The following is the second summary of major stories moved by Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.
■ Yoon says ‘irrational’ N.K. likely to carry out provocations ahead of April elections
SEOUL — President Yoon Suk Yeol said Wednesday that the North Korean regime is an “irrational group” that has legalized the preemptive use of nuclear weapons and will likely carry out multiple provocations to interfere with South Korea’s April parliamentary elections.
Yoon’s remark came as North Korea has ratcheted up tensions on the Korean Peninsula with a series of weapons tests since the start of the year, including back-to-back cruise missile launches last Wednesday, Sunday and Tuesday.
■ Lawmaker given 2-yr prison term in cash-for-votes scandal involving DP
SEOUL — A Seoul court sentenced independent lawmaker Youn Kwan-suk to two years in prison on Wednesday, finding him guilty of involvement in a cash-for-votes scandal surrounding the main opposition party’s 2021 leadership election.
The scandal centers on allegations that the campaign of former Democratic Party (DP) leader Song Young-gil distributed cash envelopes totaling 66 million won (US$49,412) to 20 sitting DP lawmakers and other party members in the run-up to the party’s leadership election in May 2021, which he ultimately won.
■ (LEAD) Korean Air says Japan’s antitrust regulator approves merger with Asiana Airlines
SEOUL — Korean Air Co. said Wednesday Japan’s antitrust regulator has approved a 1.8 trillion-won (US$1.34 billion) merger deal with its smaller rival Asiana Airlines Inc., moving the merger process between South Korea’s two full-fledged air carriers one step further.
According to Korean Air, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) approved the company’s business combination with Asiana Airlines earlier in the day, marking a significant milestone in the two airlines’ merger process.
■ Prosecutors demand 15-yr prison term for ex-fiance of Olympic fencing medalist
SEOUL — Prosecutors on Wednesday sought a 15-year prison sentence for a former fiance of Olympic fencing medalist Nam Hyun-hee on fraud and forgery charges.
The 28-year-old former fiance, Jeon Cheong-jo, was charged with swindling a total of about 3 billion won (US$2.25 million) from 27 people under the pretext of investment between 2022 and 2023.
■ Court orders state compensation of 4.5 bln won to 16 Brothers Welfare Center victims
SEOUL — A Seoul court on Friday ordered the state to compensate victims of human rights abuses at a now-defunct detention facility for vagrants in the southeastern city of Busan, in the second such ruling recognizing state responsibility in the incident.
The Seoul Central District Court ordered the state to pay 16 former detainees of the Brothers Welfare Center some 4.5 billion won (US$3.3 million) in total.