SEJONG, May 20 (Yonhap) — South Korea will step up efforts for economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic as the nation is returning to normal activities, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Wednesday.

Hong made the remarks at a meeting with economy-related ministers as schools reopened for high school seniors, about 80 days later than the original semester start day of March 2.

Unlike other nations, South Korea has not enforced lockdown measures to combat the virus. Instead, the nation implemented strict social distancing guidelines, along with mass testing.

Hong said the government will boost measures to help the nation’s economy recover more swiftly from the pandemic than other nations.’

Last week, the government said it aims to create 1.56 million jobs in the public sector, as the nation’s economy has suffered its sharpest job losses in 21 years over the pandemic.

About 1 million jobs in the public sector have not been opened due to social distancing rules, but the government will soon open such jobs by easing some rules.

The government will also encourage public firms to create some 550,000 jobs for young people.

A third extra budget will be announced early next month to minimize the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Hong said the third extra budget will include 3.5 trillion won (US$2.8 billion) to create some 550,000 jobs in public firms.

To help stabilize corporate bond markets, the government and the Bank of Korea will set up a special purpose vehicle to buy commercial papers from companies with low credit ratings, Hong said.

The 10 trillion won vehicle will run for six months and it could be expanded to 20 trillion won, depending on market situations, Hong said.

South Korea has promised relief packages worth some 240 trillion won to ease the economic fallout from the virus.

The nation’s economy shrank 1.4 percent on-quarter in the first quarter of the year, marking the sharpest quarterly contraction since the last three months of 2008.