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Yonhap News Summary

All News 17:07 March 31, 2021

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

S. Korea, Japan to have working-level talks amid protracted row over history, trade

SEOUL -- South Korea and Japan will hold working-level diplomatic talks this week to discuss the protracted row over wartime history and trade, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Lee Sang-ryol, director general for Asian and Pacific affairs at Seoul's foreign ministry, left for Tokyo earlier in the day for talks with his Japanese counterpart, Takehiro Funakoshi, the ministry said. The previous working-level talks took place via video links in January.

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Dokdo not marked as Japanese territory in 1904 school textbook

SEOUL -- A Japanese elementary school textbook published about a century ago did not define the easternmost Korean islets of Dokdo as Japanese territory, a Seoul-based public foundation said Wednesday.

The state-funded Northeast Asian History Foundation disclosed the old Japanese geography textbook printed in 1904 at a seminar of history experts in Seoul, slamming Tokyo for its latest approval of school textbooks renewing territorial claims to Dokdo.

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N. Korea's trade volume drops to practically zero amid coronavirus pandemic: official

SEOUL -- North Korea's trade with the outside world has dropped to practically zero due to the country's tightened border controls amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

In January and February, the trade volume between the North and China stood at around US$3.27 million, a ministry official said, citing Chinese customs data.

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S. Korea's top security official to visit U.S. for talks involving Japan

SEOUL -- Suh Hoon, a top national security aide to President Moon Jae-in, will travel to the United States this week for trilateral consultations with his American and Japanese counterparts, Cheong Wa Dae announced Wednesday.

Suh, director of national security at the presidential office, plans to meet with Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, and Shigeru Kitamura, secretary general of Japan's national security secretariat, there on Friday (local time).

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Week ahead of bellwether by-elections, rival parties rush for last-minute campaigning

SEOUL -- Rival parties were rushing to rally support in their last-minute election campaigning Wednesday, with the Seoul and Busan mayoral by-elections, seen as a potential game changer for next year's presidential election, only a week away.

Some 8.4 million voters in Seoul are set to vote for a new mayor on April 7 in the by-elections that come about a year ahead of the 2022 presidential poll.

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S. Korea sees limited chance of inflation exceeding BOK's 2 pct target

SEOUL -- South Korea's consumer prices are not expected to sharply rise to top the central bank's 2 percent target even as the country faces upward inflationary pressure, a senior government official said Wednesday.

First Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom said prices of agricultural and livestock products are expected to stabilize on the back of efforts to increase supply and curb the spread of bird flu.

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Seoul stocks fall on valuation pressure, dollar appreciation

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks retreated Wednesday on the increase in the value of U.S. currency and the valuation pressure of local stocks. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 8.58 points, or 0.28 percent, to close at 3,061.42 points.

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N.K. people's access to information should be expanded without hurting rights of other people: ministry

SEOUL -- North Korean people's access to outside information should be expanded but not at the expense of the safety of people living in border regions in South Korea, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

A ministry official made the remarks after the U.S. State Department stressed the importance of free flows of information to the reclusive North, referring to South Korea's recently enforced law banning the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets in its annual human rights report.

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Ex-DP head issues public apology in admission of housing policy failure

SEOUL -- The former head of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) on Wednesday made a public apology in admission of the overall failure in the party's housing policy and a recent bombshell land speculation scandal involving public servants.

The so-called LH scandal was triggered earlier this month when two civic groups alleged that employees at the Korea Land and Housing Corp. (LH) bought plots of land in two cities -- Gwangmyeong and Siheung in Gyeonggi Province -- before the government announced a massive development plan there possibly based on insider knowledge.

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S. Korean EV battery makers see global market shares dip in Jan.-Feb.

SEOUL -- South Korea's three electric vehicle (EV) battery makers saw their global market shares fall in the first two months of the year amid Chinese rivals' big advances, a market tracker said Wednesday.

Worldwide consumption of EV batteries stood at 25.2 gigawatt hours (GWh) in the January-February period, up 102.4 percent from a year earlier, according to SNE Research.
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