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South Korea banks risk being burnt by winning run

Written by: Staff

SEOUL, June 5: Some South Korean banks may be secretly hoping there is no repeat of the national side's stunning 2002 World Cup run after strong demand for financial products offering higher yields depending on how the team does.

Local banks, which have sold a combined 640 billion won (678.7 million dollars) of World Cup-linked deposit and investment funds, have decided not to insure against South Korea pulling off another surprise in Germany, citing high premiums.

South Korea, co-hosts with Japan for the 2002 tournament, reached the semi-finals, backed by an emotional wave of passionate home support.

''We have not taken out insurance policy on the products because the insurance premiums are even higher than costs we would have to pay if our team makes it to the last 16 or quarter-finals,'' said Oh Seungeook, a spokesman for Woori Bank.

Woori Bank's ''I Love Park Ji-sung'' deposit account, named after the Manchester United player, offers an annual 10 percent yield if South Korea wins the World Cup and seven percent if the team reaches the semi-finals.

It would also pay above the market average of about four percent if the team made it to the last 16 or quarter-finals.

''Not taking insurance does not mean we hope our team doesn't do well in this World Cup because we can raise our brand image,'' the Woori Bank spokesman assured.

Two other banks that offered the special products, Hana Bank and Korea Exchange Bank, also said they would forego insurance to cover the products.

South Korea will begin their Group G campaign against Togo on June 13, and also face France and Switzerland.


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