The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Friday.
(2nd LD) S. Korea's 1st lunar orbiter makes successful communication with ground station
CAPE CANAVERAL, United States/SEOUL -- South Korea's first lunar orbiter has successfully communicated with its ground control station, the science ministry said Friday, opening a new chapter in the country's space program.
The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter -- also known as Danuri -- made its first communication with a Deep Space Network antenna of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Canberra, Australia, at 9:40 a.m. (Korean time), about 90 minutes after being launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in the United States, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.
Yoon's approval rating hits new low amid controversies over personnel appointments
SEOUL -- President Yoon Suk-yeol's approval rating has sunk to the lowest since he took office in May, amid controversies over his personnel appointments and leadership turmoil in the ruling party, a poll showed Friday.
Yoon's approval rating came to 24 percent, down 4 percentage points from the previous week, while 66 percent negatively assessed his handling of state affairs, up 4 percentage points. The poll was conducted by Gallup Korea on 1,001 voters nationwide from Tuesday to Thursday.
(LEAD) Pelosi says her trip to S. Korea reaffirmed strong U.S.-S. Korea relationship
WASHINGTON/SEOUL -- Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, highlighted the strength of the U.S.-South Korea alliance on Thursday, wrapping her two-day visit to Seoul.
She said the visit by her and other members of U.S. Congress reaffirmed the "strong bond" between Seoul and Washington.
(LEAD) S. Korea logs current account surplus for 2nd month; surplus shrinks amid mounting import costs
SEOUL -- South Korea posted a current account surplus for the second straight month in June, but its amount sharply contracted from a year earlier amid mounting import costs emanating from high energy and commodity prices, central bank data showed Friday.
The country's current account surplus stood at US$5.61 billion in June, accelerating from the previous month's surplus of $3.86 billion, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).
(LEAD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases above 100,000 for 4th day
SEOUL -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases exceeded 100,000 for the fourth straight day Friday amid a wave of infections driven by a highly infectious omicron variant.
The country added 112,901 new COVID-19 infections, including 497 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 20,273,011, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
(2nd LD) 5 killed, 37 others injured in fire at hospital in Icheon
ICHEON, South Korea -- A hospital in Icheon, some 50 kilometers southeast of Seoul, caught fire Friday morning, killing five people and injuring 37 others, fire officials said.
The fire broke out at 10:17 a.m. at the dialysis hospital on the top floor of the four-story building, where 46 people, including 33 patients, were staying, according to the officials.
(LEAD) Ruling party paves way for leadership transition
SEOUL -- The ruling People Power Party (PPP) on Friday held a national committee meeting of standing members and declared an "emergency" situation for the party, paving the way for the PPP to switch to an emergency leadership system.
The PPP committee held a vote and concluded that the party's current situation constitutes an "emergency" under the party charter, according to party officials, giving the green light to break up the current one-man leadership and shift to the emergency committee system.
Brad Pitt to make first visit to S. Korea in 8 years
SEOUL -- Hollywood star Brad Pitt will visit South Korea for the first time in eight years to promote his new film "Bullet Train," the movie's local distributor said Friday.
Pitt will make the visit around Aug. 19 together with the film's co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sony Pictures said.
In South Korea, the stars will attend promotional events for the upcoming film, including a red carpet event scheduled for the day.
(LEAD) S. Korean foreign minister to visit China next week for talks on regional, global issues
SEOUL -- South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin will visit China next week for talks with his counterpart Wang Yi, Park's ministry announced Friday.
Park plans to leave for the eastern port city of Qingdao on Monday in his first trip to China as Seoul's top diplomat. He is reportedly scheduled to hold talks with Wang on Tuesday. The two sides opted to meet there instead of Beijing due to COVID-19 concerns, according to a source.
Gov't confirms 5 pct rise in minimum wage for next year
SEOUL -- The minimum hourly wage for next year has been finalized at 9,620 won (US$7.38), a 5 percent increase from this year, as previously agreed upon by representatives of the country's labor and management, the labor ministry said Friday.
The ministry officially published the 2023 minimum wage in the government gazette earlier in the day, it said.
Assembly speaker heads for Poland, Romania with focus on arms sales, economic cooperation
SEOUL -- National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo departed for Poland and Romania with his agenda focusing on arms sales and economic cooperation, his office said Friday.
Kim's seven-day trip, which runs through Thursday, will include meetings with his parliamentary counterparts and ministers to discuss economic agenda and expand strategic ties, according to Kim's office.
S. Korea to raise traveler's duty-free allowance limit to US$800
SEOUL -- South Korea plans to raise the limit of the duty-free allowance for inbound travelers to US$800 per person from the current $600, the finance ministry said Friday.
Currently, international arrivals -- both Korean nationals and foreigners -- can receive tax exemptions for the purchase of items worth up to $600 per person.
Samsung's Lee expected to solidify leadership, step up biz activities after receiving pardon
Renewed THAAD row heralds bumpy ride ahead for Yoon's China policy
S. Korea turns to traditional deterrence playbook
Former, current governments clash head-on over repatriation of N.K. fishermen
Ruling party in turmoil about 2 months after Yoon took office