© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol holds his first official news conference, after taking office in May, to mark 100 days in office, in Seoul, South Korea August 17, 2022. Chung Sung-Jun/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
By Choonsik Yoo
SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called on Friday for more urgency in dealing with turbulent markets as the won currency’s fall to a 13-1/2-year low heightened fears of capital flight.
He made the remarks at a meeting of top economic officials as a weekly opinion poll published on Friday found his approval rate had fallen to 24%, the joint-lowest level since he took office about six months ago.
“We have built a stronger breakwater than in the past in terms of external soundness and already implemented market stabilising measures, but it is time to deal with the situation with a sense of more urgency,” Yoon said at the meeting.
It was the third such meeting to review economic and financial conditions since Yoon took office in early May, and was also attended by a central bank official and executives from several top companies, according to the presidential office.
The won has lost 17% of its value against the U.S. dollar this year while the benchmark share index has slumped 27% in the same period, with foreigners selling a net 12 trillion won ($8.38 billion) in shares on the main board.
On Friday, the stock market reversed early losses of as much as 1.7% to post a gain of 0.1% as of 0257 GMT, although analysts played down the impact of Yoon’s comments.
There has been a growing demand for government intervention in the markets, analysts have said. But authorities have said the volatility is mostly related to outside factors and in line with a global pattern.
“As we’ve seen in many countries, people want the government to play a bigger role in stopping turbulence in markets from approaching an exploding moment,” said Yoon Ji-ho, chief strategist at eBEST Investment & Securities.
Gallup Korea said on Friday the approval rate on President Yoon fell to 24% in the latest weekly survey from 28% in the previous week, compared to as high as 53% in early June.
($1 = 1,431.7100 won)
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