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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:30 March 29, 2022

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

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(LEAD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases rise to nearly 350,000 amid 'stealth omicron' woes

SEOUL -- South Korea's new daily COVID-19 cases rose to around 350,000 Tuesday, ending a downturn for five consecutive days, amid the fast spread of the highly transmissible "stealth omicron" subvariant.

The country added 347,554 new coronavirus infections, including 41 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 12,350,428, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

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IMF maintains 2022 growth outlook for S. Korean economy at 3 pct

SEOUL -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday maintained its 2022 growth outlook for South Korea at 3 percent as exports and investment will likely remain robust despite heightened economic uncertainty.

The IMF's latest projection is the same as its forecast made in January. It lowered its 2023 growth outlook for Asia's fourth-largest economy to 2.8 percent from 2.9 percent.

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Uncertainty hangs over relocation of presidential office despite Moon's promise to cooperate

SEOUL -- Whether President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will be able to relocate the presidential office in time for his May 10 inauguration remains a question even though President Moon Jae-in has promised to look into the matter and render cooperation.

Moon's remark, made during a dinner meeting with Yoon on Monday, was seen as a step forward for Yoon, because Moon's office had effectively expressed opposition earlier, saying the envisioned relocation could leave a security vacuum, as it also involves moving the defense ministry in a short period of time.

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Top military officers of S. Korea, U.S., Japan to meet in Hawaii this week

WASHINGTON -- The top military officers of South Korea, Japan and the United States will meet this week in Hawaii for talks, an informed source here said Monday, following a series of North Korean missile launches that included its first ICBM test in over four years.

Gen. Won In-choul, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), will meet his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Gen. Mark Milley and Gen. Koji Yamazaki -- on Wednesday, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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(LEAD) Biden requests 4.1 pct increase in DoD spending, citing challenges from China, N. Korea

WASHINGTON -- The Joe Biden administration is seeking a 4.1 percent increase in defense spending, citing the U.S.' growing competition with China and threats from North Korea, its budget plan showed Monday.

The bill proposal, submitted to Congress, seeks US$813.3 billion in overall defense spending in fiscal year 2023 starting Oct. 1.

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Hyundai Motor chairman reelected as Kia executive director

SEOUL -- Shareholders of Kia Corp. have reelected Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung as executive director for another three years, the company said Tuesday.

Chung will begin his extended director position on April 1 to lead the South Korean automaker's transition into a provider of future mobility solutions, such as autonomous driving and electric vehicles, Kia said.

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Upbeat earnings forecast for Samsung, SK hynix in Q1: survey

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc., the world's two largest memory chip makers, are forecast to report robust earnings in the first quarter, despite a hike in raw material prices and continued global supply woes, a financial data firm said Tuesday.

Samsung is estimated to log 13.89 trillion won (US$11.3 billion) in operating profits in the three months ending March 31, up 38.64 percent from a year ago, while SK hynix is expected to top 3.1 trillion won, up 137.08 percent, according to a survey by Yonhap Infomax, the financial data firm of Yonhap News Agency, on local brokerage firms.

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S. Korea to speed up consultations with U.S. on envisioned Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

SEOUL -- South Korea will boost consultations with the United States on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and begin actively collecting opinions from local experts about its possible participation, Seoul's industry ministry said Tuesday.

The U.S-led initiative is what the Joe Biden administration has sought to launch to boost cooperation with partner nations in a wide range of economic and trade issues, including digital trade, supply chains and clean energy.

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(LEAD) Stray Kids top Billboard's main albums chart for third time as K-pop artist

SEOUL -- South Korean boy group Stray Kids debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's main albums chart with their latest EP "Oddinary," the U.S. music magazine said Tuesday, becoming the third K-pop act ever to top the chart.

The seven-track album began atop the Billboard 200 chart dated April 2 with 110,000 equivalent album units earned in the United States in the week ending March 24, Billboard said on its social media channels.

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S. Korea aims to underpin recovery, strengthen fiscal health in 2023 budget

SEOUL -- South Korea said Tuesday it plans to focus its fiscal policy for next year on propping up the economic recovery and strengthen fiscal soundness amid mounting national debt.

Under the 2023 budget guidelines, approved by the Cabinet, the government plans to normalize COVID-19 related emergency spending to pre-pandemic levels and make efforts to secure fiscal space to support new policy goals by the incoming government, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

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N.K. leader urges party officials to eradicate anti-socialist practices

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called on the ruling party's propaganda officials to wage a battle in rooting out "evil spirits" of anti-socialism and bring fundamental change in their ideological work, state media reported Tuesday.

In a letter sent to officials serving in the information field of the ruling Workers' Party (WPK) who were present at a workshop in Pyongyang the previous day, Kim stressed the need to "concentrate the ideological campaign on anti-socialist and non-socialist practice in a minute way," according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

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2 dead in explosion at industrial waste disposal facility in Ansan

ANSAN, South Korea -- An explosion occurred at an industrial waste treatment facility in Ansan, about 40 kilometers south of Seoul, on Tuesday morning, killing two people, officials said.

The accident occurred at 10:24 a.m. while workers were welding a tank.
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