K-content industry sets another record for exports in 2020 - $11.92 billion
Different variations of the posters for the movie "Parasites." Director Bong Joon-ho's film "Parasites" won four Oscars in 2020.
South Korean content enjoyed steady demand overseas in 2020 despite a general decline in exports and sluggish growth in the domestic market, data from the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism released Monday showed.
The 2021 Cultural Content Industry Study, which covers 11 sub-areas, found that exports jumped 16.3 percent to $11.92 billion in 2020 from the previous year.
"Cultural content exports set a new record every year, but it's worth noting that this time the increase was achieved amid a decline in overall exports," Kang Yo-won, senior deputy director of the Cultural Industry Policy Department at the South Korean Ministry of Culture, told the Korea Herald on Monday.
Even in the face of a pandemic, South Korea's cultural content industry showed a 16.3 percent growth in 2020 - at a time when the country's total exports fell by 5.5 percent. According to Kang, this also reflects the growing popularity of Korean content on global content platforms.
The cultural industry includes publications, comics, music, games, movies, animation, radio broadcasting, advertising, character design, "knowledge" information and content solutions, according to South Korea's Framework Act for Promoting Cultural Industries.
Among these sectors, the gaming industry accounted for more than half of exports, selling about $8.2 billion worth of goods and services in 2020, up 23.1 percent from 2019.
The publishing sector saw the highest growth, with exports up 61.1 percent (to $346 million) in the aforementioned period, followed by movies, which recorded a 43 percent jump.
The data showed that South Korea's cultural content exports have steadily increased since they began keeping statistics in 2005. Specifically, between 2015 and 2020, the figure more than doubled from $5.6 billion to $11.92 billion. The ministry expressed hope that exports in the industry will set another record in 2021 with a 6.8 percent increase (to $12.7 billion).
Meanwhile, growth in total cultural content industry revenue showed that exports outpaced domestic growth.
The cultural content industry's total revenue in 2020 was 128.28 trillion won ($107 billion), up just 1.2 percent from the previous year. This sluggish growth was due in part to a 53.6% decline in the film industry, which was hit hard by COVID-19-related social distancing measures.
Although the cultural content industry managed to maintain modest growth as the upward movement in digital content offset the downward pressure on the film and music industries, the number of businesses and employees declined. The number of cultural content businesses in 2020 was 98,551, down 4.4 percent from the previous year, and the number of people employed in the industry declined 5.9 percent (to 642,086) over the same period.