South Korea's economy grew at a faster pace in the first quarter than three months earlier due to increased construction investment and exports, central bank data showed Thursday.
In the January-March period, the country's gross domestic product increased 0.9 percent from the previous quarter, improving from a 0.5 percent on-quarter expansion three months earlier, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea.
The on-quarter growth is the fastest since the second quarter of last year.
From a year earlier, Asia's fourth-largest economy grew 2.7 percent.
The central bank data showed construction investment grew 5.3 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter, and facility investments rose 4.3 percent on-quarter in the first quarter.
The data also showed the services sector expanded 0.1 percent from the previous quarter, compared with a 0.2 percent on-quarter expansion three months earlier.
Chung Kyu-il, director general of the Economic Statistics Department at the BOK, blamed the slower growth in the services sector on a decline in the number of Chinese tourists, poor consumer sentiment and people putting off buying smartphones ahead of the release of Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy S8.
Samsung started official sales of the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones in South Korea last Friday.
The service sector includes wholesale and retail trade, restaurants, and hotels.
Local tourism-related businesses have taken the brunt of China's ban on trip sales to South Korea in an apparent retaliation against Seoul over a US missile defense system.
Seoul and Washington began to deploy the US missile shield in South Korea to counter North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.
Still, China has repeatedly pressed South Korea and the US to cancel the deployment and withdraw the missile defense system, claiming the US missile defense system could hurt China's security interests.
Exports -- one of the major pillars for the South Korean economy -- grew 1.9 percent from the previous quarter, while imports increased 4.3 percent.
Gross domestic income rose 2.3 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter, compared with a 0.8 percent expansion three months earlier, the BOK said. (Yonhap)