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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:31 April 02, 2021

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

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(LEAD) New COVID-19 cases above 500 for 3rd day; virus curbs tightened in Busan

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases stayed in the 500s for the third straight day Friday, as cluster infections continued to emerge across the nation. Social distancing rules were tightened in some cities, including Busan and Jeonju.

The country reported 558 more COVID-19 cases, including 533 local infections, raising the total caseload to 104,194, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

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(LEAD) 2-day early voting kicks off ahead of next week's Seoul, Busan mayoral elections

SEOUL -- Voters in Seoul and Busan headed to polling stations early Friday as a two-day early voting period kicked off ahead of next week's by-elections for mayors of the country's two biggest cities.

Early voting began at 6 a.m. in the morning and will last till Saturday evening at 722 polling stations in Seoul, Busan and other regions ahead of the election day on Wednesday. Besides the two mayoral seats, two regional administrative posts and 17 seats on regional legislative councils are also up for grabs.

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(LEAD) Denuclearization will be at center of new N. Korea policy: State Dept.

WASHINGTON -- Denuclearization of North Korea will be at the center of any new U.S. policy toward the reclusive nation, a State Department spokesman said Thursday, adding the country's policy review will soon be concluded.

Ned Price also said any U.S. policy toward North Korea will be executed in "lockstep" with key U.S. allies, including South Korea and Japan.

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FM Chung to visit China for talks with Wang

SEOUL -- Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong was set to leave for China on Friday for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to discuss bilateral ties, the Korean Peninsula situation and regional and global issues, his office said.

The ministers are set to hold their first in-person meeting in their current capacities in the southeastern city of Xiamen on Saturday, amid renewed tensions caused by North Korea's recent missile launches and an escalating Sino-U.S. rivalry.

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(News Focus) S. Korea faces tricky geopolitical balancing act amid intensifying Sino-U.S. rivalry

SEOUL -- South Korea is facing an intricate diplomatic balancing act, as the United States pushes to close ranks with democratic allies, with China intent on precluding Seoul's tilt farther away from its geopolitical orbit, analysts said Friday.

The Sino-U.S. rivalry is likely to be on full display this week, when U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hosts his South Korean and Japanese counterparts at the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday, a day before the foreign ministers of South Korea and China hold talks in a southern Chinese city close to Taiwan.

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(2nd LD) Consumer price growth at 14-month high in March amid economic recovery

SEOUL -- South Korea's consumer prices grew at the fastest pace in 14 months in March on higher prices of farm and oil products, data showed Friday, in the latest sign that inflationary pressure is building up amid an accelerating economic recovery.

The consumer price index rose 1.5 percent on-year in March, accelerating from a 1.1 percent on-year gain in the previous month, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea. The index grew 0.1 percent on-month.

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Gov't reverses decision on fresh probe into deadly Cheonan ship sinking

SEOUL -- Overturning an earlier decision, a presidential commission decided Friday not to reinvestigate the 2010 deadly sinking of a South Korean warship by North Korea amid outrage among surviving crew and bereaved family members.

In December last year, the Presidential Truth Commission on Deaths in the Military decided to revisit the case in which the warship Cheonan went down near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, on March 26, 2010, killing 46 sailors.

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N. Korea demands Japan's apology, compensation for wartime atrocities

SEOUL -- A North Korean organization on Friday demanded Japan apologize and provide compensation for its colonial-era atrocities, and called on the withdrawal of hostile policies against Pyongyang.

The Association of Korean Victims of Forcible Drafting and Their Bereaved Families, a North Korean organization, urged Japan to "apologize and compensate our past victims and bereaved families at an early date" in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
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