Friday, December 30, 2022
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
“Seeing is better than one hundred times of hearing”
The Embassy of the Republic of Mongolia in Seoul hosted an impressive photo exhibition at the Design Plaza Gallery in Seoul on Dec. 24, 2022 with the attendance of many Korean and international guests as well as important persons from the host Embassy. It was named "Mongolia—The Land of the Blue Sky" photo exhibition 24 Dec. 2022 and featured the works of Photo Artist Gan-Ulzii Gonchig, Many interesting photos were on display and the visits were all obviously impressed greatly by the wonderful picture showing Mongolia.
IHQ, Upsky sign an MOU to support Vietnamese exporters' promotion
Media entertainment group IHQ signed a three-way memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its subsidiary Korea Rural Broadcasting Corporation and Upsky to support the promotion of Vietnamese export companies, IHQ said on Dec. 22. IHQ, which has experience in exporting content to Vietnam, through this MOU. IHQ, which has experience in exporting content to Vietnam, plans to set a bridgehead for various companies to enter the Southeast Asian market through this MOU.
Ex-CEO Seo Yoo-seok of Mirae Asset Global Investments named KOFIA chairman
Former President Seo Yoo-seok of Mirae Asset Global Investments was elected as the 6th president of the Korea Financial Investment Association (KOFIA). The Korea Financial Investment Association announced that the decision was made as a result of voting for 244 of the 385 regular member companies that attended the general meeting at the extraordinary general meeting held on Dec. 23 at the Yeouido Gold Investment Center in Seoul.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Russia's Ukraine Invasion, U.S.-China Cold War Dominate News in 2022
Coronavirus lockdowns finally ended in much of the world this year, only to bring in their wake even gloomier news for millions around the globe. The cold war between the U.S. and China became more deeply entrenched, while Russia launched a murderous invasion of Ukraine that caused havoc in already fraying global supply chains. ◆ Russia Invades Ukraine : Russia launched a surprise invasion of Ukraine in February. Moscow claimed the war would end in a few days, but Ukraine, led by feisty President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has managed to keep Russia on edge.
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. But a study by the Financial Services Commission shows that 75 percent of elderly customers use offline bank branches and only 25 percent online services.
All Travelers from China to Get Tested for COVID
All travelers from China will probably have to undergo a rapid antigen test for COVID and submit a negative PCR test on arrival in Korea. Health authorities meet Thursday to finalize precautions against a massive COVID surge in China. Infections have been soaring since China eased lockdown as its zero-COVID policy failed and hundreds of millions remain unvaccinated. Quoting data from China's National Health Commission, the Central News Agency of Taiwan reported that more than 200 million or 17.56 percent of the Chinese population were infected with COVID from Dec. 1 to 20.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Five dead after fire breaks out in tunnel on Korean expressway
Five people died in a fire that broke out near the North Uiwang Interchange on the Gyeongin Expressway in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, on Thursday afternoon.
The fire started inside noise-barrier tunnel, approximately 830 meters (2,723 feet) in length, covering the Second Gyeongin Expressway, which connects Incheon and Seongnam in Gyeonggi. It may have been the result of a bus and a garbage truck colliding or the garbage truck catching fire on its own.
Prosecutors steering Itaewon case away from firefighters: Police
Police investigating the Itaewon crowd surge blamed prosecutors on Thursday for trying to steer the probe away from firefighters to please President Yoon Suk-yeol. Members of a special investigation team with the Korean National Police Agency that’s investigating the Itaewon tragedy said it was impossible to understand why prosecutors would reject its request to detain Choi Seong-beom, head of the Yongsan Fire Department, and demand a reinvestigation. The team’s request to detain Choi is its latest attempt to lock up a key suspect in the Itaewon tragedy before they put them on trial.
Kakao to dole out compensation to businesses that suffered due to data center fire
Kakao will hand out 30,000 won ($23.70) to 50,000 won of compensation to individual businesses that reported revenue losses after a 127-hour service breakdown in October. Kakao, which runs the KakaoTalk messenger app, announced its user compensation plan on Thursday. The plan includes doling out three emoji packages as general compensation for all of its messenger users. The emoji packages will be provided starting Jan. 5 through the KakaoTalk app. Users will be able to permanently use one of the three emoji packages, and the other two for 90 days.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
‘We must pursue peace through overwhelming preparation,’ Yoon says
On Thursday, President Yoon Suk Yeol said that South Korea must protect the peace by overpowering war capabilities and ordered the military to be always prepared for the war, in a strong response to the North Korean drone provocation. On his visit to the Agency for Defense Development in Daejeon on Thursday, President Yoon said that “North Korean drone infiltration into our airspace is absolutely intolerable,” and that the South Korean military must make sure that “provocations come with harsh costs.”
Bidding for duty-free shops at Incheon airport starts
bidding process started on Thursday for the operation of duty-free shops at Incheon International Airport. Rental fees will be charged based on the number of passengers at the airport. Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) on Thursday issued a post on bidding for the selection of operators of duty-free shops at Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and the Boarding Building. Bids will be made for five normal business licenses (63 stores, 20,842 m²) and two SME licenses (14 stores, 3,280m²).
Visas for foreign workers in Korea to be reformed
A special system is to be adopted in South Korea to allow foreign laborers to work in the country continuously for a maximum of 10 years. A pilot project will also be introduced, legalizing the employment of foreigners as home caretakers. The Ministry of Employment and Labor announced Thursday that such a reform on the country’s Employment Permit System (EPS) was voted for at the 36th Foreign Workers Policy Committee. The newly introduced “Special System for Long-term Retention for Non-professional Workers (E-9 visa)” is to be applied to foreign workers with the necessary qualifications, including a sufficient period of continuous service at the same business and a higher level of TOPIC scores.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
S. Korea’s factory output up 0.4% in Nov., but challenges remain
South Korea’s factory output snapped its four-month losing streak in November on a recovery in auto and machinery making but a plunge in output of semiconductors, the country’s mainstay export item, and future economic growth indicators suggest a bumpy road ahead for the country’s economy. According to the data announced by Statistics Korea on Thursday, the seasonally adjusted mining and manufacturing output in November bounced back 0.4 percent from a month ago when it dipped by the biggest pace since the pandemic-hit second quarter of 2020.
Korean energy minister hints at significant increase in electricity bill
The Korean energy minister on Thursday hinted at a significant hike in electricity bill for next year to help the country’s monopolistic state-run utility firm Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) reduce loss, but at the level that can minimize burden on low-income households.“It is better to allow a significant increase in (electricity bills) in the first half (next year) for the sake of KEPCO’s loss reduction, but we also have to consider that the winter season has already began and expensive electricity cost in the cold season could be too harsh to low-income households,”
Korea, big-box retailers seek to ease rule on store operating hours
The Korean government is seeking to allow big-box retailers, such as E-mart Inc. and Homeplus Co., to make early morning deliveries on days when they are closed. The Office for Government Policy Coordination on Wednesday signed an agreement with Korea Merchant Association, Korea Supermarkets Alliance, Korea Chainstores Association, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Ministry of SMEs and Startups to collaborate on seeking mutual growth of big and small retailers.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
The troubling far-right tendencies of Korea’s Yoon Suk-yeol
Yoon Suk-yeol did not start out as someone with a strong political bent. This may have been natural for him as someone who had worked nearly his entire life as a prosecutor. At one point, he so much as admitted that he had “zero sense for politics.” On page three of the Hankyoreh issue on Sept. 9, 2019, I published an article titled “As prosecutors deftly navigate administration, are prosecutorial reforms running aground?” The gist of it was that the investigation then-Prosecutor General Yoon Suk-yeol was leading against minister of justice nominee Cho Kuk had the underlying aim of thwarting reforms to the prosecution.
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.
Unmistakable signs of ethical decay
One of the most reliable measures of ethical progress is the rise of a certain kind of dogmatism. In a normal country, there is no debate on if or when rape and torture are tolerable; the public “dogmatically” accepts that they are out of the question. A clear sign of ethical decay is that we begin to debate rape (are there “legitimate” rapes?), or that torture is not only silently tolerated but publicly displayed. Things that were previously unimaginable gradually become possible. Here is the latest case: On Nov. 13, Putin’s close ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner private military group, was responding to an unverified video distributed on Telegram that showed a man identified Nuzhin, a former Wagner mercenary, being executed after admitting that he had changed sides in September to “fight against the Russians.”
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
Yoo Seong-min, “What Will the People Say If the Leader of the People Power Party Is Like President Yoon’s Slave?”
On December 29, former lawmaker Yoo Seong-min argued that the race to lead the People Power Party (PPP) was turning into a competition of candidates promoting special ties with President Yoon and criticized, “If the People Power Party leader is someone like the slave or servant of President Yoon, what will the people think when they see such a party leader and such a party?” Yoo appeared on Kim Hyun-jung’s News Show on CBS radio Thursday morning and said, “It seems like this party convention has turned into some race to promote special ties with President Yoon.
Kim Byung-joo, “NK Drone Seems to Have Come All the Way to Namsan... Likely to Have Passed the No-Fly Zone”
On December 29, Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Kim Byung-joo said, “It appears the North Korean drone came all the way to Namsan Mountain,” and claimed it was likely the drone passed through the no-fly zone. In an interview on Kim Hyun-jung’s News Show on CBS radio Thursday, Kim, a former deputy commander (Army general) of the R.O.K.-U.S. Combined Forces Command, spoke on the military’s explanation that the North Korean drone did not reach the Office of the President in Yongsan and said, “You shouldn’t look at this from the perspective of whether or not it came to Yongsan. If the drone entered the no-fly zone, then the guard operation has failed.”
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.
Consumer Prices Rise 5.1% in 2022, Highest in 24 Years
Consumer prices rose five-point-one percent this year, the most in 24 years. According to Statistics Korea on Friday, the country's consumer price index stood at 107-point-71 in 2022, rising five-point-one percent from a year earlier to post the largest gain since 1998 when it reached seven-point-five percent. Consumer prices grew three-point-six percent in January and continued rising to peak at six-point-three percent in July before retreating to the five-percent range in August.
US Treasury: Leased EVs Can Qualify for Tax Credits
The U.S. Treasury Department has released new guidelines on the Inflation Reduction Act(IRA) stipulating that electric vehicles(EVs) leased by consumers can qualify for commercial clean vehicle tax credits even if the cars were assembled outside North America. According to the guidelines released on Thursday, new electric vehicles purchased for commercial use such as leasing are eligible for the tax credit as long as they are produced by a "qualified manufacturer" and are not purchased for resale purposes.
Yoon Meets Leader of Japan's Komeito Party
President Yoon Suk Yeol met with the leader of Komeito, a junior party in the ruling bloc of the Japanese parliament, and called for close cooperation between the South Korea and Japan to respond to North Korea's provocations and resolve pending issues. The top office said that President Yoon met with Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi at the Yongsan office on Thursday. In the meeting, the president said that the two nations are seeing a significant increase in people-to-people exchanges recently, adding that the governments as well as parliaments should continue efforts to promote exchanges in various areas.
At least 5 killed, 37 injured in expressway tunnel fire
At least five people were killed and 37 others injured, three of them seriously, Thursday in a noise-barrier tunnel fire along an expressway in Gwacheon, just south of Seoul, fire authorities said. The blaze was reported to have occurred at 1:49 p.m. inside the noise tunnel in Gwacheon along the Second Gyeongin Expressway that connects the western port city of Incheon to Seongnam City, the authorities said.
S. Korea to speed up anti-drone system development
South Korea's state arms agency said Thursday it will push to speed up the development of a jamming system against small drones after the military's recent failure to shoot down North Korean drones. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said it will look to develop the counter-drone system over a 39-month period starting next year, compared to a 48-month window such a development usually requires.
S. Korean-made EVs entitled to tax credit under IRA when used for commercial use: Treasury
Buyers of new South Korean-made electric vehicles (EVs) can be entitled to a U.S. government tax credit when the new car is used for commercial use such as leasing, the Department of Treasury said Thursday. The new guidance on government tax benefits offers some relief to growing concerns over the new U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that has become a rare source of tension between the United States and its close allies, including South Korea, Japan and the European Union.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
‘Year of reckoning’: Where South Korea is headed as it readies for defining 2023
The year 2022, marked by unprecedented geopolitical and economic tensions, has been especially brutal for South Korea as it sought greater global clout amid deglobalization prompted by the escalating US-China rivalry. The search for a seat in a new world order is emboldening Korea to take bolder steps, beginning with its longtime ally, the US. The Indo-Pacific strategy revealed Wednesday is the epitome of Seoul’s commitment to helping reshape the world alongside Washington, its biggest ally with whom it marks 70 years of security ties in 2023. South Korea was careful so as to leave room for engagement with those potentially sidelined from the new coalition -- a regrouping of democracies to put checks on authoritarian regimes like China, according to critics.
Yoon orders military to secure peace with superior war preparation
President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered South Korean military to protect the peace on the peninsula by preparing overwhelming war capabilities, during a visit to a defense development agency on Thursday in the wake of Pyongyang's airspace invasion.“If we are to achieve peace, we must prepare for war with overwhelming superiority,” Yoon said. “We must clearly realize that a disguised peace cannot protect (our) security, and its foundation will collapse.”
Seoul looks to make the best of US Inflation Reduction Act
South Korea will look to make the most of the US Inflation Reduction Act for domestic battery and energy companies while trying to prevent drawbacks for the country’s carmakers, Minister of Industry, Trade and Energy Lee Chang-yang said Wednesday.“Regarding the IRA, it’s a situation where we have to reduce damages and maximize benefits from the law. We are one of the fastest and strongest responding countries,” Lee said in a meeting with reporters.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Yoon warns North Korea will pay 'heavy price' for provocations
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Thursday warned North Korea of the consequences of its recent drone infiltration, saying, "We should let the North know that it will always pay a heavy price for its provocations." He made the strongly-worded remarks on North Korea's provocations and South Korea's preparedness and readiness three days in a row after North Korean drones invaded the South's airspace. "The North Korean drones' infiltration is unacceptable," Yoon was quoted as saying by deputy presidential spokesperson Lee Jae-myoung.
N. Korea working on draft resolution for year-end party plenary meeting
North Korea has discussed policy goals for 2023 to draw up a draft resolution expected to be adopted at the close of an ongoing plenary meeting of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), according to state media Friday. During the fourth-day session of the WPK central committee's enlarged plenary meeting Thursday, participants held sectoral discussions to map out measures to implement "important tasks" set forth by the North's leader Kim Jong-un, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Bureaucrats, lawmakers urged to reduce burden on businesses
Major business lobby groups are urging the government to reduce the burden on companies. The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), the Korea Enterprises Federation (KEF), the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) are also calling on the government to enhance cooperation and ease regulations. The lobby groups emphasized that 2022 presented grave external difficulties due to the global supply chain turmoil caused by the prolonged Ukraine-Russia war and the deepening conflict between the U.S. and China overlapped by high prices, high-interest rates and high exchange rates.
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