By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in has convened a meeting with his economy team, Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday, amid growing concerns about the health of Asia's fourth-biggest economy.
It is rare for the president to have such a separate group session with ministers handling economy-related affairs. Moreover, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, who doubles as deputy prime minister for the economy, will be absent, as he is on a visit to the United States for Group of 20 and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings.
Moon's meeting with the economic policymakers later Thursday is for him to receive briefings on "a number of pending economy-related issues, including the recent economic situation, trends, employment data and economic policy direction down the road" and to discuss the issues, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson, Ko Min-jung.
She stopped short of making public the exact time and venue for the session, citing a presidential security protocol.
Ko mentioned the IMF's announcement earlier this week on its growth forecast for South Korea's economy this year to 2 percent from its previous outlook of 2.6 percent.
The Bank of Korea lowered the main policy rate to 1.25 percent Wednesday, matching the previous record low.
Moon's move may reflect his resolve to oversee economic affairs in detail and in person amid deepening worries about his economic record.
He earlier stated that the fundamentals of South Korea's economy remain strong, linking its current troubles largely with external factors such as the Washington-China trade war and a global economic slowdown.
Cheong Wa Dae officials stressed that employment rates are on a steady rise. Critics, however, argue that the data points to an increase in the number of elderly people landing "public" jobs sponsored by taxpayers' money, masking the high jobless rates of those in their 30s and 40s.
Last December, Moon presided over his first "expanded meeting" with economy-related ministers at Cheong Wa Dae since taking office in May 2017.
Hectic diplomacy between defense chiefs amid dimmed hopes to save GSOMIA
(News Focus) U.S. ratchets up pressure on S. Korea to jack up share of defense costs
Moon revs up ASEAN diplomacy, breaks ice with Abe
U.S. raises pressure on S. Korea to reverse decision to end GSOMIA
New N.K. launch pressures U.S. to meet year-end deadline for nuclear talks