K-pop album exports hit an all-time high, with Japan, the United States and China the top customers for Korean music albums.
Korean album exports topped $132 million in the first half of 2023, according to the Import and Export Statistics released by the Korea Customs Service on Tuesday, showing a 17.1 percent increase from the same period in 2022 and the highest-ever numbers seen in any year’s first half.
Japan topped Korean music album exports with $48 million, followed by the United States at $32 million and China at $22 million.
China, the second-largest importer of Korean music albums from 2012 to last year — apart from 2020 — saw the United States, which has the largest album market in the world, take its place.
Germany, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France also made it onto Korea’s top 10 album export list
“K-pop, which was represented by BTS and Blackpink in the U.S. market, is now a [prominent] genre,” Choi Kwang-ho, secretary general of the Korea Music Content Association, told the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily.
“It took many years for the K-pop genre to find its place [in the U.S. market], even after BTS was first awarded at the Billboard Music Awards back in 2017. […] While the physical K-pop market did see an increase in size, there still is room for growth in the streaming market as demonstrated by the ‘Cupid’ success story,” he added, emphasizing that K-pop has yet to reach its peak.
Girl group Fifty Fifty’s hit track “Cupid,” released in February, gained international recognition before the song became popular in Korea. The track stayed on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart ever since its entry 16 weeks ago, making “Cupid” the longest-Billboard Hot 100 charting K-pop girl group song.
The physical disc for boy band Tomorrow X Together’s latest Korean album, “The Name Chapter: Temptation,” sold over 395,000 copies in the U.S. since its release on Jan. 27, 2023, making it the most-sold CD album in the U.S. during the first half of 2023.
BY CHO YONG-JUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]