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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 May 22, 2020

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

(2nd LD) S. Korea reports 20 new virus cases amid efforts to contain sporadic infections

SEOUL -- South Korea reported 20 more cases of the new coronavirus Friday as health officials are trying to contain sporadic group infections following the mass spread of the virus tied to Seoul's nightlife district of Itaewon.

The new cases raised South Korea's total caseload to 11,142, and the nation's death toll remained unchanged at 264, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

S. Korea not mulling lifting of 2010 sanctions on N. Korea: unification ministry

SEOUL -- South Korea is not considering lifting sanctions imposed on North Korea in 2010 after its sinking of a South Korean naval ship, the unification ministry said Friday amid speculation over the possibility of their removal aimed at bolstering stalled inter-Korean relations.

On Wednesday, the unification ministry said that much of the sanctions have lost their intended effect and pose no obstacle in expanding "room" in inter-Korean relations, as previous governments have made various "exceptions" in their implementation.

Seoul closely monitoring N. Korea as leader out of public view again

SEOUL -- South Korea is closely watching the whereabouts of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the unification ministry said Friday, as his absence from public view has stretched to three weeks once again.

A swirl of global rumors about Kim's heath and even the possibility of his death came to an end when he attended the completion ceremony of a fertilizer factory with a broad smile on May 1 after a 20-day absence from public view.

S. Korea may face worst economic slump in Q2: vice finance minister

SEJONG -- South Korea is likely to face the worst quarterly economic slump in the second quarter, Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom said Friday, as the new coronavirus pandemic has crippled exports and consumption.

"Shocks are expected to be concentrated in the second quarter," Kim said during a meeting with senior ministry officials.

Cheong Wa Dae says still early to respond to Trump's new geoeconomic strategy

SEOUL -- Cheong Wa Dae has no "conclusive" position on U.S. President Donald Trump administration's stated push for the Economic Prosperity Network, an official said Friday, reflecting Seoul's cautious approach toward the sensitive issue apparently involving China.

The initiative is understood to be "still in a planning stage" as part of various ideas on the economic sector from a global perspective, the official said.

U.S. cites partnership with S. Korea in approach to countering China

WASHINGTON -- The United States is building partnerships with South Korea and other allies to counter the damaging effects of China's rising influence in the world, according to a new U.S. government report.

The 16-page "United States Strategic Approach to the People's Republic of China" was submitted to Congress this week by President Donald Trump, a requirement under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, the White House said Thursday.

Prosecutors raid branches of religious group at center of coronavirus outbreak

SEOUL -- Prosecutors raided facilities of Shincheonji, a minor religious sect, on Friday as part of their ongoing probe into allegations that the group hindered state efforts to contain the new coronavirus in the early stages of the pandemic.

Some 100 investigators took part in the raids into the secretive group's branches nationwide, to seize materials in connection with the charges brought against the group's founder, Lee Man-hee. The branches include the group's headquarters in Gwacheon, just south of Seoul, and facilities in the cities of Busan, Gwangju and Daejeon.

FM Kang calls baseball's return 'important move' to address psychological impact of COVID-19

SEOUL -- Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called attention Friday to the psychological impact of the new coronavirus related to social distancing fatigue, calling the recent return of professional baseball in the country an "important move."

In an interview with ABC News, Kang also pointed out that South Korea is "managing" inbound flights from virus-battered countries, including the United States, based on toughened quarantine protocols despite concerns over imported COVID-19 cases.

U.N. raises US$1.3 mln to aid N. Korea's antivirus fight

SEOUL -- The United Nations has raised US$1.3 million to provide assistance for North Korea's efforts to prevent the outbreak of the new coronavirus, a U.N. report showed Friday.

The fund, whose latest tally was as of Wednesday, represented some 3 percent of $39.7 million estimated to be required to support the North's antivirus efforts, according to the report by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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