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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 June 10, 2016

The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Friday.

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Lotte Group raided over alleged embezzlement, malpractice

SEOUL -- Prosecutors raided the headquarters of South Korea's retail giant Lotte Group, as well as its seven affiliates, on Friday over allegations of embezzlement and malpractice.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said it sent some 200 investigators to 17 places, including the group's headquarters in central Seoul, its major affiliates and the homes of some executives.

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(LEAD) N. Korea offers to host inter-Korean reunification meeting

SEOUL -- North Korea offered to host an inter-Korean meeting to discuss ways to bring about reunification, the latest in the communist country's dialogue proposals to Seoul since a high-profile ruling party congress in early May.

"We propose opening a nationwide grand meeting for reunification on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of Korea's liberation, prompted by the ardent desire ... (in) improving the inter-Korean relations and accomplishing the cause of national reunification by the concerted efforts of all Koreans," the North said in an appeal addressed to "all Koreans," which was carried by its state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

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Gov't seeks 3 pct expansion in 2017 budget

SEOUL-- Government ministries and other public entities are hoping to boost their annual spending by 3 percent next year, the slowest rate of growth in at least six years, the finance ministry said Friday.

According to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, government offices have submitted preliminary requests for their 2017 budget that totaled 398.1 trillion won (US$343.19 billion), compared with 386.4 trillion won this year.

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Minor opposition party head apologizes over alleged illegal funds scandal

SEOUL -- Ahn Cheol-soo, co-chairman of the minor opposition People's Party, said Friday he will take "all necessary steps" to deal with allegations that a lawmaker raised illegal political funds ahead of the April 13 polls.

"I was told that the issues raised are not true, but the party will take resolute actions once the ongoing investigation is concluded," Ahn said, touching on the unfolding scandal.

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Park to resume official schedule next week

SEOUL -- President Park Geun-hye will resume her official schedule early next week after a weeklong respite following her intense 12-day trip to Africa and France, her aides said Friday.

Her schedule is expected to begin on Monday at the National Assembly as Park is determined to address one of her pressing tasks -- setting the tone for smooth cooperation with the opposition-led legislature, which is critical for advancing her agenda for economic revitalization.

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Defense ministry demands 5.3-pct increase in defense budget for 2017

SEOUL-- The Ministry of National Defense has demanded a 5.3 percent on-year increase in its defense budget for 2017 as it plans to accelerate efforts to bolster the welfare of military conscripts and build up the country's air defense system, the ministry said Friday.

The ministry has submitted its defense budget demand to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, requesting a budget of 40.87 trillion won (US$35.18 billion) for next year, according to a statement. The defense budget for this year stands at 38.8 trillion won.

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(Yonhap Feature) Need for speed and convenience drives cash out of S. Korea

SEOUL -- Less than just 20 years ago, about one in every three South Koreans had a pager. Now the number stands closer to zero than a few thousand. In another 20 years, many others will likely face similar fates, and they might also include cash.

In 1997, the number of South Koreans with a pager peaked at 15 million, marking the world's steepest growth over five years since 1993 when the now primitive mobile communication device became more affordable and a hip trend here.

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Production cut quickly reduces S. Korea's coal stockpiles

TAEBAEK -- South Korea's coal stockpiles are running out fast due to a decrease in coal production caused by slumped consumption, industrial data said Friday.

The data released by the state Korea Coal Corp. showed that the country's coal stockpiles came to 1.86 million tons in 2015 after peaking at 10.69 million tons in 2000. The stockpile figure was almost on par with the 1.71 tons recorded for consumption in 2015.

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S. Korea's crab catch plunges amid rise in uninvited Chinese boats

SEOUL -- South Korea's crab catch has been more than halved so far this year, the government said Friday, an apparent result of a recent rise in the number of Chinese boats fishing illegally in South Korean waters.

According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the country's catch of crab amounted to 575 tons in April, down 69 percent from the same month last year.

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(Yonhap Interview) Yozma Group to help Korean startups become 'swans'

PANGYO -- In a literary fairy tale, an ugly duckling matures into a beautiful swan. For the Yozma Group, an Israeli venture capital firm, there are so many "ugly ducklings" in South Korea that have great potential to become swans.

"A lot of Korean startups are undervalued due to the so-called 'Korea discount' or 'Asia discount,'" Lee Won-jae, head of the Yozma Group Korea, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. "Bio, healthcare, virtual reality and material sectors, like graphene, are among the most promising ones."

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