President Kim Dae-jung yesterday stressed the importance of opening up the South Korean economy to direct foreign investment as a means to help pull the country back out of crisis. He said the government was actively pursuing measures to create a new and more welcoming environment for foreign capital which has for decades been blocked by successive governments. Apart from open hostility from governments and local companies toward foreign groups, investment has been stymied by the lack of corporate and legal transparency. The need for an injection of foreign capital has gained urgency as Mr Kim attempts drastic measures to stimulate economic reform and growth in the wake of the US$60 billion bailout package South Korea received from the International Monetary Fund earlier this year. 'My administration has been making a lot of efforts to activate foreign investment, as have I personally,' Mr Kim told a Financial Times conference in Seoul. 'It has only been two months since I was inaugurated. I believe there are few countries which have pushed the liberalisation of foreign investment faster or more effectively than we have.' The president said the government would pass laws within the next six months which would allow hostile foreign takeovers. He spoke optimistically of the recent agreement with trade unions which he said would guarantee greater flexibility in the labour market. 'The Korean people are determined to resolve the current crisis and turn the misfortune into a blessing,' Mr Kim said. 'Such a determination is behind the efforts to implement the Labour-Management-Government agreement.'