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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 April 07, 2020

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

(LEAD) New virus cases fall below 50 for 2nd day, but vigilance urged

SEOUL -- South Korea reported fewer than 50 new cases of the new coronavirus Tuesday for the second straight day, but health authorities warned against complacency.

South Korea has recorded around 100 or fewer daily new cases for more than three weeks, but health authorities still remain on high alert over cluster infections at churches and hospitals, as well as new cases coming from overseas.

(LEAD) Samsung Electronics delivers forecast-beating Q1 performance on robust chip demand

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. on Tuesday delivered better-than-expected first-quarter earnings as robust demand for chips apparently offset a slump in smartphone sales and home appliances amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The South Korean tech giant put its first-quarter operating profit at 6.4 trillion won (US$5.2 billion) for the January-March period, up 2.73 percent from 6.23 trillion won a year ago.

(LEAD) Esper says he called S. Korean counterpart to discuss defense cost deal

WASHINGTON/SEOUL -- U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday he called South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo to discuss the importance of an "equitable" defense cost-sharing agreement between the allies.

The phone call took place days after U.S. Forces Korea placed thousands of Korean workers at U.S. military bases on unpaid leave, citing the absence of an agreement to cover their salaries.

Hyundai, Kia suspend half of overseas plants on virus impact

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. said Tuesday they have suspended half of their overseas plants due to the spreading new coronavirus outbreak.

Six out of Hyundai's 10 overseas plants and three out of Kia's seven overseas factories are not in operation in line with local governments' efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

BOK to deliver additional $4.4 bln to banks via U.S. currency swap this week

SEOUL -- The Bank of Korea (BOK) said Tuesday that it will offer US$4.41 billion to local banks this week in its second round of dollar funding using its bilateral currency swap arrangement with the U.S. Fed that is designed to help prevent a foreign exchange liquidity crunch.

The central bank held an online auction to provide up to $8.5 billion in seven-day debt and 84-day loans.

S. Korea's national debt tops 1,700 tln won in 2019

SEOUL -- South Korea's national debt grew sharply from a year earlier in 2019, breaching the 1,700 trillion-won mark for the first time, a government report showed Tuesday.

The country's national debt came to 1,743.6 trillion won (US$1.42 trillion) as of end-2019, up 60.2 trillion won from a year earlier, according to the settlement of state accounts, reviewed and endorsed by the Cabinet in a Seoul meeting.

N. Korea could simplify this week's parliamentary meeting amid virus fight: official

SEOUL -- North Korea could simplify procedures for an upcoming parliamentary meeting, as the country is making all-out efforts to prevent the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a unification ministry official said Tuesday.

The Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), the North's rubber-stamp parliament, is scheduled to meet Friday. This year's meeting comes as Pyongyang has restricted people's movement as part of efforts to block the spread of COVID-19.

(2nd LD) Korea's current account surplus widens to US$6.41 bln in Feb.

SEOUL -- South Korea's current account surplus sharply increased from a year earlier in February, as its goods account surplus widened while its service account deficit slightly narrowed, central bank data showed Tuesday.

The country's current account surplus came to US$6.41 billion in the month, up from a $3.85 billion surplus the same month last year, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

Box office admissions hit rock bottom Monday: data

SEOUL -- The number of box office admissions plunged to a new all-time daily low on Monday, with the coronavirus pandemic keeping would-be moviegoers at home, data showed.

The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) said Tuesday that only 15,726 tickets were sold at cinemas the previous day, the first time a daily figure fell below 20,000 since KOFIC began compiling box office data in 2004.

Cheong Wa Dae still seeks Xi Jinping's 'early visit' to S. Korea: official

SEOUL -- South Korea said Tuesday it is continuing consultations with China on an "early visit" here by President Xi Jinping, dismissing a news report that the two sides have retracted a related accord amid the prolonged coronavirus outbreak.

Xi has agreed to travel to South Korea in the first half of the year for talks with President Moon Jae-in. The exact schedule has not been announced yet.

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