These days, the online world is full of opportunities to make an income. For 12-year-old Kwon Joon, trading stocks has been especially lucrative, netting him a sizeable 43 percent in profits since he picked it up in 2020.
In April last year, the inquisitive kid from Seoul managed to convince his mother to help him set up a retail trading account using approximately US$22,400 (KRW25 million), right as the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) started a recovery from its biggest bearish dip in the past decade.
Kwon – who idolizes U.S. luminary investor Warren Buffett – said that he tried to convince his parents after learning about trading opportunities on TV.
“I really talked my parents into it, because I believed an expert who was saying that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.
12-year-old Kwon Joon playing with his younger sister. IMAGE: Reuters
With some time to spare during pandemic-caused school closures, Kwon planned his trading strategies by drawing up a wish list of buys – included many blue chip stocks such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, and South Korean internet company Kakao Talk – which he purchased during market corrections.
Kwon’s trading method skews towards more long-term investments rather than quick scalps on the daily market – a strategy that has allowed him to net approximately 43 percent in gains within under a year.
He said, “rather than short-term focused day trading, I want to keep my investment for 10 to 20 years with a long-term perspective, hopefully to maximize my returns.”
A different income path.
Observing his immediate success, Kwon’s mother Lee Eun-joo commented on her son’s aptitude for trading and pondered if this could be a better path for her son to take instead of going the traditional academic route.
“I wonder, in this day and age, whether a college degree would be all that important,” she said. “Because we live in a different world now, it could be better to become an ‘only-one’ kind of person.”
But apparently, Kwon isn’t the only one of his kind dabbling in stocks. Especially in an era where traditional jobs have been massively affected by the pandemic, many young Koreans have decided to try their hands at stock trading.
Data shows that the unemployment rate for young Koreans between the ages of 15 and 29 stood at a record high of 27.2 percent in January 2021 thanks to efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Consequently, there are more young retail investors in South Korea than ever before, with about two-thirds of the total value traded in the nation’s shares now being traded by individuals in still in their teens or even younger – an increase from just under half in 2019.
Additionally, it was also reported that of the 214,800 stock brokerage accounts for minors at Kiwoom Securities – one of South Korea’s largest and friendliest brokerages – about 70 percent of them were set up in January 2020 or after.
Many youth like Kwon understand the challenges that they face, but most seem happy to be able to pursue alternative pathways to financial stability.
“Rather than going to good schools like the Seoul National University, I’d rather become a big investor,” Kwon said. “I also hope to do a lot of charity work.”
To learn more about Kwon, you can follow him on his Korean-language YouTube channel where he shares his thoughts and insights on various financial topics such as investing and cryptocurrencies.
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Cover image sourced from Reuters.