Korea Chronology

Jan. 23, 1997: Leading South Korean steelmaker Hanbo Steel Corp defaults on loans. First of a string of major corporate failures in 1997.

March 19: Sammi Steel Co., a unit of Korea's 26th-largest conglomerate, Sammi Group, defaults on loans.

April 21: Jinro, Korea's largest distillery, collapses under mountain of debt.

July 2: In first of a series of regional currency depreciations, Thai central bank announces a managed float of the baht and calls on the International Monetary Fund for "technical assistance."

July 14: IMF offers the Philippines almost $1.1 billion in financial support.

July 15: Kia Group, Korea's eighth-largest conglomerate, becomes latest candidate for bank bailout after it fails to make payments on its 10 trillion won debt.

Aug 11: The IMF unveils a rescue package for Thailand.

Aug 19: Korean won hits record low of 901 to the dollar.

Oct 2: Won slips to 913.50 per US dollar on news Ssangbang Wool faces a debt default.

Oct 8: Indonesia says it will ask IMF for financial assistance.

Oct 22: The South Korean government says state-run Korea Development Bank will be new majority shareholder of Kia Motors, flagship company of Kia Group.

Oct 28: Won ends at 953 despite central bank intervention.

Oct 30: Won, which has 2.25 percent daily trading band, hits. lowest permitted level of 984.70.

Oct 31: Indonesia's IMF package is unveiled, with up to $40 billion in aid.

Nov 1: Won will "never, never, never" breach the psychologically important 1,000 barrier, a Korean central bank official says.

Nov 4: Korea's New Core Group says nine of its 18 affiliates file for court protection.

Nov 10: Won closes at 999 to the dollar.

Nov 17: Central bank says it will no longer defend 986-per-dollar level. Won immediately falls its daily limit to 1008.60.

Nov 18: Korea central bank suggests to finance ministry that Korea should seek an IMF bailout loan. The won hits 1012.80.

Nov 19: Korean finance minister resigns. South Korea widens trading range for won to 10 percent.

Nov 20: Won plunges to its new lower limit of 1139.

Nov 21: Finance ministry says Seoul is discussing a bailout package with IMF. The won rallies to 1065, while stock market index rises 3.6 percent to 506.07.

Dec. 1: Seoul officials announce news conference to give details of IMF package, which is said to total some $55 billion and involve closing of merchant banks. The IMF begs to differ, and talks continue.

Dec. 2: More confusion. Seoul says cabinet has endorsed IMF deal, but later says this was premature and talks continue. Korea stock exchange suspends nine merchant banks.

Dec. 3: IMF and South Korea sign $57 billion bailout deal.

Dec. 9: Korean finance minister says the IMF package may not be big enough or come fast enough. Leading presidential candidate also says he may not support the package.

Dec. 10: US stocks drops sharply.

Dec. 12: No. 4 brokerage firm in Korea collapses.

Dec. 13: Korean presidential candidates agree to support the IMF package.

Dec. 14: Korean won soars 10 percent.

Dec. 15: Government drops trading limits on won. It surges 8 percent.

Dec. 18: Opposition leader Kim Dae Jung elected president on reform platform.

Dec. 19: Korean stocks drops 5 percent on concerns about hardships posed by the IMF reform package.

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