Foreign investors dumped South Korean shares on Wednesday amid jitters over North Korea, sending the Korea Composite Stock Price Index below 2,000 points.
The KOSPI closed down 22.56 points at 1,986.8, the first time since Nov. 21 that it slid below 2,000.
News that North Korean eminence grise Jang Song-taek has been ousted exacerbated the perception of risk, causing foreign investors to sell W404.6 billion (US$1=W1,061) worth of South Korean shares.
Another concerns was the weak Japanese yen, which fell to 103 yen against the dollar on the Tokyo exchange market.
Also impacting investor sentiment were fresh fears that the U.S. central banks will taper quantitative easing sooner than expected.
Foreign investors net-sold W337.9 billion worth of shares, the heaviest since June 21, which focused on Samsung Electronics with W140 billion. The electronics giant's stocks ended down 1.98 percent at W1.43 million.
Individual and institutional investors bought W308.9 billion and W86.4 billion worth of shares but were unable to offset foreign selling.