South Korea's top economic policymaker said Monday that the government will make best efforts at minimizing possible negative economic impact from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s recent rocket launch and nuclear test.

Yoo Il-ho, deputy prime minister for economic affairs who doubles as finance minister, told foreign correspondents in Seoul that the government will "do its utmost to minimize the impact of North Korea (DPRK) issues on the (South) Koran economy" while continuing to monitor geopolitical developments.

His comments came amid rising expectations that geopolitical risks from the DPRK's nuclear test and long-range rocket launch may weigh down further on the already-struggling South Korean economy.

Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket, which outsiders see as a prohibited test of ballistic missile technology, on Feb. 7 after what it claimed was the first H-bomb test on Jan. 6, the fourth of its nuclear detonations.

South Korea's exports posted the biggest monthly decline in more than six years in January with an 18.5 percent reduction. The exports, which account for about half of the export-driven economy, are estimated to have recorded a double-digit fall in February as well.

Yoo said free trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Vietnam and New Zealand, which came into force last year, would contribute to South Korea's export growth.

He noted that China's shift to a more consumption-driven economy will provide South Korean companies with opportunities to export more consumer goods and services to China, South Korea's largest trading partner.

Asked whether the heightened geopolitical risks on the Korean Peninsula may affect trade between South Korea and China, Yoo said that those will have little impact on economic relations between the two neighbors.

Yoo said that China, South Korea's largest trading partner, is more important than any in restoring Seoul's exports, adding that an increase in exports to China will be very necessary for South Korea's economy.


Top DPRK leader guides military drills

PYONGYANG, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un recently guided war maneuvers of the army's large combined units and watched a flight drill, the official KCNA news agency reported Sunday.

Engaged in the maneuvers were metropolitan defense corps, a tank division and two motorized infantry divisions of the Korean People's Army (KPA), according to the KCNA. Full story

DPRK's artillery fire heard in frontline island: Yonhap

SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- An artillery fire from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was heard near a South Korean border island in western waters, Yonhap news agency reported Saturday citing military authorities.

A South Korean military official was quoted as saying that one round of artillery fire was heard from the northern region of South Korea's Baengnyeong Island near the western maritime border. Full story

S. Korea to create new army unit against possible DPRK terror attacks

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- South Korean military is pushing to create an additional army unit in preparations for possible "terror attacks" from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, Yonhap news agency reported Friday citing military authorities.

An unidentified South Korean military official was quoted as saying that the military plans to intensively build up anti-terror capabilities in preparation for possible DPRK terror attacks.

Source: Sina