South Koreans snap up gold from convenience stores, vending machines as soaring prices stir frenzy

Gold bars are displayed for sale alongside packaged kimchi and ramen in convenience stores across South Korea, with the yellow metal gaining among younger consumers in 2024.

South Korea’s largest convenience store chain, CU, has reportedly been teaming up with the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation to stock bite-sized gold bars in retail stores and vending machines throughout the country. A post on the chain’s Instagram account on April 1 announced the new additions to the store’s stock.

Since then, CU stores have rolled out three types of small gold ingots weighing between 0.1gm and 1.87gm, with prices ranging from 77,000 won (US$56.4) to 225,000 won (US$165.76), the post shows. The tiny bars come with a variety of messages for birthdays and other occasions.

Korean news outlet Chosun Biz reported that the 1-gram bars, at 113,000 won (US$82.81) each, flew off the shelves in just two days. CNBC also reported that store chain GS25 is stocking tiny gold wafers in vending machines.

Young Koreans are leading the pack of buyers snapping up gold from CU stores, accounting for 41.3 per cent of the total purchases, according to data from the company’s app.

Asian nations have been buying large amounts of gold in 2024, with demand from consumers and global central banks helping push the metal to over US$2,400 per ounce in mid-April

According to a report by the World Gold Council, South Korea alone has seen a 20.2 per cent surge in gold demand over the past year. However, the country’s central bank has not joined the gold rush, keeping its gold reserves steady at 104.4 tonnes since 2013.



Chinese consumers sell off old jewellery amid record high gold prices

Chinese consumers sell off old jewellery amid record high gold prices

Meanwhile, Asia’s largest economy – China – has rapidly ramped up its gold holdings. Gen Z buyers are snatching up miniature bottles of “gold beans,” fearing a weakening Chinese yuan amid economic challenges and a strong US dollar. Its central bank has also been adding more gold to reserves as the country continues efforts to de-dollarise.

Wall Street heavyweights are also bullish on gold. Top economist David Rosenberg predicted a potential 30 per cent surge, no matter what the economy does in the near-term. Meanwhile, market veteran Ed Yardeni forecasts a whopping 50 per cent increase for the commodity by the end of 2025.

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