Sunday, August 28, 2005

Korea Exchange Bank to offer "Korean Dream" for "foreigners" in Korea

The issue of discrimination against foreigners takes a new turn as the Korea Exchange Bank, controlled by U.S.-based Lone Star investment fund, announces plans to sell a deposit product only for international residents in Korea with valid visas. This is a first among local lenders, many of whom already offer the same savings plans that Korean nationals can use.

The one-year deposite product is called "Korean Dream" and will enable a growing population of foreign residents to deposit money on a regular or irregular basis.

In order to boost the product's appeal, Korea Exchange Bank plans to apply a favorable foreign exchange rate for customers while issuing check cards for depositors, enabling them to make credit-based purchases, although the amount is limited to the size of subscribers' deposits in their accounts. For customers whose deposits in the product exceed 700,000 won (a little less than $700 right now), the bank will issue credit cards to foreign residents holding the correct alienation registration cards. It will also cut remittance fees by 20 per cent for subscribers, and reduce airfares by 3 per cent when foreign customers pay for international flight tickets using the bank's credit card.

While i think it is great that some banks are focusing on "foreigners" as a consumer force, I would like to see the Korean government and Korean businesses--the whole of Korean society in fact--stop differentiating between "Koreans" and "foreigners." The Korean constitution, in fact, probably makes this kind of thing illegal, although determining so would involve someone challenging it in court. And that probably isn't going to happen.

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