Korea earns record surplus from content exports in 2022 helped by K-pop, K-drama

2023.03.06 12:54:01 | 2023.03.06 12:54:49

BlackPink [Photo provided by YG Entertainment]이미지 확대

BlackPink [Photo provided by YG Entertainment]



South Korea earned $1.7 billion from exports of music, videos and related services last year, posting a record surplus in content exports, according to the Bank of Korea on Monday.

Exports of K-contents in 2022 saw a 47.9 percent rise from $1.2 billion a year before, thanks to the popularity of superstars BTS and BlackPink, as well as growing number of viewers of Korean TV shows on over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

During the same period, Korea’s import of cultural products reached $467 million in 2022, a 9.7 percent rise from $421 million a year before. The surplus in the category topped $1.2 billion, the highest since 2006 when data was first compiled.

The balance of payments (BoP) for music, videos and related services compares exports and imports of cultural content, including TV shows, movies, radio programs, musicals and songs. As Korea-generated contents gain popularity, the figure is now sometimes dubbed the “Hallyu BoP.”

The government is providing full-scale support for production of Korean contents to help the content industry increase revenues to 30 trillion won by 2027, according to a five-year plan announced by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism at the end of last year.

“Korean content is a new key export item from this economy. We have come up with detailed strategies to grab opportunities and to overcome risks to help media and broadcasting contents become game changers in our exports over the next five years,” said Vice Minister Jeon Byeong-geuk.

TV show “Squid Game” [Photo provided by Netflix]이미지 확대

TV show “Squid Game” [Photo provided by Netflix]



The surpluses in the Hallyu BoP surged to $520 billion in 2016, from $80 billion in 2014 and $240 million in 2015, mostly owing to then-booming popularity of Korean contents in Southeast Asia and China. However, the surplus fell since 2017 following the ban of Korean pop music and TV shows by the Chinese government in retaliation to Korea’s decision to host a U.S. missile defense system, posting $291 million in 2018, $282 million in 2019 and $202 million in 2020.

A number of factors are behind the growing surpluses in the category. Growing popularity of K-pop led by BTS and BlackPink has expanded globally, beyond Asia.

In addition, Korean TV shows and movies are also gaining popularity on Netflix and other OTT platforms. Following the chart-topping global viewings of Netflix’s “Squid Game” that was released in September 2021, another Korean TV show “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” topped the charts again for several weeks in 2022. Unlike with “Squid Game,” whose intellectual property is owned by Netflix, the rights to “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” are owned by the Korean production company, which attributed to the growth in the Hallyu BoP.

These surpluses are predicted to continue, as global corporations such as Disney+ and Apple TV, join in making Korean contents on the back of their success on Netflix.

Netflix will release 34 Korean shows this year, the largest number in a year, according to CNN. The platform released 25 Korean shows in 2022, and 15 in 2021.

By Pulse

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