|The headquarters of the Korea Deposit Insurance Corp. in Seoul / Korea Times file|
Customers' deposits worth around 6.5 trillion won ($5.7 billion) at savings banks may not be immediately available to the account holders in the event of the institutions' bankruptcy, according to the Korea Deposit Insurance Corp. (KDIC), Thursday.
The state-run organization said 77,551 people each had over 50 million won in 79 savings banks nationwide as of the end of the third quarter of 2018, with the amount totaling over 10 trillion won.
Currently, up to 50 million won per bank is protected under the depositor protection act.
Of the 10 trillion won, the unprotected amount came to about 6.4 trillion won, a 7.9 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 28.8 percent increase from September 2017.
The amount peaked at 7.6 trillion won in 2009 but plummeted to 1.7 trillion won as of the third quarter of 2013.
The sharp fall came after 30 major savings banks were shut down due to financially unsound management. The KDIC then spent 27.2 trillion won to resolve the situation.
The unprotected amount has been increasing over the past year as more customers are depositing their money at savings banks because they offer higher interest amid improvements in their financial soundness.
The KDIC said customers can still get amounts exceeding 50 million because it has set up a "special bankruptcy fund" to equally divide assets owned by bankrupt financial firms.
In the event of a bankruptcy, a KDIC official explained, "We form a special body to give as much money as possible to account holders."
He added, "An appraisal procedure will be initiated to determine how seized assets should be liquidated to pay back customers."