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Yonhap News Summary

2018/02/06 13:30

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The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.


(Olympics) N. Korean participation in PyeongChang 2018 to lay foundation for improving inter-Korean relations: top organizer

PYEONGCHANG -- North Korea's participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will "lay the foundation for improving inter-Korean relations," the competition's top organizer said Tuesday.

Lee Hee-beom, head of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Games (POCOG), said North Korea's presence will help PyeongChang realize its vision of a "Peace Olympics."

   "From Day 1, the POCOG envisioned a Peace Olympics with both South Korea and North Korea participating," Lee said at a press conference. "And I believe North Korea's participation will lay the foundation for improving the inter-Korean relations."



Small firms get 12.5 tln won in financial support

SEOUL -- The government has provided 12.5 trillion won (US$11.3 billion) in loans and other financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as part of its efforts to ease financial burdens for SMEs ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, financial authorities said Tuesday.

Under the plan, the government has offered 9.4 trillion won in loans for cash-strapped SMEs, and 3 trillion won was set aside to expand loan guarantees for operational funds given to small companies, according to the Financial Services Commission.

The loans have been available through state-run lenders including Korea Development Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea and Korea Finance Corp.


Seoul shares extend losses in late morning trading

SEOUL -- South Korean stocks extended losses late Tuesday morning as foreigners joined individuals to offload stocks amid the lack of upside momentum.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index had plunged 82.37 points, or 3.31 percent, to 2,409.38 as of 11:15 a.m.

Foreigners sold a net 52.25 billion won (US$48 million) worth of stocks, while individuals sold 10.82 billion won of stocks. Institutions bought a net 54.09 billion won shares.

Most large-cap stocks declined across the board.


(LEAD) N.K. art troupe set to arrive in S. Korea for Olympic celebrations

(ATTN: ADDS more details throughout)

SEOUL -- A North Korean art troupe is set to arrive in South Korea by ferry Tuesday on a rare trip for performances to celebrate the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The 140-member Samjiyon art troupe aboard the North Korean ship Mangyongbong-92 is scheduled to arrive at the South's Mukho port on the east coast around 5:00 p.m., according to Seoul's unification ministry.

North Korean vessels are not allowed to visit South Korea under Seoul's unilateral sanctions banning inter-Korean exchanges, which were imposed on May 24, 2010 to punish the North's sinking of a South Korean warship.

But the government has decided to make the art troupe's sea travel for the Winter Games an exception to the sanctions.


Samsung executive pledges to make efforts for 'speed management'

   SEOUL -- A top executive at Samsung Electronics Co. vowed Tuesday to engage in "speed management," which could be seen as a move by the tech giant to make aggressive business decisions.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Yoon Boo-keun made the comments in a brief meeting with reporters after attending a forum in central Seoul.

Yoon did not elaborate on what he meant by speed management.

His comments came a day after the company's Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was released from prison after being locked up for nearly a year over a bribery scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.


Fed tipped to raise rates four times this year

SEOUL -- A growing number of market experts are predicting the U.S. Federal Reserve will jack up interest rates four times this year on solid economic growth and rising inflationary pressure, sources said Tuesday.

According to the New York office of the Bank of Korea (BOK), a recent survey of 16 major investment banks shows six have projected U.S. central bank hike rates four times this year, up two from a month earlier.

Nine global investment banks, one more than the previous month, have forecast the Fed to raise the federal funds rate three times in 2018, with those expecting two hikes dropping to one from four.


Drama telling uncomfortable truth about child abuse enters weekly TV chart

SEOUL -- "Mother," a new series on cable channel tvN about a woman determined to become a mother to an abused child, entered the weekly TV ratings chart at No. 2, data showed Tuesday.

The 16-episode remake of a Japanese drama of the same title, garnered a score of 235.4. on the Content Power Index (CPI) for Jan. 22-28.

Premiering on Jan. 24, the drama centers on the relationship between cool-headed elementary school teacher Soo-jin, played by Lee Bo-young, who is determined never to become a mother due to her complex relations with her own mother, and her student Hye-na.


N. Korea on track to complete new hovercraft base: U.S. expert

WASHINGTON -- North Korea appears to be on track to complete a new hovercraft base, with some of the key facilities being constructed next year, a U.S. expert said Monday.

Joseph Bermudez, a North Korea defense analyst, said satellite imagery shows the communist regime continues to add facilities to two new hovercraft bases in Sasulpo and Yonbong-ni.

The North Korean navy's specialized hovercraft units could pose a greater threat to the region as they are modernized, he said in a piece to Beyond Parallel, a project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"If North Korea does redeploy the existing hovercraft units at Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri to the Yonbong-ni hovercraft base it would represent the furthest forward deployment of any KPN (Korean People's Navy) hovercraft unit to date," Bermudez wrote.


U.S. senators ask Trump to explain Cha's withdrawal

WASHINGTON -- A group of U.S. senators asked President Donald Trump Monday to explain his withdrawal of Victor Cha from consideration for ambassador to South Korea, saying it is "shocking" that the post remains vacant.

In a letter addressed to the president, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and 17 other Democrats and independents also voiced concern about the Trump administration's reported considerations of a limited military strike on North Korea.

"We write to express our serious concerns regarding the continued absence of a U.S. Ambassador to South Korea and the reported removal from consideration of a highly qualified candidate, Dr. Victor Cha, for that position," said the letter, which Heinrich posted on his Twitter account. "We ask that you provide clear reasoning and justification for his removal from consideration."



Emart24 convenience store chain outpaces rivals in new openings

SEOUL -- Emart24, Shinsegae Group's rebranded convenience store chain, is expanding at a faster pace than its main rivals although it's still behind in the total number of stores, industry data showed Tuesday.

Emart24 added 95 more stores in January, compared with 71 for CU, 84 for GS25 and 25 for 7-Eleven. The figures reflect the number of newly opened shops minus those that closed. Shinsegae's chain added 86 in December, also higher than the 44 for CU, 25 for GS25 and 14 for 7-Eleven, according to the data.

Industry officials say that competitors to Emart 24 have slowed down in new openings during what has been an offseason. Some say that the increased minimum wage, which raises business costs, also affected their expansions.