Korean pop culture generated record profits from overseas last year. According to statistics released by the Bank of Korea Monday, the industry earned US$794 million from exports of cultural and entertainment services last year, up 25 percent from $637 million in 2010.
This was the highest amount since statistics in the sector were compiled for the first time in 1980.
A BOK official said the increase “is related to a surge in exports of cultural products amid the rising popularity of K-pop in Europe and the U.S. as well as in Asia."
The profits came from exports of films and TV programs overseas, from which the country earned nothing until 1996. It posted its first profits of $5 million in 1997.
Korea still faces a trade deficit in the sector because it spends more dollars importing foreign cultural products than it earns from exports. But the deficit is shrinking, amounting to $224 million last year, down 42 percent from 2010's $385 million.
Meanwhile, the construction services surplus reached a record $15.18 trillion last year, up 26.8 percent on-year, due to many overseas construction orders mainly in emerging markets. The domestic construction market by contrast dwindled by 5.6 percent.
Korea also earned $424 million from computer and information services and $4.32 billion from royalties on intellectual property rights, the highest amounts since statistics were first compiled in 1980.