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Foreigners' land ownership in S. Korea grows in 2010

  Foreign ownership of South Korea's land rose slightly last year, but its growth rate remained relatively slow compared with levels tallied before the financial crisis, a government report showed Thursday.

   Foreigners owned a total of 223.72 million square meters of land in the country at the end of last year, up 2.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the report by the land and transport ministry.

   Land held by foreign investors was valued at around 31.5 trillion won (US$2.79 billion), accounting for 0.2 percent of the nation's total land value, the report showed.

   Foreign land ownership had been on a sharp increase since 1998 when the government eased regulations on property purchases. From

1998 to 2001, land ownership by foreigners grew by an annual average rate of nearly 40 percent.

   The rate had stabilized at around 6 percent since then, but the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 slowed foreigners' land purchases here.

   According to the report, investors from the United States held the most land with 128.55 million square meters, followed by those from Europe and Japan, who owned 34.47 million square meters and 19.48 million square meters, respectively. Chinese investors held 3.14 million square meters of land in South Korea, the report showed. (Yonhap News)