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Yonhap News Summary

All News 13:30 April 29, 2022

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

(2nd LD) Outdoor mask mandate to end Monday

SEOUL -- South Korea will lift the outdoor mask mandate Monday, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, though people will still need to wear a mask when they attend gatherings of 50 or more people or use multiuse facilities.

The decision on mask wearing comes after the country last week scrapped most COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, including gathering limits and business hour curfews, as part of its effort to return to pre-pandemic normalcy amid a downward trend in COVID-19 cases.

S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases stay in 50,000s before lifting of outdoor mask mandate

SEOUL -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases remained in the 50,000s for the second straight day on Friday ahead of next week's lifting of the outdoor mask mandate.

The country reported 50,568 new COVID-19 infections, including 30 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 17,194,616, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

(2nd LD) Consumption, investment both fall in March amid recovery concerns

SEOUL -- South Korea's industrial output rebounded in March after two straight months of decline, but consumption and facility investment lost ground in the latest sign that economic recovery momentum remains fragile, data showed Friday.

Industrial production increased 1.5 percent in March from the previous month, compared with a 0.3 percent on-month drop in February, according to the data from Statistics Korea.

S. Korea ready to take measures to stem won's sharp fall

SEOUL -- South Korea plans to take steps to curb the Korean currency's "excessive" fall against the U.S. dollar, a senior government official said Friday.

First Vice Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon also dismissed the possibility of a sharp outflow of foreign capital, citing the country's strong economic fundamentals.

Continued restoration work spotted at N. Korea's nuclear test site: report

SEOUL -- North Korea appears to be continuing its work to restore the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which it ostensibly demolished in 2018 ahead of a historic summit with the United States, according to a North Korea information provider that cited satellite photos.

Commercial satellite imagery taken on April 26 of the site in Kilju, North Hamgyong Province, indicates ongoing work to restore access to the site's Tunnel No. 3 complex, with the construction of a new portal, or entrance, and support structures, read a note by 38 North.

N.K. leader calls for bolstering military strength in photo session with parade participants

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called again for bolstering the country's military strength to "annihilate" the enemy as he had a photo session with the participants of a military parade held earlier this week, state media reported Friday.

During the session held Wednesday, Kim praised them for "fully demonstrating" the "modernity, heroism and radical development" of its military forces and their "matchless military and technological superiority" during the event held Monday night, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Biden says U.S. working with S. Korea to counter Russia's energy blackmail

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday his administration is working with South Korea and others to counter Russia's attempt to use its energy as a way out of sanctions imposed for its invasion of Ukraine.

His remarks came after Seoul said it plans to divert some of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies to Europe to help ease an energy crisis.

(LEAD) Moon says there are not only cons but also pros to pardoning ex-President Lee

SEOUL -- Outgoing President Moon Jae-in said Friday he will determine whether to pardon former President Lee Myung-bak after taking judicial justice and public consensus into consideration, noting there are not only cons but also pros to the proposed pardon.

The remark, made in response to online petitions opposing Lee's pardon, could suggest a higher likelihood of a pardon because Moon talked about those in favor of it, though presidential aides said the remark was no more than an expression of principle.

(Yonhap Feature) Nighttime taxi shortage plagues Seoul as demand soars after lifting of COVID-19 rules

SEOUL -- Around midnight on Tuesday, Park Ji-young, a 30-year-old office worker, was exasperated after wasting nearly an hour trying to get a taxi from the central Seoul business district of Gwanghwamun to her home in Dangsan, a neighborhood not far away.

She tried every option -- tapping into all kinds of taxi-hailing apps, jostling with competitors to flag down a taxi and moving from block to block for a better chance -- all to no avail.

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