(ATTN: RECASTS lead paras with closing remarks; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in emphasized Thursday that the government and corporate sector are "in the same boat" amid the COVID-19 crisis, calling for joint efforts to safeguard jobs and the industrial ecosystem.
"The government and firms are passing through a dark tunnel aboard the same boat," he said, wrapping up a meeting with a group of business leaders, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.
The president added that the ongoing troubles stemming from the pandemic offer a chance for "grand compromise," also involving labor circles and the civilian community, to share pain.
He pledged continued support for companies here to resolve the liquidity problem during the session held at the Korea International Trade Association in southern Seoul, Kang said at a press briefing.
Participants included the CEOs of 17 major firms in such industries as aviation, shipbuilding, automobiles and machinery, as well as representatives from business lobby groups.
It marked Moon's third formal group meeting with business figures since the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Moon took note of the government's decision to provide emergency relief funds to firms that plan to maintain most of their employment at least for the coming six months.
Should the government and businesses work together, South Korea will be able become a leader in economic recovery as it has been in quarantine measures, he was quoted as adding.
Speaking at the outset of the meeting, open to pool reporters, he recalled South Korea's experience of turning serious crises into opportunities.
"Both industries and jobs are in crisis situations, but we have opened a new future, overcoming such a crisis," he said.
Confronted with the financial meltdown in the late 1990s, the government fostered the information technology industry, and it promoted the green growth sector in response to the 2008 global financial crisis, he noted.
"I am confident that South Korea will be reborn as a power player in the digital economy era by overcoming the industrial crisis caused by the (new) coronavirus" on the basis of concerted efforts by the government, companies and the people, Moon added.
He said it is important to protect jobs and the entire industrial ecosystem with a can-do spirit.
The president reaffirmed a swift push for the Korean version of the New Deal, which has a focus on the fields of digital and green projects.
He said the government is stepping up efforts to support skilled manpower in new industries, including artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, drones, bio-health, smart ships and future vehicles.
The government will help them participate in joint research programs with global universities, research institutes and entrepreneurs, he added.