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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:30 June 15, 2017

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

(2nd LD) Pyongyang says it released detained American on humanitarian grounds

SEOUL -- North Korea said Thursday that it recently released long-detained American college student Otto Warmbier on humanitarian grounds two days after he was medically evacuated to the United States.

North Korea sent the University of Virginia student back to his home country Tuesday for humanitarian reasons in accordance with a decision by the country's central court, the Korean Central News Agency said, without elaborating.

(LEAD) N.K. leader's public activities dwindle due to firmer grip on power: spy agency

SEOUL -- South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has cut his public activities significantly as he firmed up his grip on power.

In its briefing to the National Assembly's intelligence committee, the NIS also said that the reclusive leader has been engrossed with gleaning intelligence on the South's military operations plan to "decapitate" the North Korean leadership.

(2nd LD) Nat'l football head coach Uli Stielike sacked following World Cup qualifier loss

PAJU, South Korea -- South Korea sacked Uli Stielike as their men's football head coach Thursday in the wake of their World Cup qualifying loss to Qatar.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said it decided to part ways with Stielike following a technical committee meeting at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. The announcement was made just a day after Stielike and the South Korean squad returned home from Doha, where they fell to Qatar 3-2 in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

S. Korea condemns Japan's order to report maps with Dokdo markings

SEOUL -- South Korea condemned Thursday the Japanese government's recent order to its foreign missions to report maps with markings of Dokdo, the Korean name of the islets to which the country lays territorial claim.

Japan's Kyodo News reported last week that the government posted messages on the websites of its 70-something overseas diplomatic missions, urging readers to report to the embassies if they see any maps or publications in which the islets are named Dokdo or its surrounding waters as the East Sea, the Korean name of the waters between South Korea and Japan.

'The Battleship Island' is fact-based fiction film, says director

SEOUL -- In February, the much anticipated historical action film "The Battleship Island" rose to the media spotlight in Japan even before its completion when a conservative daily criticized it for "distorting" common history between the two countries.

The blockbuster depicts Koreans' desperate attempt to escape coal mines on Japan's Hashima Island where they were forced to work during World War II, when Korea was a colony of Japan. The film stars A-list actors Hwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub and Song Joong-ki, and actress Lee Jung-hyun.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks end lower after U.S. Fed rate hike

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks finished lower Thursday as institutional investors dumped major large cap shares to lock in recent gains, following the U.S. rate hike, analysts said. The Korean won lost ground against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 10.99 points, or 0.46 percent, to close at 2,361.65. Trade volume was moderate at 333.18 million shares worth 5.78 trillion won (US$5.14 billion), with losers far outnumbering gainers 555 to 236.

U.S. official honors Korean soldier killed in Afghanistan

SEOUL -- Thomas Shannon, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, paid his respects to a South Korean soldier killed in Afghanistan a decade ago during his trip here earlier this week, the U.S. Embassy said Thursday.

On its Facebook account, the embassy posted photos of Shannon paying tribute to Army Ssg. Yoon Jang-ho in front of a stone monument for him at the U.S. military base in Yongsan, central Seoul.

(LEAD) S. Korea's capital city expected to lose 1.1 mln in population by 2045

SEJONG -- South Korea's capital city of Seoul will face the steepest decrease in population over the next 30 years amid the country's chronic low birth rate and rapid aging, government data showed Thursday.

The number of residents in Seoul is predicted to reach 8.81 million in 2045, down 1.13 million, or 11.3 percent, from 9.94 million tallied in 2015, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

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