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Yonhap News Summary

National 17:10 January 21, 2021

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

Moon vows close cooperation with Biden for Korea peace process

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in pledged Thursday to maintain close partnerships with the new U.S. administration, chairing a rare plenary session of the National Security Council (NSC) hours after Joe Biden's inauguration.

"The government will develop the South Korea-U.S. alliance as a more comprehensive and mutually beneficial one," he said at the outset of the session held at Cheong Wa Dae, which was briefly open to pool reporters.

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Independent anti-corruption investigative body sets sail

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- A powerful investigative agency officially set sail Thursday, with a focus on uprooting corruption among high-ranking officials, heralding a new chapter in the history of South Korean law establishment.

Kim Jin-wook, the inaugural chief of the agency, called the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO), was sworn into office after President Moon Jae-in approved his appointment earlier in the day following a recent parliamentary confirmation hearing.

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Ministry vows to push for Moon-Biden summit at early date for progress in N.K. diplomacy

SEOUL -- The foreign ministry said Thursday that it will push for the first summit between President Moon Jae-in and new U.S. President Joe Biden and other high-level exchanges at an early date so as to move stalled nuclear diplomacy forward.

The ministry made the pledge in a written policy report for 2021 to President Moon Jae-in, as Seoul seeks to firm up ties with Washington under Biden's leadership to create fresh momentum to resume nuclear dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

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Unification minister vows to restart Korea peace process in cooperation with Biden administration

SEOUL -- Unification Minister Lee In-young said Thursday he will seek to advance the Korean Peninsula peace process and come up with realistic solutions for North Korean denuclearization in cooperation with the new U.S. administration.

Lee made the remark during a report to President Moon Jae-in about the ministry's policy plans and goals for this year, just hours after new U.S. President Joe Biden was sworn in.

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Defense ministry vows push for regular inter-Korean military talks, swifter OPCON transfer

SEOUL -- The defense ministry vowed Thursday to hold military talks with North Korea on a regular basis this year to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, while beefing up defense capabilities to counter its evolving nuclear and missiles threats.

During a policy briefing session to President Moon Jae-in, Defense Minister Suh Wook also pledged to expedite work to retake the wartime operational control of its troops from Washington, and further boost communication with the United States under the new administration.

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Seoul stocks hit record high on optimism for Biden presidency

SEOUL-- South Korea's benchmark stock index hit an all-time high Thursday on strong foreign buying, buoyed by stimulus hopes related to the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 46.29 points, or 1.49 percent, to close at 3,160.84 points.

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PM orders authorities to take steps in compensating losses over forced business closures

SEOUL -- Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Thursday ordered state finance authorities to take legislative steps to legally enable compensations for small businesses that have suffered losses due to forced closures from the government's antivirus measures.

"I've been well aware of the hearts of small business owners, who have reached their limits as COVID-19 has lasted for over a year. The four separate extra budgets and the tailored support programs remain insufficient in fully healing the pain," Chung said during an interagency meeting on the COVID-19 response held at the government complex in Seoul.

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7 USFK-affiliated people test positive for COVID-19

SEOU -- Seven people affiliated with U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), including two service members, have tested positive for the new coronavirus upon their arrival here over the past two weeks, the U.S. military said Thursday.

Of them, a service member, two contractors and three dependents arrived here on commercial flights via Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, from Jan. 6-19, while the other service member arrived at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of the capital, on a U.S. government-chartered flight on Wednesday, according to USFK.

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Military to support logistics of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

SEOUL -- The military will help the government with the delivery of coronavirus vaccines to the public set to begin next month, the defense ministry said Thursday.

According to the ministry's policy plan for the new year, the government will set up a 41-member coronavirus vaccine logistics support team, comprised mostly of service members and headed by the Army's Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Park Ju-Kyeong.

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Two accomplices in online sex abuse ring sentenced to 15, 11 years in prison

SEOUL -- Two accomplices in a high-profile online sex trafficking case were sentenced to 15 and 11 years in prison on Thursday.

The men, 20-year-old Kang Hun and a 28-year-old surnamed Han, were found guilty of colluding with notorious ringleader Cho Ju-bin to operate a Telegram chatroom that distributed sexually abusive material.
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