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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 April 07, 2021

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

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U.S. committed to improving S. Korea-Japan relations: U.S. official

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. administration of President Joe Biden is very committed to improved relations between South Korea and Japan as cooperation between the allies is key to dealing with various regional issues, including a nuclear-armed North Korea, an official said Tuesday.

The official also said he felt very "optimistic" about Seoul-Tokyo relations.

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(LEAD) Samsung expects Q1 earnings surprise on strong mobile, home appliance biz

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. on Wednesday expected a market forecast-beating earnings for the first quarter as its mobile business fared well, offsetting a relatively tepid performance from the semiconductor business.

In its earnings guidance, the South Korean tech giant estimated its operating profit at 9.3 trillion won (US$8.3 billion) for the first three months of the year, up 44.2 percent from a year ago.

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(2nd LD) New virus cases most since early Jan., another wave of pandemic looming

SEOUL -- South Korea reported the most new coronavirus cases since early January on Wednesday as sporadic cluster infections continued to pile up across the country, raising concerns that the country may again grapple with another wave of the pandemic.

The country reported 668 more COVID-19 cases, including 653 local infections, raising the total caseload to 106,898, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. It marked a sharp rise from 478 the previous day and the largest since 674 daily infections on Jan. 8.

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(2nd LD) Bellwether mayoral by-elections under way in Seoul and Busan

SEOUL -- Voters went to polls to cast ballots for new mayors in Seoul and Busan, the country's two biggest cities, on Wednesday in by-elections deemed a critical bellwether for next year's presidential contest.

Voting began at 6 a.m. at 3,459 polling stations across the country and will last till 8 p.m. Besides the two mayoral seats, 19 other regional public posts are up for grabs, including the county governor for Uiryeong in South Gyeongsang Province and a ward office head in the southeastern city of Ulsan.

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(LEAD) Current account surplus widens in February

SEOUL -- South Korea's current account surplus widened in February as exports showed signs of a gradual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the central bank said Wednesday.

The current account surplus reached US$8.03 billion last month, widening from a surplus of $7.06 billion the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). The current account is the broadest measure of cross-border trade.

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N.K. urges 'cell secretaries' to root out anti-socialist practices

SEOUL -- North Korea urged secretaries of "party cells," the grassroots units of the ruling Workers' Party, to help root out anti-socialist and non-socialist practices, state media reported Wednesday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also pointed out "shortcomings" in the work of "party cells" during his opening speech at the conference of cell secretaries on Tuesday, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

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Court-led restructuring looms larger for SsangYong Motor

SEOUL -- Court-led restructuring for SsangYong Motor Co. is widely expected to begin this week as the sole potential investor didn't submit a letter of intent (LOI) to acquire the financially troubled carmaker, industry sources said Wednesday.

SsangYong Motor's Indian parent Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. had been in talks with U.S. vehicle importer HAAH Automotive Holdings Inc. to sell its majority stake in the Korean unit as part of its global reorganization plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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(2nd LD) LG Electronics expects best-ever quarterly earnings in Q1

SEOUL -- LG Electronics Inc. on Wednesday expected its best-ever quarterly performance in the first quarter as its home appliance and TV sales apparently basked in pent-up demand amid the pandemic.

In its earnings guidance, the South Korean tech firm projected its operating profit at 1.51 trillion won (US$1.3 billion) for the first three months of 2021, up 39.2 percent from a year earlier.

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