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Koreans Spending More Money Overseas

Posted June. 03, 2006 03:12,   


Koreans spend money on playing golf in China, education in the U.S. and Canada, purchasing souvenirs in Thailand and buying clothes in Hong Kong and Italy.

Koreans’ overseas spending is increasing, with the number of Koreans going overseas to travel soaring amid the appreciation of the won and continuing craze for studying abroad from early age.

How much are Koreans spending overseas, and for what?

Dong-A Ilbo conducted a joint survey with BC Card, the country’s largest credit card company, of the state of Koreans’ credit card spending over the first four months of this year. There are about 19 million uses of BC Card, which accounts 73 percent of the country’s economically productive population (approximately 26 million). The survey revealed a new overseas consumption trend, such as playing golf in China and receiving medical services in Singapore and Australia.

Also, consumption behavior, which has been assumed so far, including buying clothes in Hong Kong and Italy, home appliances in Japan and cosmetics in France, was also analyzed.

The U.S. is the country in which Koreans used their credit cards most. The frequency and amount of credit card spending in the country more than tripled that in China, which ranked second. Japan, Thailand and Australia came in third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Hotels are the place in which Koreans used their credit cards most, with 38.2 billion won, followed by restaurants, airlines, department stores and duty free stores.

In terms of credit card spending in hotels, however, Koreans used their cards more frequently in China than in the U.S. They used their cards 48,000 times, spending 9.8 billion won, in hotel rates in China, which far exceeds those in the U.S. hotels (19,000 times with seven billion won).

This demonstrates that China emerged as a business partner. Considering that Koreans paid in local hotels, chances are high that their trips were business trips rather than group tours.

In English-speaking countries, including the U.S., Canada and Australia, Koreans spent a lot on “educational service,” including college tuition and private language institutes.

In Hong Kong and Italy, they spent almost half of the entire credit card consumption there on buying clothes and fashion accessories.

In every Asian country, including Japan and China, the bar was among the top 10 spending places. Koreans paid a total of 4.8 billion won, using credit cards, for approximately 300,000 won per visit.

A manager at BC Card said, “What’s striking is that education-related spending among credit card consumption overseas increased 35 percent from last year,” adding, “Koreans’ overseas consumption is focused on several sectors, including education, medical services and tourism.”

Sang-Hoon Kim Suk-Min Hong sanhkim@donga.com smhong@donga.com