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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 July 05, 2018

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

Cheong Wa Dae says goal remains complete denuclearization of N. Korea

SEOUL -- South Korea on Thursday dismissed the possibility of any discord with the United States over how to rid North Korea of its nuclear program, saying their common goal of complete denuclearization is unchanged.

"Our government's stance remains unchanged from what is contained in the Panmunjom Declaration and the Singapore Declaration that confirmed the goals contained in the Panmunjom Declaration," said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

(LEAD) N.K. leader Kim unlikely to attend inter-Korean basketball event

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is unlikely to attend inter-Korean friendly basketball matches scheduled for Thursday, a senior Pyongyang official said.

"The chairman is currently giving on-site guidance, so it is likely that he might not attend today's matches," United Front Department head Kim Yong-chol said in a brief meeting in Pyongyang with South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon. "He asked me to go instead to meet (you)."

(LEAD) S. Korea's current account surplus hits US$8.68 bln in May

SEOUL -- South Korea's current account surplus jumped to an eight-month high in May thanks to a sharp increase in the goods account surplus and stakes in overseas investment, central bank data showed Thursday.

The country's current account surplus came to US$8.68 billion in May, up from a surplus of $5.84 billion a year ago, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). From a month earlier, the May figure shot up from $1.77 billion tallied in April.

N. Korean hackers suspected of continuing attacks amid friendly inter-Korean relations

SEOUL -- North Korean hackers are suspected of carrying out cyber attacks aimed at raising profits and collecting data despite warm relations between the two Koreas, security experts here said Thursday.

According to security sources, North Korea has not desisted from attacking South Korean organizations even though Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to stop hostile acts against each other after the landmark summit held in late April.

National Assembly's 'special activity funds' doled out to ranking lawmakers like salary: civic group

SEOUL -- The National Assembly has provided ranking lawmakers with up to 60 million won (US$53,641) every month in the name of "special activity funds," and the money was spent like a salary requiring no proof of usage, a civic group said Thursday.

The People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), one of South Korea's leading civic groups, scrutinized data obtained from the National Assembly's Secretariat that details where its special activity funds were spent from 2011-2013.

S. Korea's total fertility rate feared to fall below 1 in 2018

SEOUL -- South Korea's total fertility rate is likely to hit a record low this year, a presidential committee warned Thursday, prompting the government to take a series of steps to boost the country's chronically low birthrate.

The total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- is expected to fall below 1.0 in 2018, down from 1.05 a year earlier, said the Presidential Committee on Aging Society and Population Policy.

Korean Air chief appears for court arraignment

SEOUL -- Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho appeared at a Seoul court Thursday for an arraignment session held to determine whether he should be arrested on embezzlement, tax evasion and other charges.

Prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for Cho on Monday over suspicion that he dodged over 50 billion won (US$45 million) worth of inheritance tax and embezzled some 20 billion won from company funds by unfairly awarding business contracts to companies controlled by his family.

Cho, 69, also faces breach of trust and other charges, such as pocketing ill-gotten profits from running an illegal pharmacy near a university with ties to his business empire, and paying lawyer fees for his family with company funds.

Investigators raid Hyundai Motor over suspicions of illicit hiring of retired government officials

SEOUL -- Prosecution investigators raided the headquarters of Hyundai Motor Co. on Thursday as part of an investigation into allegations that senior Fair Trade Commission officials landed jobs they were not supposed to after retirement.

Investigators from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office seized personnel affairs documents and computer hard disks during the raid of the HR department at the carmaker's headquarters in Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul, official said.

Military recommends Cheong Wa Dae lease new presidential jet

SEOUL -- South Korea's defense ministry has recommended the presidential office lease a new plane for presidential overseas trips, an official said Thursday.

Cheong Wa Dae has used a modified Boeing 747-400 airliner leased from Korean Air under a 2014 deal worth 142.1 billion won (US$127.2 million).

The five-year contract is to expire in March 2020.

Electricity demand to hit record high this summer

SEOUL -- Electricity demand is expected to rise to the highest level ever this summer as South Korea is forecast to have hot and humid weather, the energy ministry said Thursday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it expects the nation's maximum power demand to spike to 88.3 million kilowatt (kW) this summer, which is up 4.4 percent from a year earlier.

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