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Yonhap News Summary

National 13:30 March 20, 2023

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

(LEAD) N. Korea holds nuclear counterattack simulation drills; Kim urges perfect readiness: KCNA

SEOUL -- North Korea said Monday it conducted drills simulating a tactical nuclear counterattack against its enemies over the weekend, as the United States and South Korea are staging their joint annual military exercise.

The North's leader Kim Jong-un "guided" the training held Saturday and Sunday, including a ballistic missile launch drill designed to verify the operation of nuclear explosion control devices and detonators, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Photos carried by state media showed his daughter Ju-ae also oversaw the drills.

S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases at 9-month low; gov't lifts mask mandate on public transportation

SEOUL -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell to the lowest daily tally in about nine months on Monday, the first day of completely lifting the indoor mask mandate on public transportation.

The country reported 3,930 new COVID-19 infections, including 14 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 30,702,960, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Most commuters stick to mask wearing despite lifting of mandate on public transportation

SEOUL -- Most commuters remained masked up on Monday, the first day the yearslong mask mandate was lifted for public transportation, as many stay wary of lingering infection risks and under peer pressure to wear a mask in public spaces.

Wearing a mask is no longer mandatory on public transportation, such as buses, the subway or taxis, as one of the last-remaining COVID-19 restrictions came to an end in the country's efforts to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

Seoul shares down late Mon. morning amid banking sector instability

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks turned lower late Monday morning on fears about a deepening crisis in the global banking sector despite UBS' deal to buy Credit Suisse in an effort to stem the spread of turmoil following the recent collapse of American lenders.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) had shed 5.11 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,390.58 as of 11:20 a.m.

S. Korea, U.S. stage combined high-tech Army training

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States are conducting combined high-tech military drills with increased "intensity and realism," the Army here said Monday, as part of joint efforts to bolster deterrence against growing North Korean threats.

The drills are under way at the Korea Combat Training Center (KCTC), a facility employing cutting-edge technologies for realistic ground drills, in Inje, 165 kilometers east of Seoul. The maneuvers are to run through Friday, in connection with the allies' ongoing Freedom Shield exercise.

Men's football team opens camp ahead of Klinsmann's coaching debut

PAJU, South Korea -- The South Korean men's national football team opened training camp Monday to prepare for a much-anticipated debut for their new head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann.

South Korea will take on Colombia at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, around 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul, at 8 p.m. Friday for Klinsmann's first match here. South Korea will then host Uruguay at Seoul World Cup Stadium at 8 p.m. on March 28.

S. Korean startup Innospace launches test launch vehicle HANBIT-TLV

SEOUL -- Innospace, a South Korean space startup, said Monday its suborbital test launch vehicle, HANBIT-TLV, has been launched.

The 8.4-ton thrust single stage hybrid rocket was fired from the Alcantara Space Center in northern Brazil at 2:52 p.m. Sunday (local time), or 2:52 a.m. Monday (Korean time), according to the company.

(LEAD) TWICE's new album hits No. 2 on Billboard 200

SEOUL -- K-pop girl group TWICE has snatched its career-high ranking of No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard's main albums chart.

Billboard said on social media Sunday (U.S. time) that the nonet's "Ready to Be" debuted at No. 2 on Billboard 200 for this week with 153,000 equivalent album units earned, the act's biggest week ever.

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