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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:36 December 31, 2018

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

Moon's aide voices regret over ex-investigator's surveillance claim

SEOUL -- A top presidential secretary on Monday expressed regret that a former investigator's unilateral claim about the presidential office's alleged surveillance of civilians is politically being used.

Cho Kuk, the presidential secretary for civil affairs, made the remarks before attending a parliamentary hearing over the claim by Kim Tae-woo, a former special inspector who allegedly carried out irregularities while working at Cheong Wa Dae.

N. Korea calls itself 'utopia,' 'flower garden of human love'

SEOUL -- North Korea has called itself a "utopia" and a "flower garden of human love" as it rejected U.S. criticism of human rights violations as an attempt to topple the communist regime.

A North Korean human rights association made the claim in an open series of questions to the U.S. and the United Nations, claiming that U.S. pressure over human rights is equivalent to "an act of political terrorism" against the country.

(2nd LD) S. Korea's consumer prices rise 1.3 pct on-year in December

SEJONG -- South Korea's consumer prices rose 1.3 percent in December from a year earlier on gains in agricultural and industrial goods and the service sector, government data showed Monday.

The reading represents a decline from the previous month's 2 percent on-year gain, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

Moon ends this year with record low approval rating: poll

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in wrapped up this year with his approval rate hitting a record low amid an economic slowdown and the presidential office's alleged surveillance of civilians, a poll showed Monday.

Moon's support came to 45.9 percent last week, down 1.2 percentage points from the previous week, according to the poll conducted by Realmeter of 2,011 people across the country.

S. Korea to ban use of disposable shopping bags at supermarkets starting next year

SEOUL -- South Korea is to ban big-time supermarkets and retailers nationwide from using disposable plastic bags in an attempt to conserve natural resources and reduce recyclable waste, government officials said Monday.

The ban will come into effect on Tuesday as part of a revised law on conserving resources and encouraging the reuse of recyclable waste.

GM Korea's spin-off R&D unit to set sail this week

SEOUL -- GM Korea, the South Korean unit of General Motors Co., said Monday that its separate R&D company will be launched this week as scheduled.

Early this month, GM Korea's shareholders approved the spin-off plan with the Korea Development Bank (KDB), the carmaker's second-biggest shareholder, backing the carmaker's plan to spin off a research unit. The state lender had initially objected to the move.

S. Korea vows to make efforts to bolster corporate investments: finance minister

SEJONG) -- South Korea's finance minister vowed Monday that every effort will be made to help companies make investments in the new year as Seoul seeks to revitalize its economy.

The comments by Hong Nam-ki came as Asia's fourth-largest economy is struggling to create jobs and boost the economy.

Central bank to continue accommodative monetary policy in 2019: BOK chief

SEOUL -- South Korea's central bank chief said Monday that an accommodative monetary policy will be maintained in the new year in the face of low inflationary pressure and slowing economic growth.

"It is necessary to maintain the accommodative monetary policy as the economy will likely pull off upper 2 percent growth and the inflationary pressure will remain low," Bank of Korea (BOK) Gov. Lee Ju-yeol said in his New Year's message. "The BOK will carefully watch the pace of economic growth, inflation and financial stability before tuning up its monetary policy plans."

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