South Korea’s economic growth tumbled to a 3-year low in 2012 as exports and domestic demand remained weak amid the protracted eurozone debt crisis, the central bank said Thursday. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic performance, grew 0.4% in the October-December period, quickening from a 0.1% on-quarter gain tallied in the third quarter, according to an advanced estimate by the Bank of Korea (BOK). The fourth-quarter numbers marked the first acceleration following the second straight quarters of slowdown, but the full-year growth reached 2%, the slowest growth in three years, (Yonhap) news agency reported. “The protracted eurozone debt crisis and external risks led the local economy to grow less than earlier expected last year,” Kim Young-bae, the director general of the BOK’s economic statistics division, said at a press conference. Kim described the situation of the Korean economy in 2012 as having been traveling along an unpaved road in fog, adding that at least the fog seems to be lifted this year. “The economic growth is likely to improve in the first half, helped by increased fiscal spending by the incoming government,” Kim added. The global economy shows some signs of improvement, but downside risks to growth at home and abroad still persist for the export-dependent Korean economy. The local currency’s ascending trend to the dollar and the yen, driven by powerful credit easing by advanced economies, is raising concerns about overseas shipments. On Jan. 11, the BOK cut its 2013 growth outlook to 2.8% from 3.2% while it froze the key interest rate at 2.75% for the third straight month. More analysts are betting on a rate cut in the first quarter on belief that the central bank would lend support to the incoming government’s move to prop up the economy. The incoming government of President-elect Park Geun-hye is widely expected to take stimulus measures in the face of lingering economic uncertainty at home and abroad.