Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Korea movie - National Bankruptcy Day"

My friend sent me his description of a movie that he saw on a flight. It is entitled "Default" or in Korean "National Bankruptcy Day". It tells a dramatization of the events leading up to the 1997 financial crisis in Korea which lead to the country calling in the IMF for loans to avoid bankruptcy of the entire country.

Several terrifying themes came out of that movie.

One, the level of ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, and vested interests among the high level government officials which allowed for poor banking practices to happen which laid the groundwork for the crisis is shocking. What is also shocking is the incompetence and outright lying that occurred in an attempt to conceal the matter which in turn led to even greater damage. They so far as to front the press and say that they are not going to the IMF and that there is no financial crisis.

Two, the IMF was actually taking orders from the US government as a very high level US Treasury official was actually controlling the negotiations behind the scenes. This was against the IMF's own charter. The aim among the terrible conditions imposed in order to get the IMF bail out, was that the IMF (US) imposed rights for hostile takeovers and other draconian measures such as severely weakening worker rights. Also the exchange rate was to be raised thus putting thousands of locally businesses out of business and favouring foreigners. The short of the matter was, the US (through the IMF) would get to control Korea and allow foreign (mainly US firms) to come in and raid the country of its wealth. The US went so far as to get signed guarantees from the 3 leading presidential candidates (it was coming election time in Korea) that they would not oppose the said conditions or reverse the agreement. It shows the level of involvement at the highest levels of government and the US betting on all three candidates. If this isn't election meddling I don't know what is.

Three, also shocking is that both the elected Korean officials and the IMF couldn't care less about the lives of ordinary Korean people. And I also suppose that the same applies to the various countries' peoples that the IMF / US deals with. Many ended up jobless, broke, committed suicide and such.

Four, is that those who within government even Bank of Korea officials who tried to whistleblow were shut down and threatened. They even tried to leak the report to the press by calling a press conference. The next day, not a single newspaper reported on the matter. Talk about control of the press.

And lastly, even as the chaos was about to explode publicly, the corrupt officials would run their own agenda by rushing through the agreement with the IMF. I wonder to whom their loyalty was to. Was it to Korea or to the US?

Also another point that was made clear in the film was that while these corrupt officials would seek to ruin the country through involving the IMF, they would at the same time conduct secret meetings with their "pals" in the private sector and warn them so that they could profit from the impending crash. This is a clear example of the rich and elitist taking care of their own. Many of those government officials would then go on to get highly paid positions within the same or related private sector companies.

Although this is a drama, he said that the key players appear in the movie, their names and positions within the Korean bureaucracy is show at the bottom. E.g. so and so, deputy chief minister or so and so, deputy secretary of the Treasury (US). He believes the key events and the characters mentioned and what they did are true. Or else this movie would have resulted in massive lawsuits from those named and who were in office at the time.

He wonders why would Singapore not want to save Hyflyx. Is it simply poor decision making or incompetence or if there's something more to it. Also would the Singapore government ever tell Sporeans when the CPF money is all gone? The fact that many such things are hidden is very concerning.

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