[EDITORIALS]Pay attention to the past

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[EDITORIALS]Pay attention to the past

Five years ago, Korea, facing a crisis unprecedented and unforeseen since the Korean War, had to ask for $58 billion in bailout funds from the International Monetary Fund. In the time that has passed, Korea has nearly resurrected a tarnished national image. Other economies of the world now laud us for surmounting the crisis, and the administration responsible for the turnaround has three months left in its tenure. But sadly, we are not yet at the stage where we can safely say that we have learned from our mistakes. This nation now faces yet another possible crisis.

In the wake of the financial crisis, a tremendous amount of public funds were raised and pumped into the economy to restructure and reform. But the end result is different from what the original blueprint intended. The dark clouds looming on our economic landscape today are a product of the government's ambition to stimulate the domestic economy, rather than to restructure. As a result, huge amounts of household loans once again threaten the soundness of this financial system, and the rise of short-term debt flashes warning signs. Despite pledges and implementation of continuous reform, there are sparks yet to be extinguished. The gap between the rich and poor has widened.

Korea's 1997 financial crisis began with a lack of liquidity in foreign reserves. But the real reason for the crisis was that Korea failed to read the rapidly changing trends of the world economy and stolidly stuck with an anachronistic and ineffective economic system. We needed to have taken a good look at our system and trace the problems. But we let good opportunities such as public hearings and the National Assembly inquisition into the use of the bailout funds end in political squabbles, leaving us with no definitive ways to search for an answer to the problems.

The government must forestall possible end-of-tenure economic uncertainties and clearly distinguish the achievements and tasks ahead to give the next administration a set of tasks that must be resolved. The financial crisis is history, but no one should be certain that history will not repeat itself.
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