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  Korea Report - November 2021
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KOREA REPORT - NOVEMBER, 2021.

TOPICS.

SKorea activated the first of three-stage scheme on 1st to gradually phase out coronavirus restrictions as more than 70% of the population have been fully vaccinated. Effective for four weeks, operation hour curfews on cafes, restaurants and other businesses were fully lifted, except for nightlife establishments, while private gathering limit was raised to 10 people for greater Seoul area. Second and third phase of "living with COVID-19," are expected to be effective in Dec and Jan.

Squid Game was announced winner of breakthrough series long format category at 2021 Gotham Awards on 30th. Five other TV series, including Amazon Studios Small Axe and HBO Maxs Its A Sin, vied for the prize in the over 40-minute category at annual US awards ceremony for lower-budget indie movies and TV series. Squid Game revolves around a contest where 456 players, who are in deep financial debt, risk their lives to play a series of Korean childrens games to win a KW45.6 bil ($38.5 mil) prize. It became the most successful TV show in Netflix history with more than 142 mil viewers in the first four weeks after its release on Sept 17th.

SKorea's exports are expected to touch all-time high in 2021 on brisk overseas demand for key products, with growth momentum likely to continue next year, according to Korea International Trade Association on 22nd. Overseas shipments are projected to swell 24.1% on-year to $636.2 bil this year. Imports are likely to amount to $605.7 bil, up 29.5% on-year. KITA predicted SKorea's exports to increase 2.1% on-year to $649.8 bil in 2022, with imports forecast to inch up 1.6% to $615.4 bil.

SKorea's trade surplus came to 3.09 bil in Nov, marking 19th consecutive month of surplus, on the back of strong global demand for chips and petro products. Exports spiked 32.1% on-year to reach an all-time monthly high of $60.44 bil, the first time to surpass the $60 bil mark. Imports advanced 43.6% on-year to $57.36 bil.

Third-quarter average operating margins of SKorea's top 100 companies came to 10.74% in July-Sept period, up 1.98% on-quarter, according to Federation of Korean Industries on 22nd. It marks the first time for their average operating margin to surpass 10% since 2018, when total operating profit soared amid chip industry boom. Read more

SKorean drugmakers are at crossroads on whether or not to continue developing COVID-19 treatments, as vaccination rates rise across the world and first drug from Merck is set to debut soon. Mercks recent decision to give away patents related to molnupiravir, worlds first COVID-19 pill, for developing countries to produce generic drugs, could prompt latecomers to drop out of the race. Read more

SKorea's consumer prices increased 3.7% on-year in Nov, rising at the fastest pace in 10 years due to surging energy costs and high prices of farm products. It rose 0.4% on-month. Prices of petroleum products jumped 35.5% on-year, steepest gain since July 2008. Prices of industrial products climbed 3.5%. Prices of agricultural, livestock and fishery products shot up 7.6% on-year. Core inflation rose 1.9% on-year in Nov.

Korean key shipbuilders were awarded 328 newbuilds of a combined 15.03 mil cgt from Jan to Oct 2021, up by 302.4% on-year. By company, HHI won 70 vessels of 4.14 mil cgt, up 300.1% on-year. HSHI saw a 722.3% on-year increase by securing contracts for 44 vessels of 2.05 mil cgt, while HMD were awarded 70 units of 14.46 mil cgt, up 54.1% on-year. DSME scored 49 newbuilds of 27.76 mil cgt, up 173.1% on-year. SHI experienced 894.4% on-year increase in its order intakes by winning 75 ships of 4.39 mil cgt. Daesun won 19 vessels of 212,535 cgt, up by 291.2% on-year, while Hanjin HIC, which had no track record last year, won one vessel of 10,121 cgt.   

QatarEnergy announced on 7th that it has placed first batch of LNG shipbuilding orders with Korean shipyards consisting of four vessels from DSME and two vessels from SHI, as part of QatarEnergys historic shipbuilding program. The orders came in the form of QatarEnergys declaration of its ship construction options with two Korean shipyards under its Reservation of Shipyard Capacity agreements signed in May 2020. Read more

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