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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:04 December 08, 2020

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

(LEAD) Moon: S. Korea to consider joining CPTPP to expand its free trade network

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday that South Korea is considering becoming a member of a major Asia-Pacific free trade agreement, known as the CPTPP, as part of efforts to diversify its export market.

He also stressed the need to build up the strength of the country's trade in preparation for the post-coronavirus era, addressing a 57th Trade Day ceremony.

(LEAD) New virus cases under 600, bigger wave of pandemic in offing

SEOUL -- South Korea's new virus cases fell back slightly to below 600 on Tuesday as tougher virus restrictions in the greater Seoul and other areas began to be implemented. But health authorities still remain on utmost alert over a further spike in virus cases tied to a slew of cluster infections.

The country reported 594 new virus cases, including 566 domestically transmitted ones as of midnight Monday, raising the total caseload to 38,755, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

(LEAD) S. Korea to secure COVID-19 vaccines for 44 million people

SEOUL -- South Korea has secured early access of COVID-19 vaccines developed by four pharmaceutical companies and from a global vaccine project for 44 million people, the health ministry said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it has preordered 64 million doses of vaccines by four drugmakers -- AstraZeneca Inc., Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen and Moderna -- for 34 million people.

(LEAD) Biegun to arrive in Seoul for talks on bilateral alliance, N. Korea

SEOUL -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun was set to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday for talks with South Korean officials on the bilateral alliance and the stalled nuclear negotiations with North Korea.

His four-day trip comes amid concern that North Korea could stage provocations to test the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden that has yet to unveil its detailed policy on the communist state.

U.S. again designates N. Korea as violator of religious freedom

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Monday renewed its designation of North Korea as one of the state violators of religious freedom.

It marks the 19th consecutive year the North has been named a state violator of religious freedom.

N. Korea may respond to calls for antivirus cooperation after party congress: minister

SEOUL -- Unification Minister Lee In-young said Tuesday that North Korea might respond to calls for inter-Korean cooperation on fighting the coronavirus pandemic after holding a rare party congress early next month.

Lee made the remarks during an interview with local radio broadcaster CBS, saying the North is likely to focus on its antivirus campaign until next month before reaching out to South Korea for cooperation in the field of public health.

BTS becomes first S. Korean act to break into top 10 on Billboard's radio chart

SEOUL -- BTS, one of the world's most popular pop groups, has become the first all-South Korean act to make it into the top 10 on Billboard's Radio Songs chart.

The group's hit single "Dynamite" moved up a spot to rank No. 10 on the chart measuring radio airplay in the United States, Billboard reported on Monday (U.S. time). The all-English track had earlier made history by becoming the first song by a Korean act to top Billboard's main singles chart, the Hot 100.

(LEAD) USFK under fire over no-mask dance party amid virus resurgence

SEOUL -- The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) is facing criticism over a dance party held at one of its bases last week at which participants did not wear face masks amid South Korea's heightened social distancing scheme to stem the resurgence of new coronavirus cases.

The party took place at Flightline Tap Room at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on Friday, with dozens of people dancing side by side without wearing masks, according to officials.

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