In a significant shift in K-Pop’s global reach, the United States has overtaken China to become the second-largest market for the genre worldwide, according to data recently released by the Korea Customs Service.
The first half of 2023 saw an unprecedented boom in K-Pop exports, marking an all-time high with a reported value of about ₩169 billion KRW (about $133 million USD). This figure represents a significant increase of 17.1% from the same period in the previous year, further emphasizing K-Pop’s unstoppable global surge.
Japan has traditionally held the position of the largest consumer of K-Pop, and this remains unchanged in the first half of 2023, with an import value of ₩61.5 billion KRW (about $48.6 million USD).
However, the real story here is the rise of the United States as a key player in the global K-Pop market. The U.S. came in second with an import value of ₩32.3 billion KRW (about $25.5 million USD), consequently pushing China, which previously held the second position from 2012 (barring 2020), to third place with ₩28.7 billion KRW (about $22.7 million USD).
This shift signifies an important milestone in the acceptance and popularity of K-Pop in the States — a market that has often been difficult for non-English-speaking artists to penetrate. Confirmation of this growing fascination with K-pop in America comes from Luminate, a U.S. music market analyst.
According to Luminate’s mid-year report, Korean was the third most streamed language on U.S. music platforms in the first half of the year, accounting for 0.9% of total streams. This comes behind English, which naturally led with 88.3% of streams, and Spanish at 7.9%.
🇺🇸 In only 4 Days, #Jungkook “Seven becomes in the 4th Biggest US Spotify weekly debut!
— BTS Charts Daily⁷ (@btschartsdailys) July 18, 2023
Looking at the rest of the top 10 K-Pop markets, Germany, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Canada, the UK, and France follow the top three. The rise of K-pop in these diverse markets represents a seismic shift in the global music landscape, with Korean pop culture proving its vast appeal and staying power.
This isn’t just a victory for the Korean music industry but a testament to the power of music in bridging cultural divides and breaking language barriers.
With the U.S. becoming the second-largest market, K-Pop is demonstrating its influence and popularity in a powerful and definitive manner. As we look forward to the rest of the year, there’s no doubt that the genre will continue to make waves, impact cultures, and reach new milestones across the globe.