January 7, 1998 in Nation/World

South Koreans Help Country In A Pinch

Compiled From Wire Services
 

Answering a call to help their country, tens of thousands of South Koreans swarmed into banks Tuesday to sell or donate gold in a nationwide campaign to raise badly needed dollars.

A high school teacher brought in gold keys she had received as birthday gifts. A star baseball player sold $9,000 worth of gold baseball medals and miniature gloves and bats.

The monthlong campaign, launched by a bank and state-run TV, is intended to help South Korea repay $57 billion owed to the International Monetary Fund in emergency rescue funds.

For weeks, South Koreans have been collecting spare change and turning in their foreign currency. Last week, state TV reported that Koreans privately hold an estimated 2,000 tons of gold worth $20 billion. Workers rallied to collect jewelry and other items, and the gold drive quickly spread.

On Monday, more than 45,000 people turned in 7,300 pounds of gold worth a total of $33 million. Enthusiasm grew Tuesday, with 88,500 people selling or donating 15,044 pounds of gold.

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