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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 17:02 February 15, 2021

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

(LEAD) Moon says S. Korea-U.S. alliance crucial for Korea peace process

SEOUL, -- President Moon Jae-in stressed Monday the importance of reinforcing the South Korea-U.S. alliance for the success of the Korea peace process in a direct message to the new foreign minister, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Moon pointed out that Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong is an architect of his liberal administration's diplomatic and security policy as the president gave him a letter of appointment.

(LEAD) S. Korea to launch new-format social distancing campaign in March, Moon says

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in said Monday his government will introduce new social distancing rules next month as South Korea is gearing up for full-fledged COVID-19 vaccine shots.

The focus will be on minimizing compulsory measures and encouraging voluntary ones, he said during a weekly meeting with his senior Cheong Wa Dae aides.

(2nd LD) S. Korea to begin inoculations on Feb. 26, administering AstraZeneca's vaccine to seniors on hold

SEOUL -- South Korea will begin its first inoculations against the new coronavirus on Feb. 26 with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, but the inoculation of seniors will be put on hold amid efficacy concerns, health authorities said Monday.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said people and patients, excluding those aged 65 and older, at nursing homes and other high-risk facilities will receive the first batch of the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant and Oxford University.

Revised laws to limit use of plastic, disposable items

SEOUL -- The environment ministry said Monday it has revised a set of laws to limit the use of plastic and other disposable items as the country grapples with soaring waste amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The revisions, which will be subject to a public review from Tuesday until March 29, include a ban on the use of paper cups, plastic straws and stirrers inside cafes and other eateries.

S. Korea extends pandemic-driven advisory against overseas travel until March 17

SEOUL -- South Korea on Monday extended its special advisory against overseas travel for another month amid the continued spread of the new coronavirus, the foreign ministry said.

The measure, which calls for citizens to cancel or postpone their planned trips abroad, will remain in effect until March 17. The current advisory, which was issued in December, was initially set to expire on Monday.

(3rd LD) New infections in 300s for 3rd day; distancing rules eased for small businesses

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases stayed in the 300s for the third consecutive day Monday on fewer tests during the Lunar New Year holiday, with social distancing measures eased to help small businesses whose operations have been in limbo over tougher regulations.

The country reported 344 more COVID-19 cases, including 323 local infections, raising the total caseload to 83,869, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Seoul to temporarily ease rules on foreign seasonal workers

SEOUL -- South Korea will temporarily ease rules on the employment of foreign seasonal workers in the agriculture and fisheries sectors to cope with the labor shortage aggravated by the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Justice said Monday.

Under the temporary deregulatory measure, foreigners who are staying here without a work visa or overstayers unable to return home due to COVID-19 will be permitted to work at local farming and fishing villages for up to 13 months, the ministry said.

(News Focus) S. Korea keen on restoring ties with Japan amid U.S. calls for trilateral tie-up

SEOUL -- South Korea is revving up efforts to mend ties with Japan frayed over wartime history and trade, as the United States pushes for tighter trilateral cooperation with the two Asian allies in the face of an assertive China and an intransigent North Korea.

Seoul has recently been making a flurry of conciliatory gestures toward Tokyo, referring to Japan as the "closest neighbor" in its latest diplomatic white paper, reiterating its "firm" will to repair the fraught relationship and focusing more on "constructive, future-oriented" cooperation.

(LEAD) Seoul stocks jump 1.5 pct on tech gains

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks jumped 1.5 percent Monday on strong advances by tech stocks. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 46.42 points to close at 3,147.0 points.

9 ex, current maritime police officials acquitted of botched rescue activities in Sewol ferry sinking

SEOUL -- A Seoul court on Monday acquitted former and current maritime police officials of mishandling the rescue operation during the sinking of the Sewol ferry in 2014 that killed more than 300 people.

The Seoul Central District Court found Kim Suk-kyoon, then chief of the Korea Coast Guard, and eight other former and current senior maritime police officials not guilty of professional negligence in one of the country's worst peacetime disasters.

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