Is South Korea the only country in which there are regular press articles which highlight the amount of profits that foreigners make from the Korean market – the implication being that only Koreans should be allowed to make a profit? A recent Chosun article summarised the 2006 Central Bank investment statistics. Six months ago KBS had a similar story. And as has been well-documented in the Loan Star / KEB case, make too many profits and the inspectors come in and try to take them away.
I’m aiming, in my own very small way, to become one of those profiteering foreigners. Doing my usual last-minute admin to take advantage of the nugatory benefits offered in the UK’s Individual Savings Accounts system, I thought I’d put a tiny bit of money where my mouth is, and invest in the Korean stock market. If it’s good enough for Warren Buffett, it’s good enough for me.
Easier said than done. Country-specific funds are out of vogue, unless it’s the really hot countries like China and India. And finding funds which have the dubious privilege of being ISAble is even harder. Morningstar, the mutual-fund information people, can’t find any Korea funds qualifying for inclusion in an ISA, and can only find nine managers providing coverage of Korea generally. On the very unscientific basis that the Baring Korea Trust was the only one which my supermarket had in stock, Barings got my money.
I’m not expecting overnight riches (the fund fell 5% in January) but it might make me follow what’s going on in the Korean business world a bit more closely.
- Herald Tribune article (9 Mar 2007): South Korean stocks lure Warren Buffett
- Chosun article (16 Mar 2007): Foreign Investors Earn Big Profits from Korea in 2006
- KBS article (25 Sept 2006): Foreigners Profited $90 Bln on Domestic Stocks