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Banking

Korea survives the fall-out

Perhaps it’s not sufficiently dramatic for South Koreans to have the world’s craziest regime as their northern neighbour, with its twitchy nuclear finger. It seems they might need to be spooked some more – and what better bogeyman than the foreign-derived global financial crisis? Eric Ellis reports.

ABOUT THE FIRST thing one sees on arrival at Seoul’s hyper-modern Incheon Airport after entry formalities is a screen animation depicting the capital’s landmark communications tower soaring over downtown Namsan Park, as the city of 12 million sprawls beneath it.

At first glance it looks like a tourist lure for Namsan’s scenic cable-car ride through bucolic greenery overlooking magnificent cityscapes.

Look again.

The animation reveals huge hairy hands – a metaphor for the financial crisis – that suddenly begin tearing great chunks out of Namsan. The tower starts to teeter, the surrounding city is in chaos, and people are dying. It’s as if the world is collapsing, the very foundations of the country are being torn asunder.

But wait – help is at hand in the form of Hyundai Capital, the finance arm of one of South Korea’s biggest chaebols, or conglomerates. And just as the tower begins to topple, the friendlier hand of Hyundai reaches out to stop the calamitous ensemble from descending to disaster. Namsan’s foundations are quickly restored and so, too, presumably, are the nation and its apparently vulnerable wealth. The overly dramatic message is clear – Hyundai Capital will be there to save you.

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