Lecture Video: South Korea’s “IMF Crisis”


After prolonged rapid growth, often characterized as the Miracle on the Han, South Korea joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), sometimes described as a club for middle-income countries, in December 1996. One year later, sharply changing fortunes forced the ROK Government to seek an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, in December 1997. Twenty years after onset of the IMF Crisis, this lecture will summarize precipitating events, crisis effects, and responses by the Government of Korea and the IMF as well as the World Bank. The lecture will go beyond standard explanations to suggest a perhaps-surprising origin for the crisis. At its conclusion, the lecture will offer an assessment of long-term effects from South Korea’s IMF crisis.

William P. Mako retired from the World Bank in 2014. During 1998 – 2002, he advised Korea’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) on chaebol restructuring; negotiated corporate restructuring conditions for a $2 billion World Bank loan; negotiated and supervised a separate technical assistance loan; participated in IMF program monitoring and Article IV consultation missions; and participated in a joint IMF-World Bank assessment of South Korea’s financial sector. Since 2014, he has been teaching economic development at the KDI School of Public Policy & Management, Kyung Hee University, and L’institut des études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po).

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