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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 November 18, 2021

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

(LEAD) S. Korea's daily virus cases hit new record high amid relaxed virus curbs

SEOUL -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases hit an all-time high on Thursday since the start of the pandemic amid eased social distancing rules, putting health authorities on alert over further upticks.

The country reported a record high of 3,292 new daily cases, including 3,272 local infections, raising the total caseload to 406,065, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

(LEAD) Nat'l college entrance exam kicks off amid pandemic

SEOUL -- Nearly 500,000 high school seniors and other exam takers nationwide sat down to take the annual national college entrance test Thursday, the second such exam held against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 509,000 high school seniors, graduates and others signed up to take the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), a single-day five-session exam, held this year at 1,251 test sites nationwide.

(LEAD) Japan boycotts joint press event with S. Korea, U.S. over Dokdo issue

WASHINGTON -- Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori refused to take part in a joint press conference with his South Korean and U.S. counterparts Wednesday, citing a recent visit by South Korea's top police official to Dokdo.

The joint press conference was originally set to follow their trilateral talks in Washington but was instead held alone by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

U.N. Command to resume Panmunjom tours late this month

SEOUL -- The U.S.-led U.N. Command (UNC) plans to resume a tour program to the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom later this month after a pandemic-driven monthslong hiatus, its officials said Thursday.

The UNC will restart the program to the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas on Nov. 30 in line with South Korea's "living with COVID-19" scheme for a gradual return to normal life, they said.

U.S. trade chief to visit S. Korea for talks on supply chains, trade pact

SEOUL -- U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai was to visit South Korea on Thursday for talks on pending trade issues such as supply chains for key components and steel tariffs.

Tai is scheduled to arrive here from Japan later in the day for a four-day stay, the USTR office said in a release. It will be the first time in 10 years that the top U.S. trade official visits the country.

PM to meet hospital chiefs in capital area over critical care bed operations

SEOUL -- Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum will hold a meeting with hospital chiefs in the Seoul metropolitan area to discuss operations of intensive care beds amid a rising number of critically ill coronavirus patients, his office said Thursday.

Kim will have an emergency meeting with heads of 22 tertiary hospitals in the capital area on Friday to discuss the bed situation for serious COVID-19 patients following concerns over the region's medical capacity.

Gimhae city apologizes for mandatory virus testing of foreign children amid xenophobia concerns

SEOUL -- The government of the southeastern city of Gimhae apologized Thursday for ordering mandatory COVID-19 tests of foreign children registered at the city's daycare centers amid a backlash over xenophobia and rights violations concerns.

A government memo obtained by Yonhap News Agency earlier this week showed the municipality, located 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, ordered 93 daycare centers to cooperate with preemptive tests of foreign children under their care on Monday and Tuesday.

Household income grows at fastest pace in Q3 on relief funds

SEOUL -- South Korean household income grew at its fastest pace in the third quarter thanks to the economic recovery and the government's emergency relief funds, data showed Thursday.

The average household earned 4.73 million won (US$4,000) per month in the July-September period, up 8 percent from the previous year, according to the data from Statistics Korea.

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