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Investing 101 for teens in South Korea gain popularity

(A screenshot of Fine Start Academy’s website)
(A screenshot of Fine Start Academy’s website)
Korean teenagers have jumped on the stock investment bandwagon, as investment tutorials targeted at students -- as young as elementary school kids -- have soared over the winter holidays.

Bae Jin-han from the Fine Start Academy recently launched a lecture series over the winter vacation aimed at teens interested in investing in stocks.

Nicknamed “super ant” -- a term referring to retail investors -- Bae is a parent of a 15-year-old child who made 600 million won ($543,000) worth of assets with just a few million won, by success in stock investment.

In November 2020, following requests by parents who wanted Bae to share his know-hows with their own kids, Bae held a special, closed lecture session for middle and high school students. The feedback was much more positive than he had expected, which led Bae to openly recruit students for a 12-round lecture series in January this year.

The online class, which teaches students how to invest directly in stocks, attracted scores of teenage students despite the rather burdensome cost of 660,000 won for the two-week course.

The classes are a sign that there is an existing market for parents hoping to start finance education at an early age, but it has also sparked worries that the courses promote speculation and materialism among the younger generation.

The first lecture session, which recruited 15 students both here and overseas, ended in great success. The youngest applicant is known to be a sixth grader in elementary school.

Bae Joo-han, Bae’s older brother and co-chair of the company Decamon which organizes the lectures, said, “It is important to know how to manage assets through experience from an early age, especially in times when it becomes harder to maintain one’s assets with savings alone.”

“Our intention here is to become a facilitator along the process,” Bae added.

The scope and depth of the lecture program is different from the basic investment courses that financial companies provide.

The class starts out with “How to read economic and industrial articles,” and “How to choose an investment company,” before moving on to deeper analyses and eventually teaching students how to form an investment portfolio.

Fine Start Academy also plans on launching a subscription service, so that it can continue to provide investment information to students, while also offering one-on-one consultations.

Meanwhile, the number of stock investment accounts opened in South Korea under the age of 19, increased 17-fold in a single year, from 6,838 accounts in 2019, to 115,623 in 2020, according to online financial institution Kiwoom Securities. Its share of private securities accounts has also increased from 1 percent to 5 percent.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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