Household Debt Reaches W1,012 Trillion

The total household debt in Korea stood at W1,012 trillion as of the end of 2013 (US$1=W1,061). According to financial authorities on Friday, the total amount of household debt rose by W49 trillion from a year ago.

Household debt includes loans from banks and insurance companies as well as credit card debt. The Bank of Korea plans to announce the official figure next month.

Total household debt has more than doubled in just nine years from W494 trillion in 2004, rising by around W60 trillion each year fueled by leveraged purchases of home in an overheated real estate market compounded by low interest rates.

But the growth slowed to W50 trillion in 2012 impacted by the real estate slump.

Per family, household debt amount to W58.36 million, up W2.82 million in 2012. In 2004, the average debt per household stood at just W34.52 million.

The government is concerned about the growth in debt outpacing a rise in wages. In 2004, the ratio of debt to individual disposable income stood at 103 percent, but by June last year it had risen to 137 percent.

The fact that many Koreans are spending so much on repaying their debts means a recovery in consumer spending will take much longer.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 20, 2014 11:29 KST