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Last week, two Korean delinquent borrowers got jobs at Kyungnam Bank, the national bank of Korea, surprising many Korean people since delinquent borrowers are believed to struggle for employment because of bad perception toward them. Choi Sung-woo and Lee, who prefers not to state his first name, thus got a lucky break. The term ‘delinquent borrowers’ describes people who borrow money from the government or from a financial company and fail to repay it on time.
Thirty-year-old Choi Sung-woo was considered a delinquent borrower earlier this year due to his college tuition loan. It took him almost 10 years to finish his undergraduate and graduate degrees because he had to work and study at the same time to afford the tuition. Ten years on, he still had accumulated almost 20M won (1,800 dollars) in debt. Despite his effort, he could not pay back his debt in time and ended up being registered as a delinquent borrower.
However, he did not give up a hope of getting a job and finally got the chance he has been waiting for recently when Kyungnam Bank decided to open up for job positions for people of bad credit standing.
Kyungnam Bank announced that they were going to hire 50 delinquent borrowers, in association with The Korean Scholarship Foundation, in order to help people who have trouble getting jobs because of their bad credit standing. The bank promised to hire several full-time workers from 5050 employees, based on their performance during the internship period.
Four months later, Choi Sung-woo and Lee got jobs at Kyungnam Bank after giving great performances as interns. Choi described his happiness, saying “I felt like I was finally out of hell.”
Many companies, especially in the financial sector, are reluctant to hire people of bad credit standing. However, the Kyungnam Bank thought people who become delinquent borrowers because of school loans are in a different position. The bank believes it this is not their fault but a problem of the Korean social structure, expressing itself in expensive college tuition and high unemployment rate.
Lee was in a similar position as Choi. He studied at a national university located in an undisclosed area of Korea, borrowing money for school tuition four times. He was about to graduate shortly before he got the job at Kyungnam Banck and he was worried. Once someone with school loans finishes their studies in Korea, they have to pay back all money right away, otherwise they become a delinquent borrower.
“When I saw a job opening at Kyungnam Bank, I thought it was the only chance for me to work at the bank. Because financial companies usually are unwilling to hire people like me with lots of debts, I worked extremely hard for four months as an intern. I literally did everything I could at the office,” Lee said.
Choi and Lee both stressed that companies should give more chance to college students struggling with loans.
Lee said, “Most of my classmates got a student loan when they were in school. As the unemployment rate increases, the situation is getting harder and harder for students with school loan. I hope these university students had more chance than usual in the future to get out of a situation with debt.”