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Yonhap News Summary

All Headlines 13:30 January 11, 2017

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

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Former U.N. chief Ban to deny bribery allegations upon arrival

SEOUL -- Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a potential presidential contender, will first repudiate bribery allegations against him upon arriving home this week, his spokesman said Wednesday, an apparent move to eliminate an unexpected liability ahead of a key election this year.

Dismissing the allegations as being "utterly untrue," Lee Do-woon said that Ban will explain his position during his planned meeting with the press at the Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, upon his arrival Thursday afternoon.

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North Korea has 50kg of weapons-grade plutonium: Seoul's defense white paper

SEOUL -- South Korea said Wednesday the North has made "considerable" progress in nuclear capabilities recently, citing the increased amount of its fissile material and improved warhead miniaturization technology.

In its 2016 defense white paper, the Ministry of National Defense estimated that North Korea has some 50 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium, sufficient to manufacture 10 nuclear weapons. In 2014, the biennial report estimated the North's stockpile of plutonium at about 40 kilograms.

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(LEAD) N.K. suffers US$200 mln in foreign currency loss on sanctions: report

SEOUL -- North Korea is presumed to have suffered some US$200 million in foreign currency loss for nine months after the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) slapped tough sanctions on it in early March of last year, a report showed Wednesday.

The sanctions dented North Korea's foreign currency earnings as it hurt Pyongyang's exports to China and hard currency earnings sent by overseas workers in the March-November period of last year, according to the report by the state-run Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS).

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(LEAD) Flynn likens Korea-U.S. alliance to 'sticky rice cake'

WASHINGTON -- Incoming U.S. National Security Advisor Mike Flynn vowed to further strengthen the U.S. alliance with South Korea, likening the relationship to a "sticky rice cake," an official said Tuesday.

Sticky rice cake is often used as a metaphor for an inseparable bond in Korean culture.

Flynn made the remark when he met with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-jin Monday for talks that focused on ways to move relations between the two countries forward and how to deal with North Korea, Kim said.

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Over 12,000 jobs lost in 3 yrs in financial industry

SEOUL -- South Korea's financial industry cut more than 12,000 jobs in the past three years, hit by a drawn-out economic slump, data showed Wednesday.

The number of financial sector workers fell 5.6 percent to 207,000 at the end of the third quarter of 2016 from 220,303 three years earlier, according to CEO Score, a corporate management evaluation agency.

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Even wealthy families tighten purse strings amid economic slump

SEOUL -- South Koreans, both poor and rich, are tightening their belts with no economic recovery in sight and the prices of goods ascending, data showed Wednesday.

The spending-to-income ratio of local households hit a record low despite stagnant wage levels.

Department stores and duty-free shops, two routine shopping spots for the wealthy, are not immune to the frosty consumer sentiment.

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(LEAD) S. Korea's jobless rate stands at 3.2 pct in Dec.

SEJONG -- South Korea's jobless rate remained unchanged in December from a year earlier, with a deep slump in the manufacturing sector contributing to the tight job market, government data showed Wednesday.

The unemployment rate in Asia's fourth-largest economy stood at 3.2 percent last month, staying flat from a year earlier, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.

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Hyundai, Kia's sales jump 16.2 pct on-year in France

SEOUL -- South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp. saw their sales in France jump to nearly record levels last year on a sharp increase in sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), a report showed Wednesday.

In 2016, the two South Korean automakers sold a combined total of 61,727 cars in the European country, up 16.2 percent from the previous year, according to the report from the France office of the country's state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).

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SK Telecom to invest 5 tln won in AI, Internet of Things

SEOUL -- SK Telecom Co., South Korea's top mobile carrier, said Wednesday it will spend 5 trillion won (US$4.2 billion) over the next three years to develop technology and services in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things.

The AI wave and Internet of Things, which aims to connect objects to the Internet to make them smart, are two buzzwords in the technology, car and consumer electronics sectors as they seek to transform how people live and work.

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CJ E&M launches Korean movie channel in Singapore

SEOUL -- CJ E&M launched a TV station in Singapore specializing in South Korean movies and plans to provide more than 200 films per year, the company said Wednesday.

The channel, "tvN Movies," was launched in partnership with paid-subscription network and telecom operator StarHub Ltd. and will service some 540,000 households, according to CJ E&M.
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