Debt held by the self-employed grew about 9 percent last year as their income declined amid the economic slowdown, spawning concerns about their capacity to service debt, data showed Monday.
Bank loans extended to the self-employed amounted to 105.6 trillion won ($100 billion) as of end-2012, up 8.5 percent from the previous year, according to data provided by four major local banks.
Local banks have increased loans to the self-employed as the financial regulator is seeking to curb the growth of household debt.
Debt holding per person who are self-employed reached an average of 120 million won as of end-March, compared with 40 million won for wage workers, data by the central bank showed.
The self-employed saw their debt shoot up last year, but their sales declined, worsening income growth, according to industry data.
Growing debt, coupled with declines in income, is feared to hamper their capacity to service debt, analysts said.
The ratio of debt-repayment against disposable income for the self-employed came in at 26.3 percent last year, up 3.2 percentage points from the previous year.
The Bank of Korea earlier said that the self-employed are holding high levels of debt, spawning concerns about the asset quality of local financial firms.
The number of self-employed people reached 5.67 million as of November, down by around 36,000 from the previous year, amid the economic slowdown and growing debt burdens, according to the state-run Statistics Korea. (Yonhap News)