[EDITORIALS]Anxiety behind money flowAccording to the Bank of Korea, more than $4.52 billion was sent abroad in the first quarter by Koreans living or moving abroad. This is a 21 percent increase from the same period last year. It is undesirable for these remittances to be increasing so rapidly.
There are several worrisome aspects about this outflow of money, such as the rapid increase: In January and February, remittances of more than $10,000 amounted up to $400 million. This is 11 times as much as that of three years ago.
Illegal money transfers are also a serious problem. The National Tax Service announced that a gang of money launderers who illegally delivered more than 430 billion won ($358 million) abroad for some 47,000 clients was recently apprehended.
The reports that money has started to roll into banks and that real estate prices have risen in parts of Los Angeles, where Koreans are concentrated, are proof of the excessive flow of money out of Korea.
Why is this happening? Partly it’s because of the increase in students studying abroad. Then there are investment funds in pursuit of higher profit and dirty money from politicians. The pervading sense of insecurity over the North Korean nuclear program is also a factor.
But the biggest reason is the mounting social unrest in our country. With the rising anti-business sentiments and the tensions between the rich and the poor, it has become uncomfortable to spend money in this country, even for the middle-class, not to mention the wealthy. The result is the flow of large sums of money out of the country.
Money that should be spent in production or consumption in the country is being sent abroad. This makes domestic consumption and investment shrink even further and makes an economic recovery, and the creation of new jobs, even more difficult.
The system itself needs to be supplemented. However, the most important prescription is to alleviate the nervousness. We must provide the conditions where business owners and people with money feel safe enough to carry out economic activities in the country. That is how we can prop up the economy and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.