U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to Attend Democracy Summit in South KoreaSeoul Stock Market Reaches 22-Month Peak Following U.S. Tech Surge

SEOUL – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit South Korea next week to participate in the Summit for Democracy, an international assembly initiated by the United States aimed at bolstering cooperation among democratic nations.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Blinken will land at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, located 60 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sunday and will engage in the summit's ministerial discussions the following day.

During his stay, Blinken is slated to conduct bilateral discussions with South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul. This meeting follows their recent interaction in Washington last month, marking their first face-to-face dialogue since Cho's assumption of office in January. The two diplomats had previously convened in Rio de Janeiro during the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in February, reflecting ongoing diplomatic engagements.

This visit marks Blinken’s return to South Korea, following his last trip in November of the previous year when he met with then Foreign Minister Park Jin. His participation underscores the continuing U.S. commitment to reinforcing democratic alliances, especially against a backdrop of increasing global authoritarian tendencies.

The Summit for Democracy, spearheaded by the U.S., seeks to strengthen unity and shared democratic values among participant nations. South Korea is hosting the event this year, which includes ministerial sessions, panel discussions with civic groups, and a concluding virtual leaders' session scheduled from March 18 to 20. U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to join the summit remotely.

The inaugural summit was held by the U.S. in 2021, with the subsequent session being a collaborative effort involving South Korea, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and Zambia.

SEOUL — South Korean equities closed higher on Wednesday, reaching their highest level in 22 months, propelled by gains on Wall Street led by major technology firms. Concurrently, the local currency weakened against the U.S. dollar.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) escalated by 11.76 points, or 0.44 percent, ending the day at 2,693.57. This marks the index's highest closure since April 29, 2022. The trading volume for the day was recorded at moderate levels with 491 million shares exchanged, valued at approximately 10.7 trillion won (US$8.14 billion), with more stocks advancing than declining.

Foreign investors were primarily behind the day's gains, with a net purchase of shares worth 334 billion won, contrasting with the sell-off by institutional and individual investors. This movement in the South Korean market follows the trend set by Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq Composite experienced gains, driven by investor optimism in tech giants like Nvidia and Oracle, despite concerns over higher-than-anticipated U.S. inflation rates in February.

Analyst Han Ji-young from Kiwoom Securities noted that the positive momentum on Wall Street, despite inflation concerns, was buoyed by anticipations of a potential Federal Reserve rate cut in June and the strong performance of artificial intelligence-related stocks.

In the Seoul market, technology and financial sectors witnessed notable advances. Samsung Electronics saw its shares increase by 1.09 percent, while KB Financial Group experienced a significant rise of 5.87 percent. The automotive and telecommunications sectors also showed strong performance, with Hyundai Motor and SK Telecom recording gains.

However, battery-related stocks faced a downturn as investors cashed in on the previous session's substantial gains, leading to a decline in shares of LG Energy Solution and POSCO Future M.

The South Korean won concluded the trading day lower against the U.S. dollar, while bond prices saw an uptick, indicating a decrease in yields for both three-year and five-year government securities.

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