Korea Exchange (KRX)

Korea Exchange (KRX): All You Need To Know

The Korea Exchange, or KRX, stands as South Korea’s singular, official securities and derivatives marketplace. Here, investors and companies converge, fueling economic growth through economic expansion. Our article dissects the influence and operations of KRX, guiding you through its important role in the Korean economy.

Since the early 1960s, South Korea’s economic growth has been extraordinary. Until the mid-1990s, it maintained an impressive average annual real income increase of over 8 percent, which propelled national income to rise by ten times within thirty years. This remarkable expansion did not come without its difficulties.

Korea Exchange (KRX)

Triggered by a wave of bankruptcies among major chaebol (industrial conglomerates) and exacerbated by regional financial turbulence, the Korean financial crisis struck in the late 1990s. It led to a significant downturn in South Korea’s economy, with a reduction of 6.7 percent in 1998—the steepest drop seen since modern records have been kept on Korean economic performance. The role played by the Korea Exchange has mirrored South Korea’s broader fiscal challenges and their subsequent path toward recovery.

Table of contents:

Key Takeaways

  • The Korea Exchange, formed from the merger of Korea Stock Exchange, Korea Futures Exchange, and KOSDAQ, plays a crucial role in South Korea’s financial landscape, offering a diverse range of instruments for trading and contributing significantly to the country’s economic development and recovery from financial crises.
  • The Korea Exchange supports South Korea’s economic growth by providing a platform for capital raising and facilitating trading across various financial instruments, promoting transparency, efficiency, and investor protection in its marketplace.
  • Technical advancements such as electronic trading and the development of indices like the KOSPI have been integral to the evolution of the Korea Exchange, which has firmly established itself as a global financial hub, ranking within the top 20 stock exchanges worldwide.
Korea Exchange building in the financial district of Yeouido

What is the Korea Exchange?

The Korea Exchange, commonly referred to as KRX, is an exchange. This exchange was established by merging the Korea Stock Exchange, the Korea Futures Exchange, and KOSDAQ into one entity through legislation known as the Korea Stock & Futures Exchange Act. The resulting organization is an all-inclusive operator for trading securities in South Korea across various financial instruments via its platform.

Following this unification process within the market infrastructure are distinct divisions that originally functioned independently: namely, the Stock Market Division alongside those dedicated to KOSDAQ and derivatives.

As recorded in December 2020, figures from this comprehensive stock exchange system revealed it houses 2,409 companies listed on its boards, with their total market value reaching around 2.3 quadrillion Korean Won (close to US$2.1 trillion). Within these markets—integral parts of KRX—is a robust section focused on derivatives transactions essential to sustaining balance and vitality within broader marketplace dynamics.

How did the Korea Exchange start?

The Korea Exchange started its operations by establishing the Korea Stock Exchange in 1956. As a central pillar of South Korea’s financial market, it operated autonomously and reached several notable achievements over time, including:

  • Initiating electronic trading systems
  • Creating futures and options markets for stock indices
  • Rolling out equity options along with exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

The creation of Korean Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (KOSDAQ) by the Korea Stock Exchange marked an important innovation comparable to America’s NASDAQ system. These advancements provided essential infrastructure that led to the consolidation in 2005, which resulted in today’s unified entity known as the Korea Exchange.

Exploring Korea's Exchange A Guide

When was the Korea Exchange founded?

The Korea Exchange was founded in 2005. The establishment of the Korea Stock Exchange in 1956 laid the groundwork for today’s Korea Exchange.

The contemporary version of this exchange emerged on January 27, 2005, following a merger that unified the original stock exchange with both the Korea Futures Exchange and KOSDAQ into what is currently recognized as the consolidated Korea Exchange.

Who owns the Korea Exchange?

Several financial institutions and the Korean government collectively own the Korea Exchange. This ownership arrangement guarantees that the exchange functions align with the nation’s economic welfare, benefiting from governmental oversight and the proficiency and assets of seasoned financial entities.

Korea Exchange trading floor with financial professionals

How does the Korea Exchange work?

The Korea Exchange (KRX) is a financial market where securities such as stocks, bonds, and derivatives are traded. It operates similarly to other stock exchanges worldwide, facilitating buying and selling of financial instruments through an electronic trading system, providing a platform for investors to trade and companies to raise capital.

The Korea Exchange is recognized as the exclusive operator of securities exchanges within South Korea, establishing a central venue for trading an array of financial assets such as:

  • Equities
  • Bonds
  • Stock index futures
  • Stock index options
  • Equity options

KOSDAQ, its digital transaction platform similar to the U.S. Nasdaq, showcases over 1,000 prominent corporations.

In 2023, more than 2,448 enterprises are registered on the exchange with their collective market worth approximately $2.6 trillion. This extensive range of investment choices fosters a well-functioning and competitive marketplace on an international scale that draws investors from both inside and outside Korea’s borders.

What is the purpose of the Korea Exchange?

The purpose of the Korea Exchange is to facilitate trading securities such as stocks, bonds, and derivatives in South Korea’s financial markets.

The Korea Exchange is pivotal to South Korea’s financial market, providing a critical nexus for capital formation and the trading of diverse financial products. By facilitating these activities, it occupies a core position in advancing the nation’s economic expansion. It enables domestic firms to access funding while offering investors opportunities to broaden their investment horizons within South Korea’s economy’s thriving and secure environment.

In its mission, the Korea Exchange aims to achieve several key objectives.

  • Cultivate an efficient market with global recognition that instills trust
  • Prioritize transparency and long-term sustainability in all aspects of operation
  • Support the development of a vibrant ecosystem for capital markets
  • Maintain stringent measures for safeguarding investor interests.

Who created the Korea Exchange?

The Korean government and financial institutions created the Korea Exchange. In South Korea, a strategic alliance between the government and financial institutions culminated in establishing the Korean Exchange. This was achieved through merging several entities – specifically, the Korea Stock Exchange, the Korea Futures Exchange, and KOSDAQ – under legislative provisions provided by the Korea Stock & Futures Exchange Act.

This union aimed to form an integrated securities exchange operator that would encompass all aspects of securities trading within South Korea.

What are the trading hours on the Korea Exchange?

The trading hours on the Korea Exchange vary depending on the market, but typically they are from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Following international stock market standards, the Korea Exchange operates its regular trading sessions from 09:00 to 15:30, Monday through Friday. In contrast to certain other exchanges that pause for a midday break, it facilitates uninterrupted trading during these hours.

The exchange provides expanded trading opportunities with a pre-trading session running from 8:00 am until 9:00 am and an after-hours post-trading session available from 3:40 pm up until 6:00 pm.

What are the biggest crashes on the Korea Exchange?

The biggest crashes on the Korea Exchange include the one in October 2008 during the global financial crisis, and another significant crash in September 2011 due to concerns over the European debt crisis and global economic slowdown. We also have to include the Asian crisis in 1997.

Despite enduring a series of substantial market downturns, including the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2008 global financial crisis, South Korea’s exchange has consistently demonstrated resilience. The economic decline in 1997, precipitated by the successive failures of numerous major chaebol and fiscal turbulence, resulted in an acute contraction of the economy, representing its most dismal performance in contemporary Korean history.

The financial debacle in 2008 plunged Korea into another profound economic slump. Yet on both occasions, South Korea displayed impressive recuperative powers. Each time after these crises ensued rapid recovery that underscored not only the strength of South Korea’s economy but also highlighted how critical the role played by the Korea Exchange is in restoring stability to its financial markets and aiding in their subsequent rebound.

Does the Korea Exchange have holidays?

Yes, the Korea Exchange has holidays. The Korea Exchange halts its trading operations on national holidays.

For the year 2024, it has been announced that there will be a total of sixteen public holiday closures at the Korea Exchange. The listed days are as follows:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Korean New Year (Seollal)
  • Independence Movement Day
  • Labor Day
  • Children’s Day
  • Buddha’s Birthday (Vesak)
  • Memorial Day
  • Liberation day
  • Chuseok (korean Thanksgiving)
  • National Foundation Day
  • Hangul Proclamation day
  • Christmas.

On these public holidays mentioned above, all exchange activities within the Korea Exchange come to a pause.

What was the first company traded on the Korea Exchange?

The first company traded on the Korea Exchange was Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) holds the distinction of being the inaugural company to be listed on the Korea Exchange. Its introduction into the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) took place on August 10, 1989, signifying the commencement of operations for the KOSPI index itself.

This pivotal moment created a template for subsequent South Korean companies seeking inclusion in their nation’s financial exchange, thus carving out a notable chapter in Korea’s economic annals.

Technology sector representation on the Korea Exchange

What are the top sectors represented on the Korea Exchange?

The top sectors represented on the Korea Exchange include technology, finance, consumer goods, healthcare, and industrials. Notable industries on the exchange are technology, automotive, and financial services. Companies such as Samsung Electronics have significant influence within the technology sector.

To that, Hyundai Motor stands out in the automotive sector of the exchange. The materials sector also plays an essential role in Korea’s economic landscape with key companies like LG Chem operating within it.

How does the Korea Exchange compare to other major stock exchanges globally in terms of market capitalization?

In terms of market capitalization, the Korea Exchange ranks among the top 10 globally, typically hovering around the 8th or 9th position, competing with exchanges like the NYSE, NASDAQ, and those in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The Korea Exchange asserts its global presence by featuring among the top 20 stock exchanges in the world when measured by market capitalization. Boasting a cumulative market capitalization exceeding $2.6 trillion, it is a powerful indicator of South Korea’s formidable economic strength and dynamic financial sector.

Can foreign investors easily participate in trading on the Korea Exchange?

Yes, foreign investors can easily participate in trading on the Korea Exchange. Available options for trade include:

  • Every share that is listed on both the Korea Exchange and KOSDAQ market
  • Bonds that are publicly traded
  • Futures and options associated with stock price indices
  • A range of instruments from money markets

To simplify foreign participation in investment, the exchange has taken down barriers including eliminating the necessity for foreign investors to register.

Specific vehicles like exchange-traded funds (ETFs), such as iShares MSCI South Korea ETF and Franklin FTSE South Korea ETF, offer overseas investors focused entry points into investing in Korean equities.

What role does the Korea Exchange play in South Korea’s economy?

The Korea Exchange plays a significant role in South Korea’s economy by serving as the country’s main securities exchange, facilitating the trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other financial instruments, thereby contributing to capital formation and market liquidity.

The Korea Exchange is a cornerstone of South Korea’s economic framework, offering an essential venue for corporate restructuring—a critical process in managing economic downturns and laying the foundation for sustained resurgence within the real economy. It also plays a pivotal role by enabling the issuance of corporate bonds that are crucial to maintaining liquidity and securing financing within the South Korean financial system.

In its capacity, the Korea Exchange aids in fortifying and rejuvenating the Korean economy, especially during periods marked by financial instability.

How has the Korea Exchange evolved technologically over the years?

The Korea Exchange has evolved technologically over the years by adopting advanced trading platforms, automating processes, introducing electronic trading systems, and implementing risk management tools.

This progression saw the creation of a stock index futures and options market during 1996-1997, the commencement of warrant trading in 2000, and the introduction of equity options along with exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in 2002.

Renowned as the Korean Stock Exchange, this exchange crafted a platform for trading securities called the Korean Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (KOSDAQ) back in 1996. This system is akin to NASDAQ found within America’s financial landscape.

Are there any unique features or trading practices specific to the Korea Exchange?

Samsung Electronics headquarters in South Korea

Yes, there are unique features and trading practices specific to the Korea Exchange, such as the KOSPI 200 Index, which tracks the performance of the top 200 companies listed on the exchange, and the KOSDAQ for smaller and medium-sized enterprises. Additionally, after-hours trading sessions and extended trading hours are also distinctive aspects of the Korea Exchange.

The Korea Exchange stands out due to specific attributes and trading customs unique to the region. The market is monitored by an index known as the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), akin to how the S&P 500 operates in the United States, which encompasses all ordinary shares exchanged on this platform.

A prominent segment of the stock market is encapsulated within the KOSPI 200 Index, featuring two hundred notable large-scale businesses that signify their pivotal role in mirroring South Korea’s economic landscape.

Such distinctive indices offer investors an encompassing snapshot of how stocks perform within this market sector.

What are some notable companies listed on the Korea Exchange?

Leading Companies on Korea Exchange

Some notable companies listed on the Korea Exchange include:

  • Samsung Electronics, renowned in the tech industry worldwide
  • SK Hynix, which stands at the forefront of semiconductor manufacturing
  • LG Chem, a heavyweight in chemicals production
  • Hyundai Motor Group, an essential player in vehicle production
  • POSCO, a powerhouse within the steel-making sector.
  • Krafton that excels in internet gaming domains
  • Samsung Life Insurance offering significant insurance services
  • HMM providing pivotal marine shipping and logistics solutions
  • Kakao delivering popular internet-related services.

How does the Korea Exchange contribute to South Korea’s reputation as a global financial hub?

International investors participating in trading on the Korea Exchange

The Korea Exchange contributes to South Korea’s reputation as a global financial hub by providing a centralized platform for trading various financial instruments, promoting transparency and liquidity, and attracting international investors.

As the foremost operator of securities exchange in South Korea, the Korea Exchange plays a crucial role in bolstering the nation’s position as an eminent financial center on the global stage. Leveraging South Korea’s robust economic foundation and advancing infrastructure, it draws international investors and stimulates economic expansion.

The Korea Exchange furthers Seoul’s drive to emerge as Asia’s premier financial nucleus by offering a varied array of investment opportunities and adopting policies that are conducive to market interests.

Are there any recent regulatory changes or developments affecting the Korea Exchange?

Yes, there have been recent regulatory changes affecting the Korea Exchange. The Korea Exchange frequently experiences impacts on its functionality and offerings due to modifications in regulatory measures designed to improve its performance. The recent changes announced include:

  • An initiative by the Financial Services Commission is underway that aims to reform rules to facilitate easier entry for international investors into Korean capital markets, notably with the proposed removal of the necessity for foreign investor registration.
  • Revisions are being put forward with an intent to augment the robustness of the Korean Initial Public Offering (IPO) market.
  • A specialized task force has been constituted with a mission to refine the Special Technology Assessment Track.
  • Strategies are being developed to broaden opportunities for overseas investors within Korean capital markets.

Such reforms are poised to exert a considerable influence on both how Korea Exchange operates and what services it offers.

What are some key initiatives or future plans for growth and innovation by the Korea Exchange?

Some key initiatives and future plans for growth and innovation by the Korea Exchange include enhancing technological infrastructure, expanding derivatives market offerings, and fostering international partnerships for market development.

The Korea Exchange consistently seeks opportunities for growth and innovation, mainly focusing on the possible contributions of artificial intelligence (AI) to economic expansion. It is channeling investments into bolstering its cybersecurity measures while fostering the development of the data industry. It has adopted an ESG management framework to promote transparency and sustainability within its operational procedures.

To maintain market integrity, The Korea Exchange rigorously combats unethical trading behaviors. It works diligently on refining the mechanism by which prices are determined to improve market fairness and has established a stringent review process for delisting securities.

Are there any cultural or historical landmarks associated with the Korea Exchange’s location?

Yes, there are cultural and historical landmarks associated with the Korea Exchange’s location.

Located in the heart of the Yeouido financial district, the Korea Exchange stands amid a fusion of historical and cultural significance. This area is where South Korea’s National Assembly gathers within its National Assembly Building. It also boasts the once tallest building in South Korea – the 63 Building, which reigned supreme following its construction completion in 1985.

Yeouido Island serves as a venue for numerous cultural festivities, too. It hosts events like April’s Cherry Blossom Festival and October’s Seoul International Fireworks Festival, Enhancing this locale’s cultural prominence within South Korea.

What are some interesting facts about the architecture or design of the Korea Exchange building?

Some interesting facts about the architecture or design of the Korea Exchange building include its sleek and modern exterior featuring a distinctive glass facade, its sustainable design elements such as energy-efficient systems and green spaces, and its innovative use of space to facilitate collaboration and communication among employees.

Constructed with contemporary architectural concepts, the Korea Exchange edifice encompasses:

  • A structure of reinforced concrete coupled with a steel frame
  • Seven levels in total, comprising six above-ground floors and one subterranean level
  • An expansive space covering 295,550.69 square meters
  • The footprint of the building itself occupies 48,644.47 square meters
  • Cumulatively offering a floor space amounting to 138,156.25 square meters.

In crafting its design, architects have re-envisioned classical Korean architectural styles for the Korea Exchange building by focusing on blending man-made structures seamlessly into the natural environment around them.

What is the main stock exchange in South Korea?

The main stock exchange in South Korea is the Korea Exchange (KRX). The Korea Exchange stands out as South Korea’s foremost stock exchange, established in 1956. Its main office is located in Busan, and it maintains an additional branch in Seoul that focuses on cash markets and supervises market activities.

Serving as the pivotal financial marketplace for the country, this exchange provides a variety of financial instruments that are available for trade to participants within South Korea’s economic landscape.

How big is the Korea Exchange?

The Korea Exchange is one of the largest stock exchanges in Asia. The Korea Exchange is significant in the world financial arena due to its size. It stands within the top 20 stock exchanges worldwide, boasting a total market capitalization of approximately 2,604 trillion KRW (equivalent to $2.3 trillion USD).

This impressive market cap indicates not only the large roster of companies listed on the exchange, but also underscores the high volume of trading activity that it facilitates, which collectively establishes the foundational value of this marketplace.

How many stock exchanges are there in South Korea?

There is one main stock exchange in South Korea, which is the Korea Exchange (KRX). The Korea Exchange, South Korea’s sole operator of securities exchanges, emerged in 2005 from amalgamating three former entities: the Korea Stock Exchange, KOSDAQ, and the Korea Futures Exchange. This consolidation established an all-inclusive exchange within South Korea that facilitates trading across various financial instruments.

Are there any foreign companies listed on the Korea Exchange?

Yes, there are foreign companies listed on the Korea Exchange.

What are Korea Stock Exchange called in Korean language?

The Korea Stock Exchange is called “한국거래소” (pronounced “Hanguk Georaeso”) in Korean. Here is the KRX Homepage.


In summary, the Korea Exchange is a cornerstone of South Korea’s financial market, serving as the main operator for securities exchange. It offers a venue for trading various financial instruments and opens doors for investment opportunities.

Having navigated through substantial market downturns, it has also adopted modern technology to improve its functioning. Hosting numerous leading Korean companies, the Korea Exchange bolsters South Korea’s status as an international center of finance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Korea Stock Exchange called?

Korea Exchange (KRX) is the current name for what was formerly known as the Korea Stock Exchange. It stands as South Korea’s only operator of securities exchanges, overseeing both cash markets and market regulation, with its main headquarters located in Busan and an additional office situated in Seoul.

How many exchanges are there in Korea?

South Korea is home to three recognized securities exchanges, which include the Korea Exchange (KRX), KOSDAQ, and KONEX.

Serving as the only operator of securities exchange in South Korea, the Korea Exchange (KRX) holds this exclusive position.

What are the requirements for listing in the Korea Stock Exchange?

To be eligible for listing on either the KOSPI or KOSDAQ market, companies are required to satisfy specific quantitative criteria which include a history of operations, size of capitalization, distribution of shares, track record in business performance, adherence to corporate governance standards, observance of a lock-up period and compliance with accounting norms.

How does the Korea Exchange work?

As a centralized marketplace, the Korea Exchange facilitates trading in numerous financial instruments including equities, bonds, stock index futures, stock index options and equity options.

What is the purpose of the Korea Exchange?

The Korea Exchange acts as a marketplace for the trade of financial instruments, facilitating investment prospects for both individuals and entities.

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