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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 January 09, 2017

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

(2nd LD) Assembly panel on Park scandal holds final hearing, seeks to extend mandate

SEOUL -- South Korea's parliamentary committee on the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidante held its last hearing Monday, with only two of the 20 summoned witnesses having actually appeared before the National Assembly.

The ad hoc panel also approved a motion to extend its mandate by one month, as its authority expires this Sunday.

(LEAD) Japan envoys leave S. Korea in protest over 'comfort woman' statue

SEOUL -- The Japanese ambassador and consul general in South Korea returned to Tokyo on Monday as a diplomatic row deepened over a recently erected statue that condemns Japan's wartime atrocities.

Amb. Yasumasa Nagamine boarded a flight to Japan at Gimpo International Airport, in western Seoul, earlier in the day in a gesture of protest over the recent installation of the statue.

S. Korea warns of stronger sanctions in case of ICBM test

SEOUL -- South Korea warned North Korea Monday that it could face stronger international sanctions and pressure if it goes ahead with a launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The Defense Ministry also said South Korea's military will sternly and strongly retaliate against any North Korean provocations. However, it did not elaborate on what actions it will take.

Acting president reiterates vow to create jobs, enhance welfare

SEOUL -- Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Monday reiterated the government's commitment to create new jobs and enhance the welfare system this year, as he seeks to stabilize the livelihoods of average citizens amid a prolonged economic slowdown.

During the New Year's policy briefing on social and welfare issues, Hwang called for greater policy attention to a set of economic and demographic challenges such as the high youth unemployment rate and the low fertility problem.

(LEAD) S. Korea considering building tree nurseries in areas bordering N.K.

SEOUL -- South Korea is considering setting up small tree nurseries in areas bordering North Korea in a bid to support the North's forestation, a government official said Monday.

Seoul's possible move is aimed at promoting inter-Korean cooperation in forestation as North Korea has recklessly cut down trees to increase its farmland. Such a move has made the country susceptible to natural disasters such as floods.

(LEAD) Samsung executives grilled over influence-peddling scandal

SEOUL -- Two senior executives of South Korea's largest business group Samsung were questioned by investigators Monday as they accelerated the probe into allegations surrounding the influence-peddling scandal that has led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment.

Choi Gee-sung, a vice chairman, and Chang Choong-ki, a president at the conglomerate, appeared in the office of the independent counsel team. They lead the group's future strategy planning division believed to be the de facto control tower that makes key decisions for Samsung and is closely linked to the ongoing scandal.

S. Korea's auto output slips to world's sixth-largest in 2016

SEOUL -- South Korea's local automobile output dropped significantly from a year earlier in 2016, also slipping a notch to the world's sixth-largest producer of cars, industry data showed Monday.

According to the data from the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA), five South Korea-based automakers produced a combined total of 4,228,536 vehicles in 2016, down 7.2 percent from 4,555,957 units the previous year.

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