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Korea’s art market boom continues in 2022

Visitors look at art on display at the Daegu Art Fair on June 23. (Yonhap)
Visitors look at art on display at the Daegu Art Fair on June 23. (Yonhap)
South Korea’s art market is estimated to mark about 532.9 billion won ($410.2 million) for the first half of 2022, according to a report by the Korea Arts Management Service last week.

The six-month figure amounted to 58 percent of the annual art market size of 2021, which was 915.7 billion won.

Six major art fairs held in the first half of the year showed strong growth. The total sales reached 142.9 billion won, up 165.6 percent from the previous year. The total number of visitors also increased by 72 percent to 366,000.

About 245 billion won in art transactions took place at local art galleries.

Some 145 billion won worth of domestic art transactions were reported at 141 auctions held by the country’s 10 major auction companies. The figure is a 0.1 percent increase from the first half of 2021.

Lee U-fan’s “From Point” (1982) (Seoul Auction)
Lee U-fan’s “From Point” (1982) (Seoul Auction)
Kim Whan-ki’s “Atelier” (1957) (Seoul Auction)
Kim Whan-ki’s “Atelier” (1957) (Seoul Auction)

Yayoi Kusama’s “Statue of Venus Obliterated by Infinity Nets” (1998), at 4.4 billion won, fetched the highest price at an auction in the first half. “From Point” (1982) by Lee U-fan and “Atelier” (1957) by Kim Whan-ki sold for the most among works by Korean artists, each selling at 1.7 billion won.

The online art market continued to boom thanks to growing interest in “fractional ownership” and non-fungible token art as tech-savvy young people continue entering the art market, KAMS explained. The art market has also expanded into other fields such as retail and fashion. The market for fractional ownership -- a type of investment in which customers split ownership of a work of art -- is estimated to have reached 31 billion won in the first half of the year, equivalent to 56.9 percent of the fractional ownership art market size in 2021.

KAMS estimates the total amount of art transactions to reach 1 trillion won this year, with Kiaf Seoul and Frieze Seoul’s first joint art fair scheduled to take place in September.

By Hwang Dong-Hee (hwangdh@heraldcorp.com)
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