SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Korea Bizwire) — Overseas card spending by South Koreans fell for the first time in a decade in 2019 amid a slowdown in the number of outbound travelers and a weak local currency, central bank data showed Friday.
South Korean people spent US$18.9 billion using cards abroad last year, down 1.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data by the Bank of Korea (BOK).
It was the first on-year decline since the amount tumbled 20.9 percent in 2009 shortly after the global financial crisis.
Overseas card spending includes purchases made with debit and direct payment cards in addition to credit cards.
Last year’s decline was attributed to only a slight gain in South Korean overseas tourists and the weakness of the local currency against the U.S. dollar.
The number of South Korean departures came to 28.7 million last year, up 0.1 percent from the previous year. The South Korean currency traded at an average of 1,165.70 won against the dollar in 2019, down from 1,100.30 won a year earlier.
“South Koreans seem to have cut back on their spending during overseas travel as the won remained weaker against the greenback,” a BOK official said.
The central bank data also showed foreigners’ credit card spending here gaining 6.8 percent on-year to $9.92 billion last year.