SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) — The number of stock trading accounts in South Korea has risen sharply over the past year to surpass the 40 million mark amid a buying craze by retail investors, industry data showed Tuesday.

Active stock accounts in Asia’s fourth-largest economy numbered 40.07 million as of Friday, up from 35.48 million at the end of last year.

It marks the first time that the country’s number of active stock accounts has exceeded the 40-million level.

The number has increased by approximately 10 million since it passed the 30 million mark in March last year.

In particular, the number has expanded by nearly 5 million this year alone on the back of a stock buying spree by individual investors.

The number of stock accounts surpassed the 10 million mark on July 31, 2007, before exceeding 20 million on May 17, 2012.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 3,039.53 on Friday, compared with 2,040.22 on March 6, 2020, when the number of stock accounts passed 30 million.