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South Korean households up to their necks in debt

Government promises help for borrowers, but rate hikes may hurt more

South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon speaks at a media briefing in Sejong on Monday, promising to help those laboring under heavy debts. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance)

SEOUL -- South Korea's household debt continues to spiral upward, reaching 1,419.1 trillion won ($1.3 trillion) in September, up 2.2% from three months earlier. That is equal to about 86.7% of the country's seasonally-adjusted nominal GDP, which reached 1,637.4 trillion won in 2016.

Household loans reached 1,341.2 trillion won, accounting for 94.5% of the total debt, with the rest held by credit card companies, department stores and automakers, which offer credit to their customers.

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