Dignitaries welcome frank evaluation of Covid-19 and the economy
The dignitaries and business leaders who attended the Korea Economic Forum on Wednesday at the Millennium Hilton Hotel Seoul in central Seoul enjoyed a rare opportunity to take a close look into the Korean financial regulator’s efforts to contain the economic impact of Covid-19.
Ambassadors, financial leaders and CEOs of foreign companies participated in the annual forum hosted by the Korea JoongAng Daily.
Eun Sung-soo, chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), delivered the keynote speech, discussing how the Korean government has drawn up policies to combat the impact of the pandemic and contrasting current measures with past financial crises.
“The speech was comprehensive in covering both the economy and the pandemic issue,” said Ji Sung-kyu, CEO of Hana Bank.
Alongside Ji, the heads of all of Korea's major commercial banks — Jin Ok-dong from Shinhan Bank, Hur Yin from KB Kookmin Bank and Kwon Kwang-seok from Woori Bank — attended the forum.
Michael Reiterer, the European Union ambassador to Korea, said that the comparative approach laid out in the speech gave a refreshing insight to deal with problems linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
The assessment resonates with James Kim, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.
The forum “was very helpful with the attendance of Financial Services Chairman Eun Sung-soo and Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Kim Gang-lip,” he said on his way out of the event, highlighting how Eun “reminding [us of] the lessons Korea learned from the financial crisis [in 1997] and how that has helped Korea respond to Covid-19."
Kim went on to express that he is confident that leaders like Eun will help Korea navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic.
The speech also gave foreign envoys some insight into how Korea managed the impact of Covid-19.
“The topic was up to date and gave us ideas for how the Korean government dealt with the coronavirus while sustaining the economy,” said Thai Ambassador Rommanee Kananurak.
Other attendees included Indian Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan, New Zealand Ambassador Philip Turner and Malaysian Ambassador Dato' Mohd Ashri Muda.
The chiefs of major fintech firms and internet-only banks were also among the participants.
“It was a meaningful platform to discuss and share insights on the prospects of the financial industry against the backdrop of the coronavirus," said Lee Seung-gun, head of Viva Republica that runs fintech startup Toss. "With such discussions, we could be better prepared for the future, although it will be almost impossible to make accurate predictions about the future,”
Following the keynote speech, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip briefed attendees on the government's response to the pandemic, the first time that the forum has featured a second speaker.
Imran Razaq, commercial counselor at the Embassy of Pakistan, who said he arrived in Korea when the Covid-19 pandemic started earlier this year, said that the latter session helped him understand the critical role played by technology in coping with the coronavirus.
“It was very enlightening, especially given how Korea has been responding to Covid-19," he said. "So it has been like a very unique way to have used digital and technology to practice social distancing. It has worked well, I guess."
EU Ambassador Reiterer praised the vice minister's focus on cooperation.
"The second part I liked in particular was that he came out very clearly saying that international cooperation and solidarity are needed because this is important these days and not everybody goes along with it," he said.
For this year’s forum, the Korea JoongAng Daily followed through with preventive measures to minimize risks associated with the pandemic by installing automated temperature checks at the entrance and requiring all participants to wear masks in line with social distancing guidelines.
Rows of tables were used with gaps between participants, rather than the circular tables, to reduce contact.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [email@example.com]