Korea is poised to become the top exporter to China for the first time and achieve the "triple crown" of surpassing W1 trillion (US$1=W1,060) in trade as well as record-high exports and trade surplus this year.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Thursday said Korea's exports to China from January to October totaled $150 billion, outpacing Japan, which exported $133.2 billion over the same period.
November and December data have yet to be reflected, but the gap with Japan already stands at $16.8 billion, big enough to virtually secure Korea's top spot in exports to China, according to ministry officials.
Taiwan is in third place with $130.6 billion, followed by the U.S.with $123.4 billion.
Japan was the top exporter to China in 2011 at $194.6 billion, but that shrank to $177.8 billion last year, while Korea's exports to China rose from $162.7 billion to $168.7 billion over the same period.
The proportion of trade with China has also been on the rise in Korea's overall trade. It took up 20.2 percent of its total trade volume with $215.2 billion last year, and the figure rose to 21.2 percent until November this year with $208.8 billion.
But Korea's trade with Japan decreased from $103.2 billion or 9.7 percent to $87.1 billion or 8.9 percent over the same period, overtaken by trade with the U.S. at $94.7 billion until November this year.