Kim's Loose Lips Sink Korea's Ship

  • Share
  • Read Later
SEOUL: With markets tanking and the currency in free-fall, Korea’s president-elect Kim Dae Jung is fast learning to bite his tongue. His throwaway comments to the press about “national bankruptcy” sent markets plunging by a record 7.5 percent Tuesday.

The former dissident who will assume the presidency in February didn’t help investor confidence by telling the Chosun Ilbo newspaper that he hasn’t been able to sleep a wink since being briefed on the country’s dire financial situation.

Kim has tried to reassure the country’s traditional ruling elite by securing an amnesty for imprisoned former dictators Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo (who had both previously ordered the president-elect’s execution). Still, financial players remain unconvinced that the president-elect has the discipline to enforce the IMF’s harsh medicine.

With the trades unions threatening “all-out struggle” against IMF-led restructuring, Kim’s insomnia may well become a feature of his tenure.