May 12, 2022
SEOUL – President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday raised concerns about rising inflation and economic difficulties in his first meeting with senior aides, telling them to keep a close eye on economic indicators and find measures to combat inflation.
“The economy is challenging right now. The biggest problem is the price,” Yoon said at the meeting in the morning.
His remarks come as Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho on the same day outlined price stability as a top priority policy task.
In recent months, growing consumer good prices have increased the burden on households. The inflation rate jumped to 4.1 percent in March and 4.8 percent in April after staying at 3 percent for five consecutive months from October last year, according to Statistics Korea.
“International raw material prices are fluctuating due to the Ukraine crisis, and wheat prices, in particular, have skyrocketed, affecting our diet,” Yoon said. “Energy prices and all these things have gone up, the red light is just coming on in industrial competitiveness and stagflation.”
Yoon told the officials to monitor various economic indicators and continue to work on how to tamp down inflation.
“If you stay in your own offices, things don’t work normally,” he said, urging them to work until the “soles of the shoes are worn out” and that they should visit his office frequently.
The new president also mentioned security crises such as the North Korean nuclear issue.
“There is a lot of concern in foreign countries, and now there is talk of resuming nuclear tests (of the North),” he said, asking his aides to carefully monitor and prepare for how it will affect other parts of state affairs and security.
This year, North Korea staged 15 weapons tests, including intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, raising the severity of the provocation. Amid growing concerns over North Korea’s resumption of nuclear tests, the US has recently requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. The Security Council is scheduled to hold a public meeting on Wednesday in New York to discuss North Korea’s recent missile launch.
Regarding some media reports that said there was no mention of “unity” in his inauguration speech on Tuesday, Yoon said he did not include the word because maintaining national unity is part of “what we do every day.”
In his inauguration speech, Yoon used the word “freedom” 35 times but did not mention “unity.”
Former President Moon Jae-in, in his retirement speech Monday, called on the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol government to move toward national unity, which he said had shattered since the election.
After Wednesday’s meeting with his aides, Yoon met with a series of diplomatic missions to Seoul who attended the ceremony.
He met with former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera, Speaker of the Senate of Canada George Furey and Saudi Arabian envoys to discuss ways to promote bilateral cooperation.
At the meeting with former Indonesian President Megawati, Yoon said, “Indonesia is our only special strategic partner in ASEAN. We look forward to the leadership of Indonesia, chair country of the G-20 and ASEAN next year and we ask for your support for Korea.”
Then in a separate meeting, he told Sen. Furey that “Korea and Canada are indispensable countries in terms of value.” The new government will further develop existing relationships to foster exchanges and cooperate with Canada on future industries such as batteries and AI, he said.