Friday, March 3, 2023
Round-up of important news from major Korean dailies and from international media today
The Korea Post ( www.koreapost.com )
Kuwait looms great for remarkable opportunities for increased cooperation
Nowadays, economic cooperation between Korea and other countries of the world is becoming more and more important. In this regard, the State of Kuwait, according to Ambassador Deyab Al Rashidi of the State of Kuwait in Seoul, looms remarkably great as Kuwait has great opportunities for the Korean business enterprises. Here are details of an interview with Ambassador Deyab Al Rashidi of Kuwait:
Trade Minister Ahn presides over Foreign Business Community Roundtable
Minister for Trade Ahn Duk-geun presided over the “Roundtable Meeting for Foreign Business Community in Korea” on Feb. 23 at the Lotte Hotel Seoul. At the meeting, Minister Ahn announced the ministry’s foreign investment promotion policy for 2023, which aims to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) with focus on high-tech industries. The roundtable was held to resolve investment challenges through in-person communication with foreign-invested companies and the American, European, Chinese, Japanese and other major countries’ Chambers of Commerce in Korea.
China inspires developing countries to strive for prosperity: former Egyptian PM
Souvenirs with Chinese elements decorate an entire wall in the office of Essam Sharaf, former Prime Minister of Egypt. These souvenirs, including paper cuttings, Chinese calligraphy works, Peking Opera masks, as well as trophies and certificates that he received in China, carry his fond memories of years of friendly exchanges with China. "I visited China for the first time in 2005 as Egypt's Minister of Transport and saw the rapid economic development of the country. So far, I've made some 30 visits to China and the continuous development of the country impressed me so much," said Sharaf.
Chosun Ilbo (http://english.chosun.com)
Unsold New Apartments at Highest Level in a Decade
The number of unsold new apartments across Korea last month reached its highest level in more than a decade. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Tuesday, 75,359 new apartments failed to find a buyer in January, a surge of 10.6 percent from the previous month and the most since November 2012. A woman looks at a model of an apartment complex in Seoul on Feb. 24. The rise was mostly due to more properties flooding the market in the fourth quarter last year.
Yoon Calls Japan 'Partner' in Independence Movement Day Speech
In a speech on Wednesday marking a nationwide protest in 1919 against Japanese occupation, President Yoon Suk-yeol urged his country to consider Japan as an ally in dealing with escalating threats from North Korea. "Now, a century after the March 1 Independence Movement, Japan has transformed from the militaristic aggressor of the past into a partner that shares the same universal values with us," Yoon said.
Most Fund Investors Lost Money Last Year
Six out of 10 Koreans who put their money into investment funds suffered a loss last year when the Korea Composite Stock Price Index plunged nearly 25 percent amid rising interest rates and the economic slump. According to a survey of 2,500 people by the Korean Financial Consumers Protection Foundation on Monday, 25.8 percent of them put money into investment funds last year. Each invested in an average of 2.7 funds. A whopping 57 percent of fund investors suffered a loss, up from 34.6 percent in 2021. Their average loss rate rose five percentage points to 18.3 percent.
Joongang Ilbo (https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com )
Korea left in dust as Tesla names Mexico home of next gigafactory
Korea’s big ambition to attract a Tesla factory in the country has been thwarted as the world’s largest EV automaker chose Mexico for its next gigafactory. Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed Wednesday that he plans to build a new factory in Mexico near Monterrey during a three-hour investor presentation. The announcement came a day after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the two reached an agreement on the establishment. Gigafactory is a term used to describe Tesla’s big-scale manufacturing plant.
Gangwon governor hopes to spread the potential of his province
With a majestic landscape of mountains and forests, sandy beaches, fresh seafood, winter skiing and summer surfboarding, the list goes on for why Korea's northeastern province of Gangwon is worth a visit any time of the year. Kim Jin-tae, a Chuncheon-born former lawmaker who became governor of his home province last July, hopes to get that message across to an increasing number of foreigners traveling to Korea, especially ahead of several major international events that Gangwon will host. The 12th World Choir Games, known as the world’s largest international choir competition, will be held in Gangneung for 11 days from July 3.
DP chief's supporters attack rebel lawmakers after vote
The National Assembly’s narrow rejection Monday of an arrest warrant motion for Democratic Party (DP) chair Lee Jae-myung continues to reverberate as internal divisions within Lee’s party intensify. Lee’s supporters have been circulating “hit lists” and wanted posters of DP lawmakers accused of actively or passively siding with the arrest warrant. Some have even targeted former president Moon Jae-in and former prime minister Lee Nak-yon. The former prime minister, who lost to Lee Jae-myung in the DP presidential primary, drew particular ire from the party chief’s supporters, who accuse him of creating the Daejang-dong scandal in the first place.
The Dong-A Ilbo (http://english.donga.com/)
US ‘Ghost Rider’ gunship deployed in S. Korea for live-fire exercises
The South Korean military has released footage of the U.S. Air Forces’ newest gunship, the AC-130J (aka Ghost Rider), conducting live-fire exercises in the skies over the Korean Peninsula as part of the ongoing joint ROK-US special forces training, “Teak Knife.” This marks the first deployment of the AC-130J in the Korean Peninsula, which can fire thousands of rounds of ammunition per minute and carry out precision strikes.
Samsung Electronics: ‘We welcome Apple’s foldable phone’
“If Chinese companies or Apple releases a foldable phone, it’s always a ‘welcome.’ Because it means that Apple recognizes the value of the foldable phone that Samsung has pioneered.” Choi Won-joon, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics, said at a media briefing on Monday in Barcelona, Spain, where the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023 convened. With Chinese companies such as Huawei unveiling a series of foldable products at this year’s MWC, Samsung Electronics is geared up for a competition by perfecting its Galaxy products.
Semiconductor exports halved, continuing deficit for 12 months
In the fifth straight month of decline, overall exports took another hit last month, with semiconductor exports experiencing a sharp drop to almost half. In contrast, energy imports surged by nearly 20% year-on-year, causing a trade deficit for the twelfth month. Despite the government's all-out efforts to boost exports, the Korean economy is projected to grow by only around 1% this year, and the country remains mired in a negative trend. As per the latest "February Export-Import Trends" report released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy on Wednesday, the total export value for the previous month stood at 50.1 billion U.S. dollars, reflecting a 7.5% decline from a year ago.
Maeil Business News Korea (http://www.pulsenews.co.kr/)
Korea’s export recovery hangs in balance due to weakness in chip industry
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Choo Kyung-ho has doubled down on the importance of the semiconductor industry for South Korea’s export, saying a recovery in the country’s exports will be difficult for the time being without a rebound in the sector. During an emergency ministerial meeting on economic affairs and export investment strategy on Thursday, Choo stated that “without a rebound in the semiconductor industry, it will be difficult for exports to recover for some time.”
Korea reports the longest trade deficit in 26 years on weak exports to China
South Korea reported a trade deficit for the 12th straight month in February, the longest streak since 1997, as exports of mainstay chips plunged and shipments to China declined for a ninth month. According to data released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Wednesday, the country’s exports fell 7.5 percent on year to $50.1 billion in February. The decline continued for the fifth month since September last year.
KRW loses the most against USD among major currencies in Feb.
The South Korean won has weakened the most against the U.S. dollar among other major currencies in February amid growing concerns about inflation in the U.S. and weak exports. According to Bloomberg on Wednesday, the Korean won lost 6.42 percent against the greenback in February, the steepest decline among the currencies of 11 Asian countries. The Thai baht fell 6.29 percent versus the U.S. dollar, the Malaysian ringgit 6.29 percent, the Chinese yuan 2.18 percent, and Japanese yen 4.44 percent.
HanKyoReh Shinmun (http://english.hani.co.kr)
Yoon’s March 1 speech paves way for partnering with Japan without reflecting on history
“A century after the March First Independence Movement, Japan has transformed from a militaristic aggressor of the past into a partner that shares the same universal values with us,” said South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during his commemorative address on the 104th anniversary of the independence movement. “Today Korea and Japan cooperate on issues of security and economy. We also work together to cope with global challenges.” Yoon neither made any proposals about Korea’s longstanding historical disputes with Japan nor mentioned pending issues, including compensation for victims of forced labor during the Japanese colonial period, in an abnormally short message, which was over in 5 minutes and 25 seconds.
US’ new subsidy rules for chipmakers put de facto ban on doing business with China
New application guidelines for semiconductor manufacturing subsidies released by the US Department of Commerce emphasize prioritizing shipments to the military and security sectors and banning new investments in China as a condition for receiving US government funding. That creates a dilemma for Samsung Electronics and other Korean chipmakers that would like to apply for subsidies, since they would basically have to forfeit business opportunities in China in order to meet the strict funding requirements.
Four key Moon-era officials indicted over 2019 repatriation of N. Korean fishers
Prosecutors investigating the repatriation of two North Korean fishers during the Moon Jae-in administration have sent four key former senior officials to trial. The four Moon-era figures indicted over the incident are Chung Eui-yong, former director of the Blue House National Security Office (NSO); Suh Hoon, former National Intelligence Service director; Noh Young-min, former presidential chief of staff; and Kim Yeon-chul, former minister of unification. The Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office indicted these four on Monday on charges of abuse of office under the National Intelligence Service Act.
The KyungHyangShinmun (http://english.khan.co.kr/)
President Yoon Says, “Japan Has Transformed from an Aggressor to a Partner for Cooperation” in March First Independence Movement Day Speech
President Yoon Suk-yeol gives a speech at a ceremony commemorating the 104th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement at the Memorial Hall of Yu Gwan-sun in Jung-gu, Seoul on March 1. President Yoon Suk-yeol said, “Now, a century after the March First Independence Movement, Japan has transformed from a militaristic aggressor of the past into a partner that shares the same universal values with us. Today Korea and Japan cooperate on issues of security and economy. We also work together to cope with global challenges.”
Lee Jun-seok, “Chung Sun-sin Could Be a Critical Factor for the Government, Not Just the Party Convention”
Lee Jun-seok, former leader of the People Power Party (PPP), spoke on the failed appointment of attorney Chung Sun-sin as chief of the National Office of Investigation following the controversy over his son’s school violence and expected it to be a critical factor for the government. Lee appeared on the KBS radio show, Joo Jin-woo Live on March 1 and shared his view when the host asked, “Has the unsuccessful appointment of attorney Chung Sun-sin as chief of the National Office of Investigation become an important factor in the party convention?”
National Assembly Votes Against Lee Jae-myung’s Arrest, But Lee Suffers a Blow to His Leadership
On February 27, the National Assembly barely rejected the motion to arrest Lee Jae-myung, leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, for allegations connected to the development of Daejang-dong and the Uirye New Town and to donations for the Seongnam Football Club (F.C.). More legislators voted in favor of the motion than against it, but it failed to obtain the majority of the votes necessary for the arrest and was rejected. Unlike the expectations of the Democratic Party’s leadership, which was confident the motion would be rejected by an overwhelming number of votes, a large number of the party’s lawmakers voted against Lee, leaving a critical blow to his leadership.
Trial of DP Chief on Charges of Election Law Violations to Begin
Main opposition Democratic Party(DP) Chair Lee Jae-myung will appear in court on Friday to stand trial for making false statements during his presidential campaign. The Seoul Central District Court is set to hold the trial’s first hearing at 10:40 a.m., with Lee reportedly expected to arrive at the court at 10:30 a.m. to face charges of election law violations in person as is required for this stage of a trial.
Pentagon: US, S. Korea Discussing Potential Purchase of Ammunition
The U.S. Department of Defense said that the United States is in talks with South Korea over the possible purchase of ammunition from South Korean firms. Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed the ongoing discussions on Thursday during a press briefing. Asked if the U.S. is discussing a potential purchase of weapons other than ammunition from South Korea, the spokesperson said that he had nothing further to add.
US, S. Korea Discussing Means of Consulting on Extended Deterrence
A senior U.S. defense official has said that discussions with South Korea are under way on new means to address Seoul’s concerns about the U.S. extended deterrence against threats from North Korea. Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, made the remarks on Thursday during a forum hosted by the Hudson Institute, a think tank based in Washington. Ratner said that the allies are currently in talks on new consultative mechanisms to address issues important to Seoul that seek a better understanding of the U.S. strategic operations, planning and thinking.
Secretary Austin vows continued efforts to counter N. Korean provocation
The United States will continue to counter threats posed by North Korea through close cooperation with its allies, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Thursday. In a memorandum to all defense department officials, the defense secretary named "advanced and persistent" threats posed by North Korea and Iran as one of challenges facing the country, along with what he called the "pacing challenge" from China and "acute threat" posed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
JCS chief inspects allies' special ops drills, calls for accurate strike capabilities
South Korea's top military officer has inspected combined special operations drills with the United States and called on the troops to maintain their capabilities to "strike the enemy's critical facilities without fail," his office said Thursday. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Kim Seung-kyum checked their readiness during Monday's segment of the Exercise Teak Knife involving the two countries' special commandos, a AC-130J gunship and a MC-130J multi-mission combat transport aircraft.
Whether to provide lethal aid to Ukraine is up to S. Korea: White House
Whether South Korea will provide direct military assistance to Ukraine is up to the country itself, a White House official said Thursday, calling it a "sovereign decision" that each country has to make. John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said the U.S. already appreciates South Korea for the assistance it has provided to the East European country amid Russia's ongoing invasion of the country.
The Korea Herald (http://www.koreaherald.com)
Historic bill-signing signals Yoon's shift on veterans affairs
President Yoon Suk Yeol hosted a historic bill-signing ceremony Thursday to elevate the Veterans Affairs Ministry to a full-fledged ministry and establish a government agency to support the Korean diaspora. The event marks the first public bill-signing ceremony by a South Korean president to reorganize the government structure, according to Yoon's office. The elevation of the Veterans Affairs Ministry and creation of Overseas Koreans Agency will become effective early in June.
S. Korea discloses special forces drills with US in warning to N.Korea
The South Korean military on Thursday disclosed that South Korean and US special operations forces have staged monthlong “Teak Knife” military exercises since early February, practicing infiltration and precision strikes on key targets in North Korea, in an apparent warning message to North Korea. The rare disclosure came as South Korea and the US are scheduled to conduct annual, large-scale military exercises in mid-March and as North Korea has ratcheted up its bellicose rhetoric and threatened tit-for-tat military actions.
Rescuers comb wreckage of Greece’s deadliest train crash
Rescuers searched late into the night Wednesday for survivors amid the mangled, burned-out wrecks of two trains that collided in northern Greece, killing at least 43 people and crumpling carriages into twisted steel knots in the country’s deadliest rail crash. The impact just before midnight Tuesday threw some passengers into ceilings and out the windows. “My head hit the roof of the carriage with the jolt,” Stefanos Gogakos, who was in a rear car, told state broadcaster ERT. He said windows shattered, showering riders with glass.
The Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr)
Aerospace administration to be launched by end of 2023
Korea will launch an independent aerospace administration to assume full charge of the state-led space programs and aeronautics research by the end of this year, the science ministry said Thursday. The Ministry of Science and ICT preannounced the enactment of a special law to establish the national aeronautics administration, or the Korean version of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The ministry said it will seek parliamentary approval in June and open the administration in December.
US imposes fresh sanctions to restrict North Korea's revenues
The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on individuals and companies that it accused of illicitly generating revenue for the government of North Korea. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Chilsong Trading Corporation, which it says is used by North Korea to earn foreign currency and collect intelligence; and Korea Paekho Trading Corporation, which is accused of generating funds for the North Korean government since the 1980s by conducting art and construction projects throughout the Middle East and Africa.
Financial authorities increase pressure on banks
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) will be conducting a regulator inspection into Shinhan Financial Group and Shinhan Bank later this month, the watchdog agency said Wednesday. It will be the first of its kind conducted on Shinhan in four years. The FSS' regular inspection takes place every two to five years, during which the financial watchdog thoroughly examines a financial company's overall management, ranging from corporate governance, executive appointments, internal control systems, banks' loan-to-deposit interest ratios and salary increases.
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