[LETTERS to the editor]Clinton supported loan bailout to KoreaChoi Woo-seok’s statement [on South Korea’s response to the 1997 the financial crisis, JoongAng Daily, Sept. 24, 2006], “when our nation was on the brink of bankruptcy and our authorities finally decided to call on Washington, they were only told that the U.S. government had already decided that the International Monetary Fund should bail out Korea,” makes it sound as though the Clinton Administration was indifferent.
The Hanbo and Kia groups collapsed. jaebeol owed big money to foreign banks. The White House arranged direct aid to South Korea ― under the Exchange Stabilization Act ― without the approval of the U.S. Congress.
The record loan package of $57 billion would not have been possible, nor would the intervention have been made in time to make any difference ― by Dec. 3, 1997 ― without the personal, enthusiastic support of then-President Bill Clinton.
James Rubin, the U.S. State Department spokesman at the time, said on Dec. 1,1997 in regard to the the U.S.-D.P.R.K. Framework Agreement: “It was a milestone agreement that froze the North Korean nuclear program in its tracks and was a boon to stability and non-proliferation in the region.”
The Korean government is to be saluted for repaying the $57 billion loan before it was due.
The IMF had kicked in $22 billion; the World Bank, $10 billion; Asian Development Bank, $4 billion; that means wealthy countries (notably Japan), banks and assorted organizations came up with the remaining $21 billion.
The people are to be saluted for tightening their belts during the jaebeol crisis, and for their calmness under the vicissitudes of the volatile life of the region.
by Richard Thompson