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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK
South Korea bails out borrowers
LG Card
South Korea's LG Card narrowly avoided bankruptcy
South Korea has unveiled plans to assist millions of consumers who have built up huge credit card debts.

Under the plan, those who repay 3% of their loans straight away will be allowed to pay off the rest interest-free over eight years.

The offer is open to consumers who have debts of less than 50 million won ($42,500), and is conditional on them making their repayments on time.

The scheme is aimed at easing South Korea's massive personal debt crisis.

Tighter money

Earlier this year, the country's biggest credit card firm, LG Card, nearly went bust as more and more customers defaulted on their loans.

The meltdown has its origins in the late 1990s, when the authorities encouraged easier consumer credit in order to speed up the country's recovery from the 1997 financial crisis.

Lenders later tightened their credit terms amid signs that borrowing was spiralling out of control, leaving millions of consumers unable to service their debts.

Bad debts remain a burden on the South Korean economy, with credit card loans accounting for 14% of gross domestic product in December.

Some three million borrowers are eligible for the bail-out scheme.


SEE ALSO:
Bad debts hit South Korean lender
08 Mar 04  |  Business
Korean card debt hits new record
06 Feb 04  |  Business
Korean lender wins bailout deal
09 Jan 04  |  Business
S Koreans despair at debt crisis
09 Jan 04  |  Business
Consumer debt worry hits S Korea
29 Dec 03  |  Business
S Korean credit card debts swell
02 Dec 03  |  Business



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