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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:18 April 21, 2021

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

'Comfort women' lose lawsuit against Tokyo over wartime sexual slavery

SEOUL -- South Korean victims of wartime sexual slavery lost a lawsuit against the Japanese government Wednesday, suffering a setback in their efforts to hold Tokyo accountable for war crimes.

The Seoul Central District Court dismissed the case brought by 20 plaintiffs, citing sovereign immunity, a legal doctrine that allows a state to be immune from a civil suit in foreign courts.

Court says Japan can't be forced to pay former sex slaves' legal fees

SEOUL -- A local court has determined that Japan cannot be forced to pay the legal fees of former South Korean sex slaves in a recent landmark case due to a potential conflict with international law, judicial sources said Wednesday.

The Seoul Central District Court made the determination on March 29, almost three months after it ordered the Japanese government to pay reparations of 100 million won (US$89,600) each to 12 South Korean "comfort women" who were forced to provide sex for Japanese troops during World War II. Comfort women is a Japanese euphemism for the sex slaves.

FM Chung hopes U.S. will help S. Korea with 'vaccine difficulties'

SEOUL -- Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong expressed hopes Wednesday that the United States will help South Korea address coronavirus vaccine shortages, just as Seoul helped the U.S. last year by providing test kits and face masks when its ally was struggling with the pandemic.

Chung made the comment in a forum with local journalists, a day after he revealed in a parliamentary session that Seoul is seriously discussing a "vaccine swap" arrangement with Washington. He did not elaborate on what that swap deal means.

Unification ministry mulling giving local governments early approval for inter-Korean projects

SEOUL -- The unification ministry is considering giving local governments the go-head for inter-Korean cooperation projects even before concrete deals are signed as part of efforts to further promote cross-border exchanges, officials said Wednesday.

In a meeting with officials from 16 local governments, ministry officials discussed ways to help municipalities expand cooperation with the North, including granting earlier approval for inter-Korean projects.

(2nd LD) New virus cases back to over 700, vaccination drive to ramp up

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases bounced back to over 700 Wednesday as the country is ratcheting up efforts to boost vaccination rates amid growing concerns over another wave of the pandemic.

The country reported 731 more COVID-19 cases, including 692 local infections, raising the total caseload to 115,926, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

(LEAD) Moon to meet new Seoul and Busan mayors at Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in will hold a luncheon meeting with the new mayors of Seoul and Busan on Wednesday to discuss such problems as the COVID-19 pandemic and home price hikes, Cheong Wa Dae announced.

Moon invited Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon to the session to take place at the Sangchunjae guesthouse inside the presidential compound in Seoul. They accepted the offer without hesitation, according to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee. Both Oh and Park belong to the conservative main opposition People Power Party.

Schools to tighten COVID-19 rules with rise in new cases

SEOUL -- The Ministry of Education on Wednesday declared a three-week intensive period for checking COVID-19 rules for all schools, universities and private educational facilities nationwide, responding to a recent spike in in-school transmissions of the coronavirus.

The declaration came as the number of COVID-19 infections among students and teachers has recently exceeded 2,000 in one and a half months after the spring semester began in early March.

(LEAD) Exports jump 45.4 pct in first 20 days of April

SEOUL -- South Korea's exports jumped 45.4 percent on-year in the first 20 days of April as shipments of chips, autos and oil products remained solid amid an economic recovery, customs data showed Wednesday.

The country's outbound shipments stood at US$30.9 billion in the April 1-20 period, compared with $21 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

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