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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:01 February 01, 2017

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

(LEAD) Former U.N. chief Ban renounces presidential ambitions

SEOUL -- Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday renounced his presidential ambitions in a surprise decision likely caused by political offensives from rivals and a corruption scandal involving his family members.

His exit from the presidential competition is likely to embolden the current front-runner Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic Party and leave conservative parties scurrying to find his alternative.

Parties shocked over Ban's withdrawal of presidential ambitions

SEOUL -- South Korea's ruling and opposition parties on Wednesday both expressed shock over the unexpected withdrawal of the presidential bid by former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had been one of the leading potential contenders in this year's race.

Ban, who was way ahead of other conservative figures in local opinion polls, was widely expected to run for the presidential election. He was virtually the only threat to Moon Jae-in, a front-runner potential candidate from the main opposition Democratic Party.

Business tycoons to testify at court over influence-peddling scandal

SEOUL -- The heads of South Korea's leading conglomerates will attend a court hearing later this month to give testimony over a high-profile influence-peddling scandal that has led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment, legal sources said Wednesday.

Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho have been designated witnesses to testify at the hearing on President Park's friend Choi Soon-sil at the Seoul Central District Court on Feb. 28, according to the sources.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks up 0.62 pct on upbeat data, Apple's sound earnings

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks finished higher Wednesday as healthy economic data and sound earnings from Apple Inc. boosted investor sentiment here. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) went up 12.91 points, or 0.62 percent, to close at 2,080.48. Trade volume was moderate at 440 million shares worth 4.36 trillion won (US$3.77 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 597 to 200.

Apple beats Samsung in Q4 smartphone shipment

SEOUL -- Apple Inc. emerged as the leader in the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter of last year, beating its South Korean archrival Samsung Electronics Co., data showed Wednesday.

The U.S. giant sold about 78.3 million smartphones during the October-December period, up 18 percent from a year earlier, the data compiled by industry tracker Strategy Analytics showed. The figure translates into a market share of 17.8 percent.

S. Korea's trade agency hires U.S. lobbying firm for Trump gov't

SEOUL -- South Korea's state-funded trade agency has signed a contract with a U.S. lobbying company to deal with the Donald Trump era, officials said Wednesday.

Ever since Trump has stated his protectionist policies, a sense of alarm has grown here over trade pressure from the new U.S. administration.

Ruling party to seek constitutional revision before election

SEOUL -- South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party on Wednesday decided to push to revise the Constitution before the presidential election.

During a general meeting of its lawmakers, the conservative party decided to seek a shift to a new government system in which the president handles diplomacy and security while a prime minister named by parliament is responsible for domestic affairs.

Kia Motors' sales drop on-year in January at home, abroad

SEOUL -- Kia Motors suffered on-year sales drops both at home and abroad in January, the company said Wednesday, citing aged models and lost production from holidays as the main reasons.

Sales at home totaled 35,012 cars for the month, down 9.1 percent from the same month last year, according to the country's second-largest carmaker. Overseas sales came to 163,793 cars, down 6.5 percent from a year earlier. Kia's global sales in January fell 7 percent on-year to 198,805 units.

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