Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Popularity rating of ruling party rises to over 50% viz-a-viz opposition’s 35%
The ruling People Power Party (PPP) of President Yoon Suk-yeol won a 50.1% victory over the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) which collected 38.% of the votes. In a poll conducted by Realmeter on May 16-20 on a total of 2,528 men and women over the age of 18 nationwide, the Justice Party won 2.7%, other parties 1.4%. Some 7.3% had no answer. The popularity rating of the ruling PPP rose by 2% and the main opposition DP 0.8% compared with the figures of the preceding week.
First Lady Kim Kun-hee greets President Joe Biden at the National Museum of Korea
First Lady Madam Kim Kun-hee met with President Joe Biden of the United States at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan near the former South Post of the U.S. Forces Command in Yongsan, Seoul. It was on the afternoon of May 18 shortly before the official dinner for the U.S. Head of Government. At around 7 p.m. on that day, President Yoon Suk-yeol and First Lady Madam Kim Kun-hee greeted President Joe Biden at the entrance of the National Museum, venue of the Presidential dinner.
Korea, U.S. agree to expand joint military drills to cope with N.K. threats
President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in the summit on May 21 to begin discussions on restarting and expanding joint military drills between the two countries amid growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. Both sides reached the agreement during their first summit in Seoul, which took place as both countries believed a nuclear test or missile launch from the North was imminent. In a joint statement on the summit, the two leaders said, "South Korea and the U.S. agreed to initiate discussions to expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on the Korean Peninsula."
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Pop Concert Marks Opening of Cheong Wa Dae
President Yoon Suk-yeol and first lady Kim Keon-hee were among some 2,000 people who attended a special KBS TV concert on the Cheong Wa Dae lawn on Sunday marking the opening of the former presidential palace to the public. It was the first public concert in the sprawling compound in 27 years and Yoon's first visit to Cheong Wa Dae since he became president but decided not to move in. Guests were selected randomly by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism from among 29,237 applicants. Another 500 people were there by special invitation, including local residents, Korean War veterans, multicultural and single parents, medical professionals, pet rescue volunteers, and students of the nearby Seoul National School for the Blind.
U.S., Korea 'Will Use Nuclear Arms to Defend Themselves'
President Yoon Suk-yeol and his visiting U.S. counterpart Joe Biden agreed on Saturday to use all defense capabilities including nuclear weapons to defend South Korea against a nuclear attack from North Korea. "In order to prepare against a possible nuclear attack, our two countries' combined military exercises, I believe, should be stepped up in many aspects." Yoon told reporters. "We had that discussion." According to the two presidents' joint statement, Biden "affirms the U.S. extended deterrence commitment to [South Korea] using the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities."
Gov't Belatedly Recognizes Murder of Fisheries Official
The government has belatedly recognized the murder at sea by North Korean soldiers of a South Korean fisheries official in 2020. That paves the way for family of the 47-year-old man, identified only by his surname Lee, to take legal action against the government to unseal information about the tragedy that had been classified as secret by the Moon Jae-in administration. The Moon administration tied itself into knots trying to show that the official was somehow himself to blame for his brutal slaughter. He was kept adrift for hours at gunpoint in the West Sea before being shot and incinerated by North Korean soldiers who were panicking about coronavirus infection while the South Korean military looked on through binoculars and did nothing.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
As globalization ends, RCEP will help maintain trade order
Korea is sailing into uncharted waters as three decades of globalization come to an end and a new era of trade blocs begins in the context of a new Cold War. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has accelerated the geopolitical fragmentation and national-interest driven protectionist movements, which have fed inflation, which in turn further exacerbates protectionism. Stuck between China and the United States — its two biggest trading partners — and dependent on exports for 70 percent of its GDP, Korea works to balance interests, hedge its bets and preserve its access to foreign markets. Already cut off from Russia — which was a small but growing opportunity for Korean companies — it is now making sure open economies remain open.
Biden launches IPEF and Yoon says Korea will do its part
Korea will do its part for a prosperous and resilient regional economy, said President Yoon Suk-yeol in a virtual summit launching the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) Monday afternoon. With a dozen Indo-Pacific partners, U.S. President Joe Biden established the IPEF, a new economic bloc seen to be countering Chinese influence in the region, during a visit to Tokyo after concluding a three-day visit to Seoul over the weekend. "Today's launch of the IPEF amid this rapidly changing economic environment is a testament to the regional countries' commitment to solidarity and regional cooperation in what I view as a meaningful first step forward," said Yoon in the videoconference. "To open an era of shared prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, let us join our strengths. Building on strong solidarity, Korea for its part commits to fulfill its responsibility."
Moon Jae-in honors promise to mourn mentor Roh Moo-hyun after terms ends
Former President Moon Jae-in attended a service to commemorate the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun Monday afternoon for the first time in five years. Over 8,000 people, including leaders of the conservative People Power Party (PPP), officials of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration and liberal Democratic Party (DP) members marked the 13th anniversary of Roh's suicide at his grave in Bongha Village, his rural hometown in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang. Moon, accompanied by former first lady Kim Jung-sook, attended the ceremony just two weeks after his five-year term as president ended. They joined Roh's widow, Kwon Yang-sook. Moon's return to Bongha Village was fulfillment of a promise he made at the beginning of his term not to return until he had become a "successful president."
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
Daily Covid cases fall below 10,000
The daily Covid cases in South Korea fell below the mark of 10,000 for the first time in 118 days. According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, the infection cases were tallied at 9,975 on Monday. The last time daily cases hovered below 10,000 was January 25 (8,570). In mid-March, the country’s daily new cases skyrocketed to around 620,000.“The fall in Covid cases is slowing, so when it comes down to a certain size, the numbers won’t fall anymore,” said Son Young-rae from the Central Disaster Management Headquarters.
Biden expected to discuss better Seoul-Tokyo relations
There is a growing expectation that a U.S.-Japan summit talk scheduled on Monday in Tokyo will discuss the improvement of South Korea-Japan relations as U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol reinforced the significance of trilateral cooperation among Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo in a joint statement following their summit talk. Presidents Yoon and Biden reiterated in their joint statement issued on Saturday that the trilateral cooperative system among South Korea, the United States, and Japan matter to respond to North Korea’s provocations, safeguard common security, strengthen rules-based international order and effectively resolve common economic challenges.
Yoon and Biden could meet again at NATO meeting
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will be visiting Washington, D.C. soon, in response to an invitation extended by U.S. President Joe Biden. Both leaders are likely to meet at the NATO summit to be held next month.“President Biden appreciated President Yoon’s warm welcome and invited President Yoon to Washington, D.C. at a mutually convenient time,” said the joint statement by the two heads of state. Yoon’s visit to the U.S. will likely be expedited, as the current South Korea-U.S summit was held at the earliest date than any other Korean president since inauguration.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea eyes longest trade deficit streak in 14 yrs, red widens to $11 bn as of May 20
South Korea’s trade deficit has neared $5 billion in the first 20 days of May or $11 billion so far in the year as the red streak extends to its longest since the 2008 financial crisis amid spike in commodity import and U.S. dollar value. According to data released by Korea Customs Service on Monday, the country’s exports reached $38.6 billion in the first 20 days of May, up 24.1 percent from a year-ago period. Daily exports rose 7.6 percent at $2.57 billion based on 15 working days, two days longer than a year ago.
Korea eyes bigger defense exports to US and joint bid with US for reactor tenders
South Korea has paved the way for exporting weapons to the United States where trade had been entirely one-way and explore nuclear reactor opportunities in Europe in a consortium with U.S. companies following the summit meeting over the weekend. Presidents Yoon Suk-yeol and Joe Biden agreed to “strengthen partnerships in areas such as defense sector supply chain, joint development and manufacturing, including beginning discussions on a Reciprocal Defense Procurement (RDP) agreement,” according to their joint statement after summit talks on Saturday.
Samsung Elec foundry business may pick up after Biden visit
Samsung Electronics raises hopes for securing new foundry work from U.S. companies after it received a special visit from U.S. President Joe Biden and his entourage of business tycoons and officials to its next-gen chip processing facility in Pyeongtaek campus. Samsung Electronics is readying a high-profile groundbreaking ceremony for its $17 billion foundry project in Taylor City, Texas, next month.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
S. Korea, US agree to expand joint exercises, bolster extended deterrence
In their summit on Saturday, the leaders of South Korea and the US agreed to expand joint exercises and drills and to flesh out the extended deterrence that the US has committed to provide. The two leaders reconfirmed that the US means to make its “nuclear umbrella” more practical and strengthen its joint defense posture with South Korea to counter the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles. Extended deterrence, also known as the nuclear umbrella, is the concept of the US protecting allied countries from nuclear threats with its military capabilities, including its nuclear arsenal.
N.E. Asian balance shifting as S. Korea places economic, security eggs in US’ basket
South Korea and the US agreed through Saturday’s summit to upgrade the two countries’ alliance into a “global comprehensive strategic alliance” that extends beyond the Korean Peninsula. Unlike during last May’s summit with the US, when it strived to maintain a balance between the US and China amid the two countries’ strategic competition, South Korea clearly took the side of Washington while adopting a more hostile attitude towards Beijing in the name of “economic security.” In terms of their North Korea policy, South Korea and the US focused on strengthening their deterrence against the North by discussing expanding the two countries’ joint military exercises.
S. Korea’s tech, industry shift toward US likely to foster China-based risks
The biggest item on the agenda at the latest South Korea-US summit was economic security. The two leaders declared their plans to beef up their technology alliance in areas such as semiconductors and electric vehicles in order to reshape related supply chains under US leadership. The joint declaration that came out of the summit could be seen as showing an alignment of interests between the US, which is seeking to rein in China’s rise in technology fields, and South Korea, which wants to hold down its competitive advantage over China.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Starting Today, People Can Enter South Korea with a Rapid Antigen Test Result and Visitations Will Be Expanded at Care Hospitals and Facilities
COVID-19 test procedures for people entering South Korea from overseas will be simplified. From May 23, South Korea will accept both the PCR test, which is currently required, and a specialist conducted rapid antigen test as valid COVID-19 tests before entering the country from overseas. Thus, people can enter the country with a negative result certificate of a rapid antigen test conducted within 24 hours of entering the country. However, a specialist must conduct the test and issue the certificate of the negative test result. The results of a self-test kit will not be accepted.
Foreign Press Asked About “Overwhelmingly Male” Cabinet, and President Yoon Answered, “We Didn’t See a Lot of Women Advancing to That (Ministerial) Position”
In a joint press conference following the summit between South Korea and the United States on May 21, when a member of the foreign press asked why women were excluded from the South Korean cabinet, President Yoon Suk-yeol (Yoon Seok-youl) answered, “If you look at the public officials sector, especially the ministers in the cabinet, we really didn’t see a lot of women advancing to that position thus far,” stirring controversy. On May 22, the presidential office asked the public to take the question and answer “literally” and explained that the president was not acknowledging the existence of structural gender discrimination.
Mandatory Quarantine Extended for 4 More Weeks: COVID-19 Patients Still Subject to 7-Day Quarantine
The government decided to extend the 7-day mandatory quarantine for COVID-19 patients until June 20. Lee Sang-min (minister of the interior and safety), second assistant director of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters, made the announcement in an opening comment during a Headquarters meeting held at the government office in Seoul on the morning of May 20. Lee said, “We decided to postpone the lifting of the mandatory quarantine included in the post-omicron response plan discussed last month for four more weeks until June 20.” He explained, “We will maintain the existing 7-day mandatory quarantine for patients confirmed positive for COVID-19 and reassess the status of the outbreak four weeks later.”
Health Minister Nominee Withdraws from Nomination
Health minister nominee Chung Ho-young withdrew from consideration on Monday as controversy surrounding him and his family failed to abate. The nominee announced his withdrawal at around 9:30 p.m. with a statement saying that he would serve as a small foundation for the success of the Yoon Suk Yeol administration and the cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties. Chung, who is known to be close to Yoon, said that although he disproved many allegations, he failed to meet the public's expectations. The former chief of Kyungpook National University Hospital said he would now return to the local community as a medical expert to support the success of the Yoon administration.
Yoon Makes Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2022 List
President Yoon Suk Yeol has made Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of 2022. The presidential office said on Monday that Yoon was chosen in the category of leaders. The weekly U.S.-based magazine compiles an annual list of the 100 most influential people in six categories – artists, innovators, titans, leaders, icons and pioneers. Releasing the list, Time said on its website that Yoon is a "a former prosecutor with little foreign policy experience" who is "determined to take on the challenge" posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
N. Korea's Reported Fever Cases under 200,000 for Third Day
Daily fever cases in North Korea, suspected to be COVID-19, stayed below 200-thousand for a third day, with the number of cumulative cases approaching three million. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) on Tuesday said that the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters reported 134-thousand-510 more people with fever symptoms in the 24 hour-period leading up to 6 p.m. Monday. The headquarters said no death was reported during the period, with the death toll remaining at 68. The KCNA said more than two-point-94 million cumulative cases have been reported since late April, and about 400-thousand of them, or just 13-point-six percent, require further treatment with all others having recovered.
Yoon's pick for health minister withdraws from nomination
Health Minister nominee Chung Ho-young withdrew Monday amid controversy over his children's school admissions and other issues. The former chief of Kyungpook National University Hospital, known to be a 40-year friend of President Yoon Suk—yeol, has been under pressure to step down from both the ruling and opposition parties. "I will serve as a nest egg for the success of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration and the cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties," Chung said in a statement.
N. Korea's total suspected COVID-19 cases reach nearly 3 million: state media
North Korea reported over 134,510 new suspected COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with the total number of fever cases reaching nearly 3 million. More than 134,510 people showed indications of fever, with no additional deaths reported, over a 24-hour period until 6 p.m. the previous day, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, citing data from the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters. The daily number of fever cases has remained below 200,000 for the third consecutive day after reaching 219,030 cases Saturday. The death toll remains at 68, with the fatality rate standing at 0.002 percent, the KCNA said.
Hyundai to invest US$5 bln in U.S. for robotics, autonomous driving development
South Korea's Hyundai Motor Group said Sunday it will invest an additional US$5 billion in the United States for robotics and autonomous driving software development, just a day after announcing a similar size investment to build an electric vehicle plant in the U.S. Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung made the latest announcement in his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, who was in Seoul for his three-day visit. "Hyundai Motor Group plans to invest an additional $5 billion through 2025, which will strengthen our collaboration with American enterprises in diverse technologies, such as robotics, urban air mobility, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence," the chairman said.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Korea to build reciprocal supply chain for chips, batteries in Indo-Pacific
President Yoon Suk-yeol promised to build a reciprocal supply chain for semiconductors and batteries in the Indo-Pacific region and share experiences and cooperate in all fields covered by the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework at the first IPEF summit on Monday. The US-led economic alliance was launched on Monday, with South Korea joining as an initial member. This is a follow-up to the Korea-US summit on Saturday, with the presidents of both countries pledging close cooperation through the economic alliance.
Seoul’s IPEF move aimed to expand presence in Indo-Pacific, reduce dependence on China: experts
As South Korea joined the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity on Monday, observers here view the move signals a shift of foreign policy to expand the country’s global presence on the side of the United States, and reduce dependence on China. On Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol virtually attended the launch of the IPEF held in Tokyo, along with 12 other leaders of the founding member countries, including Japan and Singapore.
Did Yoon change his mind about systemic gender inequality? His top aides say no
When President Yoon Suk-yeol was questioned Saturday about his male-dominated Cabinet, he said that women lacked opportunities to rise to top government posts, and promised more opportunities for women. While his comments were generic and often repeated by many before him, they appear out of line with his earlier statements on the matter –- that his nominations were made based strictly on merit.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon, Biden reaffirm stronger alliance, NK deterrence at key air base
President Yoon Suk-yeol and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden reaffirmed the allies' determination, Sunday, to deter North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threats and the importance of the bilateral alliance during their visit to a key Air Force operations center in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, the final stop of the American leader's three-day trip to Seoul. The two heads of state toured the Korean Air and Space Operations Center (KAOC) at Osan Air Base and met with American and South Korean troops stationed there. Biden was the first U.S. president to visit the center, which is situated in an underground bunker and serves as a key command post for air and space operations, while Yoon was the first South Korean president to do so in 13 years.
Attention needed to end modern-day slavery
Human trafficking, which represents the recruitment, transport, receipt and harboring of people for the purpose of exploiting their labor, affects almost all parts of the world. Globally, it is estimated that there are over 40 million men, women and children in modern day slavery today. According to the Slavery Index (2018), there are an estimated 99,000 trafficking victims in South Korea. These victims are found in factories, construction sites, within fisheries and sex venues and are forced to work for little or no pay, deprived of their freedom, and often subjected to unimaginable suffering.
Yoon says ball is in N.Korea's court for resumption of talks: CNN
President Yoon Suk-yeol said Monday that any resumption of dialogue between South Korea and North Korea will be up to Pyongyang, CNN reported. \Yoon made the remark during an interview with the U.S. cable news channel at the presidential office amid a prolonged stalemate in talks between both the South and the North, and between the North and the United States. I think the ball is in Chairman Kim's court," he said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. "It is his choice to start a dialogue with us. I do not want North Korea to collapse. My hope is for North Korea to prosper alongside South Korea."
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