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Yonhap News Summary

Politics 16:59 August 21, 2019

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

(4th LD) Biegun says U.S. 'prepared to engage' in talks with N.K.

SEOUL -- The United States is ready to resume long-stalled talks with North Korea, Washington's top nuclear envoy said Wednesday, amid growing hopes that the two countries would restart nuclear talks after the conclusion this week of a South Korea-U.S. military exercise.

Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun made the remarks a day after the allies wrapped up the exercise that the communist regime berated as a rehearsal for invasion. He arrived here from Japan on Tuesday for a three-day visit.

(LEAD) Top diplomats of S. Korea, Japan hold talks amid high tensions over trade, history

SEOUL/BEIJING -- The top diplomats of South Korea and Japan held bilateral talks in Beijing on Wednesday as Seoul is considering whether to renew a military information-sharing pact with Tokyo amid badly frayed relations between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, met on the sidelines of a trilateral meeting with their Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

N. Korea continued nuclear activities last year: IAEA

SEOUL -- North Korea continued nuclear activities last year even when leader Kim Jong-un engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activities over denuclearization of the country, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in an annual report.

According to the 2018 report, the Yongbyon Experimental Nuclear Power Plant reactor was operated until mid-August. The Yongbyon complex is the North's main nuclear facility, which it had offered to dismantle in exchange for major sanctions relief.

S. Korea to review Olympic training camp in Tokyo on radioactivity concerns

SEOUL -- South Korea will review whether to set up a training camp in Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to radioactivity concerns over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, the sports minister said Wednesday.

Sports Minister Park Yang-woo told a parliamentary committee that the government will discuss the issue with the Korean Sports and Olympic Committee, the country's sports body.

(LEAD) Seoul shares end slightly up ahead of U.S. Fed meeting

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks closed slightly higher Wednesday amid what analysts here called the lack of any event to clearly move the market in either direction while foreigners again turned to selling. The Korean won continued to gain ground against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 4.40 points, or 0.22 percent, to close at 1,964.65. Trading volume was moderate at 382 million shares worth some 3.74 trillion won (US$3.11 billion), with winners outnumbering losers 554 to 256.

(LEAD) Political bickering over justice minister nominee deepens amid snowballing scandals

SEOUL -- Political parties clashed over the assessment of Justice Minister nominee Cho Kuk's qualifications Wednesday amid snowballing corruption and fraud allegations involving him and his family.

Opposition parties urged him to step down, claiming Cho is not qualified to lead the ministry governing the prosecution and law observance. But the ruling Democratic Party (DP) condemned its rivals' attacks as a "political offensive."

(LEAD) New drama series featuring BTS' growth story being produced

SEOUL -- A new drama series featuring the growth story of global K-pop band BTS is under production to be aired next year, the head of the band's music label said Wednesday.

"With a view to launch it in the second half of 2020, (we) are preparing a drama series based on BTS' (musical) universe," Bang Si-hyuk, CEO of Big Hit Entertainment, said in a briefing on the firm's corporate vision.

Ikea Korea to open 2 more stores

SEOUL -- Global furniture giant Ikea's South Korean unit said Wednesday it will open two more stores in the country by early next year.

The company said it will open a new flagship outlet in Giheung, just south of Seoul, on Dec. 12 and another in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, by the first quarter of next year.

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