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Up, up and away on Korea’s surging markets

TOKYO — If there’s an economic equivalent of the magazine cover curse, South Korea may have found it. How else can one read the odd timing of Seoul picking this month of all moments to lift a ban on short selling?

Really, good luck finding many serious investors who are bearish on Kospi Index stocks — or Asia’s fourth-biggest and recently rated world’s most innovative economy.

This isn’t hyperbole. Even after a 41% surge over the last 12 months, Kospi-listed companies are on average trading about 30 times forward earnings. That compares bullishly with 34% for Nikkei 225 Index stocks.

And when economists look at the relative performance of South Korea’s economy, they see little standing in the way of further gains.

To be sure, concerns about Kospi froth abound. Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol is having to deflect questions about bubble troubles in Seoul.