Sales of imported vehicles in South Korea fell 8.3% to 20, 428 units last month  compared with 16,778 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association (KAIDA).

Full-year sales of imported vehicles were up by 3.5% at 233,088 units in 2017, compared with 225,279 units in 2016. Mercedes-Benz and BMW accounted for most of these sales, with Lexus also making significant gains.

By contrast, sales by the top five domestic vehicle manufacturers fell by almost 2% to 1,550,080units last year from 1,580,865 units in 2016.

Six in every ten imported vehicles sold in South Korea last month came from Europe, mostly from Germany. The three best-selling models were the BMW 520d, the Lexus ES300h and the Mercedes-Benz E 300 last month.

Volkswagen-Audi restarted sales in the final quarter of last year after it was forced to withdraw more than 80 models in August 2016 due to the widely publicised emissions cover-up scandal.

See also: Korean auto industry slumps at end of 2017 - ANALYSIS