N Korea reconsiders trust-building with the US, mobs chase Nike Jordan golf shoes, and what’s your Korean age?
Fri 2022-01-21 (KST)
“The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the plan on Wednesday, saying all children born on or after January 1 are eligible and it will begin handing out vouchers on April 1. The vouchers will be valid for one year from the child’s date of birth and can be used at all types of businesses, excluding those unrelated to childcare such as leisure and entertainment. The Seoul government also decided to expand the scope of monthly public assistance of 100-thousand won for children to include seven-year-olds. Previously, only children up to age six were eligible.”
On Jan. 12, lawyer Lee Byung-chul was found dead in a motel, and the National Forensic Service have determined “Lee died alone in his motel room after a major artery ruptured.” Although the possibility [of homicide] was ruled out, candidate Lee and his party are accused of “pushing Lee to the brink of death.” Deceased Lee was the first to share recordings of conversations between himself and a businessman identified as Choi, about legal fees paid on behalf of the presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung’s trial, on charges of election law violations.” Candidate Lee [denied this] and claimed that many were friends who took on the case pro bono. Also, Choi submitted a written testimony describing the recordings as his and the deceased whistle blower’s fabrications.
“Potentially damaging phone call recordings of presidential candidates and their family members continue to plague the election campaigns across the aisle, with the latest revelation hitting Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea. Lee responded quickly, apologizing for the contents of his phone calls with his late brother, which were filled with insults. The recording transcripts were made public on Tuesday… The transcript contains the candidate’s dispute with his brother on several issues, including hospitalization of his brother in a mental hospital. The ruling Democratic Party of Korea said it will take legal [action].”
Ahn up in arms against one-on-one debate (2 min read)
“The minor opposition People’s Party presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo on Wednesday filed an injunction to stop the airing of the TV debate [scheduled for the 27th of Jan] between presidential candidates of the Democratic Party of Korea and People Power Party, protesting the decision to exclude him… Though the Democratic Party has suggested holding a four-way debate including Ahn and Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party after the Lunar New Year holidays, Ahn called this suggestion unfair,” as he should also be considered a leading contender.
“Pregnant women are not recognized as being exempt from the vaccine pass system because they are in the high-risk group for COVID-19 and are therefore strongly recommended to get vaccinated. According the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) review of several studies, vaccines that are based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology ― such as Pfizer and Moderna ― do not cause complications in pregnant women and fetuses… However, pregnant women said they are not completely reassured… [and] many of them delayed their vaccinations under recommendation from their doctors… As of Dec. 9, there were 2,087 pregnant women who have received a first dose of the vaccine and 1,175 pregnant women who have been administered a second dose.”
“People hospitalized for adverse effects within six weeks of vaccination will be exempt from the pass system starting Monday, as well as those who applied for compensation for vaccine reaction but no sufficient causal link was established. Current exceptions include those who have just recovered from COVID-19 or were prohibited from getting their second shot after suffering an adverse reaction from the first. People who cannot be vaccinated due to immune deficiency or because they are taking immunosuppressive or anticancer drugs are also currently exempt.”
“The [Ministry of Education] will support medical costs of up to 5 million won ($4,200) for students who experience serious abnormal reactions within 90 days of being administered a COVID-19 vaccine but were not compensated by the government for lack of causality. For students of families with an income below 50 percent of the median income, the ministry will cover up to 10 million won… The ministry will also support mentally unstable students who tried to kill or maim themselves by covering their hospital costs for physical and mental treatment with up to 3 million won each. Students or their parents or guardians can file for support through their respective schools.”
“The country added 6,603 new COVID-19 infections, including 6,357 local infections, raising the total caseload to 712,503… Health authorities are on high alert over a possible spike in infections as many people travel for family reunions during the Lunar New Year holiday that begins late this month… The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients stood at 488 on Thursday. The country reported 28 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 6,480. The fatality rate was 0.91 percent.”
General COVID Information for residents in Korea:
Foreign firms in Korea are calling for more "clarity" and "predictability" in the Serious Accident Punishment Act ( in effect from Jan 27). The new law will hold CEOs "criminally liable for serious industrial accidents if their companies did not have the required safety measures in place." It puts the foreign companies more at risk "given they can bar the executives from returning to their home countries." Also, it is estimated to render Korea an unattractive investment destination, adding to "the already heavy regulatory environment." 47.1 percent of 121 foreign firms surveyed proposed that businesses be offered a chance to take corrective measures before a case is prosecuted.
“The last-minute cancellation of the summit [between President Moon and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan] took the shine off of a trip which otherwise had a number of meaningful accomplishments during the three-day visit. The summit between the two was replaced with a 25-minute phone conversation,” and a meeting with UAE Prime Minister and the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum… The [Crown Prince] also offered his apology for talking over the phone, and expressed regrets on the canceled meeting due to "situations which are out of his hands.”
Will North Korea be the death of Bitcoin? (4 min read)
“A new report from blockchain research firm Chainalysis reckons the Kim regime's haul from hacking crypto platforms surged 40% in 2021 to roughly $400 million… This marriage between [the] crypto world's extreme opacity and the most opaque regime anywhere is a bigger problem for Bitcoin than investors realize… For watchdogs worried the crypto space is too rife with fraud and bad actors, Pyongyang's attack on at least seven cryptocurrency platforms last year is now Exhibit A in their closing arguments… North Korea could indeed make 2022 the year of regulatory crackdowns that cryptocurrency bulls long dreaded.”
“North Korean leader Kim Jong-un [presided] over a politburo meeting of the Workers' Party at the headquarters of the party's Central Committee in Pyongyang on Wednesday… [and] ordered officials to reconsider all trust-building measures with the United States, instructing them to mull resuming all activities temporarily suspended. North Korea has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ICBM testing since late 2017.”
“The government unveiled a long-term road map to foster its metaverse industry Thursday, with the aim of becoming the world's fifth-largest market over the next five years. Under the plan, Korea will foster at least 220 metaverse companies with sales volumes of more than 5 billion won ($4.2 million) and create a ‘metaverse academy’ this year to nurture 40,000 local experts by 2026… Currently, Korea is said to rank 12th in the world in terms of market share in the metaverse industry.”
“Google has launched a registration-based beta offering access to ‘popular’ Play Games titles on Windows PCs in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan… While the company has long made Google Play media services available to Windows (if typically through the web), games have been a glaring exception. Not that the loosened requirements will necessarily hurt Google — the goal is to provide a seamless leap from an Android phone or Chrome OS machine, so the company wins regardless of how you play. ”
“Pitching tents hours before the opening of Nike stores so as to be the first to get inside, customers sprinted into the stores like a mad mob… The commotion happened on Jan. 14, when Nike's Air Jordan 1 Low G sneakers landed at some 30 Nike stores nationwide in limited quantities. The shoes sold for 179,000 won a pair… While some may have just liked the shoes and bought a pair purely for themselves, the Michael Jordan sneakers were also being bought for another purpose: so that customers could later resell the shoes for much higher prices.” The article contains a 1m 9s long video showing people running to the Nike store.
“When the government earlier announced its plan to implement the vaccine pass mandate for children aged between 12 and 18 starting in March… officials were referring to the legal Korean age. But vaccine eligibility – ages 12 or older -- is based on the international age system… The Korean age system in which everyone becomes a year old at birth is known to have derived from China centuries ago. Its roots are in the ancient East Asian idea that time in a mother’s womb is also considered a part of life, according to historians…[Also,] all Koreans become a year older every New Year’s Day, regardless of their actual birthdays… This means a Korean baby, born on Dec. 31 last year, is two years old now in Korean age, while being less than a year old by the international standard..”
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