Deputy Prime Minister (DPM)/Minister of Strategy & Finance Choi Kyung-hwan stated that it is too early to say that the Korean government has lost 36 trillion won (US$32.28 billion) after investing 41 trillion won (US$37.44 billion) in overseas resources development. Choi said that there are strong possibilities that there would be returns from the investments. DPM Choi made the statement answering questions at the question-answer session at the all-member meeting of the Special Committee on Budgets and Accounts at the National Assembly on Nov. 7, 2014. This was reported by leading Korean-language daily Donga Ilbo on Nov. 7, 2014.
Choi’s statement was made in response to a request for explanation presented by Rep. Park Wan-joo of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) on the overseas resources development investments of the preceding government
DPM Choi then added: “During the government of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun (of the former opposition party to which Rep. Park Wan-joo belonged), the rate of returns was only 25% of the amount invested in the set period of time but that after a passage of time the rate of returns eventually reached 110%.”
DPM Choi also stated that overseas resources development investments are a high-risk business and there are examples of both success and failure in such projects during the successive governments of Korea. He said, “It is a business where if you fail you lose a lot of many but if you succeed you make two or three times the money you have invested.”
DPM Choi said, “We must try to understand the situation of the time when the overseas investments were made. During the period 2008-2009, we had an ‘energy crisis’ in all parts of the world and at the time it was a dire national requirement for Korea that lacked in natural resources to secure energy. Investment in overseas resources development in those days was demanded not only by the government but also by the political parties of both ruling and opposition camps. What would happen if you should indiscriminately condemn all overseas resources developments in this manner and if we are unable to do any more such investment? We should try to reasonably study the matters and pass judgment after duly examining the possibilities of gains and losses from such projects.”
On the same topic, Break News quoted DPM Choi as saying “It is not a very good idea to try to make an overly big political issue out of the overseas resources development projects of the preceding government. This is because such resources development projects require a period of 20, 30 and even 50 years to see returns made.” DPM Choi was the minister of knowledge and economy of the preceding government of President Lee Myung-bak (which has been renamed to the minister of trade, industry and energy).