S. Korea to support launch of foreign hospitals, ease daily stock

By 이현정
  • Published : Aug 12, 2014 - 10:22
  • Updated : Aug 12, 2014 - 10:22
South Korea will support the launch of for-profit foreign hospitals on Jeju Island and other free economic areas in a bid to induce foreign investment in promising service sectors, the government said Tuesday.

The current daily stock price limit will be eased "in phases," and a master plan will be drawn up by the end of this year to encourage the construction of world-class resort complex facilities, it said.

These steps were included in a list of deregulations and plans unveiled by the government to promote South Korea's trade and investment in seven service sectors selected as promising. The government expects that the measures will induce 15 trillion won (US$14.6 billion) in investment and generate some 180,000 jobs.

"In the selection and focus process, efforts will center on promising service industries where the effect of job creation and growth potential is high," the government said.

The service sectors to receive focused support are health, medical, tourism, contents, education, finance, logistics and software.

In the medical sector, the government said it will provide support for foreigners to launch for-profit hospitals that are "open to outside investment" on the southern resort island of Jeju and in other free economic zones (FEZs).

The government, in particular, seeks to narrow the "regulatory gap" in FEZs where such hospitals must employ a certain ratio of foreign doctors and only foreigners can serve as chiefs of medical facilities. These requirements do not apply to Jeju.

The government also plans to decide by the end of next month whether to allow China Stem Cell Health Group to launch what could be the country's first for-profit hospital.

Last year, the Chinese medical group proposed investing about 50.5 billion won in opening a hospital that provides skin care and plastic surgery, mostly for Chinese tourists visiting the resort island. But the government has not approved the business plan due to controversy over the company's stem cell-based treatments.

In the financial sector, the government said that it plans to increase the daily stock price fluctuation limit to 30 percent from 15 percent, a ceiling that has been in place for more than 15 years. The move is aimed at injecting vitality into the stock market, it explained.

The wider band will be applied first to the main bourse. Whether to apply it to the tech-savvy KOSDAQ market has yet to be decided. "Details on when and how the action will be implemented will be determined later," a government official said.

The move comes amid concerns that the expansion of the daily price change limit may increase volatility in cases of market fluctuations. The government said that it will consider diverse measures to prevent markets from excessive volatility.

To accelerate the launch of world-class resort complexes equipped with such facilities as hotels, conference rooms, performance halls and even casinos, the government will announce a master plan by the end of this year to set broad directions in government policies.

Currently, four resort complexes -- three in Yeongjongdo, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, and one on Jeju Island -- are in the beginning stage. If they are all completed, they could induce a combined 8.7 trillion won in investment, the government expected. 

   The government will also resume its efforts to lure a global theme park to Hwaseong, just south of Seoul, by streamlining related regulations and providing "aggressive" incentives. The project has been mothballed for decades due in part to the slumping property market and difficulty in luring foreign investment.

To better utilize the country's forests, which account for 64 percent of the land, the government said it is considering designating "special areas" at mountains where regulations can be eased to allow for the construction of accommodations.

The government will also support the construction of cable cars at major mountain tourist spots such as Mount Seorak in the country's southeast and Mount Nam in central Seoul. (Yonhap)