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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:36 June 22, 2017

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

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S. Korea spends 48 pct of 2017 budget through May

SEJONG -- The South Korean government has used nearly half of its planned budget in the first five months of the year as part of its efforts to frontload spending to prop up the economy, the finance ministry said Thursday.

Budget spending by the government and public institutions for the January-May period stood at 135.3 trillion won (US$118.7 billion), up 5.5 trillion won from the earlier target of 129.8 trillion won, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

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(LEAD) N.K. condemns Moon's offer for talks over Pyongyang's end to provocations

SEOUL -- North Korea on Thursday rebuked President Moon Jae-in for suggesting that Seoul is open to unconditional talks if Pyongyang stops provocative acts, urging him to show a proper attitude toward inter-Korean ties.

The South Korean leader's move to take issue with North Korea's nuclear program is aimed at shifting responsibility for the frayed inter-Korean relations to North Korea, according to the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, the North's agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

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Moon orders 'blind screening' of all new recruits in public sector

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in on Thursday called for the introduction of "blind screening" in hiring all new employees in the public sector, saying it will help make sure the jobs will go to the most qualified, instead of those with better personal or school ties.

"I hope to immediately introduce the system to ensure fair competition, strictly based on skills and abilities," the president said in a weekly meeting with his top secretaries, according to presidential office Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

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S. Korea to commemorate outbreak of Korean War this week

SEOUL -- South Korea will mark the 67th anniversary of the Korean War's outbreak this week with several commemorative events, bringing together war veterans at home and abroad.

The war broke out at dawn on June 25, 1950, when North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel, which was then the demarcation line between the two Koreas drawn by the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II.

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Kia Motors tops U.S. quality test for 2nd year

SEOUL -- Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's second-largest carmaker, has ranked highest among global brands in a U.S. quality test for the second consecutive year, a U.S. market tracker has said.

"Kia ranks highest in overall initial quality for a second consecutive year with a score of 72 PP100," J.D. Power and Associates, a U.S.-based marketing information service company, said in its 2017 U.S. Initial Quality Study released Wednesday.

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S. Korea, U.S. finance ministers hold telephone talks

SEJONG -- South Korea's top economic policymaker on Thursday held his first telephone conversation with his U.S. counterpart and discussed ways to expand bilateral economic and financial cooperation, the finance ministry said.

During the talks, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin also touched on the close policy coordination that the two countries are engaged in regarding sanctions imposed on North Korea, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said.

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Royce calls for Senate to pass N.K. sanctions legislation

WASHINGTON -- The office of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called Wednesday for the Senate to pass Chairman Ed Royce's legislation tightening sanctions on North Korea, saying it's a "myth" to believe that sanctions don't work against Pyongyang.

Royce's Korea Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act (H.R. 1644), which overwhelmingly passed the House last month, is aimed largely at restricting the North's trade and drying up key revenue sources, such as labor exports, which the regime in Pyongyang uses to fund its nuclear and missile programs.

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Google puts art in AI, expanding limits of computer creativity

SEOUL -- Google Inc. is teaching an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to generate music and art as part of its efforts to expand the limits of computer creativity to the level of human beings going forward, the company's senior engineer said Thursday.

The ambitious yet experimental "Magenta" project is one of many projects from Google Brain, which is responsible for many AI products like Google Translate and Google Photos. The team is dedicated to experimenting with new and different forms of machine learning to make computers smarter.
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