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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 January 14, 2022

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

(LEAD) Gov't to raise private gathering size limit to 6, keep 9 p.m. curfew on restaurants: PM

SEOUL -- The government decided to raise the private gathering size limit to six while keeping a 9 p.m. curfew on restaurants and cafes for the next three weeks, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday.

The decision came as the number of daily COVID-19 cases has been around 4,000 in recent days with the government's robust booster shot campaign and tightened antivirus curbs after reaching as high as over 7,000 last month.

(3rd LD) BOK chief hints at more hikes after raising policy rate to pre-pandemic level

SEOUL -- South Korea's central bank chief Friday hinted at the possibility of more rate hikes in the months to come even after raising borrowing costs to a pre-pandemic level to ease inflationary pressure and rein in rising household debt.

Earlier in the day, the monetary policy board of the Bank of Korea (BOK) convened its first rate-setting meeting of this year and voted to raise the benchmark seven-day repo rate by a quarter percentage point to 1.25 percent.

U.S. urges N. Korea to refrain from provocations following N. Korean warning

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Thursday urged North Korea to refrain from further provocations and instead engage in dialogue.

A spokesperson for the Department of State also renewed the U.S. condemnation of North Korea's recent missile tests.

Daily infections over 4,000 for 3rd day; imported cases hit fresh high

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily coronavirus cases stayed above 4,000 for the third consecutive day and imported cases reached an all-time high Friday, prompting the government to extend part of toughened social distancing rules for three more weeks.

The country added 4,542 new COVID-19 infections, including 4,133 local infections, raising the total caseload to 683,566, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Seoul vows to continue efforts for humanitarian aid to N. Korea amid fresh U.S. sanctions

SEOUL -- South Korea's unification ministry on Friday vowed to continue efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea after the United States imposed new sanctions over the reclusive regime's recent missile launches.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration slapped sanctions on six North Koreans, a Russian national and a Russian company involved in Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

(2nd LD) S. Korea eyes another 14 tln-won extra budget to support pandemic-hit merchants

SEOUL -- South Korea plans to propose another extra budget of some 14 trillion won (US$11.8 billion) in a bid to support small merchants as they are suffering COVID-19 caused losses amid extended tighter virus curbs, the country's finance minister said Friday.

The country plans to create the extra budget, given that the government is estimated to have an additional 10 trillion won in excess tax revenue last year, according to Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki.

(2nd LD) Gov't, ruling party agree to reduce military facility protection zones

SEOUL -- The government and the ruling Democratic Party agreed Friday to reduce the size of military facility protection zones to secure more space for local residents.

Under the agreement, about 2.74 million "pyeong," the equivalent of about 9 million square meters, of land will be released for civilian use near the inter-Korean border.

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