Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Approval rating for President Yoon Suk-yeol rises for 3 consecutive weeks
A poll showed on Aug. 29 that a positive assessment of state affairs led by President Yoon Suk-yeol has been on the rise for three consecutive weeks. According to a survey of 2,513 men and women aged 18 or older nationwide by Realmeter from Aug. 22 to 26 (the 4th week of August), the positive evaluation of President Yoon Suk-yeol's performance of state affairs was 33.6%, up 1.4 percentage points from the previous week. The negative evaluation fell 2.5 percentage points to 63.3 percent.
President Yoon says, "It is right to respect the conclusions reflecting PPP lawmakers’ opinions”
Regarding the gap in the leadership of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), President Yoon Suk-yeol said, "If it is the conclusion that our party lawmakers and party members have come to a conclusion, I think it is right to respect that conclusion." "I believe that a sufficiently reasonable conclusion for the future of the party and the country will be able to be reached through fierce debate," President Yoon said at a door-stepping press conference on his way to work at the Yongsan presidential office on Aug. 29.
KOIMA Chairman Kim Byung-kwan meets with head of the Turkiye miners association
The Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) Chairman Kim Byung-kwan met with Ali Emiroglu, chairman of the Miners Association of Turkiye, in Istanbul, Turkey on Aug. 26 to discuss ways to cooperate on the supply chain of mineral resources, the KOIMA said on Aug. 29. The Turkiye Miners Association is the oldest association in the mineral industry, established in 1940, with 117 member companies, and about 80% of all minerals in Turkiye are produced and supplied through the association.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Stocks Account for 20% of Koreans' Assets
Stocks now account for about 20 percent of Korean households' financial assets as people flocked to the bourse at a time of ultra-low interest rates. The proportion of stocks has increased a whopping five percentage points over the last two years from 15.3 percent in 2019 to 20.8 percent in 2021, according to the Korea Financial Investment Association on Thursday. However, the proportion of financial assets to all household assets is still relatively low compared to other countries.
Korea to Scrap COVID Tests Before Arrival
Korea will no longer require travelers to show proof of a negative COVID test on arrival from abroad after the Chuseok holiday. "We're going to scrap pre-boarding COVID testing for travelers regardless of their countries of departure," a health official said Sunday. "Further details will be discussed among health professionals and other experts to come up with guidelines depending on vaccination or whether their country of departure is still at high risk." "We believe that pre-boarding PCR testing should be scrapped because it's currently possible to monitor high-risk countries in real time and we should also respect the principle of reciprocity," the official added.
Higher Interest Rates Make Savings Attractive Again
Koreans are putting their money back into banks now that interest rates are rising and the stock market has tanked. The bank of Korea has signaled it will keep raising the base rate until the end of the year, so the trend is likely to gain traction. The combined balance of deposits in the top five banks -- KB Kookmin, KEB Hana, NH Nonghyup, Shinhan and Woori banks -- stood at W718.90 trillion as of Aug. 25, up around W6.45 trillion from the end of July (US$1=W1,331).
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Won and stocks plunge as Korea struggles with rates and inflation
The won renewed decade-plus lows after central bankers reaffirmed their hawkishness in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, over the weekend. Korea's currency touched 1,350.80 won per dollar on Monday, its weakest level in 13 years and 4 months. It is down more than 1 percent from Friday. The precipitous drop comes as inflation rages in Korea and as the government and central bank struggle to regain control. Bang Ki-sun, vice minister of economy and finance, once again warned investors not to take advantage of the situation, adding that the authorities were ready to act.
Delegation heads to U.S. to express concerns about EV act
A government delegation on Monday traveled to Washington to protest the recently-passed U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which grants subsidies to domestically-manufactured electric vehicles (EV). The delegation will be visiting the U.S. Trade Representative, the Treasury Department, the Commerce Department and Congress during its three-day visit, according to a joint statement from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy and Finance released Monday.
Korea's top envoy is latest to visit Mongolia
Korea will be expanding cooperation with Mongolia on rare earths and other minerals for semiconductors and batteries, announced Foreign Minister Park Jin.
“Mongolia, the world's 10th largest resource-rich country, is a key partner country that can contribute to Korea's supply chain stability,” Park said in a joint press briefing with Mongolian Foreign Minister Batmunkh Battsetseg in the capital of Ulaanbaatar on Monday. “Mongolia's abundant minerals and resources, such as rare earths for advanced semiconductors and displays and rare metals for batteries, can be combined with Korea's infrastructure and technology to create a synergy effect,” he added.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
New Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik officially appointed
You Heung-sik (71, photo), the fourth cardinal from Korea, was appointed as of Saturday (local time) in the ceremony at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Cardinal You Heung-sik completed his appointment ceremony together with 19 other clergy from around the world who were appointed as cardinals in May by Pope Francis. Lazarus You Heung-sik is the fourth Korean to serve as a cardinal from the Korean Catholic church following the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, the late Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk and Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung (79) appointed in 2014.
N. Korea to buy 10,000 tons of rice from India
North Korea is allegedly planning to import 10,000 tons of rice from India. While publicly criticizing the Yoon Suk-yeol administration for its ‘audacious plan’ containing a measure to provide massive food aid to the North, North Korea is now moving to buy rice from India after China last month. Some analyze that COVID-19 and floods in North Korea may have deepened the economic difficulties, causing a severe food shortage in the country.
President’s second office eyed in Sejong
The construction of a second office for the President, one of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s election pledges, will be pursued in earnest. However, the office will be only completed in 2027, close to the end of Yoon’s term in office. The government affairs and public safety ministry, the land, infrastructure and transport ministry, and the national agency for administrative city construction made the announcement on Sunday, saying that they will launch a taskforce for construction of the President’s second office in September to start a study on the project.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Heir apparent Kim Dong-kwan promoted to vice chair of Korea’s No. 7 biz group Hanwha
Kim Dong-kwan, president and head of strategy at Hanwha Solutions Corp. and the eldest son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, was promoted to group vice chairman, moving further closer to taking over the helm of South Korea’s 7th largest conglomerate from his father amid momentum of growth in renewable and defense businesses. Hanwha Group on Monday announced the younger Kim, 38, was promoted to president of Hanwha Solutions less than a year after he was promoted to vice president.
FSS launches special short sale inspection team, investigates big foreign brokerages
South Korea’s financial watchdog has embarked on probes into Morgan Stanley and other foreign brokerages for signs of irregular short sale practices with a team launched this week dedicated to short sale monitoring and investigation. “The short sale investment team will be activated from this week,” said Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) Governor Lee Bok-hyun during an emergency market watch meeting Monday with main stock indices losing more than 2 percent and the Korean won at fresh weakest since April 2009 of 1,350 won versus the U.S. dollar amid hawkish comments from the U.S. central bank chief.
Battery component stocks replace bio names in 1 trillion won market cap club in Korea
The 1 trillion won ($741.6 million) market-cap club lost 35 members in South Korea due to stock bear throughout the year with losers mostly in bio names. According to the Korea Exchange on Sunday, the number of firms with a market cap of above 1 trillion won on the Kospi and Kosdaq numbered at 244 based on Friday’s closing price, 35 fewer from a year ago. Kospi-listed firms with a market cap of above 1 trillion won fell to 195 from 212, and Kosdaq-listed names to 49 from 67.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
London Korean school offers glimpse of a unified Korea
New Malden, a neighborhood on the outskirts of London, is known as “Little Korea.” Some 20,000 Koreans live in the area, including 800-1,000 people who have defected from North Korea. In the late 2000s, the UK granted asylum status to a large number of defectors on humanitarian grounds. There are also quite a few who first settled in Korea before moving to the UK. Jang Jeong-hoon, a director who lives in London, has focused his work on the North Korean defectors living in New Malden.
Yoon’s commute requires 700 police per day for security, up 75% from Blue House era
Since South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is currently commuting from his home in Seoul’s Seocho District to the presidential office in Yongsan District every day, the police security detail has reportedly increased by around 75% from when presidents lived at the Blue House, government records show. Documents that the National Police Agency provided to Lee Sung-man, a National Assembly member with the Democratic Party on the Public Administration and Security Committee, on Sunday show that the police have assigned eight companies and one squad of female riot police to the presidential office and Yoon’s residence for both the daytime and nighttime hours.
Korean arms makers ink US$5.76B deal with Poland to export K2 tanks, K9 howitzers
Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced Saturday that Hyundai Rotem and Hanwha Defense signed their first fulfillment contract worth US$5.76 billion with the Polish military to export tanks and howitzers. This contract was the first follow-up contract signed for the implementation of the comprehensive export agreement inked between the Polish military and domestic defense contractors, such as Hyundai Rotem, Hanwha Defense and Korea Aerospace Industries, on July 27.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
“Not in the Name of Yoon Suk-yeol,” Dongguk University Professor Lee Chul-ki Renounces Government Reward
Lee Chul-ki (65) a Dongguk University professor submitted a letter renouncing a government reward for retiring teachers claiming he would not receive any government orders of merit or medals of honor ahead of his retirement. He said, “I have no intention to receive a reward in the name of the new president, Yoon Suk-yeol.” Orders of merit and medals of honor are rewards that the government grants to retiring teachers in recognition of their contribution in the development of education. On August 27, Professor Lee wrote on his Facebook page, “I will retire from Dongguk University at the end of August, and I picked up this pen because I felt I should say goodbye even if I do so on Facebook,” and uploaded a picture of his letter renouncing the government reward.
Kweon Seong-dong Returns as the Sole Leader as Acting Chair of the People Power Party’s Emergency Response Committee
On August 29, the People Power Party’s emergency response committee agreed to have the party’s floor leader Kweon Seong-dong serve as acting chairman of the emergency committee. Kweon is expected to lead the party’s future efforts to amend the party constitution and regulations and to launch a new emergency committee according to the court decision on the injunction.
President Yoon to Continue Mandatory Closure of Retailers. Retailer Employees Demand an Apology
President Yoon Suk-yeol expressed his intention to maintain the existing mandatory closure policy for major retailers, which was at the center of a heated debate recently. Supermarket employees demanded an apology for the “rash handling” of the matter. The Korean Mart Labor Union released a statement and said, “Discussions on the mandatory shutdown have practically been suspended. But there wasn’t a single word of apology from the president on his attempt to hastily deal with the workers’ right to rest.” The statement continued and stated, “If he ignores the voices of workers, a day will come when he will eventually bow to greater resistance.”
S. Korean Delegation Arrives in US over Inflation Reduction Act
A delegation of South Korean government officials has arrived in the United States to deliver concerns over a new U.S. law that excludes electric vehicles(EVs) assembled outside North America from tax incentives. The delegation comprising senior officials from the ministries of industry, finance and foreign affairs arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport on Monday for a three-day visit.
Ex-PPP Chair Criticizes Party's Call for More Disciplinary Action against Him
Former chair of the ruling People Power Party(PPP) Lee Jun-seok has criticized fellow party members for urging its ethics committee to swiftly impose additional disciplinary action against him. In a clip of an interview with local media posted on YouTube on Monday, Lee said the people may likely find the latest development very unusual and urged the party to avoid creating further controversy in an attempt to cover up the first one that led to his ouster. Lee also took a swipe at party members who made insulting remarks against the judiciary over its granting his injunction request against the PPP's emergency leadership.
Expert Panel Suggests Scrapping Pre-Entry COVID-19 Test Rule for Inbound Travelers
An expert advisory panel on infectious diseases under the prime minister's office has suggested the government scrap its pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound overseas travelers. Committee chair Jung Ki-suck said on Monday that the panel concluded the government should do away with the compulsory PCR or rapid antigen test 48 and 24 hours prior to departure, respectively, during last week's session. The chief reasoned that a lack of accuracy in overseas tests, the validity of the results and the economic burden on South Korean nationals entering from abroad justified the requirement’s abolishment.
Floor leader Kweon to lead PPP until new emergency leadership is launched
The ruling People's Power Party (PPP) decided Monday to have its embattled floor leader, Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, temporarily lead the party after a court suspended the chairman of the party's emergency leadership committee last week. Kweon will take charge of revising the party charter to form a new emergency leadership committee before the upcoming Chuseok fall harvest holiday in September, PPP spokesperson Park Jeong-ha said after a meeting of the committee. This year's Chuseok holiday runs from Sept. 9-12.
S. Korea, U.S. agree to launch formal talks on U.S. Inflation Reduction Act: Amb. Cho
The U.S. government has agreed to launch formal talks with South Korea on ways to minimize the adverse effects of the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) on South Korean electric vehicles, Seoul's ambassador to the U.S. said Monday. Amb. Cho Tae-yong also said the U.S. understands the reasons behind South Korea's concerns and that they are justified. "We have especially stressed that the discriminative measures against electric vehicles from South Korea, an ally and partner in a free trade agreement, are unfair, and the U.S. side is not presenting any differing views," the South Korean diplomat said in a meeting with reporters in Washington.
S. Korea, Mongolia agree to seek closer ties on rare earth supply
South Korea and Mongolia agreed Monday to boost cooperation on global supply chains, especially in relation to rare earth elements, during talks here between their top diplomats. The two sides plan to push for the establishment of a joint center for partnerships on rare earth metals as part of efforts to boost mutually beneficial cooperation in the economic security field and enhance partnerships based on shared values, including democracy and human rights.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Korea, Mongolia to strengthen strategic partnership, cooperate on rare earth supply
South Korea and Mongolia vowed to join efforts for peace in the region and agreed to bolster their strategic partnership in their first bilateral foreign ministers’ meeting held in eight years in Ulaanbaatar on Monday. South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin met with his Mongolian counterpart, Batmunkh Battsetseg, to agree on establishing a joint center on rare earth metals, aimed at boosting their bilateral ties in regards to economic security field. They also discussed on a range of issues involving regional security, North Korea and supply chain resilience, among others.
Ruling party shows no sign of return to normal
Only three days are left before the start of the first regular session of the National Assembly since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office, but the ruling People Power Party shows no sign of ending its internal feud. In the morning, the party’s all eight emergency committee members agreed to entrust Floor Leader Rep. Kweon Seong-dong to the position of acting leader of the committee and also all members also decided not to resign.
Korea hit by market volatility after Powell’s hawkish speech
South Korea’s financial authorities and brokerages on Monday warned of volatilities stemming from US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole last week, with the private sector expressing more skepticism towards the associated risks. Powell on Friday delivered a hawkish remark saying that the rising interest rates will cause “some pain” to the US economy and that the US Fed will use their “tools forcefully” to combat the nation’s high inflation.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
NASA scrubs launch of giant Moon rocket, may try again Friday
NASA has scrubbed a test flight of its powerful new rocket, in a setback to its plan to send humans back to the Moon and eventually to Mars, but may shoot for another launch attempt on Friday. "We don't launch until it's right," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said after an engine issue forced a cancellation of Monday's flight from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "This is a very complicated machine," Nelson said. "You don't want to light the candle until it's ready to go."
Ulchi Freedom Shield drill faces backlash from North Korea
South Korea and the United States began the second session of their biggest combined military exercises in five years, Monday, amid strong protests from North Korea. The second part of the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS), scheduled to run through Thursday, focuses on counterattack operations to secure the safety of Seoul and its surrounding area. Last week's first segment involved drills to repel North Korean attacks and defend the greater capital region. "The UFS is an exercise of a defensive nature and counterattack operations of its second part are about securing safety in response to the enemy's attacks," a military officer said.
DPK's new leader vows to end partisan politics
Rep. Lee Jae-myung of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) vowed to become a genuine successor of the liberal party by inheriting the legacy of the three liberal presidents, namely Kim Dae-jung, Roh Moo-hyun and Moon Jae-in. "The new leadership will transform the DPK into a whole new party that is able and competent," Lee said on Monday. "Under my leadership, the DPK will bid goodbye to old, partisan politics." Later in the day, Lee paid a courtesy visit to the home of former President Moon Jae-in in South Gyeongsang Province. During their meeting, Moon expressed worries about the factional strife inside the DPK between supporters of Moon and those of Lee.
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