Despite BTS and BLACKPINK’s success, Korea’s IP trade balance recorded a deficit in 2022

Compared to 2021, IP trade balance of Korea turned into a deficit, despite K-pop’s success and K-drama and K-webtoons’ popularity. 

According to the Bank of Korea’s “2022 Intellectual Property Trade Balance (Preliminary)”, which was announced on the 24th, South Korea’s intellectual property (also known as IP) trade balance last year recorded a deficit of $1.33 billion. This was a reversal from the first-ever surplus in 2021 ($160 million).

The intellectual property trade balance is a statistic that encompasses all types of intellectual property transactions, including industrial property rights (patents, utility models, franchises, etc.) and copyrights (music and video copyrights).

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By type, industrial property rights recorded a deficit of $2.62 billion. The deficit increased by $450 million compared to the previous year, due to a decrease in exports of patents and utility models to domestic large companies’ overseas subsidiaries.

Copyrights posted a surplus of $1.52 billion. However, compared to 2021, the surplus decreased by $1.08 billion. This is a result of a decrease in the research and development of IT (information technology) companies, as well as in software copyright exports.

In detail, games and computer programs recorded a deficit of $1.84 billion, the largest annual deficit. Hwayong Kim, head of the International Balance Team at the Bank of Korea’s Economic Statistics Bureau, explained, “Since September 2021, China has reduced the issuance of approvals due to concerns about youth game addiction, resulting in a significant decrease in the surplus with China.”


On the other hand, cultural and artistic copyrights continued to show remarkable results. Last year, cultural and artistic copyrights recorded a surplus of $600 million, the highest surplus ever. This is thanks to the steady increase in exports of K-pop, dramas, webtoons, and more.

By trading country, Vietnam was the top surplus country. A surplus of $1.71 billion was recorded with Vietnam. However, the surplus has decreased by $210 million compared to the previous year. With China, a surplus of $1.03 billion was recorded, but the surplus has decreased compared to the previous year ($2.58 billion). This is also the lowest annual surplus record.

With the United States, a deficit of $1.9 billion was recorded, the largest deficit among export countries. However, the export of electronics and automotive-related industrial property rights and music and video copyrights increased, resulting in the lowest annual deficit record.

Source: News MT

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