"Go naked . . . don't eat . . . don't drink . . . don't breathe!" says a woman in a Korean TV commercial.

She pulls her belt tighter and tighter and tighter, then gasps - the perfect illustration of what analysts fear is happening to South Korea's economy.The government-funded public service announcement is designed to change Koreans' ideas about how to help revive their ravaged economy.

Its message: Your austerity has gone too far - so get out there and spend some money.

The TV spot made its debut a few weeks ago, just after statistics began to show the biggest slump in decades for January consumer spending, industrial output, electricity use and other economic indicators.

The numbers showed what Koreans already knew: Since the International Monetary Fund was called in to save the collapsing economy in November, huge numbers of people have stopped driving cars, eating out and taking trips.

They've cut back on purchases of everything from shoes, food and lipstick to autos and appliances, a trend that could eventually strangle an economy already on the respirator.

"Too much austerity is killing Korean companies," said Chung Moon-kun, an economist with the Samsung Economic Research Institute.

"It will lead to more unemployed, which will lead to less consumption - and then a vicious circle."

Of course, austerity is being forced on a certain percentage of Koreans. Unemployment hit 4.5 percent in January and inflation is eating up more of people's falling incomes.

But some analysts have been warning for months that a big injection of frugality was not the right medicine for Korea's ills.

Unfortunately, they were drowned out in the clamor that arose last year as frightened and humiliated Koreans watched a half-dozen of their once-powerful conglomerates slide into bankruptcy and nearly take the country with them.