SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) — South Koreans’ overseas securities investment soared to a record high in the first half of the year on brisk stock purchases, data showed Monday.

Local investors’ transactions of overseas securities were valued at US$142.4 billion in the January-June period, up 63.4 percent from the second half of 2019, according to the data from the Korea Securities Depository (KSD).

The figure marks the highest half-year tally since data tracking began in 2011 and accounts for nearly 83 percent of last year’s total of $171.2 billion.

The surge was driven by South Korean investors’ direct purchases of overseas stocks, which tripled from six months earlier to $70.9 billion.

The value of U.S. stocks took up the largest portion with $62.3 billion, followed by Hong Kong shares with $4.4 billion, Chinese stocks with $1.6 billion and Japanese equities with $1.58 billion.

U.S. electric vehicle giant Tesla Motors Inc. was South Korean investors’ top pick at $4 billion, up a whopping 1,272 percent from the latter half of last year.

Tech behemoth Microsoft Corp. came next with $2.8 billion, trailed by smartphone giant Apple Inc. with $2.7 billion and top online shopping mall Amazon with $2.4 billion.

South Koreans’ investment in overseas bonds, meanwhile, came to $71.5 billion won in the first half, up 11.3 percent from six months earlier, according to the data.