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Yonhap News Summary

National 17:00 January 05, 2021

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

(2nd LD) (News Focus) Iran's oil tanker seizure appears aimed at pressuring S. Korea to unlock frozen assets: experts

SEOUL -- Iran's abrupt seizure of a South Korean-flagged oil tanker this week appears aimed at pressuring Seoul to unlock its financial assets frozen under U.S. sanctions amid its worsening economic woes and the COVID-19 scourge, analysts said Tuesday.

The Islamic Republic might also intend to send a warning to South Korea and other U.S. allies that have followed U.S. sanctions and assert its maritime presence in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically crucial waterway in the Middle East, they added.

Seoul to send delegation to Iran to negotiate release of seized S. Korean ship

SEOUL -- South Korea will dispatch a delegation to Iran to negotiate the release of a seized Korean oil tanker and its sailors, officials said Tuesday.

The South Korean-flagged MT Hankuk Chemi was seized Monday by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Strait of Hormuz reportedly due to allegations of chemical pollution. The operator of the ship denied the allegations.

'Minari' wins four prizes from U.S. film critics awards

SEOUL -- The drama film "Minari" has won four prizes, including best picture, from a U.S. film critics association, boosting hopes for an award at the upcoming Academy Awards.

The North Carolina Film Critics Association announced Monday (local time) that "Minari," directed and written by Korean American Lee Isaac Chung, was awarded best narrative film, beating "Da 5 Bloods," "Nomadland," "Promising Young Woman" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7."

(LEAD) Gyms reopen in defiance of coronavirus restrictions

SEOUL -- A growing number of gym owners have reopened their businesses this week in defiance of the government's coronavirus restrictions, claiming the rules are unfair and putting their livelihoods at stake.

Indoor gyms in the capital area are subject to an assembly ban under Level 2.5 social distancing measures, which were recently extended by two weeks until Jan. 17. In announcing the extension, however, the government allowed ballet and taekwondo schools to hold classes of up to nine people, sparking an outcry among gym owners.

S. Korea reports 2 more British COVID-19 variant cases

SEOUL -- South Korea's health authorities on Tuesday confirmed two more cases of a more transmissible variant from arrivals from Britain, bringing the total caseload here to 12.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the two people, who entered the country on Dec. 13 and Dec. 20 from Britain, respectively, were confirmed to have the new COVID-19 strain.

Some 10 tln won in Iranian funds frozen at S. Korean banks

SEOUL -- An estimated 10 trillion won (US$9.2 billion) in Iranian funds is frozen at South Korean banks under U.S. sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program, according to the banks on Tuesday.

Tensions between Seoul and Tehran rose this week after Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Persian Gulf waters, in an apparent dispute over Iran's frozen funds here.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks just shy of 3,000-point milestone on economic recovery hopes

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks refreshed their all-time high for a seventh consecutive session Tuesday on economic rebound hopes, finishing just short of the 3,000-point milestone. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

After a muted opening, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 46.12 points, or 1.57 percent, to close at 2,990.57.

Seventeen to hold online concert this month: agency

SEOUL -- K-pop boy band Seventeen will hold an online concert later this month to meet fans across the world, its management agency said Tuesday.

The concert, titled "IN-COMPLETE," will take place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 23, according to Pledis Entertainment.

S. Korea confirms 44th highly pathogenic bird flu case

SEOUL -- South Korea said Tuesday it has identified yet another highly pathogenic bird flu case from a local poultry farm to raise the total caseload to 44.

The latest case of the highly contagious H5N8 strain of avian influenza was identified from a duck farm in Cheonan, 92 kilometers south of Seoul, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

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