Lottery sales in South Korea rose more than 10 percent in the first half of the year, data showed Thursday, raising expectations that full-year sales may reach a seven-year high. Lottery sales reached 1.4 trillion won (US$1.29 billion) in the January-June period, up 10.2 percent from a year earlier and the steepest growth since 2003, according to the Korea Lottery Commission. The commission said annual lottery sales are expected to reach around 2.9 trillion won, the largest amount since 2004, given that a new pension-type lottery ticket is gaining popularity and sales tend to increase around yearend. Starting in July, South Korea began to sell pension lottery tickets, which pay out prize money to winners in monthly installments of 5 million won over 20 years just like pensioners get their entitlements. Lottery sales have been on the slide since 2003 when the nation was swept up in a frenzy of playing the national lottery, named Lotto, and 4.23 trillion won worth of lottery tickets were sold.