SEOUL-- South Korea's finance minister pledged Monday to take immediate measures to stabilize the market, if the need arises, amid escalating tensions after North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test.

"The North Korean issue is spreading across the world," Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said at a meeting with Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol and Financial Services Commission Chairman Choi Jong-ku. "It may not only have a short-term impact on the financial and foreign exchange markets, but on the real economy as a whole."

The meeting was convened to discuss ways to deal with the potential impact of the latest North Korean aggression. On Sunday, Pyongyang claimed to have successfully tested an H-bomb that can be fitted atop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The top economic policymaker said Seoul will take swift and firm action against any unexpected developments in the market.

"If we detect anything wrong, such as market turbulence, we will take decisive and immediate market-stabilizing measures in accordance with our contingency plan," said Kim.

He said the government will strengthen around-the-clock monitoring of the market to check any developments and make appropriate responses.

The benchmark KOSPI started 40.8 points, or 1.73 percent, lower at 2,316.89 points at 9:00 a.m., with the Korean won losing ground at 1,129 won against the U.S. dollar.

Source: Yonhap News Agency