South Korea's culture-related trade balance is expected to post a surplus this year thanks to the popularity of K-pop, the central bank said Thursday.
According to the Bank of Korea, earnings from cultural contents and leisure services in the first 10 months of this year stood at $767.2 million. This already exceeds last year's all-time high figure of $730.9 million.
"At the present pace, the country will post its first surplus in this sector in 12 years," it said. The last time the country shipped out more contents than it bought in was in 2003. Last year the country's deficit in this sector stood at $83.8 million.
Cultural content and leisure services refer to earnings generated by the sale of movies, TV and radio programs, concert tickets, and other education and health-related services.
South Korea earned nothing from cultural content prior to 1996. It earned $4.4 million from the sector the following year and has made steady gains since then.
"The popularity of K-pop and TV dramas in Japan and China along with more acceptance of Korean songs and dances in Western countries is fueling the boom," said one industry watcher.
He pointed out that some soap operas are bringing in quite a bit of money for producers and creating spin-off profits for actors.
In addition, official data showed that the country's intellectual property rights earnings had already reached $4.18 billion in the January-October period, just $200 million shy of the all time record of $4.39 billion tallied in 2011. This spike is due to various TV entertainment formats that have been licensed to countries like China, data showed. (Yonhap)