The presidential office decided Monday to revive an emergency economic meeting that President Lee Myung-bak had presided over to lead South Korea out of the 2008 global financial crisis, as a new crisis threatens to hurt the economy, the presidential spokesman said.
Lee told senior aides to "switch to an emergency mode to monitor the situation and manage the economy," presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha said. Lee also told officials to offer the public sufficient explanations of the economic situation to ensure that people do not have excessive concerns, Park said.
The remark came amid deepening market jitters that the eurozone fiscal crisis and a stagnant U.S. economic recovery could send the global economy into a double-dip recession. South Korean stocks fell 151.66 points, or 8.2 percent, last week.
Lee and top economic policymakers had met in an underground bunker at Cheong Wa Dae once every two weeks between January 2009 and September last year in an effort to discuss measures to overcome the 2008 global financial meltdown triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage debacle.
As South Korea successfully pulled itself out of the turmoil, the emergency session was changed last year to a meeting that focuses on policies for mid and low-income families under Lee's drive to break away from his pro-business image and care more for ordinary people.
Officials said the emergency economic meeting will be revived to focus on finances, exchange rates and the fiscal situation.
"Considering the current economic situation, we feel like we're standing on the edge of a cliff," a senior presidential official told reporters. "There is talk of a possible Greek default and we're not sure if Europe would be able to cope with such a situation."
Lee also told aides to make sure that the people don't have excessive concerns.
"Economic indicators, including stock prices, have a lot to do with psychological factors," Lee said during a meeting with senior secretaries, according to Park. "We have to be thoroughly prepared (for the crisis) with a sense of urgency, but we have to offer sufficient explanations to the people so that they won't have excessive concerns."