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Monthly trade infographics

Korea's IP trade balance in the black for the first time

K-content boom on over-the-top service backs surplus in IP trade and culture-related copyrights

Nov 10, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Success of K-dramas and movies on over-the-top platforms

South Korea has posted the first-ever surplus in its intellectual property trade balance. Korea’s IP trade balance recorded a surplus of $850 million in the first half of this year, according to a report issued by Bank of Korea in September. Analysts say that increased exports of culture and arts-related copyrights from Korean dramas, music, movies and other content have driven the black figure.

Source: Analysis of the OTT Industry and Export of K-content (issued in April 2021 by the Overseas Economic Research Institute at The Export-Import Bank of Korea), Korea’s Subtotal IP Trade Balance in H1 2021 (issued in September 2021 by the Bank of Korea)

Culture and arts-related copyright trade balance

Korea's culture and arts-related copyright trade balance marked another surplus in the first half of this year, following its first-ever surplus in 2020. The consecutive black figures are backed by K-dramas, K-movies and other Korean content. The surplus means that Korea exported more K-content last year than it imported overseas cultural products.

Copyrights trade balance

Unit: million dollars

Source: Bank of Korea

Current OTT market trend

The global OTT market size in 2020 reached $110 billion, up about 18% from the previous year. It is expected to grow about 15% in 2021 to $126 billion. Although the Korean OTT market size was only 108.5 billion won ($91.7 million) in 2012, it continued to grow 28% annually and expanded to 780.1 billion won in 2020.

Global OTT market size

Unit: billion dollars

Source: Boston Consulting Group

Korea’s OTT market size

Unit: billion won

Source: Korea Communications Commission

Global OTT investment in K-content

Global OTT companies are competitively announcing their investment plan to secure K-content, aware that K-dramas and K-movies are indispensable for expansion in the Asian market. Particularly, Netflix has increased investment in K-content to 550 billion won in 2021, a 65% year-on-year increase. Global OTT investment in the production of K-dramas and K-movies is expected to grow for some time.

Netflix’s investment in K-content

Unit: billion won


Source: Netflix

Global OTT companies’ content investment in 2020

Unit: billion dollars

Source: STATISTA, Forbes


During the COVID-19 pandemic, offline sales in movies significantly dropped as movie theaters were temporarily closed. However, digital sales were decent as the movies were released on global OTT channels. Even post-pandemic, OTTs' role in the movie industry is expected to be greater than in the past.

Sales in K-movies

Unit: billion won

Source: Korean Film Council


According to the global OTT content ranking website FlixPatrol, Squid Game was the most popular Netflix TV show globally as of October 21. Four of the top 10 Netflix shows were Korean dramas, including My Name (ranked third), Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (seventh) and The King’s Affection (10th) and on the top 10 list for the first time. Squid Game has been recorded as the most-watched drama by households subscribing to Netflix since the streaming giant’s inception.

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