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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:30 December 03, 2021

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

(LEAD) Nat'l Assembly passes record 607.7 tln-won gov't budget for 2022

SEOUL -- The National Assembly passed the 2022 government budget Friday, a record high amount of 607.7 trillion won (US$516.3 billion) to cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and other expenses.

The bill's passage came a day after the legal deadline, as last-minute negotiations between the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and main opposition People Power Party (PPP) caused a delay in the finance ministry's computation work.

(LEAD) Critically ill COVID-19 cases hit record high amid growing omicron fears

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily coronavirus cases fell below 5,000 on Friday, but the number of critically ill patients hit yet another record high as the country prepares to limit private gatherings amid growing concerns over the new omicron variant.

The country reported 4,944 new COVID-19 cases, including 4,923 local infections, raising the total caseload to 462,555, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

(LEAD) S. Korea to limit private gatherings to 6 in capital area, 8 elsewhere: PM

SEOUL -- South Korea will limit private gatherings to six people in the capital area and eight in other regions for four weeks starting next week, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday, reversing an easing of distancing rules adopted under the "living with COVID-19" scheme last month.

Kim announced the new measure during a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters amid a surge in COVID-19 infections in the country and heightened fears of the more contagious omicron variant.

Top Chinese official expresses support for Seoul's pursuit of end-of-war declaration: embassy

TIANJIN -- A top Chinese official in charge of foreign affairs said Beijing supports Seoul's push for the declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, according to South Korea's embassy Friday.

Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, delivered the message during a meeting with Suh Hoon, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae who serves as President Moon Jae-in's national security adviser, in China's eastern city of Tianjin the previous day, the embassy in Beijing said.

Navy set for launch of light carrier project, spurred by budget passage

SEOUL -- South Korea's Navy looks set to embark on a long-cherished project next year to secure a light aircraft carrier, as the National Assembly passed a 7.2 billion won (US$6.1 million) budget for the project Friday in a reversal of an earlier move to slash it.

The legislature passed the budget in a plenary vote, reversing a committee-level decision last month to reduce it to 500 million won -- a drastic cut that threatened to derail the Navy's push to acquire the coveted vessel by 2033.

U.N. excludes N. Korea from humanitarian aid plans for two straight years

SEOUL -- The United Nations has excluded North Korea from its global humanitarian assistance plan for 2022, its recent report showed, apparently due to the impoverished country's prolonged border lockdown against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Global Humanitarian Overview 2022 released by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, "Afghanistan, DPR Korea and Myanmar are facing acute food insecurity situations, which are likely to deteriorate further by the year's end."

S. Korea's foreign reserves down for 1st time in 5 months in November

SEOUL -- South Korea's foreign reserves shrank for the first time in five months in November due to a decline in the dollar-converted value of assets denominated in other foreign currencies, central bank data showed Friday.

The country's foreign reserves came to US$463.91 billion as of end-November, down $5.3 billion from the previous month, according to the data provided by the Bank of Korea (BOK).

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