K-fashion, beauty, pop fuel 25% growth in Korean e-commerce exports

2019.02.25 15:12:18 | 2019.02.25 15:12:48

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South Korea’s online exports surged 25 percent in 2018 from a year ago on the back of growing demand for K-beauty and K-pop related items such as album records and stationery supplies, government data showed Monday.

According to Korea Customs Service, Korea’s electronic commerce (e-commerce) exports or reverse overseas direct purchase volume reached $3.25 billion last year, up 25 percent from a year earlier. The total number of online export cases also jumped 36 percent to 9.61 million during the same period.

E-commerce growth is staggering when compared to the modest 5 percent annual growth in total Korean exports last year.

The customs agency said that the rapid growth of online exports comes amid growing demand for Korean items on the back of hallyu or Korean Wave, as well as simplified retail procedure, and aggressive overseas marketing integrated with offline stores.

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By item, apparels and cosmetics accounted for 69 percent of total online export. In particular, the number of export cases for clothing surged a whopping 162 percent last year from a year ago, becoming the top pick after beating out cosmetics. Online exports of cosmetics jumped 43 percent last year from a year ago, recovering to average level after falling in 2017 as a result of diplomatic tension between Korea and China over Seoul’s deployment of U.S. anti-missile system.

The customs agency said that exports of K-pop related items such as albums and stationery items surged significantly last year amid hallyu or Korean Wave overseas. In particular, sales of items related to K-pop icon BTS rose sharply.

Data from Korea Customs Service, meanwhile, showed that overseas direct purchases of foreign goods amounted to $2.75 billion last year, up 31 percent from a year ago. There were a total 32.25 million purchases last year, up 37 percent from a year ago.

By region, the United States accounted for the largest 50.5 percent of Koreans’ direct purchases, followed by China with 26.2 percent, European Union with 12.5 percent, and Japan with 8 percent. The U.S. share fell from the previous year’s 56.4 percent while that of China jumped almost 10 percentage points from the previous year’s 17.3 percent.

The U.S. share of Koreans’ direct purchases was also the highest in terms of value (53.3 percent), followed by the EU (20.3 percent), China (16.9 percent), and Japan (6.2 percent), data showed.

By Kim Tae-joon and Lee Eun-joo

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