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Yonhap News Summary

Yonhap News Summary 13:30 May 12, 2022

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

(2nd LD) N. Korea confirms first case of omicron variant of COVID-19: state media

SEOUL -- North Korea on Thursday announced its first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 and declared the implementation of the "maximum emergency" virus control system, putting an end to its coronavirus-free claim.

The North held a politburo meeting in Pyongyang, with leader Kim Jong-un in attendance, to discuss the country's "most serious emergency" in its antivirus system that had been "firmly defended" for over two years, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

(LEAD) Yoon appoints foreign, interior ministers

SEOUL -- President Yoon Suk-yeol appointed Foreign Minister Park Jin and Interior Minister Lee Sang-min on Thursday, a presidential official said, amid a delay in their parliamentary confirmation process.

Yoon needed at least three more ministers to meet the quorum for his first Cabinet meeting set for later in the day, which led to speculation he would appoint the two without approval from the National Assembly.

U.S. prepared for any kind of engagement with N. Korea: Campbell

WASHINGTON -- The United States stands prepared to engage in any kind of diplomacy or dialogue with North Korea, White House policy coordinator for Asia Kurt Campbell said Wednesday.

He also said the new South Korean government of Yoon Suk-yeol is determined to work closely with the U.S.

(News Focus) Biden's Indo-Pacific economic drive, first major test for Yoon's diplomacy

SEOUL -- President Joe Biden's drive for a U.S.-led strategic economic initiative, widely viewed as intended to counter China's growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region, is posing a tricky diplomatic test to the new South Korean administration, experts here say.

Biden is expected to declare the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) just before or during his trip to Northeast Asia later this month, according to some news reports. He is scheduled to arrive in South Korea next Friday for summit talks with President Yoon Suk-yeol, who was inaugurated earlier this week, followed by a visit to Japan on his first regional swing as president.

S. Korean military to revive 'provocation' reference to N.K. missile tests: sources

SEOUL -- South Korea's military plans to revive the reference to North Korean ballistic missile tests as "provocations," informed sources said Thursday in an apparent reflection of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration's hard-line stance on the recalcitrant regime's military threats.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff has decided to use the expression in its public announcements of future North Korean missile launches in line with new Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup's directive, according to the sources.

S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases fall to 30,000s amid eased virus curbs

SEOUL -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell Thursday after staying above 40,000 for two days amid the government's effort to move the country back to pre-pandemic normalcy.

The country added 35,906 new COVID-19 infections, including 12 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 17,694,677, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

DP expels three-term lawmaker over sexual misconduct

SEOUL -- The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) on Thursday decided to expel Rep. Park Wan-joo over a sexual misconduct case, the party's spokesperson said.

The DP's emergency committee decided to kick out Park over allegations he harassed a female worker, according to DP spokesperson Shin Hyun-young.

Independent lawmaker loses Assembly seat for election law violations

SEOUL -- Independent lawmaker Lee Sang-jik was stripped of his National Assembly seat on Thursday after the Supreme Court upheld a suspended prison sentence handed down by lower courts to him for election law violations.

The top court confirmed district and appellate courts' suspended prison sentence of one year and four months for Lee, who was formerly affiliated with the Democratic Party (DP), on several counts of Public Official Election Act violations.

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