Research and Statistics

Credit cards around the world: South Korea


Our ongoing series heads to Asia for a look at credit card use and credit card statistics in South Korea.

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Our ongoing series heads to Asia for a look at credit card use and credit card statistics in South Korea.


A “credit card-friendly” country
The International Herald-Tribune says, “Thanks to what began in the late 1990s as a government campaign to fight corruption, South Korea has become one of the world’s most credit card-friendly countries.” It ranked 34th in per capita income in 2005 but fifth in per capita credit card spending, according to the nation’s central bank.

Hit hard by credit craze
The government’s credit card push led to a huge financial problem in 2003. Nearly 4 million South Koreans defaulted. “Huge debt write-offs, mergers and tightening standards for issuing cards” followed. It took several years to recover.

Cards and crime
Gone phishing
As of late 2006, South Korea was second only to the United States among countries that host “phishing” sites. Phishing is an attempt — often via email — to fraudulently take on the identity of a trusted source, such as a credit card company, with the hope of luring an unsuspecting customer into providing his personal data. Criminals then use that data to steal the user’s identity.

Local voices
Official tourism site

  • Visit KoreaTop financial news sites
  • Korea Times
  • Korea Economic DailySouth Korean financial blogs
  • The Incredible Shrinking WonCountry info
    President: Lee Myung-bak
    Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
    Population: 48,379,392 (July 2008)
    Area: 38,023 sq. mi. or 98,480 sq. km. (slightly larger than Indiana)
    GDP: $1.206 trillion (2007 estimate)
    Key exports: semiconductors, wireless telecom equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
    Famous South Koreans: Golfer Se Ri Pak, baseball pitcher Chan Ho Park, movie director Chan-wook Park
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