The following is the first summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.
Yoon to meet NATO chief, U.S. defense secretary next week
SEOUL -- President Yoon Suk Yeol plans to hold meetings next week with Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a presidential official said Thursday.
The NATO chief and the U.S. defense secretary are set to visit Seoul next week, and the presidential office is making arrangements for meetings with Yoon, the official told Yonhap News Agency.
(2nd LD) S. Korea's economic growth slows to 2.6 pct in 2022 on weak exports, investment
SEOUL -- South Korea's economy grew at a slower pace in 2022 on weak exports and corporate investment amid mounting economic recession woes, central bank data showed Thursday.
South Korea's gross domestic product is estimated to have grown 2.6 percent in 2022, compared with a 4.1 percent increase tallied in the previous year, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK). It still beat the BOK's annual growth outlook.
(LEAD) Heavy snow advisory issued for Seoul, surrounding areas
SEOUL -- A heavy snow advisory was issued Thursday in the greater Seoul area and some central parts of the country, the state weather agency said.
The advisory went into effect in Seoul, Incheon, parts of Gyeonggi Province surrounding Seoul and the coastal region of South Chungcheong Province, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).
S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases rebound to over 30,000 after holiday
SEOUL -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases rebounded to over 30,000 on Thursday after staying below 20,000 the previous four days due to fewer tests during the Lunar New Year holiday that ended Tuesday.
The country reported 35,096 new cases, including 34 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 30,075,652, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
(LEAD) Opposition leader calls for 7.5 tln-won handouts to help with soaring energy bills
SEOUL -- Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung on Thursday proposed offering 7.5 trillion won (US$6.09 billion) in handouts to help people cope with spikes in heating and energy bills.
The proposal came amid a steep hike in households' heating bills due to a rise in gas prices. According to Statistics Korea, local monthly gas rates increased by 34 percent last month from a year ago.
N. Korea urges antivirus efforts amid apparent preparations for military parade
SEOUL -- North Korea is making all-out antivirus efforts, its official media said Thursday, amid a news report that it has imposed a lockdown on the capital city of Pyongyang apparently ahead of a military parade to mark the army founding anniversary next month.
The Rodong Sinmun, the regime's main newspaper, stressed the need to place the top policy priority on strengthening quarantine efforts, calling on its people to continue fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic with the "greatest sense of vigilance."
'Avatar 2' becomes highest-grossing foreign movie in S. Korea
SEOUL -- "Avatar: The Way of Water" has beat its original film's box office sales record to become the highest-grossing foreign movie released in South Korea, data showed Thursday.
The sequel to James Cameron's 2009 sci-fi flick "Avatar" has raked in 128.5 billion won (US$104.3 million) since its release on Dec. 14, according to the data from the Korean Film Council.
(Yonhap Feature) Audiobooks attract listeners with wide variety of content
SEOUL -- Kim Se-hee has made New Year's resolutions to reduce social media use and read more books, but it was not easy for her to find dedicated time for reading after work.
The 38-year-old office worker searched for an affordable, feasible way to stick with her goal and began subscribing to Welaaa, an audiobook platform, to listen to audiobooks with her smartphones.