistic missile during a military parade held Monday.
U.S. objective remains complete denuclearization of Korean Peninsula: State Dept.
The United States' objective remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a state department spokesperson said Tuesday, despite North Korea's pledge to further strengthen its nuclear capabilities. Ned Price also reiterated the U.S. holds no hostility toward the North, urging the reclusive country to return to dialogue. "Our goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,:" the department press secretary said in a press briefing.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon’s delegation, Japanese PM agree to work on improving relations
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s policy consultation delegation met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and agreed to make joint efforts to enhance ties between the two countries, the chief delegate said Tuesday. Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the conservative People Power Party, who is leading the seven-member delegation to Japan, said the two sides had exchanged opinions on improving the bilateral relationship.“For the development of the future-oriented relationship of South Korea and Japan, which stand at a new starting line, we have agreed that we need to make efforts for joint benefits,”
Talk of pardons for Samsung leader, former president rise as Moon’s term nears end
Two weeks before the end of his term, President Moon Jae-in is reported to be contemplating whether to pardon former President Lee Myung-bak and Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong amid growing calls from religious and business groups on the grounds of “national unity.” Moon said in his last meeting with Cheong Wa Dae reporters on Monday, “It is true that people from all walks of life are requesting for pardons,” adding, “I think the public’s support of consensus is still the standard for us to follow.”
Democratic Party looking to arbitrarily pass prosecution reform bill
The Democratic Party of Korea is on track to pass the controversial prosecution reform bill as it originally proposed, after the bipartisan compromise it reached with the conservative bloc fell apart. Floor leaders of the Democratic Party and its main rival People Power Party met for a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug on Tuesday but parted ways without progress. The 70-minute meeting started at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday but was concluded without any update on how the bill will be processed.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
North Korean leader vows to bolster nuclear capabilities
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to strengthen the regime's nuclear arms capability, threatening to use those weapons if provoked, according to the North's state media, Tuesday. In response, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's transition committee said the incoming government will respond with a "three-axis system," which includes air missile defense, preemptive strike system and massive retaliation plan, signaling that tensions between the two Koreas will likely escalate further under the incoming administration which is scheduled to be launched on May 10.
Can Bu-Ul-Gyeong megacity project revitalize provincial regions?
Some of the biggest provincial universities in Korea have been seeing ominous signs recently. After this year's enrollment registration closed, the schools saw that the total number of new students fell short of their maximum enrollement caps. Not only does that mean less tuition fees but less investment being made in the schools. When the top universities in larger regions are facing such crises, there's no doubt other smaller and less popular local universities face an even worse situation. The shrinking number of students points to a chronic imbalance in development and infrastructure between the capital region (including Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province) and the other regions in the country. It is an ongoing issue despite multiple national efforts in past administrations to resolve it.
Will Yoon's stock policy help boost KOSPI?
With President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol ready to reinforce the monitoring of short-selling shares, retail investors are stepping up their calls for the incoming administration to impose tighter regulations on the trading practice carried out by institutional and foreign investors. These complaints reflect the effects of the months-long lackluster stock market performances here. The benchmark KOSPI and secondary KOSDAQ have been on a downward trajectory after reaching historic highs last year. As the local stock market is faced with multiple external risk factors such as possibly drastic rate hikes from the U.S. Fed, the sentiment of fear has been escalating, particularly among retail investors, that the stock markets may lose further ground.
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