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The past decades witnessed significant changes in the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since its inception in 1944, the IMF’s aim has been to promote exchange stability and establish a system of payments in respect of current transactions between member countries. However, after several financial crises in recent years and conditionality in its financing programs, the IMF has shifted its focus to structural reforms rather than management of the payment system and provision of pecuniary assistance to countries in financial distress. This article examines the historical role of the IMF and how it has changed via an investigation of the economic reforms in Korea since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. In comparison with Japan, Korea’s case provides telling evidence of the high conditionality of IMF-supported programs.