Six out of every 10 Koreans believe that the most difficult period for their country was the 1997 Asian financial crisis, according to a survey.
The state-run Korea Development Institute last month polled 1,000 adults to mark the 20th anniversary of the crisis, and 57.4 percent said it was the worst economic hardship the country has suffered. Next were the era of low growth that started in 2010 (26.6 percent) and the global financial crisis of 2008 (5.2 percent).
Also, 59.7 percent of respondents said the Asian crisis had a negative impact on their lives, while 39.7 percent said they or their family suffered job losses or bankruptcies and 64.4 percent said they were psychologically impacted. Negative experiences were more commonly cited by those who were then university students (68.9 percent) and self-employed (67.2 percent).
Young people who had just graduated were faced with an extremely tough job market, which was unprecedented at the time, as businesses downsized due to severe liquidity shortages, while scores of mom-and-pop stores across the country closed down as consumers drastically cut spending.
Some 54.4 percent cited a nationwide campaign to collect gold as the biggest contributor to ending the crisis as it allowed Korea to repay around US$55 billion in emergency loans to the International Monetary Fund. Some 15.2 percent said corporate restructuring also played a role and 15 percent cited the IMF aid itself.
Asked about the biggest economic task facing the Korean economy now, 31.1 percent said job creation and employment stability. Asked about the biggest social task facing the nation, 32.7 percent said stamping out corruption.
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