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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 17:08 February 08, 2019

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

(LEAD) Cheong Wa Dae-job creation
(LEAD) S. Korea expects more new joint ventures for low-salary jobs: Cheong Wa Dae
(ATTN: RECASTS 2nd para to reflect changes requested by Cheong Wa Dae in remarks made by the presidential secretary for job creation)

SEOUL -- South Korea is expected to see more joint ventures between local governments and companies aimed at creating low-waged jobs that may also help prevent local companies from moving their jobs overseas, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Friday.

"We have hopes that at least one or two more can be realized within the first half of the year," Jung Tae-ho, a senior secretary to the president for job creation, said during a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae.

The remarks came about a week after the local government of Gwangju and top automaker Hyundai Motor Group signed an investment deal to jointly build and manage a new automobile production facility in the city located some 330 kilometers south of Seoul.

(LEAD) Seoul shares tumble on trade war woes
(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL -- South Korea's main bourse ended lower Friday as investors moved to the sidelines on renewed concerns over trade frictions between the United States and China, analysts said. The local currency strengthened against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 26.37 points, or 1.2 percent, to finish at 2,177.05. Trading volume was relatively light at 386.23 million shares worth 5.63 trillion won (US$5.01 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 492 to 340.

After opening lower tracking Wall Street losses, the index surrendered more ground on heavy foreign selling.

(LEAD) N. Korea quietly marks army's founding anniversary
(ATTN: UPDATES in paras 8-10 with Rodong Sinmun article carried by KCNA)

SEOUL -- North Korea quietly marked the 71st anniversary of its army's founding, without a military parade or any other provocative show of force, on Friday as leader Kim Jong-un prepares to hold a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump late this month.

The "Army-Building Day," which commemorates the 1948 establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA), is one of North Korea's biggest national holidays. Last year, the regime held a massive military parade showing off weapons and military hardware to mark the 70th anniversary.

Officials in Seoul have said that the communist nation has shown no signs of preparing such a parade or any other unusual movements this year, noting that the country typically holds such large-scale events on every fifth or 10th anniversary.

S. Korea logs budget surplus for 4th straight year in 2018

SEJONG -- South Korea posted a budget surplus for the fourth year in a row in the 2018 fiscal year as its tax revenue rose sharply on increased business-related earnings, the finance ministry said Friday.

The gross revenue that the government brought in last year came to 385 trillion won (US$342 billion), while its expenditures totaled 364.5 trillion won, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance after closing its books for fiscal year 2018.

With 3.3 trillion won worth of the balance carried forward to this year, the surplus reached 13.2 trillion won in 2018, compared with 11.3 trillion won tallied in 2017.

Tax revenue amounted to 293.6 trillion won in 2018, up 28.2 trillion won from a year earlier.

Corporate tax earnings jumped 19.9 percent on-year to 70.9 trillion won in 2018 due mainly to strong exports of semiconductors and other goods in 2017.

(LEAD) S. Korea hopes for concrete progress in nuclear talks at 2nd Trump-Kim summit
(ATTN: ADDS unification minister's remarks in paras 5-6)

SEOUL -- South Korea's unification ministry said Friday that it hopes the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will produce concrete progress that will pave the way for greater inter-Korean exchanges.

Baik Tae-hyun, the ministry's spokesperson, made the remark during a regular briefing, saying the South is mulling various options, including proposing high-level talks, to move the now-stalled inter-Korean exchanges forward.

"We hope that more specific and substantial progress will be made at the planned second summit between the U.S. and the North," Baik said, noting that inter-Korean relations and U.S.-North Korea ties are closely linked.

S. Korea, U.S. to sign defense cost deal Sunday: source

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States will sign a preliminary deal this weekend on splitting the costs of their military alliance, a diplomatic source in Seoul said Friday.

A signing ceremony will be held in Seoul on Sunday, led by their top negotiators, Chang Won-sam and Timothy Betts, according to the source.

The two sides have recently reached an agreement on the thorny issue following 10 rounds of talks last year.

It clears a hurdle to the allies' coordination ahead of a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to take place in Vietnam from Feb. 27-28.

Seoul reportedly plans to increase its contribution to around 1 trillion won (US$890 million) in 2019. The contract would last only one year, leaving a burden for the allies to start negotiating the terms again in the coming months.


KB Financial's net profit falls 7.3 pct in 2018

SEOUL -- KB Financial Group Inc., a major South Korean banking group, said Friday its net profit declined 7.3 percent on year in 2018, hit by outlays related to job cuts.

Net profit stood at 3.06 trillion won (US$2.72 billion) last year, KB Financial said in a regulatory filing. The profit fell below the market expectation of 3.31 trillion won.

KB Financial said it spent 286 billion won in severance payments and 185 billion won in compensation as it carried out a voluntary retirement program late last year.

Its net interest income rose 8 percent on year to 8.9 trillion won last year, with its net interest margin at 1.99 percent in 2018.

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