Korea’s Myeong-dong shopping district is a beehive of activity at all hours of the day, and that activity is driven more and more by Chinese customers these days.
“We have more Chinese customers than Koreans because there are a lot of tourists here. They also buy far more products than local residents, because they’re cheaper here than in China.”
“And the amount of money Chinese tourists spent in Korea on credit cards shot up over 80 percent last year to around 3.8 trillion won, or roughly 3.7 billion U.S. dollars from the same period a year ago. That is almost half of what all foreigners spent in Korea.”
Chinese investors have also taken a greater interest in Korea. They funneled more than 1.3 billion dollars into Korea’s securities market from December last year through May this year. That’s the largest amount of any country. Experts, however, point out the risks of too much Chinese capital flowing into the country.
“Chinese investors could have speculative purposes when coming into the Korean market, and if that money exits the country all at once, it could have a major, negative impact on the local market.”
In terms of exports, which is Korea’s traditional growth engine, China’s hold on the domestic economy grows even stronger. Last year, China took up almost 60 percent of Korea’s trade surplus, while that figure stood at less than 8 percent in 1998. Experts add it’s important for Korean companies to continue improving their products and services so they can keep on attracting Chinese customers and their money.