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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 17:00 March 23, 2020

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

(LEAD) S. Korea on guard against imported virus cases amid slowdown in new infections

SEOUL -- South Korea needs to ramp up its quarantine efforts to prevent a surge in novel coronavirus infections from overseas despite a slowdown in new cases reported in the country, medical experts here said Monday, as the number of imported cases is rising amid a global pandemic.

After its first confirmed case on Jan. 20, South Korea went through a second wave of virus infections when massive transmissions among followers of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus religious sect were reported in the southeastern city of Daegu and surrounding North Gyeongsang Province, the two epicenters of virus outbreak here.

Ministry official hints at possibility of imposing quarantine costs for arrivals from overseas

SEOUL -- A foreign ministry official on Monday left open the possibility of a change in South Korea's policy to shoulder all coronavirus quarantine costs for people flying from overseas, as more countries quarantine inbound travelers at their own expense.

The South Korean government has so far covered all the costs of its beefed-up quarantine program for both citizens and foreigners, fueling criticism that the efforts to curb imported infections could chip away at state coffers.

(3rd LD) Seoul stocks again in free fall, Korean won sharply down

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks dropped more than 5 percent on Monday, a day after rebounding by almost 8 percent the previous session, due to investors' growing jitters over the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus. The Korean won also sharply fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 83.69 points, or 5.34 percent, to close at 1,482.46.

(LEAD) Sex crime chat room ignites public fury

SEOUL -- More than 2 million people have signed an online petition as of Monday demanding the government unveil the identity of a man who allegedly ran a group chat room where photos and videos of violent sex acts, involving underaged victims, were distributed.

At least 74 victims are known to have been exploited in the so-called Nth room case, in which a man surnamed Cho allegedly lured victims into taking naked photos and later threatened and exploited them into more gruesome sex acts.

(2nd LD) Hyundai suspends India plant amid virus fear

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's biggest carmaker by sales, said Monday it has suspended its plant in India due to the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The Chennai plant's suspension comes as the Indian government ordered most manufacturing facilities in 75 regions affected by the COVID-19 outbreak to stop operations, a company spokesperson said.

BOK to conduct repo operations this week to help ease credit crunch

SEOUL -- The Bank of Korea (BOK) on Monday said it will purchase an unspecified amount of local bonds this week to help prevent a possible liquidity crunch facing local brokerages amid a market rout sparked by fears of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank said it will also expand the scope of its purchase program to include bonds issued by public enterprises.

Trump says U.S. is open to helping N. Korea, Iran fight new coronavirus

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump has said that Washington is open to helping North Korea and Iran fight the new coronavirus, underscoring his willingness to make joint anti-virus efforts at this "very serious time."

Trump made the remarks during a weekend White House briefing on his administration's efforts to contain the pandemic, while reportedly confirming North Korea's claim that he had sent a letter to leader Kim Jong-un with an offer for cooperation in battling the virus.

(Yonhap Interview) 'Kingdom' screenwriter proud of her Korean-style zombies

SEOUL -- Since the release of the second season of "Kingdom," a Korean-made Netflix original, 10 days ago, the series has been talk of the town among drama fans around the world.

Foreign media such as Forbes have compared the Korean historical zombie thriller with the American horror TV series "The Walking Dead" or the smash-hit fantasy "Game of Thrones."

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