S. Korea to extend loan maturity again for pandemic-hit firms, merchants

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s financial regulator said Tuesday local banks will extend loan maturity and delay interest payments again for smaller firms and merchants hit hard by the pandemic.

Local lenders have decided to extend the measures by another six months until the end of September, according to the Financial Services Commission (FSC).

Since March last year, lenders have extended loan maturity for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and smaller shop owners by six months twice to help ease their financial burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smaller merchants and self-employed people have suffered extended business slumps as the face-to-face service segments took a beating from the pandemic.

The outstanding amount of bank loans with extended maturity reached 121 trillion won (US$107 billion) as of end-January, according to the FSC.

Local banks’ lending to households amounted to 996.4 trillion won as of the end of January, up 7.6 trillion won from the previous month, according to central bank data. Banks’ corporate lending grew 10 trillion won on-month to 986.3 trillion won.