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About us

The Mission

Worldcrunch delivers the best global journalism previously shut off from English language readers: selecting, translating and editing content from top foreign-language outlets.

The Method

The most relevant foreign-language stories are produced in English by Worldcrunch staff and contributors around the globe, deployed to react quickly to breaking events and find the best content in the international media. We are also creating a platform, Crunch It!, to build a community of newshounds who will flag and help translate interesting stories from both mainstream media outlets and blogs, as well as produce stories of their own.

The Vision

With Worldcrunch, the great untapped resource of foreign-language news and information is hereby available. By combining professional journalistic standards with the energy of the web's flock of curious readers, writers and translators -- and building a framework for copyright access and distribution -- we create a whole new well of top-shelf news content from the best sources covering the world today. And our vision for the future? Worldcrunch will be the virtual square where language barriers fade, and a new brand of global journalism is born.

The Team

The Buzz

Spreading the News in Europe, in English

nytimes.com | May 8, 2011

As news organizations around the world shut down foreign bureaus, journalists, entrepreneurs and even government bodies in Europe are creating new news ventures to try to fill the void.
As a result, readers seeking international news are increasingly spoiled for choice — especially if they read English, the common second language of many Europeans and the favored tongue for many of the new outlets... Read all

News translation service Worldcrunch chalks up first distribution deal

journalism.co.uk | April 12, 2011

News translation platform Worldcrunch has announced its first distribution deal this week, in a new partnership with Time.com.
Worldcrunch, which went live in December last year, was set up by former bureau chief for Time magazine Jeff Israely and former CEO of Ask.com France Irene Toporkoff... Read all

How can news sites cross the language barrier and appeal to foreign readers?

thenextweb.com | March 2, 2011

Americans and Brits who are hungry for foreign news can find a quick overview without having to engage in the heavy lifting that would be required in order to navigate through every non-English news site. The Economist can maintain its news scarcity... Read all

Media Pros Unleashed: Disruption Drives Innovation

mediapost.com | January 7, 2011

In January 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight. It was about 11:30 in the morning, and I was a reporter at a daily newspaper in New Jersey. The time of day was significant because it meant that if we hustled, we could get the story into the afternoon edition of the paper.The editor actually... Read all

Online Journalism News

journalism.co.uk | November 19, 2010

A former bureau chief for Time magazine and former CEO of Ask.com France have co-founded a site which aims to offer journalists and the public translated news from non-English media... Read all

WorldCrunch: making global news accessible

editorsweblog.org | November 18, 2010

All news can be global and local, declares the website of new start-up WorldCrunch, whose mission is to provide English translations of news articles from around the world. "What we're looking for is to provide a global view of the world," co-founder Jeff Israely told the Editors Weblog... Read all

New international news project: WorldCrunch

ejc.net | November 11, 2010

Former Time magazine bureau chief in Europe Jeff Israely has announced his new international news project, WorldCrunch, on Nieman Lab. WorldCrunch, inspired by France's Courrier International among others, will collect and translated news content from around the world... Read all

Jeff Israely: An idea and a brand come together as Worldcrunch

niemanlab.org | November 10, 2010

This is a long overdue introduction: a kind of public christening, a chance to share with you, the reader, our vision for the future of news. Okay, you see... Read all

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Society

Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum

-Analysis-

SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.


It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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