The Korea Herald


South Korean YouTubers' revenue surges, top earners dominate share

By Moon Ki Hoon

Published : Sept. 4, 2023 - 11:56

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Revenue from South Korean YouTubers surged to 860 billion won ($650 million) in 2021, a tenfold increase compared to 2019, data from the National Tax Service showed on Sunday.

The top 1 percent of YouTubers accounted for 25 percent of this total revenue, earning an average annual income of 713 million won, according to data. In the same year, the top 1 percent of all workers in South Korea had an average income of 417 million won.

Apart from YouTube's expanding influence in the country, the growth coincided with a spike in the number of registered YouTubers in the government database. Ever since "content creator" was recognized as an official occupation by the National Tax Service in 2019, registrations jumped from 2,776 to 34,219 by 2021, official data showed.

Meanwhile, the data also revealed a significant income gap within the country’s burgeoning creator economy. While the top 1% raked in substantial amounts, the bottom half of registered YouTubers reported an annual average income of just 400,000 won ($304).

South Korea has recently seen a rise in youth aspiring to become full-time YouTubers. A 2022 Ministry of Education study found that 6.1% of students aged 7 to 12 ranked "YouTuber" as their top career choice, ranking it third overall and above "doctor" at 6 percent.