The Korea Herald


K-content industry sets another export record in 2020 at $11.92 billion

By Park Ga-young

Published : Jan. 24, 2022 - 16:29

    • Link copied

Different versions of the movie “Parasite” posters. Director Bong Joon-ho‘s film “Parasite” won four Oscars in 2020. Different versions of the movie “Parasite” posters. Director Bong Joon-ho‘s film “Parasite” won four Oscars in 2020.

South Korean contents enjoyed robust demand overseas in 2020, defying the overall decline in exports and tepid growth in the domestic market, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism data showed on Monday.

A 2021 research study on the cultural content industry which encompasses 11 sub-areas showed that the exports in 2020 jumped 16.3 percent to $11.92 billion from the previous year.

“Exports of cultural contents have been setting a new record each year, but this time it is worth noting that the increase was achieved while the overall exports were down,” Kang Yeo-won, senior deputy director of the Cultural Industry Policy Division of the Culture Ministry told the Korea Herald on Monday.

The 16.3 percent growth in the cultural content industry compares to the 5.5 percent decline in the overall exports in 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also reflects the growing popularity of Korean contents on global content platforms, according to Kang.

The culture industry consists of publications, comics, music, game, movie, animation, broadcasting, advertising, character design, knowledge information and content solution, according to the Framework Act on the Promotion of Cultural Industries.

Among these sectors, the game industry accounted for more than half of the exports, selling about $8.2 billion worth of products and services in 2020, up 23.1 percent from 2019.

The highest growth was seen in the publication sector, whose exports soared 61.1 percent to $346 million during the aforementioned period, followed by movies that recorded a 43 percent jump.

Since the research began in 2005, South Korea’s cultural content exports has seen a consistent upward movement, data showed. In particular, between 2015 and 2020, the figures more than doubled from $5.6 billion to $11.92 billion. The ministry said it expects exports in the industry to set another record in 2021 with a 6.8 percent growth to $12.7 billion.

Meanwhile, the growth in the cultural content industry’s total revenue also highlighted that exports outperformed domestic growth.

The total revenue of the cultural content industry in 2020 stood at 128.28 trillion won ($107 billion), inching up only 1.2 percent from the previous year. The unenthusiatic growth was partly due to a 53.6 percent decline in the movie industry that was hit hard by the COVID-19-related social distancing measures.

Even though the cultural content industry has managed to maintain a modicum of growth through the offsetting of downward pressure on the movie and music industries by the growing popularity of digital content, the number of businesses and workers within the industry shrank. The number of cultural content businesses was 98,551 in 2020, 4.4 percent lower than the previous year, while the number of people employeed in the industry dropped 5.9 percent to 642,086.