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K-content dominates TikTok in 1st half of 2023, trend won’t go anywhere, company says

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Jung Jae-hoon, Head of Operations at TikTok Korea speaks at the 2023 TikTok press conference held Thursday in Yongsan District, central Seoul [TIKTOK KOREA]
Jung Jae-hoon, Head of Operations at TikTok Korea speaks at the 2023 TikTok press conference held Thursday in Yongsan District, central Seoul [TIKTOK KOREA]

Korean entertainment content trended globally in the first half of 2023 with the help of TikTok, and the platform expects more foreign content will be popularized in Korea in the second half of the year.

TikTok has been one of the major driving factors in popularizing and spreading Korean content, including K-pop, Korean drama and webtoons over the last few years.

The trend won’t go anywhere soon. In a survey commissioned by the company this year, 66 percent of TikTok users in the Asia-Pacific region said that K-wave — or Hallyu — will remain hot for the foreseeable future.

K-content-related hashtags and those derived from Korean words have also seen an increase in popularity. The hashtag #Kpop, with 400 billion views on TikTok, surpassed the hashtags #pop, #rock, #hip-hop and those related to other traditional music genres.

The hashtag #K-drama, too, with 200 billion views, had significantly higher views compared to the hashtag #drama. The hashtags #webtoon and #manhwa, too, had higher views than the hashtag #comics, showing the global popularity of Korean content on TikTok, according to the company.

“TikTok users in the United States, Europe, South America, Southeast Asia and all around the world said that TikTok is the platform where they discover a variety of K-content and a platform where they can further popularize K-culture in their country,” General Manager of TikTok Korea’s Global Business Solution Son Hyun-ho said during TikTok’s 2023 press conference held Thursday in Seoul.

TikTok is also a platform that helps link the popularity of Korean content to Korean brands and products, with 92 percent of Southeast Asian respondents to the survey saying that Korean content on TikTok resulted in them having more interest in Korean products and brands.

“Interviewing [TikTok’s] content creators, I’ve been told that people crave Korean food after watching Korean drama, and they get attracted to Korean beauty products through K-pop idols,” Son said.

Son Hyun-ho, General Manager of TikTok Korea's Global Business Solutionspeaks at the 2023 TikTok press conference held Thursday in Yongsan District, central Seoul [TIKTOK KOREA]
Son Hyun-ho, General Manager of TikTok Korea’s Global Business Solutionspeaks at the 2023 TikTok press conference held Thursday in Yongsan District, central Seoul [TIKTOK KOREA]

TikTok, the number one short-form platform in the world, said it will continue to go its own way, despite competition from YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and others.

“When we launch new features, we don’t take account of the features that our competitors have. Features like TikTok text and photo editing tools are introduced to satisfy the needs of our user base instead of being a tool to compete with other platforms,” Son said.

TikTok text, introduced Monday, is a feature that allows users to post text-based content on TikTok, contrary to the video-oriented content that was previously allowed on the platform.

While the trend of Korean content going global will continue, TikTok Korea predicted that foreign content, too, will go viral in Korea soon.

“I think we will see a diversification of content with an even larger spectrum trending in the second half of this year,” Jung Jae-hoon, head of operations at TikTok Korea, said.

“TikTok is a global platform, and while the first half of 2023 saw Korean-made content, such as ‘The Glory’-related content going viral globally, I think overseas trends will come to Korea and really trend in the second half of this year.”

BY CHO YONG-JUN [cho.yongjun1@joongang.co.kr]

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