South Korean stocks turned lower after a strong start, as investors remained concerned over the automatic spending cuts in the United States, analysts said.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) slipped
1.47 points, or 0.07 percent to trade at 2,025.02 in the first 15 minutes of trading.
Steelmakers and shipping lines lost ground, with No. 1 player POSCO falling 1.7 percent and logistics company Hyundai Glovis retreating 1.6 percent.
Top-cap Samsung Electronics, however, gained 0.7 percent.
The White House and Republicans last week again failed to reach an agreement over how to replace the cuts totaling $1.2 trillion, known as the sequester.
The Korean currency was trading at 1,088.55 won against the U.S. dollar as of 9:15 a.m., down 5.6 won from Thursday's close.
The Seoul markets were closed on Friday for the Independence Movement Day. (Yonhap News)