Welcome to Arirang News.
This is Key Kim.
We start with the top headlines at this hour.
South Korea reported 357 new cases on Tuesday, remaining in the 300 range for the second straight day.
Of the new cases, 330 were locally transmitted.
Twenty-seven were from overseas.
There were 11 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,573.
South Korea's total caseload has now surpassed the 87,000 mark.
As cluster infections continue, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has warned businesses that do not abide by the distancing guidelines that they will not be eligible to receive a 4th round of disaster relief funds.
Meanwhile, South Korea is just days away from the start of its vaccination rollout.
On February 26th, the AstraZeneca jabs will be given to residents and workers of nursing homes and rehabilitation centers around the country.
As of now, only those under 65 years old will receive the AstraZeneca shots.
Nearly 290,000 people have signed up for the shots... that's more than 93-percent of the eligible group... removing concerns over people's reluctance to get the COVID-19 vaccines, at least for now.
The day after that... on Saturday... Pfizer's jabs will start to be given to frontline medical workers.
Around 55,000 are due to be inoculated using the supply received from the COVAX facility.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff gave a detailed timeline of how the North Korean man crossed the inter-Korean border last week... before being found near a checkpoint along the eastern part of the DMZ.
They provided pictures at the time of the man's capture... showing his condition and what he was wearing.
The initial findings had led to a lot of questions over the past week, and today we were expecting a more convincing answer as to how the man swam along Korea's east coast to reach the South... and why the military were unable to prevent the trespass.
On this, the Joints Chiefs said today the military presumed the clothing he was wearing helped him stay afloat and swim along the coast... and said the man stayed in the sea, which was about six to eight degrees Celsius at the time... for around six hours.
Apart from the fins and diving suit used by the man, it revealed that he is presumed to have been wearing a thick padded coat inside the diving suit that covered his whole body except for his face.
According to the Joint Chiefs... there a U.S. Navy manual that suggest people can survive such a feat... although there are still questions about how this was possible.
Regarding the drainage tunnel near the heavily fortified fences along the shore... in which the man is presumed to have passed through... the Joint Chiefs said the military unit in charge of the area was not aware of its presence until now.
In its intermediary findings, in fact it found three such tunnels that had not been accounted for in the past due to erosion... out of the 48 tunnels in total that the unit is responsible for.
The military also found fault in the unit for failing to take appropriate action... even though its sophisticated cameras and surveillance warning system had been properly activated.
The surveillance team in the situation room had not followed up on an alarm or pop-up system that is activated after movement by humans is detected.
Punishment for those responsible was not determined today, but the military is coming up with follow-up measures and stern actions after gathering comprehensive results from its continued investigation of the incident.
Regarding Iran's claims they reached an agreement with Seoul over frozen assets, South Korea's foreign affairs ministry said it needs to consult with the U.S. and other related countries to clear technical issues when sending the money.
It added that Tehran agreed on proposals by Seoul during a meeting between the South Korean ambassador to Iran, (유정현)Ryu Jeong-hyun and Iran's central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati(압돌나세르 헴마티) on Monday.
Iran's central bank said on Monday that it had reached an agreement with South Korea to unfreeze Iranian assets in South Korean banks after weeks of "intense negotiations".
It said specific destinations and the amounts were determined.
According to the report, Ryu said the South Korean government was ready to take "any measures" to free all the frozen assets without cap or limitations.
While welcoming the agreement, Tehran reportedly said it would seek damages from South Korean banks over "non-cooperation" in recent years.
South Korea's central bank plans to continue with the easing of monetary policy to boost the domestic economy hit hard by the pandemic.
The Governor of the Bank of Korea said on Tuesday that the economy is showing signs of modest recovery, mainly due to an increase in exports and investment... but uncertainties still remain from the unpredictable spread of COVID-19.
He added that the job market is projected to recover at a slow pace, as the service sector is struggling amid the pandemic.
Consumption also remains sluggish due to social distancing measures.
0035 Lastly to local bourse,
South Korean stocks closed a bit lower than the day before.
Korea’s benchmark KOSPI fell 9– point – 6 - 6 points
to close at 3 thousand- 0 hundred and- 70 – point – 0 – 9.
KOSDAQ also fell 17 – point – 6 - 9 points,
closing at 9 – hundred – 36 - point 6 - 0 .
Moving to weather forecast,
Cold air moved in last night and we had sub zero temperatures with cold wave advisories issued across much of the country. Dress warmly on your way out.
Temperatures won't rise much even in the afternoon. Highs will be 7 to 14 degrees lower than yesterday, especially those on Jeju will notice a huge drop in readings from yesterday to mere single digit highs.
For other regions, Gwangju will get up to 8 degrees, Busan at 12, mostly sunny skies nationwide along with clean air.
Rain is not in the forecast for the regions in the east until next week and the cold snap will ease tomorrow afternoon.
The current temperatures are:
_______ degrees in Seoul
_______ degrees in Pyeongchang
_______ degrees in Daegu
_______ degrees in Busan
And _______ degrees on Jejudo Island
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