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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:30 November 22, 2019

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

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(LEAD) Seoul-Tokyo military pact close to end, no breakthrough in sight

SEOUL -- The termination of a major arrangement between South Korea and Japan on exchanging military information was imminent Friday amid no news of a breakthrough, with concerns about its consequences growing.

Last-minute diplomatic consultations were apparently under way to avert the doom of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) ahead of its expiry slated for 12 a.m. Saturday.

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Pentagon denies report suggesting troops reduction in S. Korea

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon on Thursday denied a report suggesting the United States is considering reducing troops in South Korea unless the ally sharply increases its contribution to shared defense costs.

The South Korean daily, Chosun Ilbo, reported that the U.S. is considering withdrawing a brigade in the event that Seoul refuses to accept Washington's demand for a fivefold increase -- to US$5 billion -- in its share of the costs for the upkeep of 28,500 American troops stationed in the South.

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(LEAD) Top diplomats of S. Korea, U.S. hold phone talks on GSOMIA, defense cost sharing

SEOUL/WASHINGTON -- The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States held telephone talks late Thursday and discussed a soon-to-expire military information-sharing pact between Seoul and Tokyo, and their ongoing defense cost-sharing negotiations, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

The phone talks between Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came just ahead of the planned expiration of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), set for Saturday.

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Biegun calls for 'renewal' of S. Korea-U.S. alliance: lawmaker

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Biegun, Washington's top envoy for North Korea and the nominee for deputy secretary of state, spoke Thursday of the need for a "renewal" of the Seoul-Washington alliance, a South Korean lawmaker said.

Rep. Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, told reporters after meeting with Biegun that she interpreted his remarks as a call for Seoul to increase its financial contribution to the upkeep of 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea.

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(LEAD) Esper calls on S. Korea, Japan to show leadership to resolve dispute

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday called on South Korea and Japan to show leadership and resolve their differences ahead of the planned termination of a military intelligence-sharing pact between the two Asian allies.

The General Security of Military Information Agreement, set to expire at midnight Friday, is seen by Washington as a key platform for trilateral security cooperation against North Korea's nuclear threat and China's military rise.

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S. Korean firms' net profit down 6.4 pct in 2018

SEJONG -- South Korean companies' earnings fell 6.4 percent in 2018 from a year earlier due mainly to poor performances in the manufacturing and the wholesale and retail sectors, data showed Friday.

Their combined net profit before corporate taxes at some 12,700 companies reached 162 trillion won (US$137.5 billion) in 2018, down 11 trillion won from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

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SK Biopharm's anti-epileptic drug wins FDA approval

SEOUL -- SK Biopharmaceuticals Co., a biopharmaceutical affiliate of South Korea's SK Group, said Friday its anti-epileptic drug has won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

SK Biopharmaceuticals said the FDA granted approval of XCOPRI, or cenobamate tablets, for the treatment of partial-onset seizures in adults.

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Moon emboldened by new corporate investment in chip material production

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in celebrated the construction Friday of a new silicon wafer plant in South Korea by a Taiwanese firm's local unit, calling it a milestone in his country's efforts to diversify the supply channel of core strategic materials.

The government has redoubled a push for fostering South Korea's production of industrial materials, components and equipment since Japan's export control imposed in early July.

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Train services reduced as strike continues for 3rd day

DAEJEON -- Train services across the nation are expected to be reduced again Friday as unionized workers at the state railway operator striked for the third straight day.

Subways ran by the Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL) -- lines No. 1, 3 and 4, and the Gyeongui-Jungang and Bundang lines -- are expected to operate at 82 percent of the usual level, the company said.

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Korea to enhance protection of foreign wives from violence

SEOUL -- South Korea will create a multi-language police hotline to better protect foreign wives from domestic violence, the gender ministry said Friday.

The government will also ban men with records of serious crimes from bringing in foreign brides and enhance education for marriage migrants and mix-race families to help them settle in this ethnically homogenous nation.

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