[EDITORIALS]Zig-zag, then blame the press

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[EDITORIALS]Zig-zag, then blame the press

Lee Hun-jai, the deputy prime minister for finance and economy, said yesterday that the government did not have any immediate plans to redenominate the Korean currency. Mr. Lee said, “We do not plan to implement such a plan for a considerable period of time.”
It is fortunate that the government has put this confusion to rest, although it did so belatedly. As we have repeatedly pointed out, redenomination of our currency unit at this point will bring only social confusion without any real benefits. It will not be too late to start discussions on the subject when problems begin to arise in the use of the current currency unit.
We should point out that the deputy prime minister’s remarks on such an important issue as currency redenomination were not consistent. It seems that Mr. Lee wanted to put the blame on the press for playing up the redenomination issue.
But it came into focus after Mr. Lee mentioned it at a National Assembly hearing on Sept. 16. At that time, Mr. Lee said that the administration had “passed the stage of research and examination, and is in the early stages of examining the details” of re-pegging the won.
He also said, “Issuing large-value bank notes, even if we do so now, will have to be re-examined after four or five years, considering the size of our economy. It might be better to think about fundamental currency reform.” It was Mr. Lee, not the press, who made remarks that had to be interpreted as meaning that there was need to change the currency unit.
He did not say why the government position ― “The economic reality is not that calm that we can talk about redenomination,” as was the position until May ― had changed. Nonetheless, he now claims that there are no plans for redenomination and that all the fuss was created by the press. That is absurd.
Mr. Lee should realize that his own inconsistency was one reason for the uncertainty. Mr. Lee said yesterday that “there will be no blitz currency reform.” But his own remarks in the past created a social atmosphere that made it hard for people to believe his pronouncements easily.
In addition, we do not understand the reason that the government hesitates to issue large bank notes that could save hundreds of billions of won per year. We wonder why it avoids the easy means while sticking to the difficult ones.
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