The amount of purchases that South Koreans made through foreign Internet shopping malls during the first four months of this year jumped more than 50 percent from a year earlier, customs data showed Tuesday, showing the growing popularity of the new way of shopping. According to the Korea Customs Service (KCS), South Koreans bought US$478.8 million worth of products through overseas shopping malls during the January-April period, up 56 percent from a year earlier. About 5 million purchases were made through foreign websites during the cited period, which also represented a 52 percent hike from a year earlier, according to South Korea’s (Yonhap) News Agency. A growing number of local consumers have been turning to overseas direct purchases, in which individuals buy goods for direct delivery to their domestic addresses from online shopping malls abroad. Such direct purchases of foreign brands are usually cheaper as they are processed without importers involved. In April, the KCS simplified its customs clearance process for low-priced consumption goods bought on foreign websites, a move aimed at shortening the overall delivery time and inducing price cuts of imported goods by stimulating competition. Female and younger shoppers who have a better handle of the Internet tend to prefer overseas direct purchases more than other consumer groups. According to the KCS, which analyzed customs data, 62 percent of overseas direct purchases were made by female consumers during the four-month period. Those in their 30s accounted for 52 percent of the total.