The Korea Herald


Exports of K-pop albums, videos hit record

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : Dec. 17, 2020 - 15:28

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K-pop group BTS (Big Hit Entertainment) K-pop group BTS (Big Hit Entertainment)
South Korea’s outbound shipments of music albums and videos reached an all-time high this year, in the wake of growing popularity of K-pop acts worldwide, data showed Thursday.

According to data from the Korea Customs Service, the export amounts surged by 94.9 percent on-year to $170 million for the January to November period. It was based on the export declaration data of physical CDs and DVDs. Records of online music downloads and streaming services were not included.

Album exports soared from $40 million in 2017 to $70 million in 2019. It jumped 78.2 percent on-year to $123 million this year. Video exports also surged from $1 million to $20 million between 2017 and 2019 and soared by 157.4 percent this year to $48 million, the data showed.

Japan has been the biggest buyer of South Korean music products since 2017. Its imports during the January-November period marked $60 million, accounting for nearly 48.6 percent of the total. The US, who was the largest importer of videos, came next with $17 million, followed by China with $16 million.

Compared to the 2017 data, the number of countries that are exported to also increased this year, from 78 to 114 for albums and 12 to 39 for videos. As K-pop’s global reach grows, the proportion of exports outside of Asia also expanded.

Despite an export slump on the back of the spread of COVID-19, KCS attributed the soaring figure to the increased popularity of Korean popular culture, as acts gain more recognition globally.

“Korean brands in various fields have gained even more popularity lately. We’ll adopt active customs policies to maintain the upward trend by supporting effective exports of Korean culture contents,” a KCS official said. 

By Jie Ye-eun (