Korean Music Exports Surge

  • By Choi Kyu-min

    December 18, 2020 13:00

    Korean music albums and videos reached record sales abroad in the first 11 months of the year as K-pop stars make great strides in the global music market.

    Exports increased 94.9 percent on-year to US$170 million, four times the figure of 2017, according to the Korea Customs Service on Thursday. Album exports surged to $123 million this year from $70 million last year. Video exports also jumped to $48 million this year from $20 million 2019, a whopping 48-fold increase from $1 million in 2017.

    K-pop is expanding its fan base beyond Asia to the U.S., Europe and South America. The number of countries that imports K-pop products increased to 114 this year from 2017's 78, and sales outside Asia surged from 7.4 percent to 24.2 percent.

    Japan has been the biggest market, and this year sales to the island country surged 93 percent on-year to $59.94 million. The U.S. was the second biggest with 17.08 million, up 117 percent on-year, for the first time surpassing China, which came next with $15.52 million.

    Bangtan Boys

    Idol groups such as boy band Bantan Boys, also known as BTS, and girl band Black Pink and TWICE played a big role in the surge. Lockdown also seems to have driven more people to watch and listen to music on their devices.

    BTS were the first foreigners to top Japan's Oricon chart in Japan in the first half since Michael Jackson in 1984. They were also the first Korean act to take the top spot on the U.S.' Billboard single chart. Black Pink ranked second on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart in October and currently have the most subscribers on YouTube after Justin Bieber.

    "It has been a tough year, but K-pop has continued to grow, cheering up the world with its feel-good messages and upbeat tunes," Hong Kong's South China Morning Post said.

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