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Yonhap News Summary

13:08 July 20, 2021

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

Virus-hit Cheonghae unit to arrive home on aerial tankers

SEOUL -- All members of South Korea's virus-hit Cheonghae naval unit were to return home from Africa on Tuesday after cutting short their anti-piracy mission following an unprecedented mass outbreak that infected 247, or 82 percent, of the 301-member unit.

Two KC-330 Cygnus multirole aircraft departed from an airport in Africa the previous day, carrying the members of the 34th contingent of the unit, after virus tests confirmed the cluster COVID-19 infection on their 4,400-ton Munmu the Great destroyer.

Defense chief apologizes over mass COVID-19 outbreak among Cheonghae unit members

SEOUL -- Defense Minister Suh Wook apologized Tuesday for the military's failure to prevent cluster COVID-19 infections among sailors of the Cheonghae naval unit on an anti-piracy mission in waters off Africa.

The apology came a day after virus tests showed that 247, or 82 percent, of the 301-member unit were infected, the worst-ever infection cluster among service members blamed on poor initial responses, such as giving only cold medicine to a sailor who first developed symptoms.

New daily cases over 1,200 for 2nd day, spreading delta variant worrisome

SEOUL -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases stayed in the 1,200s for the second consecutive day Tuesday due to fewer tests amid scorching hot weather, as authorities are tightening their guard against the fast spread of the highly contagious delta variant across the nation.

The country added 1,278 COVID-19 cases, including 1,242 local infections, raising the total caseload to 180,481, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Vice FM Choi says Soma's remarks affected Moon's decision not to visit Japan

SEOUL -- First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun said Tuesday that the recent remarks by a senior Japanese diplomat disparaging President Moon Jae-in's efforts to improve ties with Tokyo acted as a "significant obstacle" to Moon's potential trip to Tokyo.

Choi made the remark before departing for Tokyo to attend bilateral and trilateral talks with his Japanese and U.S. counterparts, renewing the call for Tokyo to take appropriate action about the remarks by Hirohisa Soma, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

S. Korea to lift tariffs on imports from Indonesia, Israel under trade deals

SEOUL -- South Korea will gradually lift or lower tariffs on more than 95 percent of its imported products from Indonesia and Israel as it has clinched trade deals with the two nations, the finance ministry said Tuesday.

The Cabinet approved a revised enforcement ordinance in preparation for implementing trade deals with Indonesia and Israel.

(LEAD) BTS replaces Billboard No. 1 with new song 'Permission to Dance'

SEOUL -- South Korean superband BTS has added another feat to its copious list of accomplishments: replacing one of the group's own songs at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and scoring back-to-back debuts atop the list.

The septet's third English number, "Permission to Dance," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard's main singles chart, becoming the group's fifth song to top the chart.

Gov't goes all out to ensure stable power supply amid heat wave

SEOUL -- South Korea is making concerted efforts to ensure a stable supply of electricity as the country's power reserves are feared to plumb their lowest level this week amid a heat wave, officials said Tuesday.

The country remains gripped by the scorching heat wave in the wake of the annual rainy season, stoking concerns that a surge in electricity consumption could result in a power shortage.

U.S. possesses capabilities to counter cyber attacks: Pentagon

WASHINGTON -- The United States maintains and continues to advance its capabilities to counter any cyber attacks from countries such as China and North Korea, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

John Kirby made the remarks as the U.S., along with a long list of its allies including the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, called out China as a state sponsor of malicious cyber activities. accusing China's Ministry of State Security of hiring contract criminal hackers to carry out both "state-sponsored activities and cyber crime for their own financial gain."

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