Local opened higher Thursday following an overnight gain in U.S. stocks, and the Korean currency continued to rally against the U.S. dollar, causing the Finance Ministry to step up monitoring on the exchange rate.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 5.44 points, or 0.27 percent, to 2,003.94 in the first 15 minutes of trading.
Exporters started a tad lower on concerns over the strengthening local currency, while defensive shares gathered ground.
Top market cap Samsung Electronics shed 0.44 percent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor also fell 1.85 percent, while top steelmaker POSCO gained 1.77 percent.
Naver, the operator of the country's top Internet portal, jumped 3.34 percent.
The local currency was trading at 1,033.45 won against the U.S. dollar as of 9:15 a.m., up 7.85 won from Wednesday's close which was the strongest level in more than five years. The local currency rose some 1 percent to the greenback on Wednesday.
On that day, U.S. stocks rallied, bolstered by minutes from the Federal Reserve indicating it may be more accommodative than previously thought.
The Dow Jones industrial average 1.1 percent, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 1.7 percent.
By Bae Hyun-jung and news reports (firstname.lastname@example.org)