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Politics

South Korean central bank to move reserves to provincial cities if war breaks out

Seoul-based companies review contingency plans amid rising military tensions

SEOUL -- South Korea's central bank has contingency plans to move its reserves to provincial cities if war breaks out, the bank said Friday. The Bank of Korea also has deposited some of its gold bars in the Bank of England to protect its assets.

"We definitely have plan to protect our reserves. We will move them to major provincial cities where our regional offices are based," said Kim Jo-kyung, a bank spokesperson. The BOK has 16 provincial offices, including in Busan, Gwangju and Daejeon.

A BOK director said that the bank has also stored some of its gold bars at the Bank of England. "We also have our gold in the BOE in case of war or other emergency situations," said the director, who asked not to be named.

The bank's foreign reserves amounted to $383.7 billion in July, up $3.2 billion from June, with the gold holdings valued at $4.8 billion, accounting for 1.2% of total assets.

South Korean conglomerates and foreign companies are reviewing their business continuity plans as tensions between Pyongyang and Washington mount. "I am sure we have a contingency plan in case of war and other emergencies, though we do not reveal it outside the company," said Cha Seon-jin, a spokeswoman for Hyundai Motor, the nation's largest automaker.

The Seoul office of a European bank said that its dealing room has manuals for managing stocks in emergency situations. A director at the bank said that some foreign companies pay security bonuses, including providing an open air ticket, to their non-Korean executives to compensate for the risks of working in the country.

Seoul's stock market fell 1.69% to 2,319.71 on Friday due to foreign investors selling shares, with net selling amounting to 586.2 billion won. The Kospi has dropped a total of 3.3% since Tuesday.

Samsung Electronics would not comment on whether it had contingency plans. The nation's largest company refused to comment on reports that its intelligence on North Korea is better than that of the national intelligence agency, saying "it is hard to compare with the National Intelligence Service."

Shares of Samsung Electronics fell 2.79% to 2,256,000 won, extending losses for a third day. Shares in Hyundai Motor fell 2.07% to 142,000 won on Friday, after falling 9.09% the previous day.

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