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Korea's finance minister to remain alert against possible risks

South Korea's top economic policymaker said Monday he will never let his guard down and take firm action against any possible changes in the real economy and the financial market in the aftermath of the country's leadership vacancy.

"The government will keep operating in emergency mode and deal firmly with pending issues," Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho told reporters in Sejong. "We have been monitoring the market around the clock for months, and nothing has been unusual."

Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho (Yonhap)
Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho (Yonhap)

Since the Constitutional Court's ruling to dismiss President Park Geun-hye, the South Korean stocks and foreign exchange markets have been stable, with foreign investors showing no particular movements.

Exports are also on the rise, as outbound shipments over the first 10 days of March jumped nearly 20 percent from a year earlier.

The finance minister said, however, the government is looking carefully into other data, such as sluggish private consumption and the impact of a US rate hike later this week.

"We will do our best to prevent the anxiety of economic players from spreading to the entire economy," Yoo said.

In regards to China's retaliatory measures against South Korean businesses and goods, the top official said the Seoul government is seeking every possible way to handle China's hostile actions.

"If China definitely violates any international rules, we will bring the issue to the World Trade Organization," Yoo said. "We have to have evidence to go to the court. But we can't find any in China's recent actions. It's difficult."

Tensions are building up between South Korea and China as Seoul has sped up plans to station the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system on its soil. Beijing has strongly objected to the decision, saying the high-tech radar will be used to spy on its military and hurt its national interests.

China has taken a series of provocative actions against South Korean cultural products and businesses for months. Recently, Beijing told its major travel agencies to stop selling tour packages heading to Korea, while reports showed that some shops in China run by South Korean retail giant Lotte were put under business suspension by local authorities.

South Korea's exports to China accounted for 25 percent of the country's entire outbound shipments last year worth $494.2 billion. (Yonhap)

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