Yonhap News Summary
The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
(LEAD) Court in final preparations to rule on Park impeachment
SEOUL -- The Constitutional Court was shrouded in secrecy Thursday as the justices made final preparations to deliver their ruling on whether to oust or reinstate President Park Geun-hye exactly one day later.
Park was impeached by parliament in December for allegedly letting her close friend Choi Soon-sil meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort millions of dollars from local conglomerates, including Samsung Group.
Seoul rejects Beijing's proposal to halt joint drills with U.S.
SEOUL -- South Korea's military said Thursday the joint annual exercises with the United States will continue as planned one day after China requested a halt.
On Wednesday, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed that North Korea suspend its nuclear and missile activities in return for a halt in the war drills by Seoul and Washington.
Religious leaders call for unity ahead of impeachment ruling
SEOUL -- South Korea's major religious groups on Thursday urged the nation to respect the Constitutional Court's verdict, due on Friday, on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and stand united regardless of the outcome.
On Friday, the Constitutional Court will deliver its ruling on Park, who was impeached by parliament in December for allegedly letting her confidante meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort millions of dollars from conglomerates. If the court upholds the impeachment, Park will be removed from office.
(2nd LD) U.S. envoy: N. Korea leader 'not rational person' to talk to
NEW YORK -- The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday rejected calls for opening negotiations with North Korea to defuse escalating tensions, saying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is "not a rational person."
Amb. Nikki Haley also turned down China's suggestion that the U.S. halt annual joint military exercises with South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang's suspension of its nuclear and missile activities. She also said the U.S. is reviewing all options on the table.
Kim Han-sol may be next target of assassination: ex-N.K. diplomat
SEOUL -- The son of Kim Jong-nam, the recently assassinated half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, may be the next target, Japanese news reports quoted a former high-level North Korean diplomat as saying Thursday.
"Behind it all, there's Kim Jong-un's desire to solidify his legitimacy as the leader," Japanese new outlets quoted Thae Yong-ho, previously minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, as having said in a meeting with Japanese correspondents in Seoul a day earlier.
(LEAD) Statue remembering Korea's comfort women erected in Germany
WIESENT, Germany -- A statue of a Korean girl symbolizing victims who were sexually enslaved by Japanese troops during World War II was erected in Germany's southeastern municipality of Wiesent on Wednesday.
The unveiling ceremony of the "comfort women" statue was held at the Nepal Himalaya Pavillon, a park in Wiesent, which is part of the district of Resenburg. It was attended by some 100 local German officials and representatives from the Suwon City government and civic groups from South Korea.
(LEAD) (News Focus) Despite tough talk, Trump coming down to usual options on N. Korea
WASHINGTON -- When U.S. President Donald Trump swept into the White House, he not only brought with him worldwide concerns about his unconventional approaches to global issues, but also guarded optimism that such an unorthodox leader may be better for solving nagging problems like North Korea.
Such optimism as well as concern that Trump might really choose extreme options like preemptive strikes have grown during the seven weeks since his inauguration as he talked tough and seriously about the threats Pyongyang poses, including a pledge to deal with it "very strongly."
S. Korea widens its trade embargo lists over possible NK weapons development
SEOUL -- South Korea added some materials that can be used to develop conventional weapons to its trade embargo list in a move to join the international sanctions against North Korea, the trade ministry said Thursday.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it has revised state guidelines on trade for international peace and safety to place more restrictions on "dual-use" materials, which can be used for both military and civilian applications.
(LEAD) U.S. decides anti-dumping duty on S. Korean power transformer
SEOUL -- The U.S. government has decided to slap a higher than preliminarily set anti-dumping rate on large power transformers exported by a South Korean firm, the latest in a series of trade restrictions imposed on locally made goods under the Trump administration.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., a major shipyard here, said Thursday that the U.S. Department of Commerce made a filing to impose a 61 percent anti-dumping duty on large power transformers produced by the shipbuilder.
Rapping or raping? Mnet audition show makes glaring gaffe
SEOUL -- It seems as though "High School Rapper," Mnet's audition show that pits the country's top teenage rappers against each other, just can't catch a break from controversy. First, it was a contestant's solicitation allegations, followed by accusations of bullying by another.
The latest? An innocent yet cringe-inducing production gaffe was aired last week that should embarrass Mnet and its parent company CJ E&M, South Korean entertainment behemoth and self-professed evangelist of K-pop overseas.