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Record-breaking skater captivates the nation

The figure skating champ of the Vancouver Olympics, Kim Yu-na, returns to a hero's welcome. Four South Korean civilians are detained for trespassing in the North. A former Prime Minister stands trial for allegedly taking bribes to help with employment. The death penalty is upheld after an inmate petitions against it. Hyundai recalls thousands of Sonatas. And a couple is arrested after an addiction to a virtual baby causes them to neglect their own.

Top News: Kim Yu-na, dubbed the figure skating queen by South Koreans, set the world record at the Vancouver Winter Olympics with a performance that won her the gold medal. South Koreans cheered her on, watching the women’s figure skating finals on large flat screens in the public and on handheld devices on trains and buses.

Kim finished her performance and set a world record, breaking the one that she had previously set. The media ran special reports on the 19-year-old, who has become one of the most popular stars in the country, shortly after Kim won the much-awaited gold medal. South Koreans for the first time celebrated the victory in figure skating that was once considered a weak point in the country’s winter sports.

North Korea recently announced that it has detained four South Korean civilians for trespassing, but did not provide details on how the incident occurred. The announcement was made through state-run media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and relayed that the four civilians are being investigated by officials in the North. South Korea has so far identified three of the four civilians that are known to be held in the reclusive state, according to high-ranking government officials.

The two Koreas have been engaging in military talks to discuss issues such as customs, cross-border travel and other matters that have become sticking points between the two countries and analysts in the South are speculating that Pyongyang may be trying to use the detainment to win leverage in the talks.

Former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook stood trial for allegedly receiving bribes from a businessman in return for assisting him in winning a job offer. The ex-prime minister, who served during the Roh Moo-hyun administration in 2006 to 2007, was charged by prosecutors for receiving $50,000 in bribes, but said she will prove her innocence, calling the allegations malicious and groundless.

The country’s top court ruled that it will continue to uphold capital punishment after a man sentenced to death row for murder filed a petition to the court. Five of the nine judges ruled in favor of the death penalty, saying that capital punishment does not infringe on a person’s rights when it is conducted in order to protect the lives of others.

South Korea has been designated an “abolitionist in practice” state by global human rights group Amnesty International, a status given to countries that have not carried out an execution for more than ten years. The last execution in the country was carried out in 1997.

Money: Hyundai Motor said it will carry out a voluntary recall of its latest sedan, the YF Sonata, in South Korea and the United States for malfunctioning door locks.

The move will affect 46,000 cars in Korea and 5,000 in the U.S. The company said the faulty door locks could prevent the front-seat passenger doors from opening or closing properly.

The voluntary recall is only for Sonatas manufactured before Dec. 6 in Korea and Feb. 16 in the States, as the company replaced the malfunctioning parts for those produced after the specified dates.

Elsewhere: The police arrested a couple for neglecting their baby, which died from starvation, saying the parents’ online gaming habits led to the baby’s death. The couple was addicted to playing an online child-raising game and fed their daughter once a day at the Internet café, according to the police.