Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Relations between Korea, China expected to rise to a notch-higher level
President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China invited President Yoon Suk-yeol of the Republic of Korea to visit China at a mutually convenient time. This was disclosed on May 10, 2022 when Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan extended the invitation during a meeting with President Yoon after attending Yoon's inauguration ceremony earlier in the day. Vice President Wang said, “President Xi Jinping welcomes and invites the President to visit China at a mutually convenient time." "President Xi Jinping told me specially to attend President Yoon's inauguration ceremony on his behalf and to wish that “your country develop, be peaceful and your people be comfortable under your leadership."
Yoon government opens to the general public the Interior of Cheong Wa Dae's main office building
The interiors of former Presidential mansion, Cheong Wa Dae, includig main office building and official residence of the President, were opened on May 26 to the public more than two weeks after the compound was opened on May 10 for the first time in 74 years. The Cultural Heritage Administration's (CHA) committee for opening Cheong Wa Dae to the public on May 24 announced a partial opening of the main office building's interior from May 26. The building was the main venue at the compound used by the president for his official duties and greeting foreign guests.
Chinese researchers fighting desertification create botanical garden in desert
In northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, a barren desert area once plagued by quicksand in the Turpan Basin, is now a botanical garden filled with lush plants, thanks to more than four decades of sustained efforts of Chinese researchers from generation to generation. More than 500 species of salt- and drought-tolerant desert plants flourish in the botanical garden, Turpan Eremophyte Botanical Garden under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which is also the world’s only botanical garden located below sea level.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Skies Open at Snail's Pace Despite High Demand
Air travel is resuming slowly even though pent-up demand has gone through the roof, while cumbersome restrictions remain in place. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, only 798,198 travelers boarded international flights in the first four weeks of this month, up around 30 percent compared to the same period last year. That is still just 1/10 of the numbers seen in May 2019. "Demand may be rising, but supply remains unchanged," said one industry insider. The recovery rate of international flights in Korea is extremely low compared to other countries.
Samsung Reclaims Top Spot in Global Smartphone Market
Samsung reclaimed the highest share of the global smartphone market last month after ceding it to Apple five years ago. According to market researcher Counterpoint Research on Sunday, Samsung's global smartphone market share reached 24 percent in April to rank first. The last time Samsung held the top spot was in April 2017 with 25 percent. Now it has outpaced rival Apple by nine percentage points.
N.Korea Moves to Soften Curbs Amid Doubts over COVID Counts
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and other top officials discussed revising stringent anti-epidemic restrictions during a meeting Sunday, state media reported, as they maintained a widely disputed claim that the country's first COVID-19 outbreak is slowing. The discussion at the North's Politburo meeting suggests it will soon relax a set of draconian curbs imposed after its admission of the Omicron outbreak this month out of concern about its food and economic situations. Kim and other Politburo members "made a positive evaluation of the pandemic situation being controlled and improved across the country," the official [North] Korean Central News Agency said.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Cost-of-living measures proposed, one that could cut pork prices
Like many governments globally, Korea's is trying to spend its way out of inflation, rolling out a raft of tax and tariff cuts and other support measures just a day after a record extra budget was passed. On Monday, 10 cost-of-living initiatives were proposed, most of which can be implemented by executive order and most set for implementation by July 1. They range from adjustments to duties to cash for families. The 10 measures are focused on "food, living expenses and housing — which are closely related to people's lives," said Finance Minister Choo Kyoung-ho. "We are focused on that which can immediately be implemented." Tax rates can be adjusted temporarily without a National Assembly vote, while other measures are under the purview of the executive.
PPP is sending a delegation to Ukraine
The conservative People Power Party (PPP) announced Monday that party leader Lee Jun-Seok will lead a delegation to visit Ukraine after the June 1 local government elections. The party’s Special Delegation for Korea-Ukraine Freedom and Peace Solidarity, which will include Lee and other PPP lawmakers, will visit Ukraine in early June, with a detailed schedule to be announced later, according to a party press release.
Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon has big immigration ideas
A major priority for Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon will be a new agency to tackle immigration issues, including attracting foreign talent to Korea, aides to Han said. As the nation struggles with a shrinking population and labor shortages, the agency will be a command center for immigration policies, which are currently handled by 12 government organizations including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety as well as the Ministry of Employment and Labor. Several sources from the ministry recently told the JoongAng Ilbo that a main task for the agency will be to attract skilled foreign labor that would “be of help to Korea’s national interests.”
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
US Air Force to deploy B-1B bombers in Guam in several weeks
With the signs of North Korea’s imminent nuclear test detected on the radar one after another, the United States is poised to make a forward stationing of its B-1B bombers in Guam within the next several weeks. According to multiple sources of flight tracking websites, the U.S. Air Force will remove three or four B-1B bombers from the Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota to Guam. “There is a high probability that the B-1B bombers will stay ready in Guam before being instantly deployed to the Korean Peninsula in the event the North should conduct a nuclear test,” said a military source.
China holds fighter jet training sessions with Russia
The Democratic Party of Korea’s internal troubles regarding the head of the joint emergency planning committee Park Ji-hyun’s public appeal for voluntary retirement by those who attended universities in the 1980s or were born in the 1960s were temporarily resolved on Saturday after three days. Park and Rep. Yun Ho-jung, the head of the joint emergency planning committee, made peace but some members of the party expect bigger chaos later depending on the results of local elections.
Yoon: Presidential office should not dig up irregularities on people
President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Friday that the presidential office should focus on policies and not engage in digging up irregularities and information on people. President Yoon directly refuted opposition party’s strong criticism on the government’s plan to launch a division under the Justice Ministry responsible for vetting candidates for senior government posts. When asked about the appropriateness of creating a personnel vetting division under the Justice Ministry, President Yoon told reporters, “That’s what the U.S. does. That’s why I said I would get rid of the office of the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs.”
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Capex pledges by Korea’s top 10 biz groups stretch to $800 bn, NGO demands details
The five-year investment pledges by South Korea’s business majors have topped 1,000 trillion won ($793 billion), eclipsing this year’s fiscal budget and more than half of last year’s gross domestic product. After all top five business groups (Samsung, SK, Hyundai Motor, LG, and Lotte) competitively vowed capital investment in two to three digits in billion dollars for future growth, the following ranks POSCO (No. 6 by 2021 asset terms, GS (No. 8) and Hyundai Heavy Industries (No. 9), and Shinsegae (No. 11) announced theirs by Thursday.
Young South Koreans more insecure about future living conditions than global peers
South Korean young people aged from 17 to 37 are most worried about livelihood in the future, with their sense of insecurity greater than their international peers, survey showed. Half, or 49 percent of Korean respondents to Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, conducted on 23,220 people across 46 countries from Nov. 24, 2021 to Jan. 4, 2022, cited living expense as greatest concern. Global average was 36 percent.
Kakao found yields his last executive title as Brian Impact Foundation board chair
Kim Beom-su, founder of South Korea’s dominant platform operator Kakao Corp., has stepped down from its last executive title by yielding chairmanship of the Brian Impact Foundation he founded last year. He will remain as a registered director to continue to provide support to the charity foundation. Brian Impact Foundation, named after Kim’s English name, said Friday that Kim has resigned to yield the board chair to Kim Jeong-ho, chief executive of Bear.Better.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
The never-ending saga of resume padding by S. Korea’s new first lady
The scandal over false claims in South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee’s resume isn’t over. Just when the ordeal appeared to come to an end when the Ministry of Education announced the results of its special audit of Kookmin University on Jan. 25, it has recently entered a new phase with the belated discovery on May 4 that the university had requested an administrative judgment on April 25 to overturn the outcome of the ministry’s audit and the ministry’s instructions. The fact is that the ministry’s audit didn’t reveal anything new. Kim herself acknowledged trying to make herself look better by padding her resume with incorrect information when she apologized to the public in a press conference on Dec. 26, 2021.
With “Cyber Hell,” director hopes to tell viewers: “You are not a spectator”
The sex abuse blackmail ring known as the “Nth Room” case became widely known in Korea via the Hankyoreh’s in-depth reporting throughout November of 2019. Following reporter Kim Wan’s coverage of the case for the Hankyoreh, film companies wanting to recreate the case into a dramatic movie continuously contacted him, asking to consult him. However, Kim declined such requests, explaining that it would be inappropriate to render the case into a drama, as suspects were still on trial, and as victims would not be able to endure seeing reenactments of the abuses they had suffered.
BOK hikes key rate, citing focus on combating inflation
The Bank of Korea raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage points on Thursday, from 1.5% to 1.75%. The real economic growth forecast for this year was lowered to 2.7% while the inflation outlook was bumped up to 4.5%. “For the time being, monetary policy will focus on inflation [rather than economic growth],” the Monetary Policy Board said. It is highly likely that the base rate will be raised further in July and August and possibly reach 2.5% by the end of the year.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Japanese Far-Right Group Organized Controversial Exhibit in Tokyo Insulting Comfort Women Victims
A Japanese far-right group recently stirred controversy by organizing an event in Tokyo offending the comfort women victims in the Japanese military. Last weekend in Tokyo, the Japan First Party, a far-right political party with an anti-Korea tendency, organized the event, 2022 Tokyo Triennale, with a theme offensive to the women who were sexually exploited in the Japanese military. The Japan First Party is led by Makoto Sakurai, who formed a civic group against privileges for ethnic Koreans in Japan. The group organized hate demonstrations against Koreans. On May 23 (local time), the group posted a video on YouTube capturing an installation of balloon figures resembling the “Girl of Peace” statue, which symbolizes the comfort women victims.
46-Day Hunger Strike Ends While National Assembly Continues to Ignore the Anti-Discrimination Act, “A Failure of Politics”
“We asked the lawmakers to just come with their spoons, since we had already set the table of equality. But the National Assembly did not come.” The hunger strike, which lasted for 46 days, ended in the indifference of the National Assembly. On the morning of May 26, Miryu, an activist of the Solidarity for the Enactment of the Anti-Discrimination Act, who had engaged in a hunger strike in front of the National Assembly demanding the enactment of the bill, ended her hunger strike. At the press conference, she said, “What we witnessed this spring, which we began with a hunger strike demanding the anti-discrimination act, was a devastating failure of politics in this land.”
President Yoon Presides over First National Security Council and Condemns North Korean Missile Launch as “Serious Provocation”
On May 25, President Yoon Suk-yeol defined North Korea’s launch of a missile believed to be an inter-continental ballistic missile and a short-range ballistic missile as serious provocation and fiercely condemned the North’s action. This morning, President Yoon expressed such views while presiding over a National Security Council (NSC) meeting at the presidential office in Yongsan. This was the first NSC meeting that President Yoon presided over since his inauguration, and the meeting was held for an hour from 7:35 a.m. The president convened the NSC meeting immediately after receiving a report on the North Korean missile launch this day.
National Assembly Passes 62 Tln Won Extra Budget
The National Assembly has passed this year's second extra budget mainly aimed at compensating small merchants hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed in a vote of 246 to one with five abstentions in a plenary session of 252 members on Sunday night. The passage came after rival parties agreed to increase the amount of the budget to 39 trillion, from the government's initial proposal of 36-point-four trillion won. The agreement would adjust the ceiling for annual sales eligible for the compensation to five billion won from three billion won, providing cash relief between six million and ten million won to each of some three-point-71 million small merchants and micro businesses owners.
Pope Francis Appoints Archbishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik as Cardinal
Pope Francis has South Korean archbishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik among 21 new cardinals. The pope read out the names of his selection after delivering traditional Sunday remarks from an open window of the Apostolic Palace in St. Peter’s Square. You has become the fourth South Korean cardinal, after Cardinals Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk and Andrew Yeom Soo-jung. You, born in 1951, is currently serving as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Daejeon and Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy of the Holy See.
N. Korea's New Fever Cases Rise above 100,000
North Korea's daily new fever cases, suspected to be COVID-19, climbed back above 100-thousand after three days. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday said that the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters reported 100-thousand-710 more people with fever symptoms in the 24-hour period leading up to 6 p.m. Sunday. The daily tally rose above 100-thousand after staying below the mark for two straight days. The headquarters said one death was reported during the period, with the death toll rising to 70 and the fatality rate standing at zero-point-002 percent.
Cabinet endorses 62 tln-won extra budget
The Cabinet on Monday approved a 62 trillion-won (US$49.4 billion) extra budget aimed mainly at helping small merchants affected by the pandemic. The spending plan was passed at an extraordinary Cabinet session presided over by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo. The National Assembly passed the extra budget bill Sunday, just three days before the local elections. The bill was approved in a plenary session after the ruling People Power Party and the main opposition Democratic Party agreed to add 2.6 trillion won to the 59.4 trillion won proposed by the government.
National Assembly passes extra budget bill ahead of local elections
The National Assembly on Sunday passed a 62 trillion-won (US$49.4 billion) extra budget bill to support small merchants affected by the pandemic, just three days before the local elections. The bill was approved in a 246-1 vote with five abstentions in a plenary session after the ruling People Power Party (PPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) agreed to add 2.6 trillion won to the 59.4 trillion won proposed by the government.
Yoon picks female patent attorney as head of intellectual property office
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday nominated a female patent attorney as the new head of the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), which is in charge of processing patent and trade mark applications, Yoon's office said. Lee In-sil, the patent attorney who leads the Korea Women Inventors Association, was named the new commissioner of the KIPO, the presidential office said. The office said Lee, as the nation's third female patent attorney, has worked in the field of intellectual property for more than 30 years.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
End of an era: Korea’s pandemic leaders leave office after long battle
Last week South Korea saw its top health officials leave office after guiding the country through an unprecedented time. In February 2020, the first wave of infections gripped Daegu and its neighboring North Gyeongsang Province, making Korea one of the first countries in the world to be struck by COVID-19 after China. With no playbook to go by, these three health leaders worked from scratch to keep the country safer.
Park Chan-wook wins best director, Song Kang-ho, best actor at Cannes
One of the world’s most prestigious film festivals has once again acknowledged the power of South Korean cinema. outh Korea took home two major titles -- Park Chan-wook won best director for “Decision to Leave” and Song Kang-ho won best actor for “Broker” – at the 75th Cannes Film Festival that ended Saturday. Park’s thriller-romance film, “Decision to Leave,” about a detective who comes across a widow who is a prime suspect in his murder investigation, stars Korean actor Park Hae-il and Chinese actor Tang Wei.
N. Korea touts progress in handling COVID-19 pandemic, but prepares for another wave
North Korea has touted progress in curbing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, but admitted that the country is bracing for another wave of infections that could stem from the spread of new variants. The Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee on Sunday convened a consultative meeting at the headquarters of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang under the guidance of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the state-run media including the Korean Central News Agency reported later in the day.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Korean films make splash at Cannes Film Festival
Korean films have set a record by taking two awards this year at the Cannes Film Festival. Song Kang-ho became the first Korean male actor to win the Best Actor award for his role in "Broker," Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's Korean debut with an all-Korean cast and dialogue. Earlier in 2007, actress Jeon Do-yeon won the Best Actress award for her performance in "Secret Sunshine," in which Song also starred. Song has also become the third Asian actor to win the award at Cannes, following Hong Kong's Leung Chiu Wai for "In the Mood for Love" in 2000 and Japan's Yuya Yagira for "Nobody Knows" in 2004.
National Assembly passes 62 trillion won extra budget bill ahead of local elections
The National Assembly on Sunday passed a 62 trillion-won ($49.4 billion) extra budget bill to support small merchants affected by the pandemic, just three days before the local elections. The bill was approved in a 246-1 vote with five abstentions in a plenary session after the ruling People Power Party (PPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) agreed to add 2.6 trillion won to the 59.4 trillion won proposed by the government.
Pope to appoint S. Korean archbishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik as cardinal
Pope Francis announced Sunday that he will appoint 21 new cardinals in August, including South Korean archbishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik, according to news reports Sunday. You, 70, has been serving as Prefect for the Congregation for Clergy overseeing matters regarding priests and deacons since June 2021. He will be the fourth South Korean to receive the cardinal red hat. He was among 16 cardinal electors under 80 years old, who are eligible to vote for the next pontiff in secret conclave. Born in 1951 and ordained a priest for the Diocese of Daejeon, You became a coadjutor in the same diocese in 2003 and two years later assumed full responsibility.
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