Still Yakking in Seoul

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As the politically incorrect saying goes, it ain't over until the fat lady sings. But when it comes to the bailout talks between South Korea and the International Monetary Fund, everyone but the fat lady has chimed in.

Korea Broadcasting System television proclaimed Tuesday that Finance Minister Lim Chang-Yuel and the IMF team had pulled an all-nighter, emerging with an agreement for a package worth $55 billion. All three Korean television networks reported that the minister had assented to liquidating about six troubled banks and lowering economic growth.

Yet that doesn't quite appear to be the case. According to the New York Times, the finance minister announced later in the day that the two sides were still at odds over the bank liquidations. Seoul reportedly favors keeping the banks out of the deep-six. On Tuesday, the minister ordered nine ailing banks to merely suspend business until the end of the year.

South Korea also wants to keep its growth rate above the low IMF target range, claiming that slower growth could spell higher taxes and less government spending, cutting jobs and income for South Koreans.