Asia-based securitization bankers outside of Japan breathed a sigh of relief in April. When Korea First Bank completed a US$499.6 million MBS deal via UBS, it was the country's first cross-border offering since Samsung Life's US$299.6 million MBS - a late 2002 deal arranged by Morgan Stanley.

Considering that sizeable, international transactions from Korea completely dominated the Asia scene from 2000 through 2002, it is understandable bankers hope the KFB deal heralds a return to those days. However, Korea has changed markedly since 2002, and it might be wise to reserve judgment on whether issuance can match earlier levels.

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