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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:26 March 31, 2020

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

(3rd LD) New cases up again on cluster, overseas infections; new school year further delayed

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.

In the face of community spread of the virus, the country again pushed back the new school year, with the introduction of online classes. The opening of kindergartens and child care centers has been delayed indefinitely.

(3rd LD) S. Korea to begin new school year with online classes April 9 amid virus outbreak

SEOUL -- South Korea said Tuesday it will begin the new school year on April 9 with online classes for middle and high school senior students following repeated delays due to the novel coronavirus.

The unprecedented move to introduce online classes at elementary, middle and high schools nationwide will be carried out step by step, depending on grades, according to the education ministry.

BOK minutes hint at additional rate cut

SEOUL -- The Bank of Korea (BOK) may further cut its policy rate to help minimize the economic fallout from the new coronavirus pandemic, BOK minutes showed Tuesday.

The central bank delivered a surprise rate cut in an emergency meeting of its monetary policy board held March 16, slashing the policy rate by a half percentage point to a new record low of 0.75 percent.

(LEAD) N. Korea appears to launch new department handling negotiations with U.S.: official

SEOUL -- North Korea appears to have created a new foreign ministry department tasked with handling negotiations with the United States, a unification ministry official said Tuesday, after the bureau's new chief issued a statement blasting the U.S. the previous day.

On Monday, the North Korean foreign ministry's "new department director general for negotiations with the U.S." issued a statement criticizing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for seeking to maintain sanctions on the North. The unnamed official also said the North has lost interest in dialogue and will "go our own way."

S. Korea to issue message on planned furloughs of citizens working in USFK

SEOUL -- The government plans to announce its stance Tuesday on the eve of the U.S. military's planned furloughs of thousands of South Korean employees in the absence of a defense cost-sharing deal to fund their wages, a Seoul official said.

About 4,500-5,000 workers, mostly in nonessential positions, are expected to go on unpaid leave, starting Wednesday, as Seoul and Washington have yet to reconcile differences in their negotiations over the sharing of the cost for the upkeep of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).

BTS performs from home for U.S. TV show in time of social distancing

SEOUL -- K-pop super band BTS cheered up its fans and audiences across the world Tuesday with a special performance on a U.S. TV show, broadcast from the band's own studio in South Korea, in a time of social distancing over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members of BTS were the penultimate artists that James Corden, the host of the CBS program "The Late Late Show with James Corden," connected with in his video calls for the special quarantine edition of the show, which aired Monday night (U.S. time) from his own garage.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks spike over 2 pct on stimulus hopes

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks closed sharply higher Tuesday, extending earlier gains on hope for massive economic stimulus measures in major economies, such as China and the United States, to minimize the fallout from the new coronavirus outbreak. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) surged 37.52 points, or 2.19 percent, to close at 1,754.64. Trading volume was high at slightly over 1 billion shares worth 13.6 trillion won (US$11.2 billion), with gainers far outnumbering losers 782 to 108.

Seoul church emerges as new coronavirus infection cluster, with 32 confirmed cases

SEOUL -- A total of 32 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have been linked with a church of a fringe Protestant sect in Seoul, authorities said Tuesday, raising concerns over cluster infection in the populous capital.

Of the total, 25 patients are followers of Manmin Central Church, located in the southwestern Seoul ward of Guro, while the remaining seven are their family members and friends, according to the Seoul metropolitan government.

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