The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
(LEAD) New cases near 2,000 amid rising vaccination rate
(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 11-12; ADDS photo)
SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new COVID-19 cases neared the 2,000s on Thursday, but the daily caseload dropped from a week ago as the country ramped up its vaccination rate in a move to prepare for a gradual return to normal life.
The country added 1,940 more COVID-19 cases, including 1,924 local infections, raising the total caseload to 337,679, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
(LEAD) Supreme Court upholds 42-year prison term for mastermind of sex abuse ring
(ATTN: UPDATES with more details and background in last 7 paras)
SEOUL -- The Supreme Court on Thursday approved a 42-year prison sentence for Cho Ju-bin, the mastermind of a notorious online sex blackmail ring.
The top court also confirmed lower courts' order that Cho has to wear an electronic bracelet for 30 years, pay a forfeiture of 100 million won (US$90,000), be banned from working at children-related facilities for 10 years after his release and his personal details be made public for 10 years.
(LEAD) Former Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo dies at 71
(ATTN: RECASTS lead; ADDS more info in paras 3, 5-6)
SEOUL -- Former South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo died Thursday after battling blood cancer, officials here said. He was 71.
Lee served as prime minister shortly between February and April in 2015 under then President Park Geun-hye before stepping down over bribery allegations.
(3rd LD) Suspect in land development scandal denies alleged ties with DP presidential nominee
(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 13-15)
SEOUL -- A key suspect at the center of a snowballing regional development corruption scandal Thursday disavowed having any "special relationship" with the ruling Democratic Party's presidential nominee as he appeared for a court hearing to determine his arrest.
Prosecutors sought the warrant to arrest Kim Man-bae on Tuesday on charges in connection with how his previously little-known firm, Hwacheon Daeyu Asset Management, reaped massive profits from a 2015 development project in the city of Seongnam, south of Seoul.
(LEAD) Court upholds justice ministry's disciplinary action against ex-Prosecutor General Yoon
(ATTN: UPDATES with details of ruling in paras 6-8,10)
SEOUL -- A Seoul court on Thursday upheld a disciplinary measure that the justice ministry took against then Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl for alleged misconduct last year in what could be a blow to the now leading opposition presidential contender.
In December, the justice ministry suspended Yoon for two months, accusing him of violating political neutrality and other misconduct amid a row between Yoon and then Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae over reform of the prosecution.
(LEAD) Loan rules for home rentals to be eased: financial regulator
(ATTN: RECASTS headline; CLARIFIES paras 1-3; ADDS more info in paras 6, 9)
SEOUL -- South Korea will ease tight regulations on loans taken out for home rentals as part of efforts to protect people in actual need of borrowing as financial authorities are set to unveil additional measures to rein in household debt this month, the head of the country's financial regulator said Thursday.
In a brief meeting with reporters, Koh Seung-beom, the chief of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), said that controls on such loans for the "jeonse" arrangement will be managed in a "flexible" manner.
(News Focus) Late ex-President Roh was accused of military coup, but paved path to democratic reform
Talks for end-of-war declaration gather pace, but skepticism lingers
S. Korea, Japan ties again at major juncture in leadership transition period
Sejong closer to becoming virtual administrative capital
(News Focus) City development controversy widens amid revelation of astronomical severance pay for opposition lawmaker's son