▶ MOON, KISHIDA TO HOLD FIRST PHONE TALKS
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and new Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida could hold their first phone talks today.
Kyodo News, citing multiple Tokyo government officials, said the two sides were in the process of arranging the call.
A Seoul official also confirmed that arrangements were being made, but indicated the possibility that the call could be held on Friday.
The two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral ties as well as tensions linked to long-standing historical disputes, including the issue of Japan's wartime forced labor.
The last meeting between the heads of state of the neighboring countries was in June, when Moon met with then Prime Minister Yoshide Suga.
▶ NEW COVID-19 CASES NEAR 2,000 AGAIN IN S. KOREA
Local health authorities continue to keep close watch over post-holiday COVID-19 spikes as the country looks to gradually transition to pre-pandemic life.
A total of 1,940 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, up 356 from the previous day.
The KDCA also reported 13 additional virus-related deaths.
By region, more than 80 percent of the newly confirmed patients were from the greater Seoul area.
The KDCA said it was starting to see signs of a COVID slowdown amid high vaccination rates.
However, it stood by its wait-and-see approach, expressing concern that increased travel and outings during the fall foliage season could lead to yet another flare-up in virus cases.
The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant is also a major concern.
More than 61 percent of the population in South Korea has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and over 78 percent have received their first shots, according to the latest data.
▶ WHO REPORTS FALL IN GLOBAL COVID INFECTIONS
The number of global coronavirus infections fell in the last week, continuing a downward trend that's said to have begun in late August, according to the World Health Organization.
In its weekly assessment of the pandemic, the WHO said there were about 2.8 million new cases and 46,000 confirmed deaths.
That's a drop of 7 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Europe reported a 7 percent rise in transmissions, with the highest numbers confirmed in Britain, Turkey and Russia.
The U.N. health agency said all other world regions recorded a decrease.
▶ SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS 42-YEAR PRISON TERM FOR LEADER OF SEX ABUSE RING
South Korea's Supreme Court has upheld the 42-year prison term for Cho Ju-bin, the mastermind of a notorious online sex abuse ring.
The top court backed orders by lower courts that Cho wear an electronic bracelet for 30 years after his release, pay a forfeiture of 100 million won, be banned from working at children-related facilities for 10 years after his release and that his personal details be made public for a decade.
Cho was indicted on 14 charges last year, including organizing a criminal ring with 38 accomplices and blackmailing 74 minor and adult victims into filming pornographic content.
Cho then sold the illicit materials to members of an online chat room on the instant messaging platform Telegram.
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