Editorial; Two Years of Economic Crisis

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), November 22, 1999 | Go to article overview

Editorial; Two Years of Economic Crisis


Two years have passed since Korea was gripped by an unprecedented foreign exchange crisis that necessitated asking the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for bailout funds. In the last two years, people experienced a lot of suffering due to the economic debacle, called by many ``the worst disaster since the Korean War.'' Some lost their jobs as a result of restructuring programs and many others had to accept pay cuts.

However, the people's back-breaking efforts have paid off. Our country has managed to return its failing economy to pre-recession levels. Miracle may be the proper word to describe the feat of recovering from a seemingly devastating economic crisis in less than two years.

President Kim Dae-jung, who took the nation's helm at the height of the crisis, declared last Friday in a speech in Changwon, Kyongsang-namdo, ``As I have pledged and resolved to the people, we have completely overcome the IMF foreign exchange crisis.''

According to recent government economic indices, the nation's foreign exchange reserves, which were drained to $3.8 billion in late 1997, now stand at about $68 billion. Korea also enjoys an unprecedentedly high surplus in its international balance of payments and have managed to attract a record amount of foreign investment.

In addition, the economy, which contracted by 5.8 percent last year, is expected to grow by 9 percent this year and the inflation rate is being contained at 1 percent with the stabilization of interest and foreign exchange rates.

The resolution shown by our people in the initial stages of the crisis served as a firm foundation in overcoming the crisis. President Kim also said the early recovery was due to the people's concerted efforts to meet the economic challenges.

We vividly remember people's voluntary participation in the gold collection drive during the early stages of the crisis. They were generous enough to readily provide a helping hand to the unemployed and others affected by the economic downturn.

Per capita income, which fell substantially, is also predicted by the government to recover to $10,000 in one or two years. Korea has drawn praise from the international community for its success in recovering fro

a crisis of such magnitude in less than two years. …

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