The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
(3rd LD) New virus cases in 500s for 3rd day in sign of letup in infections
(ATTN: ADDS details throughout, photos)
SEOUL -- The number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea stayed in the 500s for the third consecutive day Thursday, in yet another sign that the third wave of the pandemic has passed a peak on the back of tighter virus restrictions.
The country added 524 more COVID-19 cases, including 496 local infections, raising the total caseload to 70,728, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
(LEAD) PM warns of strong measures against virus response interference amid church outbreak
(ATTN: UPDATES with latest figures in paras 3, 6)
SEOUL -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Thursday warned of stern measures against those who interfere with the government's antivirus measures, amid growing concerns over a recent COVID-19 outbreak at a church facility spreading throughout the country.
"While most religious facilities are actively participating in state antivirus measures, the public has become alarmed after an outbreak at BTJ Center for All Nations has spread throughout the country," Chung said during an interagency meeting on the COVID-19 response held at the government complex in Sejong, 120 kilometers south of Seoul.
(LEAD) Supreme Court decision likely to reignite debate on pardons for two ex-presidents
(ATTN: UPDATES with reactions from Cheong Wa Dae, political parties in paras 10-11, 20-12)
SEOUL -- The debate on offering pardons to two convicted former presidents, which has consumed national politics from the start of 2021, will likely be renewed as the top court ended a yearslong corruption trial on former leader Park Geun-hye on Thursday.
The debate erupted almost unexpectedly after Rep. Lee Nak-yon, head of the ruling Democratic Party, stated on New Year's Day that he would ask the president to grant pardons for Park and Lee Myung-bak -- two former conservative presidents in jail on corruption and influence-peddling charges -- at an appropriate time as a way to transcend partisan politics and promote national unity.
COVID-19 survivors suffer hair loss, shortness of breath after recovery: survey
SEOUL -- Survivors of COVID-19 reported hair loss and decreased breathing capacity months after their infections, and some had lingering lung troubles, the health authority said Thursday.
A survey on 40 adult patients who were hospitalized for the virus infection showed that hair loss and shortness of breath during exercise were the most common symptoms experienced three months after recovery, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Incoming Biden administration understands 'urgency' of N.K. nuke issues: Seoul official
SEOUL -- The incoming U.S. administration of Joe Biden is fully aware of the "urgency" of North Korea's nuclear issues, and South Korea is ready to closely work with Washington to draw up the "most effective" countermeasures as soon as the new government takes office, a Seoul official said Thursday.
North Korea recently ramped up its push to strengthen its nuclear arsenal in its recent key party gathering in what appears aimed at upping the ante ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Biden slated for Jan. 20.
BTS wins 6 prizes at 2021 Gaon Chart Music Awards
SEOUL -- Superstar BTS has swept the 2021 Gaon Chart Music Awards with six trophies for its successful albums and songs released last year.
At the annual awards ceremony held virtually on Wednesday due to the new coronavirus pandemic, the K-pop act won three trophies in the "Artist of the Year - Digital Music" category and two in the "Artist of the Year - Physical Album" category.
(News Focus) Anger mounts over deepfake porn targeting Korean female celebs; more than 330,000 sign petition
SEOUL -- Following a heated scandal over Luda, a chatbot that ended up being unplugged amid controversies over its hypersexualization and unfiltered comments on sexual minorities, South Korea faces another socio-technological issue on how to tackle artificial intelligence technology that targets real, living celebrities as victims of deepfake porn.
On Wednesday, an anonymous petitioner began an online petition demanding stronger punishment for websites that distribute deepfake porn involving Korean female celebrities and for people who download them.
Legislation on compensating virus-hit small biz picks up steam
Anger mounts over deepfake porn targeting Korean female celebs; more than 330,000 sign petition
Biden's pick for Asia policy likely to seek stronger regional alliances to check China
Iran's oil tanker seizure appears aimed at pressuring S. Korea to unlock frozen assets: experts
S. Koreans feel pinch of rising housing costs amid economic downturn