South Korea - Country Commercial Guide
Entertainment and Media

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-09-21

One of South Korea’s goals is to become the world’s leading exporter and importer of entertainment and media. Today, the Korean wave (Hallyu) has gained global popularity, seen everywhere from Korean TV shows and films on media service platforms to pop artists’ videos and games. The Korean government considers the entertainment and media industry as a key driver for the future national economy.

Thanks to abundant ICT infrastructure such as high-speed mobile connectivity and diverse purchasing power in entertainment, South Korea has become an ideal test bed for new entertainment technology and media. For example, Virtual Reality has been widely adopted from gaming to sports broadcasting and many Hollywood movies are launching their world premieres in Seoul.

Film

ITA CODE: N/A

Overview

 

2016

2017

2018

2019

Total Market Size

1,957.8

2,057.6

2039.8

2,017.1

 

Theater

1,501.5

1,553.1

1557.1

1538.5

 

Digital/Online VOD

355.3

385.7

406.8

409.4

 

Export

101.0

118.7

76.0

69.1

Number of Screens

2,575

2,766

2,937

3,079

Exchange Rate: 1 USD

1,161

1,131

1,100

1,165

 Source: Korea Film Council (KOFIC, 2019); Unit: $ millions.

The film industry in Korea has become one of the world’s most active markets through the development of multiplexes and the popularity of the movie-going culture. In 2019, the total number of moviegoers in South Korea was over 226 million, surpassing the 200 million mark for the eighth year in a row. Overall, South Korean consumers watched an average of about 4.37 films per capita in 2019, one of highest numbers in the world compared to the U.S. average of 3.51 films. 

In 2019, domestic movies accounted for about 51 percent of all films screened in Korean Cinemas. During the year, 502 Korean films were screened while 1,238 films were imported to be screened. In order to protect the domestic film industry, the Korean government maintains a screen quota which stipulates that each of the country’s screens must show domestic films for 73 days per year. Although the number of screens available for imported films is limited, Korea continues to import foreign-made films. Hollywood films make up the majority of the South Korean box office, representing more than 46 percent market share. For the second year in a row, six of the top ten grossing films in Korea hailed from Hollywood.

Market Share of Films by Country

 

Korea

U.S.

Europe

Japan

Others

2019

51.4

46.5

0.9

0.8

0.4

Source: Korea Film Council (KOFIC); Unit = %

Opportunities

Thanks to increased competition between internet protocol television (IPTV) providers, which provides television content over the internet rather than delivery via traditional terrestrial, satellite or cable formats and over-the-top (OTT) players, which is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the internet, the market demand for internet video on demand (VOD) has been growing steadily in recent years. Demand for internet VOD services in 2019 is estimated at $425.8 million, a 4.7 percent increase over 2017.

VOD popularity is changing the Korean film industry. Traditionally (or previously), director’s cuts and other value-added versions could not be shown at the same time new films were released in cinemas. Now with the new service, film makers can provide additional features such as an extended version and additional downloads. Moreover, niche genres are finding more opportunities in Korea. In the past, niche genres did not receive attention or time slots at the cinemas; however, with VOD services, niche genres have more opportunities for viewings. Korea is welcoming more diverse filmmakers, importers, and distributors into the Korean film market. There are growing examples of films that are by-passing the cinema and being released directly through VOD methods, and are making a profit. There are opportunities for U.S. content providers in both the traditional cinema path and via new VOD services.

Resources

Trade Shows

Busan International Film Festival (October, Busan): http://www.biff.kr

Busan Contents Market (May, Busan): http://www.ibcm.tv

Asian Film Market (October, Busan)

Trade Associations and Government

Korea Communications Commission: http://eng.kcc.go.kr

Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism: http://www.mcst.go.kr/english

Korea Creative Content Agency: http://www.kocca.kr 

Korea Cable TV Association: http://kcta.or.kr/

Korea Film Council: http://www.koreanfilm.or.kr/

Contact

Mr. Chan Hyuk Kim
Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service, Korea
U.S. Embassy Seoul
188, Sejong-daero,
Jongno-gu
Seoul 03141, Korea
Tel: 82-2-397-4466
E-mail: Chanhyuk.kim@trade.gov
https://www.trade.gov/southkorea