South Korean, 12, becomes new trading icon after earning 43% gains since April 2020

His idol is U.S. billionaire Warren Buffet.

Jason Fan | February 13, 2021, 11:57 AM

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A 12-year-old boy in South Korea who started retail trading in April 2020 is turning heads, after he gained an impressive 43 per cent return on his portfolio within less than a year.

Kwan Joon is among one of the rising number of young traders in South Korea, as the unemployment rate in South Korea for young people continued to jump amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Focuses on value investing rather than day trading

According to Reuters, Kwon talked his mother into open a retail trading account for him in April 2020, weeks after the 2020 stock market crash.

The boy, who started earning money by selling toy cars since he was seven, used his savings of 25 million won (around S$30,000) as seed money.

He said that he is not focused on short-term day trading, preferring to invest in stable blue-chip stocks such as Samsung Electronics.

This has allowed him to earn around 43 per cent on his investments, within less than a year.

He idolises Buffet, the U.S. billionaire investor known as Oracle of Omaha, who also built his fortune as a value investor.

He also has a YouTube channel where he shares thoughts on a wide range of financial issues, including topics like bitcoin.

He details other parts of his investment journey such as saving up the money to invest as well.

Kwon is one of the young retailer investors who make up more than two-thirds of the total value traded in the nation's shares, a rise from less than 50 per cent in 2019.

He's also not alone in entering the market during last year's downturn.

Reuters reported that about 70 per cent of the 214,800 stock brokerage accounts for minors at Kiwoom Securities, with a market share of more than a fifth, were set up in January 2020, or after.

Traditional college path not as secure

Although his mother, Lee Eun-Joo, needed some convincing at first, she now appears to be supportive of his son's new hobby.

According to Reuters, Lee is anxious about her son's future prospects, as the traditional college path seemed more and more uncertain.

Young Koreans have a host of employment challenges, with the unemployment rate for those aged between 15 and 29 jumping to a record high of 27.2 per cent in January 2021, according to Reuters.

This phenomenon is not new. An earlier Reuters report in 2019 indicated that it was increasingly difficult for college graduates in South Korea to find jobs, with many forced to work in neighbouring countries, such as Japan.

The Korean Herald also reported in October 2020 that the job market for young adults is "moving into the worst situation ever", with the number of employed people in South Korea falling for six consecutive months.

At the very least, Kwon appears ready for the changing trends.

"Rather than going to good schools like the Seoul National University, I would rather become a big investor," he said.

Top image via 쭈니맨/YouTube.