South Korea''s public and private-sector debt came to 2.6 times its gross domestic product (GDP) as of the end of June, data showed Monday, sounding alarm bells for the country''s indebtedness. The Korean government, state companies, private firms and households owed a combined 3,283 trillion won (US$2.9 trillion) as of end-June, up 5.7 percent from the 3,106 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data by think tanks and securities firms, according to South Korea''s news agency (Yonhap).The debt-to-GDP percentage is based on an estimate that the South Korean economy, Asia''s fourth-largest, will expand 8 percent on-year in 2011 on a nominal basis.Debts of households and non-profit organizations jumped 9.4 percent on-year to 1,050 trillion won, while the government debt rose 5.9 percent to 419 trillion won, according to the data. Private companies'' debt came to 1,461 trillion won, up 1 percent from the previous year, while public companies'' liabilities shot up 15.9 percent to 353 trillion won, according to the data. Economists and market watchers raised concerns over the size of the country''s debt and its growth pace. "Overall, South Korea''s debt level is reasonable compared with other advanced economies. But the already-large household debt can be a time bomb for the local economy," Park Deog-bae, an economist at Hyundai Research Institute, said by phone. "At times when the government has the capacity to handle the debt, it won''t be a big problem. But amid global uncertainties, it''s definitely a risk factor." In a recent report, Kiwoom Securities Co. also pointed out the problem of rising household debt. "Individuals'' debt is at a level difficult to bear. Borrowers'' capacity to repay debts is also worsening amid weak domestic demand," the brokerage said. However, some said South Korea is better off than other economies."The spillover of the eurozone financial crisis into Italy will be the biggest threat to the South Korean economy," said LG Economic Research Institute economist Shin Min-young. "It''s true that high debts can be a burden to the local economy, but the country is still in a better situation."