Protest against FT’s Report
According to the relevant ministries on Feb. 16, the letter jointly signed by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance (MOSF) and the Bank of Korea was sent to the FT headquarters in the U.K. and Japan on the 15th, denying the allegation and asking the paper to take caution when reporting. It is unsual for the International Finance Bureau under the MOSF to send a protest letter to a foreign media. The government took such aggressive measures to prevent a growing concern that the U.S. can lablel South Korea and Taiwan as a currency manipulators after the FT report.
FT reported on the 13th that that South Korea and Taiwan and, in some respects, Singapore are the "obvious culprits" of currency manipulation in Asia, not China and Japan that was pointed out by U.S. President Donald Trump. Regarding this, some have raised speculations over Japan’s influence on the paper to turn Trump’s attention from Japan to other countries, including South Korea, considering the fact that FT was acquired by Japan’s media group Nikkei in 2015.
The South Korean government categorically denied the allegations by the paper. In the letter, the government stressed that it has not intervened in the foreign exchange market to weaken the Korean currency citing reports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the U.S. government. A big trade surplus cannot be argued as an outcome of devalued currency as it owes more to cheaper oil prices and depressed domestic demand from slow economy and demographic factors from fast aging society, it reportedly claimed. The government also cited the Bank for International Settlements’ report that says the real value of the Korean won remains overvalued, and this is why the report that claims the current account surplus came from the Korean won's devaluation is wrong.
An official from the MOSF said, “Until now, a spokesperson for foreign media has dealt with foreign media reports. This time, we decided to take action to ask the paper to be prudently report on foreign exchange policy.”