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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 January 18, 2017

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

South Korea to check air passenger info to sort out potential terrorists

SEOUL -- Starting in April, South Korea will check information on inbound air passengers to sort out potential terrorists, officials said Wednesday, as Seoul seeks to beef up security ahead of major sporting events amid growing military threats from North Korea.

The government also decided to establish a system that would enable state anti-terrorism institutions to quickly share related information and disseminate it to citizens in emergencies, the officials said.

Park aide admits to leaking secrets to Choi

SEOUL -- A close aide to President Park Geun-hye admitted Wednesday that he leaked classified information to a woman at the center of a South Korean presidential scandal, but claimed he only intended to help the president.

Jeong Ho-seong, a former presidential secretary, made the argument at the Seoul Central District Court where he stands trial on charges of divulging confidential information to Choi Soon-sil, Park's close friend and confidante.

Court holds hearing on Samsung heir's arrest in corruption scandal

SEOUL -- A Seoul court held a hearing Wednesday to decide whether to issue a writ to formally arrest Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group's de facto leader, over allegations he bribed President Park Geun-hye's close friend in return for business favors.

A team of special investigators looking into the scandal sought the warrant against Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., on Monday on charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.

(Yonhap Interview) U.S. expert: Trump's hardline stance on China could have repercussions on S. Korea

WASHINGTON -- Incoming U.S. President Donald Trump's hardline stance on China could have negative repercussions impeding efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue and hurting South Korea's economic interests, a top U.S. expert on Korea said Tuesday.

Trump has shown deeply negative views of China, repeatedly accusing Beijing of unfair trade and currency practices hurting American businesses, and slamming the country for failing to exercise enough pressure on North Korea to rein in the provocative regime.

(LEAD) White House reiterates THAAD won't affect China's capabilities

WASHINGTON -- The White House said Tuesday the THAAD missile defense system the U.S. is going to deploy in South Korea is a purely defensive system having no impact on China's capabilities.

"The United States has made clear that the deployment of a THAAD battery to South Korea would be focused solely on countering the missile threat that emanates from North Korea," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in his last press briefing.

House lawmaker introduces bill calling for relisting N. Korea as terror sponsor

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. House lawmaker has introduced a bill calling for relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) brought in the legislation (H.R.479) that requires "a report on the designation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism." The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, according to congressional records.

S. Korea's tax agency adopts mobile tax payment system

SEJONG -- South Korea's tax agency said Wednesday it will allow people to pay taxes through smartphones starting this month in a bid to increase convenience for taxpayers.

The National Tax Service (NTS) said the payment of value added taxes declared in January will be available through the agency's mobile tax payment service, which was opened in November last year.

S. Korea to set up 3.5 trl won fund to help startups

SEOUL -- South Korea will establish a 3.5 trillion won (US$2.9 billion) fund to nurture startups and venture firms in the science and technology sectors to secure new growth engines, the science ministry said Wednesday.

Under the comprehensive plan announced by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the fund will be floated to help young jobseekers launch 50,000 new startups. The ministry said it will partner with the Small and Medium Business Administration to nurture the fund that is aimed at bringing more investment and creating more jobs. The fund will focus on establishing infrastructure for basic science, new-growth sectors and assisting venture firms, the ministry added.

(Yonhap Feature) Artists voice criticism, console people with music amid scandal

SEOUL -- On a recent Tuesday night, 22-year-old college student Lee Tae-jun was surprised to see one of the last things he had expected while watching a prime time TV show featuring celebrities and hip-hop artists.

Rapper Cheetah and model Jang Sung-hwan together performed "Yellow Ocean," a tribute song they wrote for the deadly ferry sinking in 2014 that left more than 300 people, mostly high school students on a field trip, dead or missing.

(LEAD) N.K. leader seen walking with limp again

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was seen walking with a limp during his inspections last month in footage aired by the state broadcaster Wednesday, in what could be a possible relapse of a past ankle problem.

The North's leader was seen limping on his left leg during his so-called field guidance to several locations including a shoe factory conducted in December, according to a documentary released by the Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station.

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