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Yonhap News Summary

Defense 17:02 December 18, 2020

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

U.S. should send dialogue message to N.K. at Blinken's confirmation hearing: expert

Seoul -- The incoming U.S. administration of Joe Biden should consider using the upcoming confirmation hearing for Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken to publicly send a message that it is willing to engage North Korea in dialogue, an American expert said Friday.

Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Stimson Center and founder of the 38 North website, made the case during a videoconference, pointing out the difficulty in seeking immediate talks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

S. Korea keeping close eye on N. Korean FM amid report he lost key party position

Seoul -- The unification ministry said Friday it is keeping a close eye on the North Korean foreign minister's status following a media report that he has recently been removed from a key party position.

A local newspaper reported earlier in the day, citing an unidentified government source, that Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon appears to have lost his position as an alternate member of the political bureau of the Workers' Party Central Committee.

Moon wishes Macron quick recovery from COVID-19

Seoul -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a consolation message Friday to French President Emmanuel Macron, who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

It's "regrettable to hear the news of your sudden coronavirus infection," Moon wrote on his Twitter account. The note, written in French, began with "M. le President @EmmanuelMacron."

(LEAD) Cultural facilities in Seoul to remain closed due to pandemic: ministry

SEOUL -- A group of major cultural facilities in Seoul will stay closed due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in the capital area, the culture ministry said Friday.

The ministry said it will extend the measure to suspend the operation of 24 national cultural facilities in Seoul, including museums, art museums, libraries and theaters, until further notice.

Court hearing on top prosecutor's injunction request scheduled for next week

SEOUL -- A Seoul court plans to hold a hearing next week on the country's top prosecutor's injunction request against the decision to suspend him from duty, an informed source said Friday.

The Seoul Administrative Court is scheduled to open the hearing at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Ceremony held to honor over 500 sets of remains of soldiers killed in Korean War

SEOUL -- South Korea held a ceremony Friday to honor a total of 514 sets of recently unearthed remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, vowing to make every effort until the last remains are returned to loved ones.

The ceremony took place at the Seoul National Cemetery, attended by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, Defense Minister Suh Wook and around 50 senior government and military officials.

(LEAD) Ex-Busan mayor admits to sexual harassment but again claims he 'does not remember'

BUSAN -- Former Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don attended a court hearing here Friday on an arrest warrant sought against him over sexual harassment allegations.

In a press statement released via his lawyer, Oh acknowledged the "charge," but he maintained that he does not remember exactly what happened. He apologized to Busan citizens and victims as well.

N. Korea's production of crops down 5.2 pct in 2020

SEOUL -- South Korea's state-run agricultural administration said Friday the combined production of crops by North Korea is estimated to have decreased 5.2 percent on-year in 2020 due mainly to poor weather conditions.

North Korea's production of food crops is estimated to have reached 4.4 million tons this year, down 240,000 tons from 2019, according to the data compiled by the Rural Development Administration.

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