The Korea Herald


Nearly one-third of S. Korean investors are overseas stock traders

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : April 4, 2021 - 15:36

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A sign for Wall Street hangs outside of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City. (AFP-Yonhap) A sign for Wall Street hangs outside of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City. (AFP-Yonhap)
As the number of South Koreans investing in the local stock market nears 10 million, about one-third of those investors are also overseas stock traders, according to local securities firms Sunday.

The recent data, compiled by 10 major brokerages here including Mirae Asset Securities and Kiwoom Securities, showed that the number of active equity accounts for overseas stock trading was 3.21 million as of March.

The number of trading accounts at local investment firms came to 435,000 at the end of 2019, but soared to some 2.46 million the following year. An additional 750,000 accounts were created in the January-March period of this year, the data showed.

While the accumulated number of retail investors in Asia’s fourth-largest economy came to 9.19 million, the number of active stock accounts for local trading surpassed 40 million as of end-March, according to the Korea Securities Depository.

Market experts say that most local stock traders hold trading accounts at different brokerages, but that the majority have one account for overseas stock trading. This tendency shows that local retail investors have turned their attention to foreign stocks as they seek greater profits from global investments amid bullish runs after the COVID-19 pandemic affected markets, they explain.

Small domestic investors here rushed to invest in the US stock market. They expected stabler returns and a less volatile market environment. Not only are they looking to become stockholders of global companies such as Tesla and Apple, they are also choosing to keep their eyes on familiar firms such as Coupang.

As some brokerage houses introduced fractional share investing on overseas stocks, the number of people with small sums of investment funds also soared. As a result, the accumulated value of foreign stock transactions between January and March logged $128.5 billion, more than 60 percent of 2020’s year-end figure of $198.3 billion.

Their holdings were worth around $57.7 billion as of end-March. Last year, local stock traders owned foreign stocks worth $47 billion, nearly three times the 2019 figure of $14.4 billion.

By Jie Ye-eun (