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(2nd LD) Moon says virus epidemic to end soon, declares refocusing on economic growth

All News 19:25 February 13, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with CJ chairman's comments in last 4 paras)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in expressed confidence Thursday that South Korea will soon bring the novel coronavirus epidemic under control and stressed it is time to resume full-scale efforts to revitalize the economy, meeting with a group of local business leaders.

"COVID-19 will be terminated (in South Korea) before long," he said, using the official name of the disease, during the session held at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in Seoul.

Fortunately, he said, domestic quarantine management "appears to have entered a stable stage to some extent," although it is still too early to be complacent.

President Moon Jae-in (back, 3rd from R) holds a meeting with leaders of South Korea's conglomerates at the headquarters of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in Seoul on Feb. 13, 2020. The KCCI head, Park Yong-man (back, 2nd from R), sat next to Moon. (Yonhap)

He emphasized that quarantine authorities here would continue their efforts to contain the virus "until the end."

The president voiced regret once again over the outbreak's negative impact on the country's economy, which he said had been showing clear indications of recovery.

"It's very regrettable that the ankle of the economy has been seized by the occurrence of the COVID-19 incident," Moon told the attendees including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, LG Group Chairman Koo Gwang-mo, CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun and Park Yong-maan, chairman of the KCCI.

"Now, it's time for the government and business circles to join forces and revive the recovery trend of the economy," Moon said.

He pointed out that aggressive, forward-looking investment has served as a stepping stone toward revitalizing the economy and fostering innovative growth.

"The government will protect the safety of the people and companies at any cost," he stated, asking private firms to make the facility investments they had planned to before the viral outbreak.

He reaffirmed the government's resolve to ramp up its bid to create more jobs with massive investment projects and support private firms with "bold" tax incentives and regulatory reform.

President Moon Jae-in (front, L) shakes hands with CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun (front, R) at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in Seoul on Feb. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

He took note of the global power of South Korea's businesses, especially CJ Group, which financed the Oscar-winning film "Parasite."

"It is a splendid achievement that has shown the excellence of the Korean Wave to the world once again," Moon said, referring to the homegrown film's winning of four awards at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Recently, Moon added, South Korean companies have given the people "hope" with their unceasing challenge and innovation.

The CJ chief agreed that the good news from Los Angeles is granting some comfort to South Koreans amid the virus epidemic, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kang Min-seok.

"It bodes well for the Republic of Korea," Lee was quoted as telling Moon after the president's opening remarks. "This crisis will be overcome in the near future."

Of course, he added, CJ Group is also suffering "various effects" from the viral outbreak, but he reaffirmed that it would go ahead with investments as planned.

He requested that the Moon administration provide plenty of support for the culture and contents industry as well as aviation, tourism and retail sectors.


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