Cultural Exports to Post Record Due to Korean Wave

      December 29, 2014 13:48

      Korea's culture-related trade balance, mired in 12 years of chronic deficits, is likely to be in surplus this year for the first time thanks to revenues of K-pop concerts overseas and exports of Korean TV shows.

      According to the Bank of Korea on Thursday last week, exports of culture-related products and services from January to October this year were worth US$767.2 million, exceeding all-time record of US$730.9 million last year.

      Overseas revenues from health, education, films, and radio or TV programs are counted in the category alongside palpable goods and services.

      The culture-related trade balance posted a surplus of US$19.8 million in 2001 and $42.4 million in 2002, but plunged into red in 2003. Although Korea posted an all-time record in exports last year, the effect was wiped out by greater imports, resulting in a $83.8 million deficit. But from January to October this year Korea saw a surplus of $3 million in this field.

      Until 1996, Korea's culture industry had earned hardly anything outside of Korea. Starting with $4.4 million in 1997, the industry grew dramatically from 2004. In 2011, the industry exported over $500 million, and the figure surpassed $700 million for the first time last year.

      The main reason is a substantial increase in the prices Korean TV dramas fetch when sold to China and the profits that K-pop stars make overseas.

      The TV series "Pinocchio" currently aired on SBS set a new record when it was recently sold to China for $280,000 per episode. This is eight times the $35,000 per episode that mega hit "My Love from the Star" fetched. The boom has also opened up more opportunities for Korean celebrities to appear in China.

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