President Moon Jae-in (2nd from L) and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (L) (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in shared Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki's social media message Tuesday on South Korea's latest gross domestic product (GDP) data, a rare move seen as meant to encourage Hong publicly.
Moon was also apparently seeking to highlight that the country's economy has fared relatively well despite the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier in the day, the Bank of Korea (BOK) said the economy is projected to have contracted 1 percent in 2020 compared with the previous year.
Hong wrote on his Facebook page that the minus 1 percent growth rate is far smaller than those of other major economies. The president shared it on his own Facebook account.
It represents Moon's expression of his gratitude to Hong, who doubles as deputy prime minister for the economy, and his ministry over the economic performance in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, a Cheong Wa Dae official said, requesting anonymity.
The president was also viewed as trying to cheer up the minister, who has been in discord with the ruling Democratic Party (DP) over a few proposed policy measures to help households and businesses suffering economic troubles due to the pandemic.
Most recently, the DP has been pushing for legislation on compensating the self-employed and owners of small businesses for losses incurred by tough social distancing restrictions.
Hong's ministry responded to the move by voicing concerns about budget constraints.
On Monday, however, the president openly raised the need for "institutional" measures to support small merchants over their coronavirus-related damages.
Irrespective of his call on the issue, Moon still has confidence in the minister as the control tower of economic policy, according to another presidential aide.
Meanwhile, Moon's office disapproved of some local news reports underlining the fact that South Korea's GDP has posted the biggest drop since the 1997-98 Asia financial crisis.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok introduced a foreign media article on the high possibility that the nation's per-capita income will surpass that of a major G-7 nation.
The figures released by the BOK are a "valuable accomplishment" from the people's sacrifice in their daily lives amid the pandemic, Kang emphasized in a note to reporters. (Yonhap)