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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 16:37 August 08, 2019

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

Foreign ministry renews calls for Japan to withdraw export curbs

SEOUL -- The foreign ministry on Thursday renewed calls for Japan to promptly withdraw its export curbs against South Korea, as Tokyo approved the first export of a key industrial material to Korea since it tightened related restrictions last month.

"Our position has been consistent. We have been continuously urging the Japanese side to promptly retract export control measures and voicing the need for dialogue to settle the issue," Kim In-chul, the ministry spokesman, said during a regular press briefing.

Iranian man denied refugee status unlike his son

SEOUL -- An Iranian man in his 50s was granted an extension of his "humanitarian stay" in South Korea on Thursday, as the authorities stopped short of endorsing refugee status.

The 53-year-old is the father of an Iranian student who obtained refugee status last October. The son, aged 16, has the Korean name of Kim Min-hyuk.

Seoul stocks rebound after 6 days of decline, won advances

SEOUL -- South Korean shares ended higher, snapping a six-day losing streak, as China took steps to limit the decline of the yuan, easing concerns that the trade war with the United States may morph into a full-blown currency war. The Korean won sharply advanced against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 10.9 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,920.61. The main index shed 6.3 percent in the past six sessions on concerns that the worsening U.S.-China trade struggle will develop into a global currency war and Japan may apply tougher restrictions on exports to Korea.

(2nd LD) New U.S. defense chief set to arrive in S. Korea

SEOUL -- U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was to arrive in South Korea on Thursday for talks that are expected to include a series of requests Washington has been making to Seoul, including a greater financial contribution to the costs of stationing American troops here.

Also expected to be on the agenda for Esper's talks with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo are the U.S. initiative to secure the shipping routes in the Strait of Hormuz and Washington's wish to get a military information-sharing pact between the South and Japan renewed.

Gov't aims to reduce disaster fatalities by 40 pct by 2024

SEOUL -- The government aims to reduce the number of disaster and safety-related fatalities by 40 percent from the 2017 level over the next five years, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said Thursday.

The 40-percent reduction is a key point of the nation's Fourth Basic Disaster Management Plan, which has been finalized after consultations among 28 government ministries and agencies and deliberation by the Central Safety Management Commission, the ministry said.

(2nd LD) Seoul delays countermeasure after Japan approves 1st shipment of restricted goods

TOKYO/SEOUL -- South Korea on Thursday held off its decision to drop Japan from its list of trusted trading partners as the neighboring country approved the first shipment of a key material under restriction to South Korea, in what appears be a pause in their mounting trade tussle.

In its countermeasure against Japan's removal of South Korea from its so-called whitelist, the Seoul government has threatened to take Japan off its own list, upping the ante in the month-long trade haggling caused by Tokyo's export curbs on three key industrial materials crucial for the production of chips and display panels.

Seoul waiting for N. Korea's official stance on receiving food aid

SEOUL -- The government is waiting for North Korea to state its final decision on whether to receive food assistance from Seoul, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

Last month, North Korea told the World Food Programme (WFP) that it will not receive the aid that the South offered to provide through the U.N. agency, citing South Korea's joint military drill with the United States that Pyongyang has long denounced as an invasion rehearsal.

N. Korea-China trade rises 15.3 pct in H1

SEOUL -- Trade between North Korea and China climbed 15.3 percent on-year in the first half of the year thanks to a sharp rebound after a failed U.S.-North Korean summit in February, a report said Thursday.

The North exported US$105 million worth of goods to its biggest ally in the January-June period, up 14 percent from a year earlier, according to the report from the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).

Russia volleyball coach says he meant no disrespect to S. Korea with slant-eye gesture

SEOUL -- A coach for the Russian women's national volleyball team denied on Thursday he meant anything disrespectful to South Korea with his slant-eye gesture following a recent match.

Sergio Busato, an Italian-born assistant coach for Russia, is under fire for making what is widely considered a racist gesture following Russia's victory over South Korea at an Olympic qualification tournament in Russia on Sunday. The come-from-behind win sent Russia to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Interior ministry asks for halt to Gwanghwamun Square renovation

SEOUL -- The Moon Jae-in administration has formally put the brakes on Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon's ambitious bid to renovate Gwanghwamun Square, a national landmark located in the heart of the capital, officials said Thursday.

According to the officials, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety sent an official notice to the Seoul Metropolitan Government on July 30 demanding the planned expansion and renovation of Gwanghwamun Square be postponed until public opinion has been sufficiently collected.

N. Korean newspaper slams officials over poor fire prevention work

SEOUL -- North Korea's main newspaper on Thursday lashed out at regional officials for failing to carry out forest fire prevention measures, saying that preventing fires is the most important task in protecting the forest.

Reporting on a series of fires that broke out across the country, the Rodong Sinmun said all efforts should be focused on "protecting the forest, especially preventing the forest fire."

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