Delinquent borrowers with low credit rating on rise: data

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- The portion of delinquent borrowers with low credit ratings in South Korea has been growing rapidly this year, spawning concerns of worsening financial conditions of the underprivileged, data showed Monday.

The delinquency ratio of the lowest rated group came in at 40.98 percent at the end of May, up by more than a whopping 5 percentage points from end-November last year when the figure had stood at 35.47 percent, according to the data compiled by NICE Information Service Co., a local credit appraiser.

The delinquency ratio here refers to the proportion of borrowers who defaulted after holding debts in arrears for more than 90 days within the last 12 months.

It means nearly half of those with the lowest credit line were unable to pay their debts on time.

Their delinquency ratio was 17-fold more than the overall average of 2.33 percent. The top-rated borrowers' ratio was 0.07 percent in the cited period.

The ratio reflects a fast-growing number of individuals that become unable to pay off their debts under increasing financial burdens largely due to the slowing economy.

South Korea has seen the number of so-called multiple borrowers that owe money to more than three different lenders grow sharply in the past few years, along with its household debt breaking a record every quarter.

Korea's total household debt reached 961.6 trillion won (US$870 billion) as of end-March.

In contrast, the delinquency status of the high credit group improved in the tallied period, with the figure for the top-rated borrowers inching down to 0.07 percent in May from 0.08 percent in November 2012, according to the data.

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