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Peter S. Kim: South Koreans are starting to warm to dividends and equity ownership

South Korea has one of the lowest-yielding stock markets in the world. The market's average dividend yield of 1.3% puts it among the stingiest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

     For decades, investors have accused South Korean companies of excessive hoarding of cash and undermining the concept of distributing wealth to shareholders. The country's export-driven growth model, encompassing external growth and low household stock ownership, is at the root of the low-dividend culture. But over the past 12 months, there has been a significant shift in the attitudes of the government and the broader public toward dividends, possibly putting into place a missing link in the evolution of the South Korean stock market.

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