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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:40 December 09, 2020

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

(LEAD) New infections near 700 despite enhanced social distancing rules

SEOUL -- South Korea's new virus cases neared 700 on Wednesday on soaring community infections in the greater Seoul area despite toughened social distancing measures.

The country reported 686 new virus cases, including 662 domestically transmitted ones, raising the total caseload to 39,432, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

(LEAD) N.K. leader's sister says S. Korean FM will 'pay dearly' for remarks on COVID-19

SEOUL -- North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-Jong on Wednesday slammed South Korea's foreign minister over her recent remarks on Pyongyang's antivirus measures, saying that she will "pay dearly" for them and warning the already frozen inter-Korean relations could get worse.

Last week, South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a forum in Bahrain that the North has been unresponsive to Seoul's calls for cross-border antivirus cooperation, adding that Pyongyang's claim that it has no coronavirus cases is hard to believe.

(Yonhap Interview) Defector-turned-lawmaker says nuke talks with N.K. without tackling human rights issue like building 'sand castle'

SEOUL -- A North Korean defector-turned-lawmaker has called for more efforts to resolve the North's dire human rights situations, saying seeking nuclear talks without tackling the issue is like building a "sand castle" that could crumble down anytime.

In a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency, Rep. Ji Seong-ho of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) also expressed hope that the incoming Joe Biden administration of the United States will not trade human rights for denuclearization.

(LEAD) Biegun holds talks with Vice FM on stalled N.K. diplomacy, alliance

SEOUL -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun held talks with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul on Wednesday, as Seoul seeks to ensure cooperation between the allies to resume nuclear diplomacy with North Korea can continue under the incoming Joe Biden administration.

Biegun arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for what could be his last visit here in his current capacity as the State Department's No. 2 official and its point man on the reclusive regime.

(LEAD) Prime minister declares all-out fight against virus spread in Seoul, nearby areas

SEOUL -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Wednesday that the government will concentrate "all of its capabilities" on countering the rapid spread of COVID-19 in and around Seoul.

"(The government) will focus all of its capabilities (in the greater Seoul area)," he said, stressing the significance of turning around the situations in the region where around half of South Korea's 52-million population reside.

Steel, autos among beneficiaries of mega trade pact

SEOUL -- South Korea said Wednesday it will make efforts to help local exporters utilize a mega trade pact accounting for one-third of the world's gross domestic product, hinting the deal could give a boost to the steel and automobile segments.

"Amid the growing uncertainties stemming from COVID-19 and protectionism, the RCEP will grant exporters access to new markets, along with unified trade rules," the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement.

Korean Air ships COVID-19 vaccine ingredient to Europe

SEOUL -- Korean Air Co., South Korea's largest carrier, said Wednesday it has shipped a COVID-19 vaccine ingredient from Incheon to Amsterdam using its cold chain logistics as it gears up for upcoming deliveries of vaccines.

A passenger flight transporting a Korean company's vaccine ingredient departed from Incheon International Airport on Tuesday, and it was transported to a vaccine production plant in Europe on Wednesday, Korean Air said, without specifying the firm's name.

(2nd LD) U.S. imposes sanctions on 6 entities, 4 vessels related to N. Korea

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Tuesday named six new entities and four vessels subject to sanctions imposed on North Korea.

"Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated six entities and identified four vessels related to the transport of North Korean coal," the department said in a press release.

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