Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics closed up 2 percent after falling 4.8 percent in the five sessions through Wednesday.
State-run utility Korea Electric Power (KEPCO) rose 3.6 percent near the mid-session after South Korea announced it will raise electricity prices by an average 4 percent from next week to reduce power demand and help KEPCO cut losses.
Shares in Ssangyong Motor rose by the daily trading limit of 15 percent after the automotive president of parent company Mahindra & Mahindra said Mahindra would invest $900 million over the next four years in products to be developed jointly with Ssangyong.
Australian shares rose 0.3 percent, revived by much stronger-than-expected Chinese trade data which signalled economic strength in Australia's top customer.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 14.8 points at 4,723.
Rio Tinto rose 0.4 percent and Fortescue Metals advanced 2.3 percent after data showed China's imports of iron ore rose 7.8 percent in December to a record 70.94 million tonnes.
Aspire Mining skyrocketed 39 percent after Noble Group agreed to provide additional support for its coking coal project.
Construction firm Macmahon Holdings rallied 1.8 percent after it said it had a new, two-part proposal from Sembawang Australia to buy its construction business.
New Zealand's NZX 50 index finished up 0.3 percent to 4,119 after posting a bigger-than-expected $583 million trade deficit in November, its fourth straight monthly trade deficit.
Over in Southeast Asia, Singapore's Straits Times Index ended 0.2 percent higher while Malaysia's KLCI Composite Index closed down 0.3 percent.
Both India's BSE Index and the 50-share NSE Index ended flat.