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Yonhap News Summary

All News 16:52 January 02, 2019

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

S. Korea, U.S. discuss N. Korean leader's latest message

SEOUL -- The top nuclear envoys of South Korea and the United States had phone talks with each other Wednesday on the New Year's address by North Korea's leader.

Stephen Biegun, Washington's special representative for Pyongyang, and his counterpart Lee Do-hoon compared assessments of Kim Jong-un's message, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(LEAD) Seoul shares close lower on growth concerns

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks closed sharply lower to hit a more-than two month low Wednesday as gloomy economic data threw a wet blanket over the first day of trading of 2019. The local currency declined against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 31.04 points, or 1.52 percent, to end at 2,010. This is the lowest closing price since Oct. 29, when it finished at 1,996.05.

Head of financial watchdog vows to bolster consumer protection

SEOUL -- The head of South Korea's financial watchdog said Wednesday that no effort will be spared in strenghtening protection for consumers against abusive or deceptive business practices by financial firms.

Yoon Suk-heun, governor of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), made the remarks as the watchdog marked the 20th anniversary of its establishment.

Court questions suspect in alleged murder of doctor

SEOUL -- A Seoul court held a hearing Wednesday to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for a man on charges that he killed a doctor while receiving treatment at a general hospital.

The 30-year-old suspect, only identified by his surname Park, is said to have wielded a knife at his psychiatrist, Lim Se-won, while receiving treatment at Seoul's Kangbuk Samsung Hospital on Monday.

Hwacheon Sancheoneo festival upcoming

HWACHEON, South Korea -- South Korea's leading winter event, the "2019 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival," will kick off its 23-day run in the remote mountainous county of Hwacheon later this week, the event's organizer said Wednesday.

"The annual festival, the 16th this year, will run from Jan. 5-27," the organizer said, adding the event is a joint project between the county bordering North Korea and its 27,000 residents in an effort to activate the sluggish local economy.

N.K. media highlights economic development after leader Kim's address

SEOUL -- North Korea's main newspaper devoted much of its Wednesday edition to articles about economic development efforts, a day after leader Kim Jong-un called for increased efforts to rebuild the impoverished economy.

In his New Year's Day address, Kim said North Korea should enter a new stage of growth through its own technical forces and resources. The annual speech has been used by Kim to outline key policy goals and directions for the new year.

CEOs stress innovation, growth

SEOUL -- Chief executives of South Korea's major business groups emphasized on Wednesday that they will focus on boosting innovation and expanding portfolios to tackle mounting challenges going forward.

In New Year's messages, they also stressed that more efforts should be made to overcome uncertainties such as the growing trade dispute between the United States and China and a potential slowdown in the global economy.

(2nd LD) Hyundai, Kia aim to sell 7.6 mln vehicles in 2019

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said Wednesday that they aim to sell 7.6 million vehicles this year by reviving sales in major markets, such as the United States and China.

This year, Hyundai and Kia came up with a combined annual sales target that appears to be conservative as they are widely expected to miss sales targets for a fourth straight year through 2018 due to weaker than anticipated demand in the two biggest auto markets.

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