#Showbiz: South Korea's exports of K-pop albums hit record high

SEOUL: South Korea's exports of K-pop albums hit a fresh high last year, data showed Monday, as limitations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic continued to push up demand for physical albums.

K-pop album exports hit US$233.113 million in 2022, up 5.6 percent from a year ago, Yonhap news Agency reported according import and export trade statistics of the Korea Customs Service (KCS) showed.

Last year's figure outnumbered the previous high of US$220.85 million tallied in 2021.

As overseas K-pop fans opted to buy albums in a show of support for their favorite stars, unable to see them in person at concerts and other live events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, K-pop album sales have been on the rise, crossing US$100 million in 2020 and US$200 million in 2021.

Japan imported the most K-pop albums last year, totaling US$85.74 million. It was followed by China and the United States, which imported US$51.33 million and US$38.88 million, respectively, Yonhap reported. Rounding out the top 10 were Taiwan, the Netherlands, Thailand, Hong Kong, Germany, Indonesia and France.

K-pop labels do not usually unveil details of album sales by their artists.

But top boy groups, such as BTS, Stray Kids and Seventeen, as well as rookie girl groups, that dominated music charts last year, appear to be the main drivers behind the bullish trend, judging from various annual albums charts for the year that combine overseas and domestic sales.

According to the report, the most-sold album of the year was "Proof," the anthology album by BTS that sold 3.48 million copies, according to the annual albums chart by Circle Chart, which is the country's benchmark K-pop chart. Trailing closely behind was "Maxident," the seventh EP by Stray Kids, which sold 3.18 million copies. Seventeen and BlackPink sold 2.87 million copies and 2.52 million copies, respectively, of their albums "Face the Sun" and "Born Pink."

Ive, one of the rookie sensations of 2022, ranked 10th on the chart by selling 1.65 million copies of its third single, "After Like", it added.

But the industry's reliance on the three big markets – Japan, China and the United States – is seen as one of the problems facing the industry. The combined share of the big three markets rose by 3.8 percentage points from 71.7 per cent in 2021 to 75.5 per cent in 2022, according to the KCS statistics.


Tags: K-pop albums, exports, record, 2022

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