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Yonhap News Summary

National 17:00 March 26, 2020

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

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Crisis-hit Doosan Heavy to get 1 tln won in loans from 2 policy lenders

SEOUL -- Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. said Thursday that it has opened a 1 trillion-won (US$812 million) credit line from two state lenders, a move that could help prevent a possible liquidity crunch caused by the spread of the new coronavirus.

The country's largest power equipment maker has signed an agreement with Korea Development Bank (KDB) and Korea Export-Import Bank (Eximbank) for the loans.

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(LEAD) Gov't explores ways to support Korean USFK employees facing furloughs next week

SEOUL -- The government is weighing the possibility of low-interest loans and other options to support South Korean employees in the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) who face furloughs next week in the absence of a deal to fund their wages, a Seoul official said Thursday.

On Wednesday, the USFK began sending out furlough notices to the Korean employees, mostly in nonessential positions, as Seoul and Washington have yet to bridge the gaps in their monthslong negotiations on the sharing of the cost for stationing the 28,500-strong USFK.

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State pension fund backs incumbent Hanjin chairman amid leadership feud

SEOUL -- South Korea's state pension fund on Thursday said that it has decided to vote for the reappointment of the incumbent chairman of Hanjin Group as a board member, a day ahead of the holding firm's shareholders meeting, amid an escalating family feud over control of the conglomerate.

The National Pension Service (NPS) said it would back Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae as a board member of Hanjin KAL Corp., the holding company of the logistics-centered business group.

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S. Korean football federation asks IOC to adjust age limit for Olympics in 2021

SEOUL -- The South Korean national football federation on Thursday asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to adjust the age restriction on male players at next year's Summer Games in Tokyo so that those who helped the country qualify will still be eligible to play in the rescheduled competition.

The Olympic men's football tournament is only open to players who are 23 or younger, except for a maximum three overage players permitted for each nation. For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, those born on or after Jan. 1, 1997, would have been eligible.

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Foreigners extend selling streak to 16th consecutive session

SEOUL -- Foreign investors continued to sell local stocks for a 16th consecutive session, with the coronavirus pandemic looming heavily on the global economy, data showed Thursday.

Offshore investors offloaded a net 531.2 billion won (US$431.3 million) worth of local stocks on Thursday.

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Broadcasting watchdog renews license for Yonhap News TV

SEOUL -- South Korea's broadcasting watchdog renewed Thursday the broadcasting license for the country's two cable all-new channels, including Yonhap News TV.

The Korea Communications Commission granted another four-year broadcasting license to Yonhap News TV and YTN in its regular meeting earlier in the day.

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(2nd LD) Defense chief calls for tighter naval defense on 10th anniversary of N.K.'s sinking of warship

SEOUL -- South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo called for tighter defense of the sea border with North Korea on Thursday, the 10th anniversary of the communist nation's deadly sinking of the South's warship Cheonan.

The Cheonan went down near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, on March 26, 2010, killing 46 sailors. After an international probe, the South concluded the sinking was caused by a torpedo attack by a North Korean submarine.

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97-year-old woman fully recovers from new coronavirus

SEOUL -- A 97-year-old South Korean woman infected with the novel coronavirus has fully recovered and been released from quarantine, making her the country's oldest fully recovered virus patient, officials said Thursday.

The patient, from the southeastern city of Cheongdo, returned home after fully recovering from COVID-19. The city is adjacent to Daegu, an epicenter of the local outbreak.

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(LEAD) Korean-made test kits go big overseas amid new coronavirus pandemic

SEOUL -- South Korean-made virus test kits are increasing their presence in overseas markets, industry observers said Thursday, as demand for diagnostic tools to fight the new coronavirus accelerates in many virus-hit countries.

According to Seoul's foreign ministry, 47 countries have so far asked about importing South Korean-made coronavirus test kits, while an additional 39 countries have requested them as humanitarian aid.

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(2nd LD) Moon asks opposition party leader to present details of relief bond offer

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in responded prudently to an opposition party's call for a 40 trillion-won (US$32.5 billion) government bond program meant to help businesses and households here hit by the coronavirus.

He publicly requested that Hwang Kyo-ahn, leader of the conservative main opposition Future Korea Party, provide details, including how it would be financed and work.

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(LEAD) Canada seeks S. Korean model in coronavirus response: Trudeau to Moon

SEOUL -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday his country plans to take a cue from South Korea in responding to the new coronavirus, holding phone talks with President Moon Jae-in for half an hour, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

Trudeau lauded South Korea for its "science-based" handling of the problem without excessive burden on the medical system and for producing accomplishments in protecting the people's safety, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok said. The prime minister also said South Korea is taking advantage of its experience from the MERS incident in 2015.

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Leaders of S. Korea, Mongolia exchange letters to mark establishment of diplomatic ties

SEOUL -- The leaders of South Korea and Mongolia exchanged letters Thursday to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year, the foreign ministry in Seoul said.

In the letter to Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga, President Moon Jae-in noted that the bilateral relationship has developed in areas such as the economic, social and cultural fields in the past decades based on solid trust and friendship, the ministry said in a release.

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(LEAD) 2-week self-quarantine mandated for entrants from U.S.

SEOUL -- All entrants from the United States will be faced with strengthened quarantine measures starting Friday as South Korea grapples with a surge in imported cases of the new coronavirus, health authorities here said Thursday.

Starting at midnight, passengers from the U.S. who do not show symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever will be required to self-isolate at home for two weeks, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said. Those who show symptoms will be required to take tests upon arrival.

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Gyeonggi Province's coronavirus-related aid project to N.K. halted: official

SEOUL -- A coronavirus-related aid project to North Korea planned independently by the Gyeonggi Province government was suspended, as it failed to meet the requirements necessary for government approval, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

Local media outlets reported earlier that the Gyeonggi provincial government approved a motion last month to provide North Korea with medical supplies, such as masks and test kits, worth 1.2 billion Korean won (US$980,000) to help with Pyongyang's preventive efforts against the COVID-19 virus.

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(3rd LD) New virus infections hover around 100 for 2nd day on imported cases

SEOUL -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases hovered around 100 for the second straight day Thursday, as health authorities ramped up containment measures in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area amid a jump in imported cases.

The 104 new cases, detected Wednesday, brought the nation's total infections to 9,241, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The figure marked the 15th consecutive day the number of cases was in the region of 100 or lower. The death toll rose by six to 132, and 56 virus patients are in critical condition.
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