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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 December 04, 2020

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

New virus cases at 9-month high of over 600, tighter curbs to be considered

SEOUL -- The daily number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea topped 600 on Friday, the most in nearly nine months despite tightened antivirus measures, prodding authorities to consider adopting tighter virus restrictions.

The country added 629 more COVID-19 cases, including 600 local infections, raising the total caseload to 36,332, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). It reported seven additional coronavirus fatalities, bringing the total to 536.

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Seoul stocks turn higher late morning on tech, bio gains

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks jumped more than 1.5 percent late Friday morning due to strong advances by tech and bio heavyweights, after the benchmark index closed at an all-time high the previous session.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 40.97 points, or 1.52 percent, to 2,737.19 as of 11:20 a.m.

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Proposed U.S. defense budget bill limits reduction of USFK troop level

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. defense budget bill for next year seeks to prevent a reduction of U.S. troop levels in South Korea, a U.S. congressional record showed Thursday.

According to the Conference Report on the defense budget, the U.S. Congress seeks to prevent the use of the national defense budget to reduce the number of U.S. Forces Korea from the current level of 28,500.

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Unification minister cites European Coal and Steel Community as model for inter-Korean cooperation

SEOUL -- Unification Minister Lee In-young said Friday that South and North Korea should look for creative ways to build peace and prosperity just as the European Coal and Steel Community led Europe into unity "beyond the barrier of ideology and boundaries."

Lee made the remark during a video speech at a forum on peace in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), stressing the importance of inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation. The European Coal and Steel Community is an organization established in 1952 to integrate relevant industries in Western Europe.

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S. Korea probes 10 suspected cases of highly pathogenic bird flu

SEOUL -- South Korea said Friday it is investigating 10 suspected cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) found from wild bird droppings, sparking concerns over the nationwide spread of the virus among poultry farms.

The new suspected cases came from samples gathered from major wild bird habitats across the nation, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

It will take up to five days to determine whether they are highly pathogenic.

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Ruling party chairman's aide found dead amid investigation over campaign finance violation

SEOUL -- A close aide to the ruling Democratic Party (DP) chairman Lee Nak-yon has been found dead while under probe for an alleged breach of the political fund law, the prosecution said Friday.

The police discovered his body in a building near the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office in southern Seoul at around 9:15 p.m. Thursday, after his family reported him missing.

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S. Korea's exports of virus test kits reach US$2.3 bln this year

SEOUL -- South Korea's exports of coronavirus test kits amounted to US$2.3 billion in the first 11 months of the year due to soaring demand amid the deepening pandemic, data showed Friday.

Exports of test kits hit a record high of $546 million in November, up from $412 million the previous month, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Agency and the Korea Customs Service.

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S. Korea's currency continues to strengthen on U.S stimulus talks

SEOUL -- South Korea's currency continued to gain ground against the U.S. dollar Friday, as the risk appetite is growing over signs of progress in U.S. stimulus talks and developments of coronavirus vaccines.

The won was quoted at 1,092.30 won per U.S. dollar as of 9:04 a.m., up 4.7 won from the previous session's close.

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S. Korea's current account surplus hits 3-year high in October on export recovery

SEOUL -- South Korea's current account surplus hit a three-year high in October as exports showed signs of a modest recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic, the central bank said Friday.

The current account surplus reached US$11.66 billion in October, widening from a surplus of $10.13 billion the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). The current account is the broadest measure of cross-border trade.

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U.S. Army Pacific commander named new USFK chief: sources

SEOUL -- U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera has been nominated to be the next commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), sources said Friday.

If confirmed, LaCamera will succeed Gen. Robert Abrams to lead the 28,500 American troops based in South Korea, as well as to take the helm of the U.N. Command and the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command. Abrams took office in November 2018.
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