0510 GMT January 28, 2020
The country's current account surplus with China came to $49.13 billion last year, marking a 22.5 percent leap from $40.11 billion the year before and the first on-year increase in five years, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BoK), Yonhap reported.
Such a large increase was mainly attributed to a surge in the goods account surplus, which jumped from about $38.3 billion in 2017 to a little more than $46 billion in 2018.
The country's exports to China reached a record high of $141.5 billion last year, jumping more than 22 percent from $128.4 billion the year before.
Its service account balance with China logged a $1.29 billion surplus last year, a shift from a $920 million deficit over the cited period, as its tourism account surplus expanded to $4.67 billion from $3.43 billion.
The number of Chinese visitors to the country surged 14.9 percent on-year to 4.79 million in 2018, according to the BoK.
The report, however, comes amid a steady decline in shipments to China, the largest destination for South Korean goods.
South Korean exports to the world's second-largest economy have dipped for seven consecutive months since November, with its overall outbound shipments shrinking for six consecutive months.
Seoul's current account balance came to a $660 million deficit in April, the country's first current account deficit in 84 months.
Many believe South Korea's outbound shipments may continue to suffer a decline at least for a while due to the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies — the United States and China — which are also the two largest importers of South Korean goods.
The central bank said South Korea's current account surplus with the US dipped to a six-year low of $24.7 billion last year, with its goods account surplus shrinking to about $36 billion from $38.58 billion, the lowest level since 2012, when its surplus came to $25.56 billion.
The country's current account deficit with Japan narrowed to about $24.3 billion in 2018 from $28.74 billion the previous year.
Its current account surplus with Southeast Asian countries climbed to a record high of nearly $93.5 billion last year, up from $76.05 billion in 2017, as its exports to the countries jumped 12.3 percent on-year to a record high of $166.5 billion.
And South Korea's current account deficit with Middle Eastern countries expanded from $43.5 billion in 2017 to $62.1 billion, largely due to a 35.1 percent on-year spike in the average price of oil imports from the countries.