South Korean Developers Struggle Amid Market Slump

South Korean Developers Struggle Amid Market Slump

Akari Tanaka
2 min read

South Korean Developers Face Increasing Financial Strain Amid Market Slump

The Bank of Korea highlighted the escalating financial challenges confronting South Korean developers as a result of the current market downturn. Since implementing stricter policies in 2021 to combat inflation, the central bank noted a struggle within the property sector. The high policy rates, currently at 3.5%, have hindered developers' access to loans, particularly project finance (PF) loans, and made debt management increasingly difficult. The recent financial stability report from the BOK warned of sustained low profitability for construction companies, owing to reduced new orders and permits, with smaller and provincial developers being particularly vulnerable. The delinquency rate for PF loans has surged to 3.55%, underscoring the ongoing financial strain. Despite these concerns, the BOK has expressed confidence in a low risk of a systemic financial crisis and is contemplating a potential policy shift as inflation shows signs of easing towards its 2% target.

Key Takeaways

  • South Korean developers are grappling with exacerbated financial challenges amidst a market slump.
  • The Bank of Korea's policy tightening has impacted the profitability of the property sector.
  • Delinquency rates for project finance loans have risen amid a total loan volume of 134.2 trillion won.
  • Smaller and provincial developers are particularly susceptible to liquidity challenges.
  • The central bank is considering signaling a potential rate cut as inflation softens towards the 2% target.


The financial struggles faced by South Korean developers can be traced back to the stringent policies enforced by the Bank of Korea since 2021 to combat inflation. The high policy rates have restricted loan accessibility and amplified debt management challenges, particularly for project finance loans. This has led to an increase in delinquency rates and reduced profitability, especially for smaller and provincial developers. The potential easing of inflation could prompt a policy shift, potentially resulting in reduced interest rates and relieving financial strain. However, the short-term impact remains daunting, with the long-term consequences contingent on the effectiveness of future monetary adjustments.

Did You Know?

  • Project Finance (PF) Loans: These loans are purposefully designed to finance large-scale infrastructure or construction projects, typically structured based on the potential cash flows of the project rather than the borrower's balance sheet. Repayment of these loans depends on the revenue generation of the respective project.
  • Delinquency Rate: It signifies the percentage of loans where the borrower fails to make payments on time. A rising delinquency rate indicates challenges faced by borrowers, potentially reflecting financial stress within the sector or economy.
  • Policy Pivot: This denotes a significant shift in a central bank's monetary policy direction. In this context, a policy pivot by the Bank of Korea would entail transitioning from tightening (increasing interest rates) to easing (potentially lowering interest rates) in response to evolving economic conditions, such as a reduction in inflation.

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