The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Meet ant investors' YouTube guru

By Park Ga-young

Published : Jan. 24, 2021 - 18:09

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Kim Dong-hwan, the founder of a market and economic YouTube show “Three Pros” had never imagined that his channel would have 1 million subscribers, a tenfold increase, just within a year.

Three Pros: With Economic God” provides daily market updates and analysis of industries and economy and is hosted by three “pros” in the field: Kim, Lee Jin-woo and Jung Young-jin.

The channel has recorded more than 200 million views so far and attracts as many as 60,000 real-time watchers when they go live streaming for more than 90-minutes three times a day. 

Kim Dong-hwan, host of YouTube channel Three Pros. (Park Ga-young/The Korea Herald) Kim Dong-hwan, host of YouTube channel Three Pros. (Park Ga-young/The Korea Herald)

Every day, the show features several local analysts and experts and sometimes global experts such as Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf and investor Jim Rogers.

The show apparently has benefited from escalating interest from retail investors amid the fluctuating but bullish market. But at the same time, the popularity of the show reflects eagerness of retail investors to learn about the stock market and its dynamics with in-depth analysis.

“Retail investors are different nowadays: They learn fast and smart -- they are confident that they can beat the professionals,” Kim said, an economist and the founder of E-broadcasting Inc., which runs the show. “Helping them become smarter are platforms like YouTube, which allows for more interesting and informative interactions between experts and listeners.”

The lengthy running time is also a winning factor, said Kim, who used to host an economy-focused radio show.

He decided to launch a podcast, which later moved to YouTube, that does a detailed and thorough interviews with experts after feeling frustrated by short interviews on his radio show. To his surprise, listeners loved the lengthy discussions among the hosts and experts. 

Re-assessing Korean stocks

The number of “ant investors” -- the local nickname for retail investors -- is about to reach 8 million, according to Kim’s estimate. But fundamental changes in the market would require more “ants” to enter the world of stock investing.

In Korea, stock investing has long been a synonym for going belly-up. Many factors contributed to this perception, including lack of trust in companies, accompanied by insufficient shareholder return policies on the company’s side and past experiences of retail investors losing investments in a series of market crashes in past decades.

“The strong participation of ant warriors wipes out negative factors that left the Korean market undervalued and that made the market not being favorable by its own people,” Kim said. “The Korean stock market is going through a re-rating process.”

However, that does not mean investors should remain too upbeat.

“This year might not be as exciting as last year -- there might be some fluctuations and people who entered the stock markets belatedly might get hurt psychologically, and we want to help them endure the ups and downs of the stock markets.”

Advice for investors

Kim, an industry expert with a 25-year career behind him, said investors should be patient and take a long-term stance once they invest in stocks.

“Some investors have a bad habit of doing short-term trading frequently and tend to consider the stock investing as a game or gamble. But stock investment is a way of becoming a business partner for a business that you cannot do by yourself so invest like you’re a business partner then you wouldn’t trade that frequently,” Kim emphasized.

He cited a survey result by NH Investment and Securities which showed the performance of retail investors by age in the first 11 months of last year among 700,000 new accounts for the company. According to the survey, the worst performer was males in their 20s, who recorded a 3.8 percent profit with the highest stock turnover rate of 63.8 percent.

“If you’re an older generation, think of stock investing as a way to follow up with the transformation of the world: The world is consistently changing, and you can keep pace with them as you pay attention to companies that lead those changes,” Kim noted.

Kim in particular expressed concerns over investors becoming overconfident after their performance in the bullish market.

“They have never seen plummeting markets and some of them are willing to invest with loans, but it would be very dangerous when markets fall,” Kim said. “Also, think what you have to sacrifice if you want to be a full-time trader because you made some handsome profit.”

“Say you earn 2 million won ($1,809) a month as an employee. If you want to earn that much money in interest from your saving account at the interest of 1 percent, you need 2.4 billion won,” Kim said. “Please don’t underestimate the significance of your salary.”

By Park Ga-young (