The Hallyu visa is coming, court partially suspends vaccine pass system, and the new Air Force One takes off
Mon 2022-01-17 (KST)
In today’s edition, we will forego the International Relations and Miscellaneous sections, to prioritise the high volume of Coronavirus related news over the weekend.
“Aiming to further cement its rising global profile as a soft power nation, South Korea is set to introduce a new visa program this year to draw global cultural [talent]. Dubbed the Hallyu visa in reference to the Korean Wave of films, TV dramas and music sweeping across the world, the new program is designed to support the entry of foreigners eager to learn about the Korean culture and entertainment industry. A senior Justice Ministry official explained that those who plan to stay more than 90 days in Korea and who enroll in entertainment-related education here will be eligible.”
"If a missile of Mach 5 or faster is launched (from North Korea), and if it is equipped with a nuclear warhead, it would take less than one minute for the missile to reach the metropolitan area (of South Korea) and cause mass destruction. Intercepting it is virtually impossible… In such a situation, there is no other way to prevent it other than a preemptive strike called the Kill Chain." People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol said during his New Year press conference in Seoul. “[The] ruling liberal Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung… criticized Yoon for attempting to use North Korea's threats to rally support ahead of the March 9 presidential election.”
“Crews are trying to clear out the rubble to reach the man, but have yet to confirm whether he is alive or one of the missing workers… The accident happened on Tuesday when the exterior wall between the 23rd and 38th floors of the 39-storey apartment building under construction in Hwajeong-dong fell apart, burying several workers in debris. Some of the labourers were rescued while six South Koreans went missing… HDC [Hyundai Development Company] – which has undertaken building ventures in countries including Malaysia, Vietnam and Bolivia – was also involved in an accident in Gwangju last June, when a five-storey building that was being demolished for a construction project collapsed and sent debris falling onto a bus, killing nine South Koreans on board and injuring eight others.”
“South Korea will consider introducing a new visa category for foreign startup entrepreneurs to vitalize the domestic startup ecosystem, Seoul's justice minister said Wednesday… [He] noted that applicants must meet qualifications and requirements, and said the government could receive recommendations from chambers of commerce. He also stated that while foreigners with masters or doctoral degrees in science and engineering are currently allowed long-term stay [visas] following the recommendations from heads of schools, they should also be given opportunities to start their own businesses in South Korea.”
Vaccine pass system partially suspended (3 min read)
“The Seoul Administrative Court partially accepted the injunction request… to suspend the vaccine pass scheme for large supermarkets, department stores and retail stores… with floor space of 3,000 square meters or larger… without providing their COVID-19 vaccination status… the pass system will remain effective for eateries and cafes, however.” “The suspension will continue until the court makes a separate ruling on their complaints to nullify the scheme.”
Lunar New Year rules also announced.
“The government decided to raise the private gathering size limit to six while keeping a 9 p.m. curfew on restaurants and cafes… from Monday through Feb. 6,” while maintaining most restrictions. However, the government will run “a special quarantine period between Jan. 20 and Feb. 2,” over the Lunar New Year period and implement the following:
Face-to-face meetings at nursing facilities banned, and non-contact meetings allowed only upon reservation,
Only window seats train tickets sold, and advised ferries’ passenger limit set to 50% capacity,
Dining at highway service areas banned, and temporary COVID-19 testing stations set up at nine highway rest areas,
Indoor memorial venues partially closed.
“The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) issued the outlook on Friday, saying omicron is expected to account for more than half of COVID-19 cases in the nation around next Friday. Currently, omicron accounts for some 20 percent of total cases since the first case of the highly-infectious variant was reported in the country on November 24 of last year, some seven weeks ago. The highly transmissible variant now accounts for more than half of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Israel, four to six weeks after they reported their first cases. The KDCA forecast that daily cases could surge up to 30,000 with critical cases hitting up to 1,700 at the end of February depending on the degree to which social distancing is eased.”
“The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) said on Thursday that those receiving three and two doses of coronavirus vaccine had 80.9% percent and 58.2% lower chance of contracting the virus, respectively, than those who have yet to receive any. As for the risk of progressing into serious and critical cases, the comparative figures for those given a third and second doses were lower by 100%and 92.3% respectively, than that for those who have not been inoculated.“
The days of 3T are over (3 min read)
“’When omicron becomes dominant’” and cases hit 7,000 per day, Korea will pursue “a targeted protection of people at higher risk” and introduce the following:
Provide PCR testing only to: seniors 65 and up, “confirmed patients’ close contact, people tested positive in rapid antigen tests,” and to people with COVID-19-like symptoms only with a doctor’s recommendation.
“Rapid antigen tests or the at-home kits set as the default testing method for the rest.”
An honor system for contact tracing of patients’ close contacts, with those “under 60 and without existing health conditions” reporting through a smartphone application.
Clinic access specifically for home recovery patients.
Isolation period cut from 10 to 7 days.
Close contacts of patients …tested on sixth day of quarantine to be released on seventh day depending on test results.
End travel ban on 11 countries.
Potential adjustment of mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
Seoul court pauses vaccine pass mandates for minors (1 min read)
“Seoul court on Friday afternoon has suspended the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s forthcoming policy requiring kids as young as 12 to be fully vaccinated or tested to access public spaces until a further decision is made… The requirement for minors was to begin taking effect from next month, or March at the latest. The court said ‘the incidence of hospital admission is too low among 12 to 18-year-olds to warrant subjecting them to the pass system. None in this age group has died of COVID-19 so far.’”
Following the December hospital bed crisis, guidelines for self-isolating COVID-19 patients have been revised to allow doctors visits at clinics. Patients can either take the special cab arranged by the district public health center or drive themselves to the prearranged appointment at a clinic designated by their district public health center. To prevent “possible transmission risks of patients leaving isolation… a smartphone app ensure[s] [the patients] are not taking any detours.” Contrary to anticipation of high demand for these clinics, especially among the older patients, patients have been few and younger. “Seoul plans on having more of these clinics around the city,” and the older self-isolating patients will soon be prescribed Pfizer oral antivirals, which are currently limited to patients 65 and older.
“President Moon Jae-in on Thursday ordered aides to come up with measures using excess tax revenue to help small merchants and self-employed people suffering from the economic fallout of COVID-19… The accumulated tax revenue is higher than the government's previous estimate… [where the] excess tax revenue came to 9.1 trillion won [$7.6 billion] in the January-November period… The DP plans to let the National Assembly approve a bill of an extra budget by Feb. 14, a day before official campaigns begin for the March 9 presidential election.”
General COVID Information for residents in Korea:
“North Korea launched projectiles assumed to be short-range ballistic missiles on Friday, just three days after it tested what it claimed was a hypersonic missile. The launch came hours after Pyongyang threatened ‘a stronger reaction’ against a fresh set of sanctions imposed by the United States over its recent tests of hypersonic missiles, showing that North Korea is taking a stance of ‘action for action.’… ‘When North Korea tests a new missile, the regime typically launches it in the early morning… However, the North fired this time in the afternoon, meaning that the launch is aimed at warning the U.S. rather than testing new technologies…’”
“Moments after Pyongyang fired a hypersonic missile off its east coast as part of a weapons test on Monday, US Northern Command, the Northern American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) each responded as if the launch were an attack, scrambling to determine whether the munition could reach US territory. Pentagon officials ‘didn't have a good feel for its capabilities,’ a lawmaker briefed on the incident told CNN on Thursday, calling the mishap ‘ugly.’ While the military quickly found that the weapon did not constitute a threat… the FAA nonetheless grounded a number of flights on the west coast for around 15 minutes as a safeguard.”
“Although it has been used to target users around the world with different ransomware strains in the past, these days it is primarily used to install the Magniber ransomware on targets in South Korea. The attack campaign investigated by Malwarebytes begins with a user visiting an ad-heavy website… If they fit the correct criteria, the user is then redirected again to the Magnitude exploit kit landing page. From here, they are prompted to download an update for Microsoft Edge which is actually a malicious Windows Application package (.appx) file. This file then downloads the Magniber ransomware, encrypts their files and demands a ransom.To prevent falling victim to this attack and others like it, users should invest in ransomware protection.”
“The new presidential plane, a Boeing 747-8i, was placed in commission Thursday. Moon and his entourage flew aboard the new ‘Air Force One’ for an eight-day trip to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The 213-seat plane is equipped with various security and communication devices, as well as hardware to improve its defense against outside attacks, such as missiles, while new engines have increased its cruising speed and maximum total range, the presidential office said. In 2020, the government signed a five-year contract with Korean Air Lines to lease the new plane,” which replaces the previous presidential jet, a B747-400.
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