Crisis and Recovery: What We Have Learned from the South Korean Experience?

19 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2007

See all articles by Jong-Wha Lee

Jong-Wha Lee

Korea University

Changyong Rhee

Asian Development Bank


This paper analyzes the process of recovery from the 1997 financial crisis in South Korea, and draws some lessons from it. The fast restoration of financial stability due to early closure of non-viable financial institutions and quick resolution of non-performing loans was critical for the speedy recovery of the South Korean economy. The swift adjustment in fiscal and monetary policies in addition to the large depreciation of real exchange rates also supported the fast recovery. Corporate and government bond markets played an important role in the financial restructuring and macroeconomic adjustment process. Structural reforms helped to alleviate the weaknesses in the corporate sector, particularly in chaebol groups. However, the fast recovery also generated unwelcome side-effects. Because of aggressive fiscal expansion through government-guaranteed bonds and public credit guarantee programs, sovereign liabilities increased greatly and transparency of the official fiscal stance deteriorated. Thanks to structural reform, corporate and financial sectors began to recognize the importance of micro risk management, but increased risk aversion contributed to the slowdown of corporate investment and, therefore, reduced long-run growth perspective in South Korea. How to revive long-term growth rates remains an important question in South Korea despite fast recovery from the crisis.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Jong-Wha and Rhee, Changyong, Crisis and Recovery: What We Have Learned from the South Korean Experience?. Asian Economic Policy Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 146-164, June 2007. Available at SSRN: or

Jong-Wha Lee (Contact Author)

Korea University ( email )

Anam-dong, Sungbuk-Ku
Dept. of Economics
Seoul, 136-701
82-2-3290-2216 (Phone)
82-2-928-4948 (Fax)

Changyong Rhee

Asian Development Bank ( email )

6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550
Metro Manila

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