When South Korea announced new lending curbs last month, Joe Park, a 34-year-old grocery chain purchasing manager, scrambled to borrow more money before the tighter rules took effect.

After his loan broker said no, he sought alternative financing that included much costlier credit card options, knowing such loans would leave him with less money for food and savings.

A debt binge fuelled by young Koreans like Park desperate to invest is one of the trends worrying the country's central bank, which could deliver its first interest rate rise in three years on Thursday.