SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s stock market advanced a whopping 65 percent over the past six-month period despite the global virus pandemic, on the back of pharmaceutical and technology shares, data showed Sunday.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) on Friday ended at 2,412.40 points, up 65.5 percent from six months ago, according to the main bourse operator Korea Exchange (KRX).

The country’s stock rally marked the second-highest rise among G-20 countries, following Argentina’s 87 percent jump.

On March 19, the main bourse dipped by 8.39 percent to hit 1,457.64 points amid escalating fear over the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Korean shares, however, have slowly gathered ground since on the back of the robust performance of pharmaceutical and technology shares.

Over the period, retail investors scooped up 26 trillion won (US$22.3 billion), becoming the sole buyers of Seoul shares. Foreigners and institutions, on the other hand, offloaded 14.9 trillion won and 12.3 trillion won, respectively.

Shares of Samsung BioLogics and Celltrion more than doubled over the cited period as the virus pandemic sparked a buying spree.

With demand for IT services also increasing as more people spend time at home, Kakao, the operator of South Korea’s most popular messenger app KakaoTalk, saw its shares nearly triple during the cited period to become the eighth-most valuable company on the main bourse.

Top market cap Samsung Electronics has moved up 38 percent since March, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix has increased 21 percent, the data showed.

Other major winners included Hyundai Motor Co., which jumped 174 percent over the period on the back of growing hope over its hydrogen fuel cell automobiles. Battery producers LG Chem Ltd. and Samsung SDI also saw their shares move up 189 percent and 147 percent, respectively.