Se Eun Gong

South Korea's return to normal life has come to a halt with fast-surging COVID-19 infections. Health authorities announced Friday that they are tightening coronavirus restrictions after the country's number of daily new cases doubled in the past month.

Private gatherings in the capital area will be limited to six people starting Monday, and a proof of vaccination or negative PCR test will be required at restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, museums and movie theaters.

SEOUL — South Korea's ruling Democratic Party suffered a devastating defeat in Wednesday's mayoral by-elections, widely considered a bellwether for next year's presidential race.

President Moon Jae-in's party lost both by large margins in the capital Seoul and the country's second biggest city, Busan, to the conservative opposition People Power Party (PPP).

In South Korea, churches resumed in-person services and stadiums welcomed sports fans over the weekend as the country once again manages to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The government eased social distancing restrictions after the country apparently dodged a surge in cases that was feared to follow the Chuseok national holiday in early October.

Masked mourners in spaced-out chairs bid goodbye to Park Won-soon, the deceased mayor of South Korea's capital Seoul, at his funeral on a rainy Monday morning. Colleagues and family members spoke of pain and sadness caused by the sudden death of the mayor known for his civic activism.

Hours later, a former secretary of Park's said through a representative that she "suffered and hurt alone during the long hours of silence" amid four years of alleged sexual harassment by Park.

A growing number of recovered COVID-19 patients are relapsing in South Korea, raising new questions and concerns among scientists and health authorities after the country successfully flattened the curve.

By Friday, Korean health authorities had identified 163 patients who tested positive again after a full recovery. The number more than doubled in about a week, up from 74 cases on April 9. Those patients — just over 2% of the country's 7,829 recovered patients — are now back in isolation.