tbs eFM 101.3 News http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsMain.do Govt Cuts Growth Forecast As Moon Vows To Advance Spending, Boost Investment http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333142&typ_800=J [Anchor] The government has cut its economic growth outlook for this year and next amid a slowing global economy and U.S.-China trade disputes. At his first extended economic ministers' meeting today, President Moon Jae-in vowed to focus all government efforts on boosting the local economy. Hanna Choi has our top story. [Reporter] The finance ministry said it expects the economy to grow between 2.6 and 2.7 percent next year, the same pace as this year. The forecasts are lower than its July estimate and much slower than the 3.1 percent growth the country posted last year. To counter the economic slowdown, President Moon has called on the government to take an active role in removing barriers for corporate investments in both the private and public sectors. He also called for increased local consumption to improve business conditions for small business owners and self-employed workers. Moon said the government may take steps to ease any negative effects of a sharp, nearly 30 percent hike in minimum wages over two years, hinting at a slowing pace of further increases. The expanded meeting of economy-related ministers was the first of its kind since President Moon took office last year. Economic boosting measures include frontloading a whopping 61 percent of next year's budget in the first half of the year. To boost the sluggish job market, the government also aims to focus on four major sectors known to create a large number of jobs - tourism, welfare, content and logistics. It also plans to invest some 8.6 trillion won in infrastructure projects focused on libraries and sports facilities. Hanna Choi, eFM News.■ Hanna Choi 201812171742+0900 Seoul Stocks End Higher Ahead Of Fed Meeting http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333150&typ_800=J South Korean stocks inched up today on bargain hunting, with investors looking ahead to the upcoming Federal Reserve meeting. The benchmark KOSPI rose 0.1 percent to close at 2,071. Other Asian markets also finished higher. Tokyo ended up 0.6 percent, Shanghai gained 0.2 percent while Hong Kong rose 0.1 percent. The local currency closed at 1,131 won against the U.S. dollar, down single won from the previous session's close.■ Hyeryeon Chung 201812171740+0900 S. Korea Gears Up To Break Ground On Restoring Cross-Border Railways, Roads http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333115&typ_800=U Seoul's unification ministry is sending an advance team to North Korea this week to prepare for a groundbreaking ceremony on restoring cross-border railways and roads. Earlier, the two Koreas agreed to hold the event on December 26th at the North's Panmun Station. Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a briefing today that South Korea will closely coordinate with the United States to make sure it does not violate any sanctions on Pyongyang. Meanwhile, a separate team of South Korean inspectors has wrapped up their 18-day-long survey on train tracks along the North's east coast. The inter-Korean inspection on the North's railway system was made possible after the United Nations Security Council granted a sanctions exemption.■ Jeongeun Lee 201812171738+0900 S. Korea's Food Staple Prices Jump To Record Levels http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333149&typ_800=J Government data show prices of staple foods in South Korea have jumped to record levels. According to the food ministry, prices of rice hit a record high of around 194,000 won per 80 kilograms in October, up 28 percent on-year. The ministry said prices of vegetables and dairy products also shot up this year due to the intense heat in summer.■ Hanna Choi 201812171737+0900 Nation To Be Smothered In Ultra Fine Dust Until Tuesday http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333144&typ_800=P Unhealthy levels of fine dust and ultrafine dust are forecast to continue affecting air quality tomorrow in most parts of the country. Most of the regions nationwide saw "bad" levels of fine dust today, due to domestic pollution and smog coming from China. Ultrafine dust advisories remain in effect in most parts of Gyeonggi Province, as well as in Incheon. Expect similar conditions tomorrow, with air quality remaining especially bad in the Seoul metropolitan region, as well as in Youngseo, Chungcheong and Youngnam. Residents in the region are being advised to take necessary precautions when outdoors.■ Julie Sohn 201812171735+0900 Seoul Plaza Ice Skating Rink To Open On Friday http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333143&typ_800=O The annual outdoor ice rink at Seoul Plaza is set to open this Friday. It will welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays. A curling experience zone and a photo exhibit on inter-Korean sports exchanges will be set up on the side. Those who are interested can reserve their tickets on seoulskate.or.kr.■ Hyeryeon Chung 201812171707+0900 Ultrafine Dust Advisories Expanded To 26 Cities, Counties In Gyeonggi Province http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333131&typ_800=P Ultrafine dust advisories have been expanded to other parts of Gyeonggi Province, with the exception for some southern parts of the region. The Gyeonggi Provincial Government issued the advisories for 15 additional cities and counties in the northern and eastern part of the province as of 11 a.m., including Gimpo, Goyang, Uijeongbu, Paju, Namyangju, Gwangju, Seongnam and Yangpyeong. The dust concentration level in these regions is measured between 80 and 93 micrograms per cubic meter. With the latest advisories issued, a total of 26 cities and counties in the province are under the alert. Residents in the region are being advised to take necessary precautions when outdoors.■ Julie Sohn 201812171554+0900 S. Korea's Economy Expected To Grow 2.6%-2.7% In 2019 http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333129&typ_800=J The government expects the local economy to grow between 2.6 and 2.7 percent next year, the same pace as this year. The finance ministry's forecasts unveiled today are lower than its July estimate for 2.9 percent in 2018 and 2.8 percent in 2019. To counter sluggish growth, Seoul unveiled a set of measures to stimulate the economy in an economic ministers' meeting presided over by President Moon Jae-in in Seoul. Under the plan, the government said it will speed up administrative procedures to ensure a quick implementation of major corporate investments.■ Hyeryeon Chung 201812171550+0900 S. Korea Confirms Demolition Of North's DMZ Guard Posts http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333128&typ_800=U South Korea's military has confirmed the demolition of some North Korean guard posts after onsite verification conducted last week. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said today the southern side has verified 10 North Korean guard posts in the Demilitarized Zone were completely disabled and another GP was disarmed. The JCS said the North has pulled out all troops and military equipment from the guard posts, and cannot carry out any monitoring missions. South and North Korea conducted on-site inspections of each side's guard post withdrawals last Wednesday. The North also verified the withdrawals in the southern side, but demanded the South promptly remove wreckage left from the work. The two Koreas had agreed to demolish the guard posts as part of a September military accord to ease tensions on the peninsula.■ Hanna Choi 201812171539+0900 Parties Agree To Open Parliamentary Plenary Session On Dec. 27 http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333119&typ_800=N Rival parties have agreed to open next week a plenary meeting of parliament's extraordinary session to handle key pending bills related to the people's livelihood. Floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party, Liberty Korea Party and the Bareunmirae Party reached the agreement this morning on the schedule of the plenary session to be held on December 27th. The parties will continue their negotiations this afternoon with a number of other details that need to be ironed out, including a parliamentary investigation into hiring irregularities at state-run institutions and the three kindergarten-related legislations.■ Julie Sohn 201812171455+0900 Moon Stresses Importance Of Pursuing Economic Policies Based On General Public Consensus http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333118&typ_800=N President Moon Jae-in has stressed the importance of implementing new economic policies based on a general public consensus. He made the remark during an extended meeting of economy-related ministers this morning, which was held for the first time since his inauguration. Moon added that if necessary, they need to devise ways to make adjustments, indicating that his government may slow down the pace of legal minimum wage hikes and maximum work hour policy, given the strong backlash from businesses. He then called for patience and faith until the overall economic policies bear fruit.■ Julie Sohn 201812171453+0900 Creation Of New Jobs Stalled At 310,000 In 2017 http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333113&typ_800=J Recent government data show companies added 310,000 new jobs in 2017 from the previous year. That means employment growth nearly stalled last year, when a similar number of new jobs were created. According to Statistics Korea, companies with payrolls that stand between 50 and 300 saw the strongest gains with 180,000 jobs last year. By sector, construction, and health and social welfare services added 100,000 jobs in 2017, respectively. In contrast, manufacturing shed 70,000 jobs in a sign of trouble in the backbone sector of Asia's fourth-largest economy.■ Hyeryeon Chung 201812171449+0900 S. Korea Seeks To Build K-Pop Arena In Seoul http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333109&typ_800=I The government says it will push to build a K-pop arena in Seoul to attract more foreign tourists and create jobs in the cultural sector. The finance ministry said today that the project would be worth about 500 billion won and possibly built in Changdong, northeastern Seoul. The ministry added that South Korea plans to hold K-pop festivals at the arena twice a year to spread the genre and improve the country's image. K-pop has gained traction not just in Asia but recently in the U.S., Latin America and Europe as well, becoming a boon to South Korea's tourism industry.■ Hanna Choi 201812171438+0900 S. Korea To Allow Group Visas For Tourists From India http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333107&typ_800=P South Korea will issue group visas for travelers from India next year in a bid to attract more foreign tourists. The finance ministry unveiled the measures earlier today in an economic meeting presided over by President Moon Jae-in. Some 123,000 Indian tourists visited Korea last year, accounting for just 0.9 percent of inbound foreign travelers. Currently, Korea issues group visas for tourists from Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia.■ Hanna Choi 201812171435+0900 S. Korea To Launch Talks With Russia On Free Trade Deal http://tbs.seoul.kr/eFm/newsView.do?idx_800=2333106&typ_800=J South Korea plans to open talks with Russia this year on an open trade deal in the service and investment sectors. The finance ministry said today that Seoul is pushing to further boost trade volume with its eighth-largest trading partner to 30 billion dollars by 2020. Korea' trade volume with Russia stood at 20 billion dollars in the first 10 months of this year. The ministry said the government will also launch talks with Indonesia and Malaysia on forging bilateral free trade agreements. Korea has clinched a series of FTAs with major trading partners, including the United States and China, as part of its efforts to boost growth in the country's export-driven economy.■ Hanna Choi 201812171431+0900