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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:31 March 31, 2020

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

S. Korea offered US$125 million in loans for forging ties with Hungary: declassified dossier

SEOUL -- South Korea agreed in 1988 to offer massive bank loans to Hungary as a condition for forging bilateral diplomatic relations the following year, a declassified diplomatic dossier showed Tuesday.

Seoul pledged US$250 million in bank loans to Budapest as part of the "economic cooperation" funds totaling $650 million, and agreed to provide half of the loans, or $125 million, before establishing the relations, according to the 240,000-page dossier.

BOK cuts U.S. dollar share of foreign assets in 2019

SEOUL -- South Korea's central bank said Tuesday that it slightly reduced the portion of U.S. dollar-denominated assets in its overall foreign assets from a year earlier in 2019.

As of end-2019, dollar-denominated holdings accounted for 69.1 percent of overall foreign assets held by the Bank of Korea (BOK), the central bank said in its annual report.

The reading marks a 0.7 percentage point drop from a year earlier.

King Sejong Institute to launch online classes from April

SEOUL -- King Sejong Institute, the state-run Korean culture and language education center, will start online classes next month amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, its operator said Tuesday.

The King Sejong Institute Foundation said it has developed the online lecture service platform, which will go into operation on Wednesday. Users can access the site through personal computers and smartphones.

All King Sejong Institutes across the world can open a new class and broadcast lectures on the platform for their students, with additional functions like roll call and live Q&A sessions.

(LEAD) Moon urges legal punishment for quarantine breach

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in called Tuesday for stern legal measures against those flouting coronavirus quarantine rules, a day before the policy of imposing 14-day mandatory self-isolation on all arrivals from abroad takes effect.

"If the quarantine measure is violated, resolute and strong legal measures should be taken to protect the safety of the community," he stressed, speaking at a weekly Cabinet meeting.

Although South Korea's response to COVID-19 has won praise, with signs of "gradual stabilization" in the situation here, he said, "There's still a long way to go for a solid stable stage."

(2nd LD) New cases up again on cluster infections, imported cases

SEOUL -- South Korea reported a slight uptick in new cases of the novel coronavirus Tuesday, driven by a steady rise in cluster infections and imported cases.

The 125 new cases, which were detected Monday and up from 78 new cases a day earlier, brought the nation's total infections to 9,786, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The country's death toll rose by four to 162, with more than half of fatalities being patients who are aged 80 or older.

Men's basketball saw jump in attendance before virus forced cancellation: data

SEOUL -- The South Korean men's basketball league was in the midst of a strong season when the competition was abruptly interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, data showed Tuesday.

The Korean Basketball League (KBL) said its 10 teams had drawn a total of 641,917 fans at 205 regular season games, for an average of 3,131 per contest, before the season came to a halt on Feb. 29.

Defense ministry to hire 400 disabled civilian workers this year

SEOUL -- The defense ministry said Tuesday it will hire 400 handicapped civilian employees this year, including 20 people with serious disabilities, as part of government efforts to expand their employment opportunities.

The recruiting plan follows the revision to the Act on the Management of Civilian Personnel in the Military Service that calls for exempting severely handicapped people or those who became disabled while serving in the military from taking a written test for experienced positions, according to the ministry.

Gov't restrictions on Jin Air lifted on improved corporate governance

SEOUL -- South Korea on Tuesday lifted a ban on Jin Air Co. on offering new air routes amid the coronavirus outbreak that has hit the global airline industry.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has also allowed the budget carrier to register new airplanes and to provide non-regular flights.

However, the move is unlikely to give any immediate boost to Jin Air. The company has suspended all of its flights on international routes, as an increasing number of countries have closed their borders to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

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