The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.
(LEAD) S. Korea guiding N.K. merchant ship back across Yellow Sea border: JCS
SEOUL -- The military launched an operation on Wednesday to guide a North Korean merchant ship back across the Yellow Sea border after the vessel strayed into South Korean waters due to an engine problem, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The vessel was detected crossing the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto inter-Korean maritime border in the Yellow Sea, onto the South Korean side from the northwestern part of the South Korean island of Baengnyeong at around 6:40 a.m., the JCS said in a release.
U.S. flies spy plane over S. Korean capital areas: aviation tracker
SEOUL -- A U.S. reconnaissance plane flew over Seoul and surrounding regions, an aviation tracker said Wednesday, on an apparent mission to collect intelligence regarding North Korea.
The plane, believed to be an RC-135V, was detected in the skies above South Korea's capital city and Gyeonggi Province "on task over the Korean Peninsula," Aircraft Spots posted on Twitter.
S. Korea announces New Southern Policy 2.0 plan after Busan summit with ASEAN
BUSAN -- The office of President Moon Jae-in announced Wednesday that it would push for its New Southern Policy 2.0 in earnest, citing better-than-expected results from South Korea's summit with 10 ASEAN member states in Busan this week.
"(We) evaluate that we have made achievements at the special summit beyond what we aimed and expected," Joo Hyung-chul, an adviser to President Moon Jae-in for economic affairs, during a press briefing at the BEXCO convention center in the major port city, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
S. Korea-Mekong declaration calls for development cooperation through Korean growth model
BUSAN -- South Korea and the five Mekong River nations agreed Wednesday to enhance economic development cooperation in such areas as resources, farming and environment, by sharing Korea's experience of its rapid post-war growth.
President Moon Jae-in and the leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, made the pledge in a joint declaration they adopted at the first summit between South Korea and the Mekong River countries in the southern port city of Busan.
(2nd LD) Speaker Moon pushes for bill to resolve Japanese wartime forced labor issue
SEOUL -- South Korea's parliamentary speaker is preparing a bill to create a fund to compensate victims of Japan's wartime forced labor with contributions by firms, governments and citizens of both nations, officials said Wednesday.
The bill, pushed by National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang, is to build a 300 billion-won (US$255 million) fund to compensate some 1,500 victims of Japan's forced labor, a major diplomatic thorn between the two countries
Biz sentiment worsens for Dec.: poll
SEOUL -- South Korean business sentiment remains weak for December amid Sino-American trade tensions and the slowing global economy, a think tank said Wednesday.
The business survey index (BSI) of the country's top 600 companies by sales came to 90 for next month, down from 92.7 for November, according to the Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) affiliated with the Federation of Korean Industries, the top business lobby.
Russian skydivers allowed to leave Korea after paying fine
BUSAN -- Busan prosecutors have lifted an exit ban on two Russian skydivers, who were under investigation for their unauthorized leaps off high-rise buildings in the southern port city earlier this month, after they paid hefty fines, officials said Thursday.
The Russian nationals were booked on trespassing charges and slapped with an exit ban after illegally parachuting from the roof of a 40-story office building in Busan on Nov. 9 and launching another expedition from the top of a 42-story hotel building the following day. They were accused of making their parachute jumps without permission from the buildings' management.
7 out of 10 S. Koreans agree to efforts for resumption of Mt. Kumgang tour
SEOUL -- Seven out of 10 South Koreans are supportive of government efforts to resume a long-suspended inter-Korean tour program at Mount Kumgang on North Korea's east coast, a recent poll showed Wednesday, amid the North's threat to end the cross-border project.
According to the survey, conducted by the National Unification Advisory Council, 66.8 percent of the respondents said they either strongly agree or agree with efforts to resume the Mount Kumgang tour by allowing individual visits or in-kind payments to avoid violating sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.
Tensions over prosecution reform deepen after reshuffle of senior prosecutors
U.S.-N.K. nuke deadlock may continue in H1 with no signs of budging: experts
Political parties gear up for April 15 elections, with 100-day countdown set to begin
Tensions rise to perilous point in U.S.-NK nuke diplomacy
Trump's revival of military threat intended to curb N.K. provocations: experts