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President Moon to hold first press conference on N. Korea, other issues

President Moon Jae-in will hold a press conference this week to personally answer questions on various issues that will likely include North Korea's recent provocations and military threats that are causing serious concerns of a possible armed conflict in the region, officials from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.

Moon's first press conference as president will start at 11 a.m. Thursday. It is expected to involve some 300 journalists from local and foreign news outlets here, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

The event, marking Moon's first 100 days in office, is also scheduled to be nationally televised. The new South Korean leader took office May 10, one day after the country held the rare presidential by-election caused by the ouster of Moon's conservative predecessor Park Geun-hye.

The president will first give a keynote speech that will last about five minutes, allowing more time for questions from the media.

Unlike similar events held under former administrations, the president will not ask for questions from the media in advance, a practice that has often been blamed for what many people have called "staged acts."

"The president will take and answer any question from the media," a Cheong Wa Dae official said earlier.

Thursday's meeting will likely focus on security issues as it follows an apparent advance in North Korea's missile technologies, as well as its threat to stage a missile exercise around the US-controlled island of Guam.

US President Donald Trump said the communist state will be met by "fire and fury" should it continue to make threats against the United States. Later, he said his country's military options are now "locked and loaded," prompting concerns of war on the Korean Peninsula.

Moon earlier ruled out the possibility of a US military action, saying no such move may take place without Seoul's consent.

Other issues may include ways to normalize the country's relations with China amid Beijing's continued objections against the deployment of the THAAD US missile shield in South Korea.

The South Korean leader has also called for efforts to normalize ties with Japan, urging the renegotiation of a controversial deal signed in late 2015 under which Seoul's former conservative government agreed to exempt Tokyo from any future responsibilities for its World War II atrocities that include the enslavement of thousands of Korean women for sexual servitude to its military in exchange for 10 billion yen ($9.1 million).

Domestic issues will likely include Moon's far-reaching economic goals that will require an additional 178 trillion won ($156 billion) over the next five years. (Yonhap)