housing market-minister

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- A prolonged slowdown in South Korea's housing market could serve as a drag on its overall macroeconomic conditions, the country's top economic policymaker said Monday.

Transactions in the local housing market are almost frozen and prices remain quite low compared with their boom years. Experts worry that such a slump can undermine consumer sentiment and eventually put a brake on the country's fragile economic recovery.

"A prolonged housing market slump could come as a burden on the overall macroeconomic situations," Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok said in a meeting with other key policymakers. He concurrently serves as deputy prime minister in charge of overall economic affairs.

"If such a slump deepens and drags on, it could delay the recovery of both private-sector and construction investment and also have a negative impact on (the country's) financial health," he added.

His remarks came before the government unveiled a set of measures aimed at boosting the country's housing market. The government earlier announced measures mostly focused on cutting taxes and kick-starting frozen transactions.

He said that the current housing market slump is making debt burdens heavier for the so-called "house poor" who borrowed money to purchase their own homes during the boom years.

Meanwhile, touching on the recent decline in the value of the Japanese yen, Hyun expressed worries that it could hurt the competitiveness of the country's exporters in the global market.

"Given that exports are another driving engine for our economy, we will work hard to minimize the damage that could be done to our companies," he added.

The government earlier unveiled diverse measures including financial support for small and medium-sized companies to better cope with toughened market conditions caused by the yen's sharp decline.

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