South Korea

cross-posted from: > The documents suggest United States spying not only on Israel but ally South Korea, too. One report says internal discussions show that South Korean officials are wary of requests to hand over artillery shells to the United States to replenish American stockpiles, out of concern they'd end up in Ukraine.

South Korean marriages fell to a new record low last year, auguring a further downshift in the country’s dismal fertility rate. South Korea’s crude marriage rate — the number of marriages per 1,000 people — slid to 3.7 from 3.8 in 2021, according to data released Thursday by the national statistics office. About 191,700 marriages took place in 2022, down 0.4% from a year earlier. The increased reluctance among South Koreans to marry is a warning sign that the world’s lowest fertility rate may fall even further. Matrimony and fertility are closely associated in Korea, where births outside marriage remain rare. Low fertility threatens to undermine Korea’s productivity by shrinking its workforce and slowing consumption. The government has introduced a slew of measures to encourage more births in an effort to reverse the trend, including a tripling of monthly allowances for parents by President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office last year.

Seoul has announced it would build the biggest chip center in the world, largely using some 300 trillion won (roughly $230 billion or €220 billion) of private investment from electronics giant Samsung over the next 20 years. The chip manufacturing "mega cluster" of facilities will be built in various locations in Gyeonggi province by 2042. The center will be anchored by five new semiconductor plants built bySamsung. The South Korean government seeks to invest heavily in six technology areas including chips, displays, rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles, robotics and bio-technology. Although the country is well established in these sectors, the government hopes to tap into the growing demand due to adoption of new technologies like 5G wireless networks, artificial intelligence, and self-driving cars. According to President Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea will "build the world's largest scale system semiconductors cluster in the capital areas using massive private investments worth 300 trillion won." Speaking at an economic policy meeting, Yoon said: "Speed is important. The government will do its best to realize the cluster project." The semiconductor center will aim to attract 150 other companies which will be producing materials and components or designing high-tech chips, according to South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- The average assets owned by high-ranking officials at the office of President Yoon Suk Yeol amount to 4.83 billion won (US$3.7 million), about 10 times greater than the national average, a civic group said Tuesday. The Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice disclosed the findings in a press conference after analyzing assets of 37 high-level presidential officials. The average amount is 10.5 times greater than the country's average assets per household that stand at 460 million won, the civic group noted. Lee Won-mo, a presidential secretary for personnel affairs, declared the biggest assets of 44.6 billion won, followed by senior presidential secretary for press affairs Kim Eun-hye who reported 25.47 billion won and Kim Dong-jo, a secretary for public messages, with 12.42 billion won.

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's central bank on Thursday kept the benchmark interest rate unchanged for the first time in 10 months as worries are growing that aggressive monetary tightening could hurt economic growth. The Bank of Korea (BOK), however, noted that the rate freeze decision does not mean an end to more than a year of a monetary tightening cycle, saying that most of the policy members want to keep the door open for a further increase going forward. The seven-member monetary policy board of the BOK held a meeting and decided to hold the benchmark rate steady at 3.5 percent. The decision was not unanimous, with one board member voting for a quarter-point rate increase, according to the central bank. This marked the first time that the BOK has stood pat following seven straight increases delivered since April last year as it has grappled with inflation. The central bank also lowered its growth outlook for this year to 1.6 percent from a 1.7 percent rise predicted three months earlier, while revising down its inflation projection from 3.6 percent to 3.5 percent. "It is forecast that inflation will continue to be above the target level (of 2 percent) throughout the year although it is projected to gradually decrease, and uncertainties surrounding the policy decision are also judged to be high," the BOK said in a statement. "The board, therefore, sees that it is appropriate to judge whether the base rate needs to rise further while assessing the pace of inflation slowdown and developments in the uncertainties."

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