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Yonhap News Summary

2017/07/13 13:35

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

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(3rd LD) Earthquake off N. Korea not caused by nuclear test: U.S. Geological Survey

WASHINGTON -- A magnitude-5.8 earthquake that occurred off North Korea's east coast Thursday (local time) was not caused by a nuclear test, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The tremor occurred at 4:18 a.m. North Korean time at a depth of 537.6 km below the East Sea, 176 kilometers east-southeast of Hoemul-li, North Korea, the agency said on its website.

The quake does not appear to have been caused by a nuclear test, a USGS official said.

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(4th LD) USTR formally demands negotiation to revise free trade agreement with S. Korea

WASHINGTON/SEJONG -- The United States formally notified South Korea that it wants to start the process of revising the free trade agreement between the two countries, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday.

USTR Robert Lighthizer made the notification in a letter to South Korean Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan, calling for the convening of "a special Joint Committee meeting under the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) to start the process of negotiating to remove barriers to U.S. trade and consider needed amendments to the agreement," the office said in a statement.

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(LEAD) LG Electronics to showcase new flagship smartphone next month

SEOUL -- LG Electronics Inc. said Thursday it plans to reveal a new flagship smartphone in Berlin next month ahead of an international tech convention.

The South Korean tech giant said it will showcase the presumed V30 smartphone on Aug. 31, ahead of the opening of the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) 2017. It marks the first time for LG to showcase a flagship device at the IFA.

Industry watchers said the move can be considered one of the company's efforts to tap deeper into the European market. The V10 and V20 smartphones were introduced in South Korea and the United States, respectively.

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Samsung surely to beat Apple in quarterly earnings: analysts

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics Co. is set to beat U.S. Apple Inc. in terms of operating profits for the second quarter, market watchers said Thursday, although the archrival is still expected to stand as the No. 1 player on the earnings chart for all of 2017.

The outlook came as Samsung is presumed to have posted record-high earnings for the April-June period at 14 trillion won (US$12 billion), compared with 8.14 trillion won a year earlier, the company said last week in its regulatory filing.

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(Yonhap Feature) S. Korea aims to expand arms exports

SEOUL -- This year may prove to be a key turning point for South Korea's defense industry, as the country hopes to add arms to the list of its major export items.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), a local defense giant, is bidding for the U.S. Air Force's program, called T-X, to replace its aging fleet of 350 T-38 trainer jets, a deal reportedly worth US$16 billion.

KAI is seeking to supply an upgraded version of the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin. The two firms formed a consortium for the offer of T-50A amid a fierce battle with the Boeing-Saab team.

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(LEAD) BOK holds key rate steady at 1.25 pct in July

SEOUL -- South Korea's central bank on Thursday held its key rate steady for July to support the country's growth.

In a widely expected move, the monetary policy board of the Bank of Korea (BOK) voted to keep the key rate at 1.25 percent, extending its wait-and-see approach for the 13th consecutive month.

In June last year, South Korea's central bank made a surprise rate cut, citing a need to stimulate the lackluster economy amid a prolonged economic slowdown.

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S. Korea's auto exports makes turnaround in H1

SEJONG -- South Korea's auto exports made a turnaround for the first time in three years in the January-June period on an upturn in global demand, government data showed Thursday.

The total value of vehicles shipped overseas reached US$21.5 billion in the first half, up 4.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

It is the first time since the first quarter of 2014 that the country's half-yearly car exports ended in positive territory.

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Ex-JCS chief acquitted of bribery in chopper lobbying scandal

SEOUL -- A Seoul appellate court on Thursday cleared a former Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) chairman of bribery charges in a military chopper lobbying scandal.

The Seoul High Court overturned a lower court's ruling, which found retired Adm. Choi Yoon-hee guilty of receiving 20 million won in bribes (US$17,560) from an arms broker in 2014.

He was indicted in 2015 for exerting influence on the military to adopt an untested Anglo-Italian AW159 Wildcat as the country's new multi-mission maritime helicopter, which was officially picked in 2013. He served as the JCS chief from 2013-2015.

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Moon urges opposition to endorse extra budget to create jobs

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in urged the opposition parties to quickly approve the government-proposed bill on an extra budget Thursday, saying the government was running out of time to take meaningful measures to address the record-high youth unemployment rate.

"As a new government elected by the people, the government wishes to work hard to meet the expectations of the people, but it is so frustrating that new (government) organizations and a budget to work with are being blocked," the president said in a weekly meeting with his top aides, according Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

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(LEAD) Kia launches Stonic SUV to revive sales

SEOUL -- Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's No. 2 carmaker, has added a new subcompact sport-utility vehicle (SUV) to its lineup as it strives to boost sales, the company said Thursday.

The Stonic subcompact SUV went on sale in the domestic market and comes as the automaker strives to absorb growing consumer demand for crossovers amid a global economic recovery and low oil prices.

"The B-segment SUV market has grown more than five times in the past five years (since 2013) to 110,000 units in South Korea. The Stonic is geared to attract customers in their 20s and 30s, who tend to prioritize price and fuel efficiency," Kia Motors President Park Han-woo said in a press conference.

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S. Korea prods Japan to acknowledge forced labor on Hashima Island, other UNESCO-listed sites

SEOUL -- South Korea has prodded Japan to acknowledge the country's forced mobilization of Koreans at several UNESCO-listed world heritage sites in Japan, including Hashima Island, in the latest session of the United Nations body for culture and education, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

In the 41st session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee held in Krakow, Poland from July 2-12, South Korea's Amb. to UNESCO Lee Byong-hyun issued a call on Japan to implement its pledge that the country made before UNESCO bestowed world heritage site status to some Japanese industrial sites two years ago.

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