The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Friday.
FM does not rule out surprise announcement on 2nd U.S.-N.K. summit
SEOUL -- South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Friday that she does not rule out the possibility of a surprise announcement on a much-anticipated summit between the United States and North Korea.
Kang made the remarks amid hopes that the possible second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will create fresh momentum for diplomacy on Pyongyang's denuclearization and a lasting peace on the peninsula.
S. Korea to increase spending to build 'independent' defense capabilities
SEOUL -- South Korea will increase defense spending by an average of 7.5 percent each year over the next five years with a focus on building "independent capabilities to counter threats from all directions," Seoul's defense ministry said Friday.
The ministry announced its defense blueprint for the 2019-2023 period, during which it wants to spend 270.7 trillion won (US$241.9 billion) -- 94.1 trillion won on improving defense capabilities and the rest on managing troops, equipment and facilities.
(LEAD) Ex-Supreme Court chief defends court system ahead of prosecution questioning
SEOUL -- Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae defended the court system and himself Friday as he was about to be quizzed by prosecutors over a string of allegations in a widening power abuse scandal.
Yang appeared outside the top court building in southern Seoul ahead of the interrogation scheduled for 9:30 a.m., amid tight security and loud crowds of protesters calling for his punishment.
Korea voices 'deep regrets' over Tokyo official's criticism of Moon amid forced labor dispute
SEOUL -- South Korea's foreign ministry on Friday expressed "deep regrets" over a senior Japanese official's criticism of President Moon Jae-in's remarks this week regarding an escalating diplomatic dispute over Japan's wartime forced labor.
Japan's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahisa Sato has blasted Moon on Twitter for having said that the Tokyo government, as well as Seoul, should respect a court decision in Korea over the issue, and that it cannot do anything to intervene in the judicial process.
(2nd LD) S. Korea's exports fall 7.5 pct in first 10 days of January
SEJONG -- South Korea's exports fell 7.5 percent in the first 10 days of January from a year earlier due largely to a sharp decline in shipments of semiconductors and ships, customs data showed Friday.
The country's outbound shipments reached US$12.7 billion in the Jan. 1-10 period, compared with $13.6 billion in the same period of last year, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.
Koreas to hold liaison office meeting to discuss cross-border issues
SEOUL -- Senior officials of South and North Korea will meet at their join liaison office on Friday to discuss cross-border issues, possibly including a recently postponed delivery of antiviral drugs to North Korea.
Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, South Korea's head of the liaison office, will hold a meeting in the North's border town of Kaesong with Hwang Chung-song, a deputy head of the office on the North's side, according to the unification ministry.
(LEAD) Labor deal reached after FineTek workers' sit-in protest atop smokestack
SEOUL -- The labor union of FineTek, a maker of display equipment, and the management reached a labor deal Friday after two workers staged a sit-in on top of a smokestack at a power plant for more than a year in protest of layoffs.
Two of five FineTek unionized workers had been waging the protest atop the 75-meter smokestack at a combined heat and power plant in west Seoul for about 14 months, calling on the management to keep its promise on job security.
(2nd LD) 3 dead, 2 missing after fishing boat capsizes off southern coast
TONGYEONG, South Korea -- A fishing boat carrying 14 people overturned off the country's southern coast Friday, leaving three people dead and two missing, while another remains unconscious, authorities said.
The 9.77-ton Mujeok, carrying the captain, a sailor and 12 anglers, capsized in waters about 80 kilometers south of Yokji Island at around 5 a.m., according to the Coast Guard.
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