Potential Risk of Foreign Investment Outflow in South Korea Due to Delayed U.S. Rate CutsNorth Koreans Mark Lunar New Year with Traditional Celebrations, State Media Reports

SEOUL — South Korea may experience a withdrawal of foreign investment from its financial market if the anticipated rate cuts in the United States are postponed, a report from the Korea Center for International Finance (KCIF) suggested on Saturday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, while the current global monetary policy shifts and the upcycle in the information technology sector, notably semiconductors, have created a conducive environment for foreign capital inflow, there remains a significant risk of outflow. This risk hinges on the timing of a "soft landing" for the U.S. economy and the initiation of rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The report highlights the importance of monitoring these external economic indicators closely as they play a crucial role in the stability and attractiveness of South Korea's financial market to foreign investors. Despite the upward trend in foreign investment in South Korea, with significant net purchases of stocks and bonds in recent months, the disparity in interest rates between the U.S. and South Korea since September 2022 poses a potential threat to sustained foreign investment levels. The KCIF emphasizes the need for vigilance and strategic economic planning to mitigate the impact of global monetary policy o n South Korea's market.

SEOUL — In North Korea, the Lunar New Year was celebrated on Saturday with traditional food and folk games, as well as tributes to the country's late leaders, according to reports from Pyongyang's state-run media. The Rodong Sinmun, the primary newspaper in North Korea, highlighted in its Saturday edition that the Lunar New Year is among the most cherished holidays for the North Korean people.

According to Yonhap News Agency, North Koreans engage in cleaning their homes and preparing traditional dishes to observe the Lunar New Year. The celebration includes the consumption of "tteokguk," a rice cake soup, and the practice of "sebae," a formal bow to the elderly, mirroring customs in South Korea. Additionally, the festivities involve playing folk games such as "yutnori," a board game that utilizes four wooden sticks in place of dice.

Despite the holiday's significance, the celebrations in North Korea do not extend over a prolonged period, unlike in South Korea, where the Lunar New Year prompts massive travel from Seoul and its surrounding areas to hometowns across the country. North Koreans, facing travel restrictions, experience a more subdued holiday period in terms of mobility.

The report also noted that significant holidays in North Korea traditionally center around the birthdays of its founding leader, Kim Il-sung, on April 15, known as the Day of the Sun, and his son, Kim Jong-il, on February 16, referred to as Kwangmyongsong Day. At the dawn of the new year, it is customary for North Koreans to visit the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun or local statues of the two Kims to honor their memories.

The tradition of celebrating the Lunar New Year in North Korea was initiated in 1989 by decree of Kim Jong-il and was officially designated as a holiday in 2003. The Korean Central News Agency credited Kim Jong-il's commitment to Korean traditions as the reason the populace could joyously commemorate the Lunar New Year.

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