Thursday, December 29, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Foreign Minister Park Jin meets with his Hungarian counterpart in Seoul
Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin met with Hungary's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and discussed ways on Dec. 20 to develop bilateral relations, cooperation on the multilateral stage, and key regional affairs including the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The two ministers agreed to work together to further enhance bilateral ties, which were upgraded to a “strategic partnership” in November 2021, in a range of areas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
KOIMA Chairman Kim, Chilean Amb. Francke seek ways to expand bilateral trade
The Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) said that Chairman Kim Byung-kwan of Korea Importers Association discussed specific cooperation measures with Ambassador Mathias Francke of Chile to expand trade volume between Korea and Chile and diversify bilateral trade items. Chairman Kim proposed that the two organizations actively cooperate to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries and promote exchanges and cooperation between SMEs next year, which marks the 20th anniversary of the Korea-Chile FTA.
President Chung Tak promoted to vice chairman of POSCO International
POSCO Group announced on Dec. 27 that it will promote POSCO President Chung Tak to vice chairman of POSCO International, which will be launched as an integrated corporation of POSCO International and POSCO Energy on January 2 next year. Chung Tak, the new vice chairman, is a leading sales and marketing expert in POSCO Group who has worked as head of POSCO International Kuala Lumpur Branch, Director of POSCO Energy Shipbuilding Marketing, head of POSCO Steel Business, Director of POSCO Marketing, and President of POSCO.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Most Young Koreans Hardly Use Offline Banks
Six out of 10 young Koreans have not been inside a bank in three months because they favor mobile banking apps. But elderly customers continue to favor offline branches, even prompting banks to boost brick-and-mortar outlets. According to Woori Financial Research Institute, 99.8 percent of young customers use mobile banking apps, 68.2 percent ATMs, 50.2 percent website banking and just 42.4 percent offline branches.
Kim Jong-un Threatens Tougher Polices
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chaired a year-end plenary session of the Workers Party on Monday as the regime sent five drones across the border into South Korea. Kim "stressed the need to lay out more exciting and confident struggle policies based on valuable facts that achieved practical advance while persevering all difficulties," the official [North] Korean Central News Agency said. Major policies for next year are expected to be announced at the end of the meeting, replacing Kim's traditional New Year's address.
Yoon Pardons Ex-President Lee
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Tuesday pardoned jailbird ex-President Lee Myung-bak under a special New Year's amnesty that also lets 1,372 other politicians and former government officials convicted of corruption and irregularities off the hook. They include former Finance Minister Choi Kyoung-hwan and former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyoung-soo, a crony of former President Moon Jae-in. No business figures are included in the amnesty, which covers nine politicians, 66 government officials, 1,274 violators of election laws and eight ordinary criminals.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Yoon blasts defense minister for failure to down North drones
President Yoon Suk-yeol rebuked Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup over the South Korean military's failure to shoot down North Korean drones that entered the South's airspace, according to a high-ranking official on Wednesday. Speaking on condition of anonymity to reporters, a high-ranking official in the presidential office said Yoon chastised Lee ahead of a Cabinet meeting held at the presidential office in Yongsan on Tuesday and questioned him as to why the South Korean armed forces failed to intercept the North’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) despite similar incursions in the past.
Top 10 business stories of the year in 2022
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was passed in August, directly threatening local car manufacturers and battery makers, which have a limited presence in the United States in terms of manufacturing. Buyers of Hyundai Motor and Kia vehicles do not qualify for a $7,500 subsidy under the “Made-in-America” electric vehicle (EV) rules as they are made outside the United States. Hyundai and Kia both make EVs in Korea. Hyundai is currently building its first EV-dedicated factory in the United States, in Georgia, but mass production does not start until 2025.
Korean companies unloading assets to make good on big promises globally
Korean companies are unloading assets, from properties to shares, to raise much needed cash as rates rise and profits fall. Like many individuals, the country's biggest and best are being squeezed. SK Inc. is under pressure as SK hynix, which makes memory chips, and SK On, which makes batteries, need billions of dollars for plants promised globally. Busan City Gas, an SK Inc. subsidiary, sold a property in Busan — where the headquarters of Busan City Gas is located — for 632.8 billion won ($499.3 million), according to an electronics disclosure released Dec. 15.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
U.S., Japan consider stronger restrictions on Chinese arrivals
The U.S. is considering imposing new measures on travelers from China, which announced its border reopening next month. China decided to reopen its borders despite the resurgence of Covid-19, and the U.S. is trying to impose restrictions on Chinese arrivals to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. Japan has also announced tighter rules on travelers from China, and it is reported that Japan will cancel flights from China to Hokkaido, Fukuoka, and Okinawa. India, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Lombardy in Italy will also step up rules on travelers from China.
'N. Korea’s retaliation should not be feared,' Yoon says
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Wednesday that South Korea must not be fearful or hesitant just because North Korea has nuclear weapons. His comment was made during a meeting with his advisors as controversies about the South Korean military’s poor response to North Korea’s provocation with drones. The president ordered strong retaliation in response to the North’s provocations and added that that is the most powerful way to deter provocations.
Kishida orders BOJ chief not to mention unnecessary details
According to the Asahi Shimbun on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and said, “Don’t mention anything unnecessary at the press conference,” before the central bank increased interest rates by raising the threshold of long-term government bond yields. Some interpret his comments as Prime Minister Kishida’s order for the central bank to seek an exit strategy from the ultra-low interest rate policy.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Credit rating cuts spread across Korea Inc. to add risks to fund market
South Korean companies are facing higher risk of their credit ratings being downgraded as earnings are hit by global economic slowdown. Korea Ratings, a major credit rating agency in Korea, last week downgraded LX Hausys Ltd., a major construction materials supplier, to A+ from AA-. The credit rating agency revised down its outlook on retailer Lotte Himart Co., rated AA-, to “negative” from “stable” and GS Retail Co. to “stable” from “positive.” Credit rating in Netmarble Corp., a major game developer, was also downgraded to A+ from AA-.
S. Korea’s business sentiment further darkens in December at 26-mo low
Business sentiment among Korean companies dipped to its lowest level in over two years as the country’s mainstay growth driver export continues to contract due to weakening global demand without signs of recovery in domestic demand hit by an economic downturn, data showed on Wednesday. The business survey index (BSI) for all industries in December dropped by one point on month to stand at 74, marking the lowest in 26 months since October 2020 when it was tallied at 74, according to the data from the Bank of Korea.
Korea to expand global venture fund to foster 1,000 leading startups
The South Korean government will expand its global venture investment fund to 8 trillion won ($6.3 billion) next year and foster 1,000 start-ups that will lead the country’s transformation to a digital economy. The plan was presented to President Yoon Suk-yeol during a policy briefing for next year by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups on Tuesday. To build an open start-up and venture ecosystem for future global unicorns, the government plans to expand global funds with a cumulative asset of 8 trillion won to support local startups’ advance into overseas markets, said SMEs and Startups Minister Lee Young.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
“You are not alone”: Sister of Sewol ferry tragedy victim’s letter to Itaewon survivors
The Hankyoreh is publishing a letter of consolation and solidarity to those who survived the tragic crowd crush in Itaewon on Oct. 29. The Hankyoreh and the 10.29 Itaewon Disaster Citizens’ Action Group also plan on arranging an opportunity for victims' families, survivors, witnesses and rescuers to gather and talk about the Itaewon tragedy, and the various issues that have ensued.
America must frankly own up to role in tragic Jeju April 3 Incident
South Koreans were long forced to remain silent about the tragic Jeju April 3 Incident. Over 30,000 residents of Jeju Island were killed by the police, the military and paramilitary groups such as the Northwest Youth Association during the incident, which began with a crackdown on a celebration of the March 1st Movement in 1947, continued with an uprising on April 3, 1948, and finally concluded on Sept. 21, 1954. But under Korea’s authoritarian governments, the uprising was stigmatized as a communist revolt, and the relatives of the victims were forced to live with their despair, shackled by a system of guilt by association.
N. Korean hackers spoof emails of S. Korean reporters, lawmaker’s office in phishing scheme
A North Korean hacking organization impersonated South Korean reporters, a National Assembly member’s office, and a public institution to send phishing emails to hundreds of foreign affairs and national security experts, it has been learned. On Sunday, the cyber investigation bureau of the National Police Agency presented findings concluding that numerous fraudulent emails appeared to have been sent by “Kimsuky,” a hacker group affiliated with North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Pardoned Kim Kyoung-soo, “Forced to Accept a Present I Did Not Want”
Kim Kyoung-soo, former governor of Gyeongsangnam-do, left the Changwon Prison a little after midnight December 28 following a special pardon granted by the Yoon Suk-yeol government. Kim entered the Changwon Prison on July 26, 2021 after the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in prison. He was detained for 77 days during his first trial and released from prison 520 days after he was imprisoned in Changwon following the Supreme Court ruling. Kim was only pardoned of his remaining sentence, so he is not eligible to run in an election until December 28, 2027.
Supreme Court, “Freedom of Expression Does Not Apply” to the Malicious Comment “Nation’s Hotel Girl”
The Supreme Court ruled that the online comment which spitefully referred to a celebrity as the “nation’s hotel girl” was an insult. The court announced that even in the case of online comments about a public figure, the freedom of expression could not always be recognized if the comment was related to her privacy or if it expressed hate. The court made it clear that the freedom of expression must go in harmony with the protection of an individual’s personal rights.
New Year’s Pardon for a Large Number of Politicians Including MB and Kim Kyoung-soo
The government will finalize the list of people granted a special pardon in time for the New Year in a cabinet meeting chaired by President Yoon Suk-yeol on December 27. The president is expected to pardon former president Lee Myung-bak (MB) and former governor of Gyeongsangnam-do Kim Kyoung-soo according to the review by the pardon review board in the Ministry of Justice on December 23. Lee, who is expected to be pardoned and reinstated, was sentenced to seventeen years in prison for embezzlement and bribery in October 2020, but at present, his sentence has been suspended due to health issues.
National Assembly Votes Against Arrest of DP Lawmaker
The National Assembly has voted against a motion to allow the arrest of Democratic Party(DP) lawmaker Noh Woong-rae on bribery charges. The assembly, dominated by the main opposition DP, held a plenary session on Wednesday and rejected the motion in a vote of 161 to 101 with nine abstentions. The DP holds a parliamentary majority with 169 seats. The four-time lawmaker is accused of receiving 60 million won in illegal funds from a businessman around the time of the 2020 parliamentary elections in return for business favors. Noh has strongly denied the allegations.
N. Korean Leader Calls for Enhancing Roles of Party Organizations
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has presented ways to enhance the roles of the suborganizations of the ruling Workers' Party's during a key party meeting. According to the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) on Thursday, Kim laid out the goals during the sixth plenary meeting of the eighth Central Committee of the Workers' Party, which convened for a third day on Wednesday. During the meeting, Kim reportedly assessed that the party has seen many changes and advances in its activities this year, calling for party organizations to ceaselessly increase their fighting efficiency and carry out party projects in a fresh manner.
Military to Spend 560 Bln Won through 2027 to Bolster Anti-Drone Assets
The South Korean military said on Wednesday that it will inject more than 500 billion won in the next five years to enhance its capacity to counter drone provocations by the North. According to the defense ministry’s five-year plan, it projects 560 billion won in investments through 2027 to enhance its detection assets and “soft-kill” and “hard-kill” weapons program to respond to threats by North Korea’s unmanned aerial vehicles. Specifically, the weaponry subject to the upgrade includes local air defense radars, electronic jammers and laser anti aircraft weapons.
National Assembly refuses to consent to arrest of DP lawmaker Noh
The National Assembly on Wednesday voted against arresting opposition lawmaker Noh Woong-rae on bribery charges. The motion fell through in an anonymous vote of 161-101, with nine abstentions, in the Assembly where Noh's main opposition Democratic Party (DP) holds a majority. The four-time lawmaker has been under prosecution investigation on charges of receiving a total of 60 million won (US$47,281) before and after the 2020 parliamentary election from a businessperson in return for providing business favors.
Ex-President Lee to leave hospital soon following special presidential pardon
Former President Lee Myung-bak will likely leave the hospital soon following a special presidential pardon, aides said Wednesday, amid speculation he could deliver a statement in person. Lee was pardoned at the beginning of Wednesday while serving a 17-year prison term for bribery and embezzlement. The pardon canceled his remaining prison term of about 15 years and about 8.2 billion won (US$6.48 million) of unpaid fines. The 81-year-old has been staying at a hospital in Seoul due to diabetes and other chronic ailments.
S. Korean shipbuilders rank 2nd in new global orders this year
South Korean shipbuilders lagged behind their Chinese rivals in terms of new global orders in 2022 to take the No. 2 spot in the world for the second straight year, industry data showed Thursday. Local shipbuilders clinched a combined 15.64 million compensated gross tons (CGTs) in new orders this year, accounting for 37 percent of the 41.93 million global total, according to the data provided by global market researcher Clarkson Research Service.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
South Korea eyes global reach with new Indo-Pacific strategy
South Korea is now a global player among Indo-Pacific countries that has to do its part for freedom, peace and prosperity in the region in order to take the next leap, Foreign Minister Park Jin said Wednesday. The minister made the remarks while unveiling the country’s Indo-Pacific strategy -- the latest foreign policy summarizing the steps needed to expand Korea’s global imprint. The plan presented by the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, promised back in May when it took power, comes amid a global rush to gain an advantage in a region dominated by the growing US-China rivalry over strategic economic as well as security interests.
Ruling party interim chief to attend Brazilian president's inauguration
A special delegation led by the ruling People Power Party’s interim chief, Chung Jin-suk, will attend the inauguration ceremony of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Jan. 1, the presidential office said Wednesday. Chung will deliver a letter from President Yoon Suk-yeol expressing his expectation to “work closely with the new Brazilian government to further deepen and develop the comprehensive cooperative partnership” between the two countries. Elected for the third term in October, da Silva led Brazil between 2003 and 2010.
Yoon orders immediate retaliation against N.Korean provocations
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday ordered the military to “punish and retaliate against any North Korean provocations in no uncertain terms” without the fear of nuclear weapons, amid growing public concern about security in the aftermath of the cross-border infiltration of North Korean drones. Speaking at a meeting with aides, Yoon said that immediate retaliation is the “most powerful means to deter provocations,” according to Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, at a televised press briefing. “We must not fear or hesitate just because the country has nuclear weapons.”
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Seoul seeks cautious balance in US, China ties via Indo-Pacific strategy
South Korea on Wednesday unveiled the complete version of its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which is aimed at pursuing freedom, peace and prosperity in the region through the principles of inclusiveness, trust and reciprocity. The presidential office stressed that its Indo-Pacific strategy is distinctive from that of the U.S. by emphasizing inclusiveness and not excluding any specific country, which appears to be a cautious balance-seeking effort regarding China. "The Indo-Pacific strategy is a comprehensive regional strategy aimed at facilitating our national interests in the region, whose geopolitical importance is ever growing,"
Yoon calls for decisive response to North Korean provocations
President Yoon Suk-yeol called for a decisive and overwhelming response to any provocations by North Korea, saying that strong action is the most effective deterrent. Presiding over a meeting on Wednesday with presidential secretaries and ranking officials of the National Security Office, Yoon said South Korea's military should not hesitate just because North Korea has nuclear weapons. His strongly worded remarks came a day after he became "furious" over the military's bumbling response to North Korea's drones, one of which reached the skies of the nation's capital.
Korean tech firms to show off latest innovations at CES 2023
Korean tech companies are ready to showcase their latest products and innovative technologies at CES 2023, the world's largest consumer electronics show slated to open in Las Vegas next week. CES will be held in a bigger and more fully in-person fashion this time, with global tech giants like Google, Meta and Microsoft physically returning to the global stage for innovation after missing the previous one due to the fast spreading omicron variant. CES 2021 was held entirely online. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the organizer of the event, said some 2,200 exhibitors and around 10,000 attendees are expected to show up from around the world for the tech show.
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