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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 17:00 January 12, 2021

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

S. Korea to hold annual meeting with IMF on economy

SEOUL -- South Korea will begin its annual meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week on the country's overall economic situation and its response to the new coronavirus outbreak, the finance ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry will hold video conferences with an IMF team, led by Andreas Bauer, Korea mission chief at the international organization, from Wednesday to Jan. 28, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

(LEAD) S. Korea nears deal to buy Novavax COVID-19 vaccines

SEOUL -- South Korea is close to striking a deal to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for 10 million people from U.S. drugmaker Novavax, according to informed sources Tuesday.

The Seoul government has been negotiating with Novavax to secure its vaccines as early as in the second quarter of this year, sources with knowledge of the issue said.

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.

Prospects appear murky for early release of seized S. Korean oil tanker in Iran

SEOUL -- The prospects for the early release of a South Korean oil tanker and its sailors seized by Iran appeared murky Tuesday, as Tehran's emphasis on a judicial process over the vessel's alleged oil pollution has dampened Seoul's hope for a diplomatic solution.

During his visit to Tehran since Sunday, Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun met with senior Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, and his counterpart, Abbas Araghchi.

Foreign ministry seeks probe into top envoy in Nigeria over alleged unfair hiring

SEOUL -- The foreign ministry has filed a complaint with the prosecution seeking a probe into allegations that the South Korean ambassador in Nigeria was involved in the unfair hiring of a former embassy employee, officials said Tuesday.

A local newspaper reported that the ministry filed the complaint after finding substantial grounds to believe that Ambassador Lee In-tae gave undue favors to the Korean employee in the course of recruitment in 2019.

N. Korean officials seen wearing masks at party congress after days of no-mask sessions

SEOUL -- North Korean officials participating in the ongoing party congress were seen wearing face masks in their latest meetings for the first time since its opening last week, raising questions over its standards on antivirus guidelines.

Photos released by state media on Tuesday showed North Korean officials in blue face masks at the seventh-day session of the party congress as they were participating in consultative meetings the previous day.

(2nd LD) 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.

Samsung introduces first-ever water purifier

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. on Tuesday introduced its first-ever water purifier as the tech giant enters the fast-growing home water purifier market amid the pandemic-induced stay-at-home trend.

Samsung unveiled the BESPOKE water purifier that is highlighted by space-efficient design and easy care features at its media event for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021.

Two former executives acquitted in humidifier cleaner deaths case

SEOUL -- A court on Tuesday acquitted the former heads of SK Chemical Co. and the consumer goods company Aekyung Industrial Co. in a deadly humidifier sterilizer case.

The Seoul Central District Court found both Hong Ji-ho, the former CEO of SK Chemical, and Ahn Yong-chan, the former CEO of Aekyung Industrial, not guilty of professional negligence resulting in death.

No decision made on lifting ban on stock short selling: regulator

SEOUL -- South Korea's financial regulator has not made a final decision on whether to lift its ban on stock short selling in March, a senior regulatory official said Tuesday.

The senior official at the Financial Services Commission (FSC) made the remarks a day after the FSC issued an announcement that the ban has been scheduled to be lifted starting on March 15.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks down for 2nd day on profit-taking

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks closed lower for the second straight session Tuesday as institutional and foreign investors cashed in gains amid concerns of an overheated market. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 22.5 points, or 0.71 percent, to close at 3,125.95 points, falling for the second consecutive session.

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