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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:32 December 21, 2020

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

(2nd LD) New virus cases under 1,000 on fewer tests, daily death toll hits new high

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell below 1,000 for the first time in six days Monday, mainly due to less testing over the weekend, as health authorities are set to announce new virus restrictions over the Christmas and New Year's Day holiday period. The daily virus death toll also hit a record high amid rising patients.

The country added 926 more COVID-19 cases, including 892 local infections, raising the total caseload to 50,591, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

(LEAD) Capital area may ban gatherings of 5 or more people to stem COVID-19 spread

SEOUL -- Gatherings of five or more people may be banned in the greater Seoul area, possibly beginning later this week, in a new hard-line measure to combat the spread of the coronavirus, officials said Monday.

The local governments of Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi Province and Incheon are discussing the implementation of the strident assembly restriction measure in time for the upcoming peak season for year-end gatherings and events, the officials said.

(LEAD) Presidential secretary for peace planning tapped as new chief nuclear envoy

SEOUL -- South Korea replaced its chief nuclear envoy Monday, naming a seasoned diplomat and presidential aide to take on the job, as the country prepares to work with the incoming U.S. administration of Joe Biden to move the stalled nuclear talks with North Korea forward.

Noh Kyu-duk, a career diplomat serving as presidential secretary for peace planning, was named to replace Lee Do-hoon as the special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, the foreign ministry announced in a press release.

COVID-19 cases top 50,000 in S. Korea amid worsening pandemic

SEOUL -- South Korea's total COVID-19 caseload broke the 50,000 mark on Monday as new cases have been rising at their fastest pace ever, hampering authorities' antivirus efforts.

New cases stood at 926 earlier in the day to push up the total to 50,591, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The daily death toll hit a record high of 24, raising the total to 698.

Raising distancing rules to top level should remain as government's 'final card': PM

SEOUL -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Monday that elevating the nation's social distancing rules to the highest Level 3 should be a last resort for the government in dealing with the new coronavirus crisis, stressing the importance for the public to properly follow state-mandated distancing rules.

"Adjusting the social distancing level needs to be prepared thoroughly, but it should remain as the final card," Chung said during a government meeting of top officials in charge of dealing with the pandemic.

(LEAD) S. Korea's exports rise 1.2 pct in first 20 days of Dec.

SEOUL -- South Korea's exports advanced 1.2 percent on-year in the first 20 days of December helped by strong sales of chips, customs data showed Monday.

The country's outbound shipments stood at US$30.8 billion in the Dec. 1-20 period, compared with $30.4 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

Moon's approval rating rebounds from record low: Realmeter

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in's approval rating has rebounded this week from a record low registered a week earlier, amid progress on his prosecution reform plan and other key issues, an opinion poll showed Monday.

In the Realmeter survey conducted on 2,514 voters nationwide for five days through last Friday, the support rating for Moon stood at 39.5 percent, up 2.8 percentage points from a week earlier.

S. Korea ups disinfection operations at wild bird habitats on avian influenza

SEOUL -- South Korea said Monday that it has expanded disinfection operations at major wild bird habitats and poultry farms to cope with the rising number of highly pathogenic bird flu cases.

"Due to the influx of migratory birds into the country, contaminants can get into local farms at anytime," the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement.

Ko Jin-young captures LPGA season finale, 2nd straight money title

SEOUL -- World No. 1 Ko Jin-young has won the LPGA season finale in Florida, capping off a truncated campaign in come-from-behind fashion against a rival countrywoman.

Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship by five strokes over world No. 2 Kim Sei-young and Hannah Green of Australia in Naples, Florida, on Sunday (local time). Ko shot a six-under 66 at Tiburon Golf Club for a four-round total of 18-under 270.

Youn Yuh-jung named best supporting actress by LA film critics for 'Minari'

SEOUL -- South Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung has been named best supporting actress by Los Angeles film critics for her performance in the drama film "Minari."

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) announced Monday that Youn won the award in the best supporting actress category, beating Amanda Seyfried of "Mank."

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