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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:30 January 12, 2021

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

Xi congratulates N.K. leader on election as 'general secretary,' calls for stronger ties

SEOUL -- Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message congratulating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on his election as general secretary of the ruling party and called for strong relations between the two countries, Pyongyang's media said Tuesday.

Xi noted that Kim's election "fully showed the trust, support and expectation of all the WPK members and other Korean people for him," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, referring to the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

New virus cases in 500s on tougher curbs, alert high over potential upticks

SEOUL -- The number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea remained in the 500 range on Tuesday, possibly indicating that the country's virus curve is flattening on the back of tightened social distancing measures.

The country added 537 more COVID-19 cases, including 508 local infections, raising the total caseload to 69,651, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

S. Korea in talks to buy additional vaccines of different platform: PM

SEOUL -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Tuesday that the government is working to purchase additional coronavirus vaccines of a different platform to better ensure the safe inoculation of the public.

"The government has been working to purchase an additional quantity of vaccines of another platform and has seen substantial progress," Chung said during an interagency meeting on the COVID-19 response held at the government complex in Sejong, 120 kilometers south of Seoul.

New sentencing guidelines subject biz owners to up to 10 1/2 yrs in prison for workplace deaths

SEOUL -- New sentencing guidelines will subject business owners to up to 10 1/2 years behind bars in the event of their employees' deaths owing to lax safety or health protection measures, the top court said Tuesday.

According to the Supreme Court, its Sentencing Commission fixed the guidelines on workplace disaster cases during its online meeting held a day earlier.

N. Korea invites guests to celebrations of party congress, possibly including military parade

SEOUL -- Officials and others long involved in government affairs have been invited as special guests to "celebrations" arranged to mark the ongoing party congress, Pyongyang's media reported Tuesday, raising the possibility that North Korea might be preparing a military parade.

On Monday, Seoul's military officials said signs were detected that the North carried out a military parade in central Pyongyang Sunday night in time for the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party, which has been under way since its opening last week.

Seoul stocks trade lower on Wall Street losses

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks traded lower late Tuesday morning, tracking overnight Wall Street losses as investors took a breather from last week's rally.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 15.9 points, or 0.51 percent, to 3,132.55 as of 11:20 a.m.

Cafe, gym owners file lawsuits against gov't over COVID-19 losses

SEOUL -- Cafe and gym owners are filing separate lawsuits against the government this week seeking billions of won in compensation for losses suffered under COVID-19 business restrictions, industry groups said.

At the Seoul Western District Court on Tuesday, 203 gym owners belonging to the Pilates and Fitness Business Association filed for 5 million won (US$4,549) each for about 1 billion won in total.

S. Korea to invest 125 bln won in AI chips this year

SEOUL -- South Korea's ICT ministry said Tuesday it will invest 125.3 billion won (US$114.1 million) this year to support the development of neural processors, up 75 percent from last year.

Neural processing units refer to high-performance and low-powered logic chips that specialize in artificial intelligence (AI) services, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.

S. Korea to invest 205 bln won to promote eco-friendly ships

SEOUL -- South Korea said Tuesday it will allocate 205 billion won (US$186.3 million) to adopt eco-friendly technologies for the local maritime industry in line with the country's green energy drive.

Under the project, the country will seek to build a total of 39 eco-friendly ships this year, including 23 for the public sector, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

The latest move came in line with the government's vision to operate around 530 eco-friendly ships by 2030.

Sales of eco-friendly cars jump 54 pct in 2020

SEOUL-- South Korea's environment-friendly vehicle sales jumped 54 percent to exceed 200,000 units in 2020 from a year earlier on subsidies and an improvement of charging infrastructure, industry data showed Tuesday.

Carmakers sold a total of 213,264 eco-friendly models last year, up from 138,957 units the previous year, according to data from companies and the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA).

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