Moon takes one-day break last week

SEOUL-- President Moon Jae-in took a one-day leave of absence last week, his office said Sunday, after he canceled an earlier vacation plan due largely to a rancorous row with Japan over history and trade.

Moon took the day off Friday. He is said to have traveled to Busan, some 450 kilometers south of Seoul, to meet his mother living alone in the port city and stayed at his private home in Yangsan, a nearby city, over the weekend.

He returned to Seoul on Sunday after attending a morning Mass at a cathedral in Yangsan.

Moon initially planned to go on vacation from July 29-Aug. 2 but called off the plan to focus on the row with Japan.

Tensions between the two countries were caused by Japan's tighter restrictions last month on exports to Korea of three industrial materials key to the production of semiconductors and displays, and its decision this month to strip Korea of preferential trade status.

Seoul believes the export curbs are political retaliation for last year's Supreme Court rulings here that ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

During his Liberation Day speech Thursday, Moon said that he would "gladly join hands" with Japan if it chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation. The message was seen as an olive branch intended to keep exploring a diplomatic solution to the bilateral spat.

Moon received a real-time briefing on North Korea's latest missile launch Friday while on vacation, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Pyongyang fired two short-range projectiles into the East Sea, the sixth such launch since July 25, in protest against the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military exercise and Seoul's acquisition of high-tech weapons systems.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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