The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
(2nd LD) Ruling party suffers crushing defeat in bellwether by-elections
SEOUL -- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) suffered a crushing defeat in mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan Wednesday, seen as a critical bellwether for next year's presidential poll.
Oh Se-hoon of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) defeated his rival from the DP, Park Young-sun, 57.5 percent to 39 percent to claim the Seoul mayoral seat, according to the final vote tally released by the National Election Commission.
(News Focus) PPP's win poised to bring forward Moon's lame-duck status, opposition's political realignment
SEOUL -- Voters' frustration and rage towards the Moon Jae-in administration's policy missteps, particularly blunders in trying to curb skyrocketing housing prices, were heard loud and clear in Wednesday's by-elections results in both Seoul and Busan.
And as the mayoral elections, especially in Seoul, which is home to nearly 10 million of the country's total 52 million population, are seen as harbingers of public opinion ahead of next year's presidential election, the result is expected to speed up the onset of lame duck status for President Moon in his final year in office.
(profile) Conservative ex-Seoul mayor returns to political spotlight after decade of unfulfilled ambitions
SEOUL -- It wouldn't be a stretch to describe Oh Se-hoon, the former Seoul mayor who was elected again to the post Wednesday, as a political gambler at heart.
Nearly a decade ago in August 2011, Oh, then a two-term Seoul mayor, threw his job on the line in a high-stakes city referendum he called in opposition to a universal free school lunch program supported by the opposition-led city council.
Military training important to protecting U.S. interest on Korean Peninsula: Pentagon
WASHINGTON -- Defense readiness is especially crucial on the Korean Peninsula, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday, highlighting the importance of military exercises there.
John Kirby said the U.S. goal remains the denuclearization of North Korea.
Police raid LH in probe into alleged business irregularities
SEOUL -- Police raided the headquarters of Korea Land and Housing Corp. (LH) and other locations Thursday as part of an investigation into alleged irregularities involving a former company official and contractors.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said its officers searched the offices of the state housing developer in Jinju, about 435 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and its suppliers, as well as the homes of three suspects.
(LEAD) Moon takes election rout as 'reprimand' from the public, Cheong Wa Dae says
SEOUL -- After his Democratic Party (DP) suffered an election rout, President Moon Jae-in stated Thursday that he takes it as a "reprimand" from the public.
He said he will carry out his duties with a "humbler demeanor and heavier sense of responsibility," according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.
(LEAD) S. Korea to provide 2.3 bln won to repair bridge near DMZ
SEOUL -- South Korea decided Thursday to spend 2.3 billion won (US$2.1 million) of inter-Korean cooperation funds to repair a flood-damaged bridge near the border with North Korea, the unification ministry said.
A civilian-government committee on inter-Korean exchanges approved the decision to use the funds to rebuild the "Bima Bridge," a sole path toward the Arrowhead Ridge on the border with North Korea in Cheorwon, some 90 kilometers northeast of Seoul.
(LEAD) New virus cases most in 3 months amid looming vaccine rollout hiccup
SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases hit the highest in three months Thursday amid rising concerns that the country's vaccination campaign may hit a snag due to safety concerns over AstraZeneca jabs, possibly making the targeted herd immunity by November elusive.
The country reported 700 more COVID-19 cases, including 674 local infections, raising the total caseload to 107,598, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. It marked the highest level since 870 cases on Jan. 7 and a rise from 668 on Wednesday.
Seoul stocks trade bearish amid profit-taking
SEOUL -- South Korean stocks traded near zero late Thursday morning as investors attempted to cash in recent gains amid a lack of events.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 2.28 points, or 0.07 percent, to 3,139.69 points as of 11:20 a.m.
Sino-U.S. tensions, tighter China-N.K. ties feared to weaken denuke efforts
Defense cost-sharing deal signals tighter, more stable S. Korea-U.S. alliance
Legislation on compensating virus-hit small biz picks up steam
Anger mounts over deepfake porn targeting Korean female celebs; more than 330,000 sign petition
Biden's pick for Asia policy likely to seek stronger regional alliances to check China