Monday, May 2, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Hanwha Chairman Kim meets with Chairman Feulner of the U.S. Heritage Foundation
Hanwha Group announced on April 28 that Chairman Kim Seung-yeon met with Edwin John Feulner Jr., chairman of the Asian Research Center of the U.S. Heritage Foundation, on April 27 and had a dinner together to talk about the global situation. Chairman Kim met with former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in March and met with Chairman Feulner this time, continuing his global management activities based on the global network he has built.
Trade Minister Yeo holds conference with CPTPP members' ambassadors to Korea
Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo held a conference with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) member states’ ambassadors to Korea at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on April 28. Participants in the international conference discussed Korea’s application and upcoming plans. The CPTPP is a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. The CPTPP was signed by the 11 countries on March 8, 2018 in Santiago, Chile.
Economic relations, cooperation grow rapidly between Korea and India
Korea and India have a strong economic partnership which is rapidly growing and expanding in many areas. In fact, Korea and India are very, very friendly and close countries to each other. The relationship between Korea and India boasts long-standing historical and cultural ties, spanning over two millennia. The two countries forged diplomatic relations in 1973, paving the way for a sound and steady development in bilateral relations across a wide range of areas, including politics, economy and culture.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
USFK Practice Seizing Underground Nuclear Facility
The U.S. Forces Korea conducted special training last weekend to practice seizing a North Korean nuclear facility buried deep underground. The USFK publicized the drill on Twitter to send a warning to Pyongyang, just before North Korea staged a massive military parade on Monday where it showed off new nuclear-capable missiles. The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division tweeted four photos on April 23 showing U.S. troops in protective suits equipped with gas masks, portable oxygen tanks and rifles conducting a search mission in a tunnel. One photo shows them guarding the entrance to the tunnel.
Moon to Meet Biden After Retirement
Outgoing President Moon Jae-in is expected to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden when Biden visits in late May even though Moon's term ends on May 9. A Cheong Wa Dae source on Thursday claimed Moon and Biden "are negotiating a specific schedule for a meeting from the standpoint of mutual trust." The government insisted the U.S. asked for it. Biden will mostly be preoccupied with meetings with his new counterpart Yoon Seok-youl and visits to American military facilities here when he stops over on his way to Japan on May 20-22.
More Seoulites Look for Homes in the Suburbs
Seoul residents are increasingly looking beyond the capital to buy homes in the suburbs and satellite cities as prices spiral out of control. Last year, Seoul residents made up the highest proportion of people looking for homes in surrounding Gyeonggi Province since 2009. According to the Korea Real Estate Board on Monday, 17.3 percent of a total 327,992 apartment transactions in Gyeonggi Province last year involved Seoul residents, up 2.1 percentage points compared to 2020.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon names national security adviser, 5 senior secretaries
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol named Kim Sung-han, a former vice foreign minister, as his national security adviser Sunday. Chang Je-won, chief of staff for the transition period, revealed Yoon's picks for five senior presidential secretaries, National Security Office (NSO) positions and other aides during a press conference at the transition team's office in Tongui-dong, central Seoul. Kim Sung-han served as a foreign policy adviser to Yoon and head of the foreign affairs and security subcommittee for the presidential transition team.
Prosecution bill railroaded through the National Assembly
A bill stripping the prosecution of investigative powers was passed Saturday by the National Assembly along party lines. It will likely become law, as President Moon Jae-in supports the bill. In the vote, at around 4:20 p.m., 172 lawmakers voted in favor and 3 against, with 2 abstentions. Of the 171 Democratic Party (DP) lawmakers, 161 voted yes, with the 10 others absent for various reasons unrelated to the bill. No one from the party abstained. A total of 11 others — independents and Justice Party and the People's Party members — also voted in favor. The People Power Party (PPP) boycotted, saying that the DP and Speaker Park Byeong-seug railroaded the bill through. Many PPP lawmakers walked out, while others approached the podium protesting.
Korea logs a trade deficit for second consecutive month in April
Korea's 18-month export rally is starting to stall. The pace of growth is slowing, and the trade balance has been negative for two months running. According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Sunday, exports rose 12.6 percent on year in April to $57.7 billion. The trend has been downward in recent months. Exports grew 20 percent on year in February and 18 percent in March. For the first time ever, accumulated exports were more than $200 billion in the first four months of the year. The previous record was last year's $197.6 billion. Semiconductor exports grew 15.8 percent year-on-year to $10.8 billion in April, while computer exports rose 56.4 percent to $1.7 billion.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Buffett dubs U.S. stock market as ‘gambling parlor’
Berkshire Hathaway CEO and founder Warren Buffett, also known as the Oracle of Omaha, spoke critically of Wall Street in an offline shareholder meeting held in three years. He said that Wall Street has turned into a gambling parlor swarming with speculative investors coaxed by Wall Street financial businesses into seeking short-term profits. Buffett criticized Saturday in the latest shareholder meeting of the Omaha-based company in the midwestern region of Nebraska in the United States that stock market investors are encouraged by Wall Street to think of companies as “poker chips.”
Many people are in favor of pardoning ex-Pres. Lee, says Moon
President Moon Jae-in said on Friday that there are many people who are in favor of pardoning former President Lee Myung-bak. Eyes are on whether President Moon will grant pardon to Lee before his term ends on May 9 as his remarks is a step up from his previous stance regarding pardoning the former president. Responding to online petitions against the pardon of the former president, Moon said there are also people who are in favor of the pardon for the sake of national unity and integration. Moon added that he would make a final decision, taking into account judicial justice and public consensus.
Growing public attention for June 1 by-elections
The number of parliamentary by-elections to be held alongside local elections on June 1 has been determined to seven. With the elections 30 days away, the scale of by-elections expanded and the likelihood of former Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myeong and Presidential Transition Team Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo competing against each other in the by-elections, public attention for the elections is rising than ever before. According to the National Election Commission on Sunday, there are seven district electorates that are vacant as incumbent parliamentary members resigned to enter local elections.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s factory growth picks up, but sentiment and outlook index in negative in March
South Korea’s factory output was bolstered by robust shipbuilding orders, while domestic demand dwindled and indices pointing to sentiment and outlook on the economy in the negative on higher inflation and interest rates. According to data released by Statistics Korea on Friday, the seasonally adjusted mining and manufacturing output in March added 1.3 percent from the previous month, picking up speed from gains of 0.3 percent in February and 0.4 percent in January.
KRW weakening vs USD eases as authorities ratchet up verbal intervention
The U.S. dollar’s climb to new thresholds versus the Korean won slightly eased Friday after Seoul authorities repeated warnings of intervention to curb “excessive” bias. The dollar came down to 1,267,00 won as of 1:40 p.m. from 1,272.5 closing, the highest since March 19, 2020, just a day after a jump to 1,260 won threshold. The won has been weakening to the levels of the onset of Covid-19 outbreaks as the Korean markets bear rapid ebb of foreign capital amid favor of U.S. dollar assets ahead of leaps in U.S. interest rates.
Incoming govt of Seoul to up role of nuclear reactors for energy sourcing
South Korea’s incoming government will realign to energy mix to up sourcing from nuclear reactors and adjust supplies of renewables during energy instability, according to the Presidential Transition Committee. The new administration will remain committed to the country’s carbon neutrality goal of cutting emissions by 40 percent by 2030, but will adjust the means to achieve the goal by raising the percentage of nuclear power used in total electricity generation, under its five-point policy agenda for the energy sector.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Biden to touch down in S. Korea on May 20 for summit with Yoon
A summit between South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol and US President Joe Biden will take place on May 21, Yoon’s spokesperson Bae Hyun-jin announced Thursday. Biden’s trip to South Korea and Japan from May 20 to May 24 created the occasion for the summit, which will take place just 11 days after Yoon is inaugurated as South Korea’s next president. Bae stated that Yoon “expected the meeting to be a timely one during which economic security, scientific and technological cooperation, and [other matters concerning] the South Korea-US alliance can be discussed while the threat of North Korean nuclear missiles and uncertainties regarding the global supply chain are intensifying.”
S. Korea to drop outdoor mask requirement starting May 2
As of Monday, May 2, people in South Korea will no longer have to wear masks outdoors. But individuals will still be required to wear masks at outdoor gatherings, concerts and sporting events with more than 50 people in attendance.“Considering the public’s fervent desire to return to normal routines and the fact that infections have been declining for six weeks since the peak of this wave, we have decided to continue relaxing pandemic restrictions,” said Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum while announcing new masking guidelines during a COVID-19 response meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters held at the Government Complex Seoul on Friday.
“Concerns are overblown”: Samsung Electronics refutes fears surrounding foundry business
“We think the recent market concerns are overblown.” Samsung Electronics is actively refuting rumors suggesting the company is running into trouble when it comes to production yields in its foundry division.“Contrary to concerns about the semiconductor foundry [field], demand from major customers remains solid,” Kang Moon-soo, senior vice president at Samsung Electronics and head of its foundry market and strategy team, said during a first-quarter earnings presentation on Thursday. “The order backlog for the next five years is eight times larger than last year’s [foundry] sales,” Kang underscored.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Government, “No Need to Wear Masks Outdoors Beginning Next Monday”
Starting next Monday, citizens will no longer have to wear masks outdoors. However, masks will still be required when attending gatherings of fifty or more people and in outdoor facilities open to the public. In a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in response to COVID-19 at the government office in Seoul on the morning of April 29, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, “After considering the disease control status, in which the number of covid cases continue to decline for the sixth week, and the people’s earnest wish for a better life, the government decided to continue with big steps toward everyday life,” and announced, “Beginning next Monday, May 2, masks will no longer be mandatory outdoors.”
Police Arrest Sibling of Woori Bank Employee as an Accomplice in the Embezzlement of 61.4 Billion Won
The police arrested the younger sibling of an Woori Bank employee who allegedly embezzled 61.4 billion won as an accomplice. On April 29, the Seoul Namdaemun Police Station announced that around 9:30 p.m. April 28, they arrested the younger brother of A, an Woori Bank employee who embezzled a large amount of corporate funds, subject to the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Economic Crimes. The police arrested A’s brother while questioning him for his involvement in the embezzlement. A’s brother was not an Woori Bank employee.
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.”
China's Top Nuke Envoy in S. Korea for Talks on N. Korea
China's top nuclear envoy Liu Xiaoming arrived in South Korea on Sunday for talks on North Korea issues. Upon arrival at Incheon International Airport, the special representative on Korean Peninsula affairs told reporters that he will meet officials of the incumbent and incoming Korean governments to exchange opinions on political solutions to Korean peninsula issues. Asked about China's role in the North Korean nuclear issue, Liu said that China has played a constructive role and will continue to do so.
Assembly to Hold Confirmation Hearings for Prime Minister Nominee, 5 Minister Nominees Monday
The National Assembly is set to hold confirmation hearings for prime minister nominee Han Duck-soo and five Cabinet minister nominees on Monday. According to parliament, the confirmation hearings for the six nominees will be held simultaneously on Monday. The hearing for Han was initially scheduled for March 25 and 26, but fell through as the ruling Democratic Party boycotted the hearing citing Han's failure to submit materials they had requested. The rescheduled hearing for Han will be held on Monday and Tuesday.
Umbrella Union to Hold Rallies Nationwide to Mark Labor Day
A major umbrella labor union will hold rallies across the nation on Sunday to mark Labor Day. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), one of the country's two umbrella labor organizations, will stage rallies nationwide at 2 p.m. to mark International Labor Day. The rallies will be held in 16 cities and provinces across the nation, including Seoul, Daegu, Busan, Gwangju and Jeju Island. The KCTU will pledge to fight for decent jobs and labor rights without discrimination, while urging the incoming Yoon Suk Yeol government to withdraw anti-labor policies.
Moon thanks workers for dedication in fight against virus on Labor Day
President Moon Jae-in on Sunday stressed the government's efforts in enhancing labor rights as he thanked workers for their dedication in the fight against the novel coronavirus. In his message marking the 132nd Labor Day, Moon said his government worked hard on guaranteeing fundamental labor rights in the past five years. "We ratified key International Labor Organization conventions, raised minimum wage and exercised the 52-hour work week system ... and made progress in work-life balance," Moon wrote on his Facebook page and Twitter account. "Labor must be protected by the employment safety net."
Yoon picks ex-Vice FM Kim Sung-han for national security adviser
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday picked Kim Sung-han, a former vice foreign minister and his longtime foreign policy mentor, as his national security adviser while also naming all five senior presidential secretaries and other members of the presidential office. "Nominee Kim Sung-han is equipped with not only the theory but the capability to draw up and execute policy," Chang Je-won, Yoon's chief of staff during the transition period, said during a press briefing. "He is the right person to serve as the control tower that will defend the security of the nation and the people by proactively responding to the security environment at home and abroad."
S. Korea's exports up 12.6 pct in April, trade deficit widens on high energy prices
South Korea's exports rose 12.6 percent in April from a year earlier on the back of brisk demand for chips and petroleum products, but the trade deficit widened on soaring global energy prices, data showed Sunday. Outbound shipments stood at US$57.69 billion last month, up from $51.23 billion a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. It is the highest tally for any April since the ministry began compiling related data in 1956. The previous record was set in April 2021.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Yoon taps foreign policy mentor as top security official
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has appointed his close aide Kim Sung-han, who served as vice foreign minister during the Lee Myung-bak administration, as the head of the National Security Office in a new streamlined presidential office. Nominee Kim Sung-han is an authority in foreign affairs and security, who served as the second vice minister of foreign affairs and trade, and has theoretical and policy-making capabilities,” Yoon’s chief of staff Chang Je-won announced at the press briefing Sunday afternoon.
S.Korea should stand firm on security issues against China: FM nominee
Foreign Minister nominee Park Jin has said South Korea should not discuss issues of undermining national security and sovereignty with China, expressing opposition to the Moon Jae-in government’s China policy including its commitment to the “Three Noes.” Park clarified the dissimilarities between the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol government’s approach to China and its predecessor in a written statement presented to South Korea’s National Assembly on Saturday.
How Democratic Party of Korea-led prosecution reforms fail victims
Victim services and attorneys say victims of sexual violence would be among those most hurt by the controversial prosecution reform bills that were partly passed by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea-majority parliament Saturday. One way the reforms hurt the underprivileged is the “massive reduction in the role of third-party reporting,” said Kim Ye-won, president and chief attorney of Disability Rights Advocate Center, which offers free legal services to people with disabilities, and sometimes children and women.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon's foreign policy mentor appointed to lead national security
Kim Sung-han, a professor at Korea University and former vice foreign minister, will serve as national security adviser to President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, Yoon's chief of staff Chang Je-won announced, Sunday. Along with Kim, Chang announced the appointments of a pack of presidential aides who have been widely anticipated. Following the nominations, the current post of chief of staff for policy will be abolished, and the number of senior presidential secretaries will be decreased. "Kim, who served as the second vice foreign minister, has his expertise in diplomacy and national security," Chang said during a press conference.
First Korean ambassador to Pakistan receives Pakistani civil award
Oh Jay-hee, Korea's first ambassador to Pakistan, received the "Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam" award from the new Pakistani Ambassador to Korea Nabeel Munir, April 27, in recognition of his services in laying the foundations of Korea-Pakistan relations. Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam is a civil decoration of Pakistan awarded to foreign nationals. Ambassador Munir conferred the medal on behalf of Pakistan President Arif Alvi at his residence in Yongsan District, Seoul. "To be awarded the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam of Pakistan, I was grateful to the government of and people of Pakistan in this regard,"
Parties clash over establishment of Korean version of FBI
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) has unilaterally pushed for the first phase of its proposed prosecutorial reform, and it is flexing its muscles to complete the process of limiting prosecutors' investigative powers before President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol takes office on May 10. According to officials, Sunday, the National Assembly will hold a plenary session on Tuesday during which the DPK plans to pass a revision bill of the Criminal Procedure Act. Since the DPK holds a majority in the Assembly, it can pass the revision without support from the other parties.
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