SEOUL, Sept 30 (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 economic officials as a
weekly opinion poll found his approval rate had fallen to 24%,
the joint-lowest level since he took office 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 beginning of the
It appeared to be indicating imminent intervention in
markets and dealers suspected the authorities of "carrying out
smoothing operation" of modest intervention, but there was no
talk of massive intervention on Friday.
The won managed to end the day's onshore trading
0.6% higher versus the dollar but suffered a 6.47% loss for the
month of September, marking the worst month since September
2011, as a souring in risk appetite hit South Korean assets.
The Bank of Korea, the central bank, also said after
markets closed that it sold a net $15.41 billion for
intervention in the foreign exchange market during the second
quarter in addition to a net $8.31 billion it sold in the first
A statement released by the presidential office after
the meeting provided no further comment by Yoon, while Finance
Minister Choo Kyung-ho was cited as asking companies to
cooperate in keeping stability on the foreign exchange market.
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 KOSPI share index
has slumped 28% in the same period, with foreigners selling a
net 12 trillion won ($8.38 billion) in shares on the main board.
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.
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)
(Reporting by Choonsik Yoo; Editing by Kim Coghill,Raju
Gopalakrishnan and Angus MacSwan)