K-pop’s excessive focus on the Japanese market: Will it be okay if this pattern continues? 

K-pop’s scalability through concept diversity is suggested, instead of concentrating on Japan like now. 

As Japan was listed as the No. 1 exporter of music albums in Korea last year, concerns about a slowdown in the market are being raised due to excessive concentration on a specific country. In particular, in the case of video exports, as 98% of exports last year were for the Japanese market, market expansion through various artist concepts is urgently necessary.

According to the Korea Customs Service on February 3rd, domestic music exports reached a record high of $233.11 million last year, of which exports to Japan amounted to $85.749 million, accounting for 36.7%, ranking first as a domestic music importing country. In addition, in the case of videos belonging to the music category along with albums, out of total exports of $34.64 million, $33.97 million was exported from Japan alone, taking first place with an overwhelming rate of 98%.

Kpop albums

The share of Japan in all albums was 44.7% last year, up 13.4 percentage points from 31.3% in 2021 the previous year. This is the highest percentage in the past five years, at the level of 2018. 

Japan is an Asian country like Korea and geographically the closest country. In addition, the Japanese music market is also a major market for K-pop, classified as the second largest market after the United States. Shim Hee Chul, a professor of entertainment management at Dong-A University of Media and Arts, said, “Japan is a geographically close Asian market, so it is easy to enter. K-pop sees Japan as a primary market and the United States as a secondary market.”

However, there are also concerns over the outcome when the focus on Japan intensifies. Kim Jin Woo, a Researcher at Circle Chart, said, “The phenomenon of concentration in Japan has been noticeable since last year, but it is actually worrisome. Of course, Japan’s share has decreased compared to the past, but it is a domestic-oriented market with 70% of domestic demand.”

Kpop albums

He continued, “If you look at recent girl groups, they are promoting with a traditional Asian concept rather than a girl crush concept like BLACKPINK that can be appealed to Western countries such as the United States. There is a concern that they will be trapped only in the Japanese domestic market.”

In particular, it is noteworthy that 98% of video exports last year were exports to the Japanese market. Analysts say that the breakthrough of 4th generation girl groups may have affected this. Kim said, “As girl groups such as LE SSERAFIM are doing well in Japan, exports to Japan must have increased. In the future, I think the Korean music market will gain momentum from girl groups, not boy groups.”

LE SSERAFIM thumbnail

Kim also emphasized that these girl groups should tap North America and other Asian regions with various concepts. He said, “For the market to grow further, countries other than Asia, such as the US market, are also important. In addition to NewJeans, IVE, and LE SSERAFIM, various girl groups will be the main players in the Korean music market this year.”

Source: edaily

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