The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
(LEAD) New infection cases under 1,000 for 3rd day; restrictions eased on indoor sports facilities
SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases stayed below 1,000 for the third consecutive day on Thursday amid signs of a slowdown, and the government eased virus curbs on indoor sports facilities in response to growing complaints from small business owners.
The country added 870 more COVID-19 cases, including 833 local infections, raising the total caseload to 66,688, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
(2nd LD) N.K. leader vows to boost defense capabilities at party congress
SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to strengthen his country's military capabilities to protect its people at a rare party congress, state media said Thursday, amid an impasse in its nuclear negotiations with the United States.
Kim, however, did not use such provocative words as nuclear weapons or war deterrent, which some experts saw as intended to avoid increasing tensions, as he reported to the second-day session of the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party on Wednesday.
(LEAD) Cold wave, heavy snow disrupt morning traffic
SEOUL -- A cold wave combined with heavy snowfall overnight created a rush among morning commuters Thursday.
The temperature in Seoul dropped to minus 16.1 C at 7 a.m. but with a wind chill of minus 25.3 C, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration. As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, the city had received 3.8 centimeters of snow. The suburbs of Gwacheon and Hanam also received 11.6 cm and 9 cm of snow, respectively.
Iran requests use of frozen money to purchase US$1 billion worth of medical equipment: source
SEOUL -- Iran made a request to South Korea for the use of its money frozen under U.S. sanctions to purchase $1 billion worth of medical equipment, a diplomatic source has said, stressing Tehran's wish to unlock its massive assets here.
The source mentioned the request amid tensions between Seoul and Tehran over the frozen assets, known to be $7 billion in total, and over this week's seizure of a South Korean-flagged oil tanker on allegations of environmental pollution.
Moon says national unity is important in new year
SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in stressed the importance of national unity in 2021, saying the COVID-19 crisis has reminded the people that they are "connected" to one another.
"The new year is a year of unity," he said during a virtual meeting with business leaders and representatives from various fields to mark the start of 2021. "Due to the coronavirus, we have realized that we are connected to one another."
BTS most streamed Korean artist, global group in 2020: Spotify
SEOUL -- Seven-member superband BTS, which released megahits "Dynamite" and "ON" in 2020, was the most streamed Korean artist and global group last year, global streaming giant Spotify said Thursday.
Spotify's 2020 Wrapped data, compiled between Jan. 1 and Nov. 15 last year, also showed that the top 10 most streamed Korean artists logged a combined 10.6 billion streams in a sign of their growing clout around the world.
S. Korean football honcho Chung Mong-gyu chosen for 3rd term
SEOUL -- South Korean football chief Chung Mong-gyu was chosen for his third term at the sport's helm Thursday.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced Chung will begin his new four-year term on Jan. 27, following ratification by the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC).
Bitcoin tops 40 mln won in S. Korea for 1st time
SEOUL -- Bitcoin topped 40 million won (US$36,800) per unit for the first time in South Korea on Thursday, a local cryptocurrency exchange said.
Bitcoin was trading at 40.9 million won as of 8:58 a.m., up 6.94 percent from the previous day, according to local cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb.
BTS agency Big Hit to invest 70 bln won in K-pop giant YG
(LEAD) 3 officials from McDonald's supplier get suspended sentences for selling tainted patties
New infections up over 500 on flare-up in religious community infections
(LEAD) New infections up over 500 on flare-up in religious community infections
(URGENT) S. Korea reports 559 more cases of new coronavirus, total now at 76,429: KDCA