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Yonhap News Summary

National 13:30 May 04, 2022

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

(LEAD) S. Korea's new infections fall below 50,000 amid lifting of mask mandate

SEOUL -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell below 50,000 on Wednesday as the government has lifted the outdoor mask mandate in the latest effort to return to pre-pandemic normalcy amid a downward trend in COVID-19 cases.

The country reported 49,064 new COVID-19 infections, including 29 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 17,395,791, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

(LEAD) Defense chief nominee vows stronger alliance, deterrence against N.K. threats

SEOUL -- South Korea's defense minister nominee on Wednesday vowed efforts to cement "cohesion" in the country's alliance with the United States and sharpen deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

During a parliamentary confirmation hearing, Lee Jong-sup, a former three-star Army general, highlighted his vision of a "robust national defense and sturdy military based on science and technology" to respond proactively to "threats from all directions."

U.S. to boost defense posture, prepositioned stocks in Indo-Pacific: Austin

WASHINGTON -- The United States plans to boost its deterrence against China and North Korea, partly by increasing its "prepositioned stocks" of military supplies in the Indo-Pacific, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Monday.

The U.S. defense chief also said the defense department plans to spend some US$6 billion in fiscal year 2023 to boost its deterrence posture in the Indo-Pacific.

(LEAD) U.S. considering sending second gentleman to S. Korean president's inauguration

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government is considering sending the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris as an official delegate to South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's inauguration ceremony in Seoul next week, according to a source Tuesday.

Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff may lead the U.S. delegation to Yoon's inauguration ceremony, slated for Tuesday, with Labor Secretary Martin Walsh and Rep. Ami Bera among other members, added the source.

Justice minister nominee vows to minimize negative impact of prosecution reform laws

SEOUL -- Justice Minister nominee Han Dong-hoon said he will look for ways to minimize any negative impacts that the recently enacted laws on prosecution reform could have on ordinary people, according to a lawmaker Wednesday.

Han made the remark in a document submitted to independent Rep. Yang Hyang-ja for his confirmation hearing, stressing ordinary people will take the brunt of the legislation centering on reducing and ultimately abolishing the prosecution's investigative powers.

(LEAD) Hyundai, Kia's April U.S. sales fall 17 pct amid chip shortages

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Corp. said Wednesday their combined sales in the United States fell 17 percent last month from a year earlier due mainly to the prolonged chip shortages.

Hyundai, its independent Genesis brand, and Kia sold a total of 125,770 vehicles in the U.S. in April from 150,994 units a year ago, according to the companies' sales data.

BOK expected to deliver 4 more rate hikes by year's end amid inflation woes: JP Morgan

SEOUL -- South Korea's central bank is expected to hike its key interest rate four more times by year's end considering its hawkish stance shown in the minutes of its latest rate-setting meeting, global investment bank JP Morgan said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Bank of Korea (BOK) disclosed the minutes of its monetary policy board meeting on April 14, showing that its members called for further rate increases to tame inflation. The BOK raised the rate by a quarter percentage point to 1.5 percent during the April meeting, the fourth increase since August last year.

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