South Korea’s public debt surpassed $841.7 billion in 2013, the highest level in history

Public debt hits all-time high last year
2014.03.19 16:43:37
South Korea’s public debt surpassed $841.7 billion in 2013, the highest level in history.
But the increase in public debt halved from a year ago.
The central and local governments owed 496.6 trillion won as of last year, and 45 non-financial state-owned companies either financed by the government or led by chiefs appointed by the government had to repay 412.1 trillion won, excluding shareholdings and investments, according to the Bank of Korea’s economic data system Wednesday. The combined debt in the public sector came to 908.7 trillion won, up 36.9 trillion won, or 4.2 percent, year-on-year (yoy) from 871.8 trillion won in 2012.
This is the largest debt since the method for compiling fund flow statistics was updated to the current method in 2003.
Public debt has expanded around 10 percent every year from 276.3 trillion won in late 2003, snowballing threefold in about 10 years.
But public debt climbed by the smallest amount last year since 35.9 trillion won increase in 2005, and at the slowest pace since 2003.
The debt held by the non-financial public companies rose 2.1 percent from 403.6 trillion won in 2012 to 412.1 trillion won in late 2013.
Of constituents of the governments’ debt, bonds ballooned the most by 26.1 trillion won, or 6.0 percent, from 437.8 trillion won in late 2012 to 463.9 trillion won late last year. The governments’ outstanding loans jumped 190 billion won, or 1.9 percent, from 10.1 trillion won to 10.3 trillion won during the same period.
Copyrightsⓒ Yonhap News

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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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