SEJONG, May 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's short-term foreign debt hit a 5-year high in the first quarter of the year, although its overall debt level remained flat, the finance ministry said Thursday.
The country's total external debt stood at US$440.6 billion in the first quarter, unchanged from a quarter earlier, according to the ministry.
The country's short-term external debt -- with a maturity of one year or less -- totaled $129.4 billion as of the end of March, a gain of $2.9 billion from a quarter earlier.
It marked the highest since the second quarter of 2014, when the country's short-term external debt stood at $132.9 billion, according to the ministry.
The figure accounted for 29.4 percent of the country's total external debt at the end of March, compared with 28.7 percent in December.
The ratio of short-term foreign debt to foreign reserves stood at 31.9 percent at the end of March, rising 0.6 percentage point from December.
South Korea's short-term foreign debt is a source of concern, as a sharp rise can leave the country vulnerable to external shocks.
The ratio sharply surged during the global financial crisis, hitting 79.3 percent in the third quarter of 2008.
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