The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
(3rd LD) N.K. leader Kim unlikely to attend inter-Korean basketball event
PYONGYANG/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)."
N.K. nuclear, missile facilities operating normally: opposition lawmaker
SEOUL -- North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities are operating normally and the communist nation also appears to be building a new submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles, an opposition lawmaker said Thursday, citing defense ministry information.
Rep. Kim Hack-yong of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, who served as chairman of the parliamentary defense committee, disclosed the information in a statement, saying he was recently briefed by the ministry on North Korea's military activities.
Gov't to crack down on civil servants involved in 'gapjil' practices
SEOUL -- The government vowed Thursday to crack down on civil servants abusing their positions against people they serve, including taking tougher criminal and disciplinary measures against violators.
The measures come as public outrage has been running high over the so-called "gapjil" practice of people in positions of power bullying those under their control or influence, as seen in the high-profile cases involving family members of Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho.
Military seeks to introduce alternative forms of service next year: source
SEOUL -- South Korea's military seeks to craft an alternative service program this year and implement it next year for young men who refuse conscription, most commonly for religious reasons, sources said Thursday.
The authorities are also weighing options, such as doubling the length of the service period for "conscientious objectors" and having them lodge together in barracks in the areas of their assignments, according to the sources.
S. Koreans' favorable sentiment towards N. Korea hits record high: poll
SEOUL -- South Koreans' favorable sentiment towards North Korea has hit an all-time high, following the North's successive summit talks with the South and the United States, according to a poll released Thursday.
The poll of 1,000 adults nationwide by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies measured the level of favorable impression of North Korea at 4.71 on a scale of 0 to 10, the highest figure since the survey was first conducted in 2010.
(LEAD) Vatican's top diplomat voices optimism for ongoing peace efforts
JOINT SECURITY AREA -- The Vatican's top diplomat on Thursday voiced optimism for ongoing diplomacy to foster a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, saying "many good things" will be achieved despite challenges down the road.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican's secretary for relations with states, delivered a message of hope for Koreans, as he toured the Joint Security Area (JSA) close to the heavily fortified inter-Korean border.
Ruling, opposition parties vow to improve transparency in use of special activity funds
SEOUL -- The ruling and opposition parties said Thursday they will push for measures to improve transparency in the use of special activity funds amid criticism that the money has been spent without any oversight.
According to the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), one of South Korea's leading civic groups, the National Assembly provided ranking lawmakers, such as major party leaders and parliamentary committee chairs, with up to 60 million won (US$53,641) every month in the name of special activity funds.
1st clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine in S. Korea to kick off
(4th LD) Virus fight still dogged by cluster infections ahead of further school reopenings
(2nd LD) Virus fight still dogged by cluster infections ahead of further school reopenings
(5th LD) S. Korea to legislate ban on anti-Pyongyang leaflet campaign after N.K. threats