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PACIFIC NOTES

From Times Wire Services

Soaring labor costs are scaring foreign businessmen away from South Korea, and Finance Ministry officials say a further decline is possible this year.

The ministry said foreign investments plunged 26.3% to $803 million last year from $1.09 billion in 1989.

“Foreign investors have changed their targets to more profitable places like the European Community, and Eastern European and Southeast Asian countries, to avoid rising labor costs here,” said an official who asked not to be named.

South Korea, once a haven for cheap and skilled labor, has had double-digit annual wage increases since 1987.

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