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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:29 July 30, 2020

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

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New virus cases dip to over 1-month low of 18 on slowing imported cases

SEOUL -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases dipped to more than a month low Thursday as imported cases dwindled from last week's record high over infections traced to the virus-hit Iraq and Russian sailors.

The country added 18 cases, including 11 imported cases, raising the total caseload to 14,269, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

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(LEAD) N. Korea's No. 2 leader visits Kaesong after lockdown amid virus fears

SEOUL -- North Korea's No. 2 leader has visited the border city of Kaesong to inspect antivirus efforts, state media reported Thursday, after leader Kim Jong-un sealed off the town over virus fears following the return of a defector from South Korea.

On Sunday, North Korea said that it has put Kaesong on lockdown, claiming that a "runaway" defector suspected of COVID-19 infection recently came back from the South. Seoul later said a North Korean defector is believed to have swum across the border but doubted he had contracted the virus.

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S. Korea, U.S. extend US$60 bln currency swap deal by 6 months amid pandemic

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States have agreed to extend a US$60 billion bilateral currency swap agreement by six months in an effort to help ease lingering market uncertainties amid the new coronavirus outbreak, the Bank of Korea (BOK) said Thursday.

In late March, the BOK and the U.S. Federal Reserve signed the bilateral currency swap facility to help ease financial market jitters caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The swap agreement, initially set to end on Sept. 30, will be extended until March 31, 2021.

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(3rd LD) After strong Q2 results, Samsung expects solid chip demand, recovery in mobile biz

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. said Thursday it expects solid demand of chips and a gradual recovery in the mobile phone sector in the second half of the year as the world's largest memory chipmaker racked up strong second-quarter earnings.

Samsung's net profit stood at 5.55 trillion won (US$4.7 billion) in the April-June period, up 7.23 percent from a year earlier, the world's largest smartphone vendor said in a regulatory filing.

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(LEAD) New unification minister renews willingness to work with N. Korea to tackle coronavirus

SEOUL -- New Unification Minister Lee In-young said Thursday that South Korea is willing to work with North Korea to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in the border city of Kaesong or anywhere in the communist nation.

Lee made the remark during a visit to the National Cemetery in Seoul after the North said over the weekend that it has declared a state of emergency and sealed off Kaesong after a defector returned home from South Korea with coronavirus symptoms.

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NIS to be renamed, barred from domestic politics: ruling party official

SEOUL -- The state intelligence agency will be renamed and barred from intervening in domestic politics and probing spy cases under new comprehensive reform measures aimed at limiting the power of national investigative agencies, a ruling party official said Thursday.

The measures were announced shortly after a joint meeting at the National Assembly between officials of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), the government and Cheong Wa Dae.

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N.K. media says scaled-down joint exercise shows S. Korea-U.S. alliance is an 'illusion'

SEOUL -- North Korean propaganda outlets on Thursday scoffed at South Korea's plan to hold a major combined exercise with the United States in a scaled-back manner next month, downplaying their alliance as "nothing more than an illusion."

South Korea and the U.S. are set to stage a major annual exercise in mid-August, in a bid to better prepare for Seoul to take back wartime operational control (OPCON) of its forces from Washington. Authorities said the exercises will held on a smaller scale due to coronavirus concerns.

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(Yonhap Feature) Battered Cold War-era building's basement transforms into hip urban arts venue

SEOUL -- Surrounded by a stream, a mountain and a bustling street market, Hongeun-dong appears like most Seoul neighborhoods, if not for a mammoth building with an obsolete ivory-colored facade.

Measuring 220 meters in length and 44 meters in width, Yujin Sangga remains one of the city's biggest buildings 50 years after it was built, according to architect Hwang Doo-jin, who has explored modern historic architectures in the South Korean capital.

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Traditional Korean archery designated as nat'l cultural heritage

SEOUL -- The art of traditional Korean archery has been designated as a national intangible cultural heritage, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) announced Thursday.

CHA said it recognized the value of "hwalssogi," or Korean traditional archery, for its significance in the history of Korean traditional martial arts.

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S. Korea, Cambodia hold 1st round of FTA talks

SEOUL -- South Korea said Thursday it has launched the first round of free trade negotiations with Cambodia in a bid to penetrate deeper into the Southeast Asian market and overcome economic jitters by the virus pandemic.

During two days of virtual negotiations, Seoul and Phnom Penh will discuss details on the envisioned FTA, including expanding the bilateral economic cooperation, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
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