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Does Europe Have a Korean Option?

WASHINGTON, DC – On the surface, at least, the situation in the eurozone today and South Korea in the fall of 1997 look very different. Both are cases of severe economic crisis, to be sure. But the eurozone’s problems stem from high levels of government debt, while South Korea faced massive capital flight and a collapsing currency – and almost all of the debt was in the corporate sector.

Nevertheless, the eurozone could learn from the experience of South Korea, which came through its crisis more quickly than anyone expected, combining sensible reforms with a rapid recovery. The key to the South Korean turnaround was a large depreciation of the currency, the won. A depreciation of the euro seems to be one likely way that the eurozone will turn the corner.