Purpose - The aim of this paper is to investigate the ex-planatory power of the Pecking-order theory (the cost of financ-ing increases with asymmetric information) among Korean retail firms from the perspective of debt capacity. According to the Pecking-order theory, a firm’s first preference is to use internal funds for its capital needs, its next preference is the issuance of debt, and its last preference is the issuance of equity; this is due to the information asymmetry problem between existing shareholders and investors. However, prior empirical studies, such as Lemmon and Zender (2010), argue that the entire sam-ple test for the Pecking-order theory could be misleading due to the different levels of debt issuance capability of each of the in-dividual firms; in fact, they confirm that the explanatory power of the Pecking-order theory improves after taking into account the differences in debt capacity of the U.S. firms they examined. This paper implements a case study approach among Korean retail firms to examine the relationship between debt capacity and the explanatory power of the Pecking-order theory in Korea. Research design, data, and methodology - This study uses the sample of public retail firms on the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) from the time period of 1990 to 2013. We gather related financial and accounting statements from the fi-nancial information firm WISEfn. Credit rating information is pro-vided by the Korea Investor Service. We employ the models of Lemmon and Zender (2010) and Son and Kim (2013) to meas-ure a firm’s debt capacity. Their logit models use the rating dummy variable as a dependent variable and incorporate other firm characteristics as independent variables to estimate debt capacity. To test the Pecking-order theory, we adopt variants of the financing deficit model of Shyam-Sunder and Myers (1999).In the test of the Pecking-order theory, we consider all of the changes in total debt obligations, current debt obligations, and long-term debt obligations. Results - Our main contribution to the literature is our con-firmation of the predicted relationship between debt capacity and the explanatory power of the Pecking-order theory among Korean retail firms. The coefficients on financing deficits become greater as a firm’s debt capacity improves. This is consistent with the results of Lemmon and Zender (2010). The coefficients on the square of the financing deficits are also negative for the firms in the largest debt capacity group, which is also consistent with the predictions in prior literature. Conclusions - This study takes a case study approach by examining Korean retail firms. We confirm that the Pecking-order theory explains the capital structure of retail firms more appro-priately, after taking into account the debt capacity of each firm. This result suggests the importance of debt capacity consid-eration in the testing of the Pecking-order theory. Our result al-so implies that there has been a potential underestimation of the explanatory power of the Pecking-order theory in existing studies.