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President Moon holds New Year's press conference Updated: 2021-01-18 09:25:51 KST

We start with President Moon Jae-in's new year press conference, which just wrapped up.
In light of the pandemic, only 120 reporters were invited 20 on site and one-hundred others via video link.
It covered numerous issues and for a recap we are joined by our presidential office correspondent Hong Yoo.
The president answered questions for over an hour-and-a-half, what topics were covered?

As anticipated, the press conference kicked off with a question on whether the president is considering to offer pardons to two convicted former presidents Park Geun-hye and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak.
President Moon said it was too early to make a decision since their trials had just finished.
And he pointed out that because the former presidents were found guilty of corruption and influence-peddling and they were charges that shocked the public, there must be public consensus before any pardons are given out.
Other hot potato was the controversy over South Korea's skyrocketing housing prices.
The Moon administration had been focusing hard on regulating real estate speculation until last year.
But this year, it shifted the focus to increasing the nation's housing supply.
The new land minister is expected to announce the new real estate measures before the Lunar New Year holiday, which is around the middle of February.

And, as you'd expect, there were plenty of questions regarding South Korea's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes Mark, there was a question on whether President Moon regrets not acquiring vaccines earlier to bring lives back to normal faster.
But he said he does not think South Korea is late.
In fact, he claimed South Korea will be able to reach herd immunity faster than other countries, despite no vaccines being administered yet.
The president said the rollout is likely to start with the vaccines acquired through COVAX and it could start earlier than scheduled.
He also said social distancing measures could be eased if the number of newly confirmed daily cases remain lower than 400 for a while.
Another question involved concerns about the potential side effects of the various vaccines.
The President said that, as vaccinations have already started in some parts of the world, South Korea has been able to prepare well.
The vaccines also have to be approved by the country's ministry of drug safety.
The ministry will conduct clinical trials to check whether they are safe before the rollout starts.

What about North Korea diplomacy? Did President Moon talk about how South Korea will be working with the incoming Biden administration on the regime's denuclearization?

Mark, President Moon specifically pointed to the Singapore declaration, which took place between the Trump administration and North Korea.
He said it was an important declaration for denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula.
He said he hopes the Biden administration takes the Singapore declaration and works on developing things from there to get into the details of denuclearization.
Referring to North Korea's declaration that it was going to strengthen its nuclear arsenal, President Moon said this can be resolved when dialogue between the two Koreas and between the U.S. and North Korea resumes.
Back to you, Mark.
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