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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:30 February 19, 2021

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

State Department says Japan's wartime sexual slavery an egregious violation of human rights

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. State Department said on Thursday that Japan's trafficking of women for sexual services during World War II was a serious violation of human rights, flatly contradicting a controversial claim by a Harvard professor that such women were rather voluntary prostitutes.

"As the United States has stated many times, the trafficking of women for sexual purposes by the Japanese military during World War II was an egregious violation of human rights," a department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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Producer prices rise 0.9 pct in January

SEOUL-- South Korea's producer prices rose 0.9 percent on month in January, supported by a modest rise in prices of farm goods and energy, central bank data showed Friday.

The producer price index, a barometer of future consumer inflation, stood at 104.88 in January, compared with 103.90 a month earlier, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The index gained 0.8 percent from the previous year, the BOK data showed.

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Blinken agrees to regular meetings of 'Quad' foreign ministers

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has agreed to regularly meet with his counterparts from three other countries that form a regional forum known as the Quad, the State Department said Thursday.

The agreement was made in a virtual meeting that included Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

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New COVID-19 cases fall back in 500s; infections at workplaces on rise

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back to below 600 on Friday, while authorities are stepping up monitoring of manufacturing plants and hospitals to slow the rapid pace of virus transmission.

The country reported 561 more COVID-19 cases, including 533 local infections, raising the total caseload to 86,128, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

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Economic uncertainty persists amid protracted pandemic: finance ministry

SEOUL -- The South Korean economy faces lingering uncertainty as domestic demand and the job market remain sluggish amid a flare-up in new coronavirus cases, the finance ministry said Friday.

The manufacturing sector and investment are improving amid robust exports, but the service segment is suffering setbacks amid the third wave of the pandemic, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

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Diplomats of S. Korea, U.S., Japan agree to closely cooperate on peninsula denuclearization, peace

SEOUL -- Diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed to closely cooperate to achieve complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula in video talks Friday, the foreign ministry said.

Seoul's top nuclear envoy, Noh Kyu-duk, Sung Kim, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general for Asian and Oceanian affairs at Tokyo's foreign ministry, held the conversation to discuss North Korea-related issues.

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S. Korea exploring ways to help ease food shortage in N. Korea

SEOUL -- South Korea is exploring various ways to provide food and fertilizer to North Korea in humanitarian assistance as Pyongyang is believed to be faced with worsening food shortages, the unification ministry said Friday.

On Thursday, Unification Minister Lee In-young told lawmakers that the North appears to be faced with a food shortage of about 1.2 million to 1.3 million tons this year mainly due to damage from last year's heavy downpours.

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Moon, ruling party leaders discuss coronavirus response at Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in met with the leaders of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) at Cheong Wa Dae on Friday for discussions on pending policy issues.

Among main agenda items was how to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and pull off "inclusive recovery" by addressing the problem of widening inequality, according to officials.

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S. Korea's overseas financial assets touch new high in 2020

SEOUL -- South Korea's overseas financial assets hit a new high in 2020, mainly due to increased stock investments, central bank data showed Friday.

The nation's external financial assets came to $1.93 trillion at the end of December last year, up $236.3 billion from a year earlier, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

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Seoul stocks sharply down late Fri. morning on U.S. Treasury yields climb

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks traded sharply lower late Friday morning on concerns over rising U.S. Treasury yields.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 41.85 point, or 1.36 percent, to 3,044.81points as of 11:20 a.m.

ksnam@yna.co.kr
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