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Yonhap News Summary

All Headlines 13:39 December 12, 2018

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

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(LEAD) N.K. leader unlikely to visit Seoul this year: presidential office

SEOUL -- The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae thinks it would be difficult for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit Seoul this year, a presidential official said Wednesday.

There was speculation that the North's leader might make his first trip to Seoul before the end of this year, with Cheong Wa Dae saying that it plans to prepare for a potential visit, though nothing has been decided.

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(LEAD) N.K. leader unlikely to visit Seoul this year: presidential office

SEOUL -- The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae thinks it would be difficult for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit Seoul this year, a presidential official said Wednesday.

There was speculation that the North's leader might make his first trip to Seoul before the end of this year, with Cheong Wa Dae saying that it plans to prepare for a potential visit, though nothing has been decided.

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(LEAD) Frontloading gov't budget on job creation, infra highlighted at meeting

SEOUL -- The presidential office, the government and the ruling party on Wednesday agreed on the need to frontload the government's 2019 budget on job creation and infrastructure more aggressively than this year.

Senior officials from Cheong Wa Dae, the government and the ruling Democratic Party (DP) held this year's final consultative meeting to discuss follow-ups to the recent passage of the government's 2019 budget bill.

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Mortgage loans increase at fastest pace in 2 yrs in Nov.

SEOUL -- Home-backed loans from South Korean banks increased at the fastest pace in two years in November despite the government's anti-speculation measures, central bank data showed Wednesday.

The total value of outstanding mortgages extended by banks came to 603 trillion won (US$535 billion) as of the end of last month, up 4.8 trillion won from a month earlier, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

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BTS' 'Love Yourself: Answer' makes Billboard chart for 15th week

SEOUL -- K-pop boy band BTS' latest album "Love Yourself: Answer" retained its presence on the main weekly Billboard album chart on Wednesday, extending its winning streak to a 15th week.

The final installment in the "Love Yourself" album series ranked 84th on Billboard 200 of the most popular 200 albums for the week of Dec. 15, slipping two places from last week's 82nd, according to chart updates.

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Samsung ranks 1st in R&D spending in 2017: report

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. ranked first among major businesses around the globe in terms of spending on research and development (R&D) for the 2017 financial year, a report showed Wednesday.

According to the 2018 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard released by the European Commission, the South Korean tech giant spent 13.44 billion euros (US$15.2 billion) in R&D projects over the period.

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Koreas to hold talks for health-related info exchange

SEOUL -- South Korea and North Korea are scheduled to meet to exchange information on contagious diseases in a pilot program, Seoul's health ministry said Wednesday.

Kwon Jun-wook, a senior official of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, is to meet with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yun-chol, later in the day, with other ranking officials also attending the talks at the joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong.

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(Yonhap Feature) U.S. Army's new war-fighting concept seeps into allies' joint training

SEOUL -- For a hard-bitten U.S. Army, future warfare goes way beyond ground battles. It is about how to harness military assets and alliance networks to prevail in contested conflict zones of all domains: land, sea, air, outer space and cyberspace to boot.

The armed service has been pushing to flesh out a new war-fighting concept to adapt to the changing character of war and secure a pivotal role in countering increasingly complex security challenges posed by potential "near-peer" competitors like China and Russia.

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(LEAD) S. Korea's jobless rate rises in Nov.

SEJONG -- South Korea's jobless rate rose slightly in November, government data showed Wednesday, despite the government's efforts to create more jobs.

The unemployment rate stood at 3.2 percent last month, up 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.

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(LEAD) U.S. redesignates N. Korea as violator of religious freedom

WASHINGTON -- The United States has redesignated North Korea as a violator of religious freedom for the 18th consecutive year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

North Korea is among 10 Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating "systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom," Pompeo said in a statement.

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