South Korean shares fell over 1.1 percent Wednesday as foreigners sold the most shares in more than six months on worries about the possible exit of Greece from the euro and the Chinese stocks rout.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) declined 24.08 points, or 1.18 percent, to 2,016.21 at the close. Trading volume stood at 447.42 million shares worth 7.39 trillion won (6.5 billion U.S. dollars).
European creditor countries set a Sunday deadline for Greece proposing new economic reform measures to offer the debt-ridden country with new bailouts.
The unprecedented Greek referendum opposed to new austerity measures, demanded by creditors, lifting chances for Greece to exit from the now 19-nation single currency bloc.
Adding to the concerns, stocks in China, South Korea's largest trading partner, tumbled in the past weeks. The key Shanghai Composite Index plunged more than 30 percent after hitting a peak in June.
Foreign investors reduced local stock holdings by 399 billion won, the largest since December 17 last year. The foreign sell-off in the past four sessions were focused on cosmetics makers and pharmaceuticals, which led the prior bull market.
Retail and institutional investors bought stocks worth 290 billion won and 106 billion won respectively, but their purchases failed to limit the market decline.
Most large-cap shares lost ground. Top automaker Hyundai Motor declined 2.7 percent, and the No.1 steelmaker POSCO retreated 2.3 percent. Memory chip giant SK Hynix dipped 1.1 percent, and Cheil Industries, the de-facto holding company of Samsung Group, shrank 2.3 percent.
The South Korean currency finished at 1,136.7 won against the greenback, down 6.5 won from Tuesday's close.
Bond prices ended higher. Yields on the liquid three-year treasury notes slid 1.8 basis points to 1.807 percent, and the return on the benchmark 10-year government bonds lost 2.8 basis points to 2.469 percent.