The amount was higher than the exports of major products such as home appliances, secondary batteries, electric vehicles and display panels. This means that Korean-made entertainment and cultural products, better known as K-content, have emerged as one of the country's key export items.
The K-content exports in 2021 eclipsed the shipments of home appliances and secondary batteries which were estimated at $8.67 billion each. They were also bigger than exports of electric cars ($6.9 billion) and display panels ($3.6 billion).
The K-content's total sales, both at home and abroad, jumped 7.1 percent to 137.5 trillion won ($111.95 billion) in 2021 from the 128.3 trillion won recorded in 2020, according to the ministry's data. This figure was far higher than the overall 4.4 percent growth rate of Korean industries.
The sales of entertainment and cultural products increased by more than 30 trillion won in 2021, compared to 106.1 trillion won in 2016.
The ministry said the K-content industry has strengthened its foothold in the global market, helped by Korean movies and dramas, including Bong Joon-ho's 2020 Oscar-winning film, "Parasite," and Netflix's Korean original TV series, "Squid Games," which snatched six Emmy Awards in 2021. K-pop, led by global sensation BTS, also contributed to a global boom for hallyu, or the Korean wave.
The K-content industry's sales and export figures for 2022 are not available yet. But market watchers said that the industry also showed strong performance last year. They believe that the prospects for the country's culture and entertainment industry are bright this year.
An entertainment agency manger said K-content products have increasingly gained popularity among fans not only in Asia, but also throughout the world. He added that Korean films and dramas as well as online games and digital cartoons have great potential to captivate the global audience.
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