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Korea: The great universe is torn asunder

As Daewoo, once symbolic of the strength of new Korea, is forced into dismemberment because of crippling debt, the government hopes the demise of the second largest of Korea's chaebols will spur others to restructure to avoid a similar fate. However, there is a worry that economic recovery has taken some of the pressure off chaebol chiefs. Steven Irvine reports

Financial sector bounces back


Korea moves between extremes. Only 18 months ago Lim Chang-yuel was finance minister of a country on the verge of collapse. Lim steered Korea through its liquidity crisis and was instrumental in launching the republic's $4 billion bond issue. His tireless efforts to save Korea from bankruptcy won him the respect of the international community.

Lim became a national hero and went on to use his popularity to become elected as governor of Kyonggi province. Then last month, in a dramatic reversal of fortune, Lim and his wife Joo Hye-ran were arrested for allegedly taking a W500 million ($416,000) bribe. It was said that the former finance minister had been given the money by Suh E-suk, the former president of Kyungki Bank, who reportedly was trying to prevent the forced closure of his bank. Suh was charged with taking W368 million in return for extending illegal loans of W169 billion to nine ailing companies. All in all, the scandal has led to the arrest of 19 former bank officials.

Workaholic and perfectionist

Kim Woo-choong is another to be dis-comfited but not for alleged wrong-doing.