Yonhap News Summary
The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
(2nd LD) Samsung heir denies all criminal charges at first trial
SEOUL -- Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong denied bribery and other criminal charges filed by special prosecutors in the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye at his first court hearing in Seoul on Thursday.
The vice chairman of Samsung Electronics claimed innocence through his lawyers at the hearing held at the Seoul Central District Court.
Lee didn't show up at the hearing, as the inaugural session mostly dealt with trial proceedings and other procedural issues.
(LEAD) Chinese envoy urges S. Korea to suspend deployment of THAAD battery
SEOUL -- Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Qiu Guohong on Thursday urged South Korea to suspend the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in the country.
"The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery must be scrapped immediately. If that is impossible, it should at least be suspended to leave room open for Seoul and Beijing to negotiate," the envoy was quoted as saying by Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling Liberty Korea Party.
Netherlands' Embassy declines to comment on son of slain Kim
SEOUL -- The Netherlands' Embassy in South Korea declined to comment Thursday on its alleged involvement in helping the son of the slain half brother of the North Korean leader escape from the North's threat.
Kim Han-sol, the 22-year-old son of Kim Jong-nam, appeared in a recently posted YouTube clip in which he said he is with his sister and mother but didn't mention where.
Assembly speaker calls for national unity after impeachment ruling
SEOUL -- National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun on Thursday said South Korea should seek to normalize state affairs after the Constitutional Court delivers its final ruling on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye later this week.
The court is set to determine the fate of Park on Friday, who was impeached by parliament in December over a corruption scandal. If the court upholds the impeachment, Park will be removed from office permanently. In case of the opposite decision, she will immediately return to duty.
Tension rises as rival rallies heat up ahead of impeachment ruling
SEOUL -- Police tightened security on Thursday as tension rose with rallies of President Park Geun-hye's supporters and opponents intensifying over the Constitutional Court's ruling on the president's impeachment scheduled for the next day.
Supporters of Park began early from morning chanting for reinstatement of the scandal-hit president as justices appeared at the court in central Seoul to prepare for the ruling slated for Friday 11 a.m.
(LEAD) Top court upholds fine on former head of Shinhan Financial
SEOUL -- The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a ruling that fined Shin Sang-hoon, former president of Shinhan Financial Group, 20 million won (US$17,300) for embezzlement.
The 69-year-old Shin was indicted in 2010 on charges of embezzling 1.56 billion won in consultancy fees between 2005 and 2009, inflicting a loss of 43.8 billion won on the company through the provision of illegal loans between 2006 and 2007 and pocketing 860 million won in bribes from three Korean-Japanese shareholders from 2008 to 2010.
(LEAD) Gov't to enact law to ensure rights of artists
SEOUL -- The culture ministry said Thursday it will enact a bill aimed at protecting artists from political oppression and censorship as part of measures to prevent any future blacklisting of artists critical of the government.
Any act that violates artistic freedom and discriminates against artists for political reasons will be strictly punished under the law that will be proposed in the first half of this year, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said.
S. Korea's trade minister meets with U.S. counterpart
SEJONG -- South Korea's trade minister met with his U.S. counterpart to increase understanding on economic cooperation between the two countries, his office here said Thursday.
In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington, Joo Hyung-hwan said the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement has contributed to expanding bilateral trade and investment and creating jobs in both countries since its implementation in 2012, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
(LEAD) Samsung remains world's No.1 smartphone seller in 2016: data
SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. was the biggest seller of smartphones in 2016, followed by Apple Inc. and China's Huawei, industry data showed Thursday.
Samsung sold 308.5 million units of Galaxy series smartphones last year, according to the statistics by industry tracker Strategy Analytics.
(News Focus) Park's fate to be sealed at impeachment ruling
SEOUL -- President Park Geun-hye faces her moment of destiny with the Constitutional Court set to deliver its historic ruling on her impeachment Friday.
At 11:00 a.m., the court will determine whether to unseat or reinstate Park who was impeached by parliament in December over a massive corruption scandal centered on her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.