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South Korea says time for more G-20 policy coordination

[SEOUL] South Korea will push for more policy cooperation from G-20 nations at the group's upcoming summit in response to current challenges in global financial markets, an official from the country's finance ministry said.

"The G-20 members need to show greater policy coordination regarding issues like interest rates and foreign exchange rates. Right now everyone tends to do their own thing," Hwang Kunil, director general of the ministry's international financial policy bureau, told Reuters on Friday.

Mr Hwang, who was referring to the meeting of finance ministers at the end of February in Shanghai, was appointed to his spot which oversees international financial movements early this month in a regular ministry shuffle.

The comments echoed those made by Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso last week, who hopes the meeting participants will consider a global policy response in the wake of recent market turmoil.

"As the G-20 chair, I hope China can show good leadership in helping all the countries overcome this ongoing turmoil," Mr Hwang said.

The South Korean won and local shares have experienced severe volatility from the start of the year after a US rate hike in December, rocky stock markets in China and the adoption of negative interest rates in Japan.

Local bond prices have soared with treasury bond yields skidding to new record lows as investors seek safe-haven assets.

South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho is also planning to attend the meeting in Shanghai and seek greater coordination between member countries, Mr Hwang said.

As for measures inside the country against excessive financial turbulence, Mr Hwang said policymakers are in the process of fine-tuning contingency plans that may be used in times of a financial crisis.

He stated the government is also considering tweaking its existing capital controls, which were established in previous years to curb capital inflows, but said there are no announcements of changes imminent.

Up until recently, market conditions have not been severe enough to activate the government's contingency plans, the director general added, although foreign exchange officials are watching the situation very closely.

"In case of severe turbulence in markets we are ready to act firmly," Mr Hwang said.