SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) — The Bank of Korea (BOK) said Wednesday it bought a net US$11.5 billion in the fourth quarter of last year to help ease fluctuations in the local currency market prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the third quarter of last year, the BOK’s selling and buying of the U.S. dollar remained on par. In the second quarter of last year, the BOK sold a net $345 million, lower than a net sale of $5.85 billion three months earlier.

The BOK began releasing such data in March 2019 to help boost the transparency of its market stabilization steps.

A BOK official said market smoothing operations in the fourth quarter came as the Korean currency strengthened against the U.S. dollar.

The Korean currency closed at about 1,080 won in the fourth quarter, compared with some 1,170 won a quarter earlier, according to the BOK.