Friday, April 29. 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
President Biden visits Seoul on May 21-22, holds summit with President Yoon
President Joe Biden of the United States will visit Seoul on May 21-22, 2022 and have summit talks with President Yoon Suk-yeol of the Republic of Korea. This will be in advance of President Biden’s visit to Japan. At his meeting with President Yoon, President Biden will discuss the alliance between the two countries, North Korea policy, and other regional and international issues. President Biden's visit comes only 10 days after Yoon takes office on May 10 as the President of the ROK, and their planned meeting will mark the earliest-ever Korea-U.S. summit to take place following an ROK President's inauguration.
World Forestry Congress to be held for the first time in Korea
“The World Forestry Congress (WFC) will be held for the first time in Korea and the third time in Asia. Under the theme of ‘Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forests,’ the Congress will focus on the role of forests as a means of responding to climate change,” said Minister Choi Byeong-am of the Korea Forest Service (KFS). In an interview with the Korea Post, Choi said, “The World Forestry Congress is the largest and most significant gathering of members of the world's forestry sector, and it is held every six years.
INNOPROM-2022: Central Asia, space for a technological breakthrough
On April 25 this year, the International Industrial Exhibition "Innoprom. Central Asia" - the largest event in the region aimed at enhancing investment, industrial, trade and economic cooperation, as well as establishing new business contacts and developing industrial cooperation between enterprises of Central Asian countries - started. The organizers are the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan as well as the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation. The key objective of the exhibition is to build a dialogue between regions and countries in order to find points of common interest to give new impetus to the growth of investment, industrial, trade and economic cooperation, as well as to increase the number of mutually beneficial projects.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Park Says She May Attend Yoon's Inauguration
Ex-President Park Geun-hye has signaled her equivocal intention to attend president-elect Yoon Seok-youl's inauguration ceremony on May 10. This would be a startling development amid widespread resentment of the disgraced ex-leader and would mean that she meets her other nemesis, outgoing President Moon Jae-in, at the ceremony as well. Park Joo-sun, the chief of the inauguration team, on Wednesday said he visited Park at home in Daegu the previous day and delivered a personal invitation letter from Yoon.
Yoon Promises No More Bloating of Government
President-elect Yoon Seok-youl's transition team on Wednesday promised not to increase the number of civil servants, ending years of massive government bloat. During the five years of the Moon Jae-in administration, the number of civil servants swelled by an unprecedented 129,000 in order to massage job figures, which Yoon has criticized as inefficiency and a waste of taxpayers' money. Park Soon-ae of the transition team told reporters, "We will guide each government agency how to make the best use of existing workers."
Won Continues Downward Spiral
The Korean won is weakening rapidly, which works in favor of exports but make imports of some key materials more expensive and exacerbates inflation. An exodus of foreign capital from the Korean stock and bond markets also poses risks. The won closed at W1,265.20 on Wednesday, down W14.4 from the previous session and W26 over the last three days. It was the first time in 25 months that the won fell below W1,265. Analysts warn it could weaken to W1,300 for the first time since the global financial crisis in 2008.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon Suk-yeol and Joe Biden will hold summit on May 21
Yoon Suk-yeol will hold a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Seoul on May 21, 11 days after becoming Korea's president. Biden is expected to visit Seoul from May 20 to 22, Yoon's transition team said Thursday, on his first trip to Asia since taking office in January 2021. Yoon will be inaugurated on May 10 and the summit 11 days later will be unusually fast for an American president and a new Korean leader. After Seoul, Biden will go to Tokyo from May 22 to 24 for a meeting of leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad. Quad is a U.S.-led cooperative forum with India, Japan and Australia, seen as a security partnership designed to contain China.
IFA Berlin 2022 is back at full-scale after two years of disruptions
IFA Berlin 2022, the biggest trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances in Europe, will be held as a full-scale in-person event after two years of Covid-19 disruptions. Devices and technologies involving artificial intelligence, robotics and internet of things will be showcased, with a focus on the latest consumer trends which include gaming gadgets and home theater devices.“[IFA 2022] will give you your first chance since the start of the pandemic to experience a real and global technology show,” said IFA executive director Jens Heithecker during an online press conference Wednesday.
Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn meets Heritage Foundation founder Edwin Feulner
Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn met with Edwin Feulner, founder of the U.S. conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, to discuss the economic challenges that will follow Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In a dinner on Wednesday, the two shared opinions about an array of issues including soaring prices of raw materials, rising energy costs and ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the United States and Korea. The meeting lasted about two hours and included Hanwha Hotels and Resorts managing director Kim Dong-seon, the third son of Chairman Kim. Feulner was visiting Korea to attend a conference on ongoing geopolitical risks.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Yoon to hold summit with Biden on May 21
A summit meeting between South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden is slated for May 21 in Seoul. It is an extremely swift high-level meeting, taking place only 11 days after Yoon will have been sworn in on May 10. It is reported that President Joe Biden is preparing to give a speech on Asia in Seoul, which the first destination of his first Asian tour before Tokyo. Pundits say his move is designed to rally his allies by declaring Washington’s Indo-Pacific vision and strategy while visiting the Korean Peninsula, which closely adjoins China.
LG Electronics posts record-breaking profits
LG Electronics posted record-high revenues and operating profits in Q1 on the strength of the steady growth of its H&A business. On Thursday, LG Electronics publicly announced that it earned 21.11 trillion won in revenues and 1.88 trillion won in operating profits in the first quarter of the year, up 18.5% and 6.4%, respectively.. The costs saved by restructuring and voluntary resignations of low-performing employees have been reflected, and one-off profits from patent contributed to the increase in operating profits.
UN moves to limit Security Council veto power
UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus that seeks to keep in check the use of the veto by the five permanent members of the Security Council ― the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia ― on Tuesday. Such a resolution was adopted by consensus at the General Assembly held at UN Headquarters in New York. On behalf of 83 cosponsors, Liechtenstein introduced the draft resolution, which mandated the veto-casting state in the Security Council to give explanations for the exercise of the veto within 10 days. The member countries can debate whether such explanations are justifiable.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Samsung Elec turns conservative in capex, while on path for best annual earningsSK hynix Inc. ensured South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. scaled back capex in the first quarter as it chose to stay conservative against economic uncertainties and shipping disruptions that could last throughout the year and dash hopes of achieving annual best earnings. The chipmaker in reporting finalized statement for the first quarter Thursday said its capital expenditure in January-March period amounted to 7.9 trillion won ($6.2 billion), compared with 9.7 trillion won a year ago, with 6.7 trillion won spent to upgrade its chip facilities at home instead of expansion.
Korean won fast sliding vs USD amid limited means of defense
The South Korean won is sliding in an alarming pace from faster U.S. monetary tightening roadmap and economic uncertainties from Chinese economic slowdown and protracted Russia-Ukraine crisis. The U.S. dollar shot above 1,270 won Thursday, only a day after it breached 1,260 won on the previous day after a rise of 14.4 won as authorities lack maneuvering means to bolster won. The Korean rates would have to go higher than the U.S. rates, but due to the impact on households already afflicted with rapid rises in inflation and interest rates, Korean monetary authorities cannot easily match the expected U.S. big steps on the rate front.
Unremitting KRW weakening to cause broad adverse effect on Korean economy
Unremitting weakening in the Korean won darkens the prosect for Korea`s economy heavily reliant on commodities imports for production of goods for exports and consumption, while inflation is already at its highest in a decade. Korea’s trade account dipped to $3.96 billion in the red in the first quarter, recording its first quarterly deficit in 13 years and six months, according to the Korea Customs Service. Although exports were strong, imports galloped faster in double digits as prices of oil and other commodities spiked amid global supply shortage, which worsened by the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korean conservative party filibusters to block prosecution reform bill
On Wednesday afternoon, a plenary session of the National Assembly was convened aimed at passing a bill that would separate prosecutors’ powers of investigation and indictment. The session came just 17 hours after the Democratic Party passed the bills through the National Assembly’s Judiciary Committee at around midnight that day. The People Power Party (PPP), which backed out of an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties and has now turned against the bill completely, decided to hold a sit-in at the National Assembly and has now opted to filibuster to block the Democratic Party’s efforts.
SK outperforms Hyundai Motor to become S. Korea’s 2nd-largest conglomerate
SK Group has replaced Hyundai Motor Group as the second-largest business conglomerate in South Korea. SK affiliates grew at a remarkable pace last year while growth for Hyundai Motor Group stalled, leading to a seismic shift in South Korea’s corporate landscape. The ranking among South Korea’s top five conglomerates had previously remained unchanged ever since the five chaebol groups became the country’s Big Five conglomerates. This year, Samsung Group remained at the top of the list, while LG Group and Lotte Group also maintained their place as the fourth- and fifth-largest business conglomerates in South Korea, respectively.
Kim Jong-un says N. Korean nukes aren’t just for deterrence
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for a strengthening of the North’s nuclear forces during a large-scale military parade earlier this week, according to state media reports. Kim said that the country’s “nuclear forces [. . .] should be strengthened in terms of both quality and scale, so that they can perform nuclear combat capabilities in any situations of warfare, according to purposes and missions of different operations and by various means,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Won Hee-ryong, Who Once Attacked Kim Hye-kyung for Her Use of a Corporate Card, Suspected of Paying Half Price at Restaurants with Business Expenses for Governor
Minister of land, infrastructure and transport nominee Won Hee-ryong (58) allegedly paid much less than the actual price of meals at a fancy Japanese restaurant with a corporate card when he served as governor of Jeju-do. Won hosted a meeting with officials from relevant agencies at the restaurant, where lunch cost 60,000-75,000 won per person, but according to the details of his business expenses, he only paid 180,000 won for the meeting of eight people. This suggests that he either exaggerated the number of people at the meeting or paid for the remaining cost in cash or with another credit card, leading to allegations that he could have resorted to expedient measures to avoid violating the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, also known as the “Kim Young-ran Act.”
“People Power Party Went Back on Their Promise to the People” Speaker Park Byeong-seug Sides with Democratic Party
On April 27, National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug (pictured) opened a parliamentary session to enact a bill that would strip the Prosecution Service of its investigative power. He seemed to believe there was sufficient cause since the People Power Party broke the agreement. The speaker expressed “deep regret” toward the People Power Party. This afternoon, the speaker released a statement after an hour-long meeting with the ruling and opposition party floor leaders at the National Assembly and said, “As speaker, I believe that we must keep the promise that was publicly made to the people after the ruling and opposition party floor leaders reached an agreement, which was later ratified in the general meeting of lawmakers,” and opened the parliamentary session at 5 p.m. Earlier, on his way to work, Park spoke on the possibility of opening a session and said, “I am considering various factors.”
Irregularities, Privileges, and Lack of Communication: Grounds to “Reject” Head of Education
Allegations surrounding deputy prime minister and education minister nominee Kim In-chul (65, pictured) on his failure to communicate, his involvement in irregularities, and the privileges enjoyed by his family continue to be raised. This has led the Democratic Party of Korea to contemplate rejecting the ministerial nominee, and the Justice Party to place his name on the “death note.” The Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union also urged the president-elect to withdraw his nomination of Kim. They claimed Kim had serious flaws that made it inappropriate for him to take on the role of a cabinet member and the chief of education.
Industrial Output Rises but Consumption, Investment Drop in March
Industrial output rebounded after drops of two straight months, but consumption and investment decreased in March. According to Statistics Korea on Friday, the nation's overall industrial production increased one-point-five percent on-month in March. The country's overall output rebounded after declining zero-point-three percent in both January and February. Production in the mining and manufacturing industries increased one-point-three percent from a month earlier, while service sector output rose one-point-five percent on-month.
Yoon's Policy Consultation Delegation Returns from Trip to Japan
President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol's policy consultation delegation to Japan returned from a five-day trip on Thursday. Upon arrival at Incheon International Airport, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Chung Jin-suk, who headed the delegation, told reporters that the delegation will make efforts to ensure the incoming Yoon government takes measures to follow up on issues discussed with Japanese officials during the trip as soon as Yoon takes office.
Incoming Gov't to Give Relief Funds Upon Passing of Extra Budget
The presidential transition committee has announced that it will provide disaster relief funds for over five-point-five million small businesses once a second extra budget passes after the launch of the Yoon Suk Yeol administration. Announcing a 100-day roadmap for the administration’s COVID-19 emergency relief package on Thursday, transition committee chief Ahn Cheol-soo said that after a comprehensive and scientific analysis of financial damages, the new government will provide relief to businesses relative to losses suffered.
PPP hints at seeking law revision for national referendum on prosecution reform legislation
The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) on Thursday hinted that it could seek to revise the referendum act for a national referendum on controversial prosecution reform legislation during the June local elections. The PPP's move came as the ruling Democratic Party (DP) forcefully ended the PPP's filibuster designed to block the prosecution reform bill, sending the bill to a plenary vote later this week. With the DP controlling a majority in the National Assembly, the PPP has limited resources to block the bill that would strip the prosecution of its investigative powers.
Outdoor mask mandate to end next week
South Korea will lift the outdoor mask mandate next week, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday, though people will still need to wear a mask when they attend gatherings of 50 or more people or use multiuse facilities. The decision on mask wearing comes after the country last week scrapped most COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, including gathering limits and business hour curfews, as part of its effort to return to pre-pandemic normalcy amid a downward trend in COVID-19 cases.
Consumption, investment both fall in March amid recovery concerns
South Korea's industrial output rebounded in March after two straight months of decline, but consumption and facility investment lost ground in the latest sign that economic recovery momentum remains fragile, data showed Friday. Industrial production increased 1.5 percent in March from the previous month, compared with a 0.3 percent on-month drop in February, according to the data from Statistics Korea. Compared with a year earlier, industrial output rose 3.1 percent.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon to hold summit with Biden on May 21
South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol and US President Joe Biden will hold their first summit in Seoul on May 21, 11 days after Yoon officially takes office, authorities confirmed on Thursday. Yoon’s office welcomed the US president’s trip to South Korea, as the US White House confirmed he will travel to South Korea and Japan from May 20 to 24. President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol welcomes US President Biden who will visit South Korea on May 20-22.
Global Biz Forum 2022 kicks off with focus on digital transformation, post-COVID business trends
The second edition of The Korea Herald’s Global Business Forum kicked off Wednesday in Seoul, under the theme of “Post-COVID-19 Global Business Opportunities and Trends.” The 13-week forum, held every Wednesday, is aimed at sharing and enhancing knowledge of the international community, and for exploring overseas investment opportunities and expanding business networks.
LS launches EV charging biz unit
South Korean electric cable manufacturer LS Group has launched a subsidiary to run electric vehicle charging business, officials said Thursday. The new unit, LS E-Link, was jointly established by LS, the holding company, and E1, an LPG importer unit under the group.“As EV transition accelerates, power usage will grow in EV charging stations which means that power engineering will become more important for stable and efficient power supply,” said an LS Group official.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon, Biden likely to stress deterrence against North Korea during summit
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a summit in Seoul on May 21, according to officials, Thursday. The U.S. leader is scheduled to visit South Korea from May 20 to 22. The two leaders are expected to share their views on North Korea's escalating missile and nuclear threats, South Korea's new stance on joining U.S. efforts to contain China and other pending economic and geopolitical matters. "President-elect Yoon welcomed President Biden's plan to visit South Korea from May 20 to 22," Yoon's spokesperson Bae Hyun-jin said in a statement.
Wall Street ends sharply higher, lifted by Meta and Apple
Wall Street ended sharply higher on Thursday after a strong quarterly report from Meta Platforms lifted beaten down technology and growth stocks and offset worries about the U.S. economy's contraction in the first quarter. The Facebook parent surged 17.6 percent after the social network reported a larger-than-expected profit and rebounded from a drop in users. Communication services and technology were among the strongest of 11 SP 500 sector indexes, jumping 4.04 percent and 3.89 percent, respectively. Apple, the world's most valuable company, and e-commerce giant Amazon.com both rallied more than 4 percent ahead of their quarterly reports later in the day.
Hong Kong remains important trade partner for S. Korea
The geopolitical situation in Asia continues to evolve, but Korea and Hong Kong remain important trading partners, data shows. Bilateral trade is set to get a further boost in the coming years when Hong Kong joins the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest trade bloc, which Korea is also a member of. In the first three month of this year, Hong Kong's exports to Korea totaled $2.38 billion, up 10.8 percent compared to the same period of 2021, figures released by Hong Kong's Census and Statistics Department on Thursday showed, although there was a small year-on-year fall of 1.1 percent in March.
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