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IMF praises South Korea

BBC World Service, Thursday 10 December 1998, 12:19 GMT

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Michel Camdessus, has welcomed a decision by South Korea to start repaying its debt to the IMF, with a payment of almost three-billion dollars.

Mr Camdessus said South Korea had met the IMF target for building up its foreign currency reserves forty-one billion dollars by this month and the currency, the won, had strengthened against the dollar.

Share prices on the Seoul stock market have doubled in the last few months, with a rise of almost eight per cent on Thursday alone.

Under government pressure, South Korea’s five largest industrial conglomerates this week announced plans to slim down and get rid of unprofitable businesses.

This includes a swap between Samsung and Daewoo of their respective electronics and car-manufacturing units.

But analysts say the picture is not all rosy: the reforms still have a long way to go and the inevitable job losses have already led to wide-scale workers’ protests.