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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 April 17, 2020

SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

N. Korean defector wins first-ever constituency seat in parliament

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- A high-profile North Korean defector won a constituency seat in this week's general elections, becoming the first person hailing from the communist nation to be chosen directly by South Korean voters as their representative.

Thae Yong-ho, a former No. 2 diplomat at North Korea's Embassy in London, was elected to the National Assembly as the main conservative opposition United Future Party's candidate in Seoul's southern affluent district of Gangnam.

Thae received 58.4 percent of the votes cast Wednesday in the Gangnam constituency, one of the conservative party's main strongholds, far ahead of his opponent Kim Sung-gon, a four-term lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party who earned 39.6 percent.

Individual trips to N. Korea to be pursued in consideration of virus fight: official

SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea remains unchanged in its push for active cross-border exchanges, including allowing individual tours to North Korea, but such projects should be pursued in consideration of progress in the anti-coronavirus fight, the unification ministry said Friday.

South Korea has pushed for individual trips to North Korea as a way to improve inter-Korean relations without violating sanctions on Pyongyang, but no progress has been made. Making matters worse has been the coronavirus pandemic that led the North to shut down its border.

"Our stance remains unchanged to actively push for individual trips in the hope that that would make it possible for our citizens to visit North Korea through diverse ways so as to expand the opportunity for civilian exchange between the two Koreas," Cho Hey-sil, the ministry's deputy spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

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