Korean Art Market Sales Surpass KRW 1 Trillion

Date Jan 10, 2023

Estimated 37.2% year-on-year growth, from KRW 756.3 billion(2021) to KRW 1.0377 trillion (2022)


The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Minister PARK Bo Gyoon, MCST) of the Republic of Korea announced its estimates of the value of the Korean art market in 2022 together with Korea Arts Management Service (President MOON Yeongho, KAMS)

Despite the ongoing pandemic and the global economic slowdown last year, the domestic art market reached the highest-ever value of artwork in circulation at KRW 1.0377 trillion, or 37.2% higher than the KRW 756.3 billion from the 2021 factual survey of the art market. By sector, the sales at art fairs and art galleries increased while those at auctions decreased.

The sector with the greatest growth is art fairs: their 2022 sales increased to KRW 302 billion, or 59.8% year-over-year (YOY) from KRW 188.9 billion in 2021. This growth trend is believed to have been directly related to the 13.1% YOY increase in the number of visitors to art fairs, from 774,000 in 2021 to 875,000 in 2022. Notable is that this number does not include the share Frieze took of the sales of Frieze Seoul (the Seoul rendition of one of the world's most influential contemporary art fairs), jointly held by KIAF (Korea International Art Fair) and Frieze last September. Frieze did not reveal its share.

Sales at art galleries also increased by KRW 188 billion (59.8%) YOY, from KRW 314.2 billion in 2021 to KRW 502.2 billion in 2022. On the other hand, sales at auctions dropped 30.9% during the same period, from KRW 338.4 billion in 2021 to KRW 233.5 billion in 2022. This is attributed to the global economic slowdown in the latter half of last year.

These figures were provided by KAMS from its survey of sales at auctions and art fairs, the main distribution channels for the art market, and adding the findings to estimated sales at art galleries. For a more comprehensive understanding of the circulation of art in the domestic market, the MCST will supplement these figures by identifying excluded and overlapping sales among distributors through its own annual fact-finding survey of the art market.

The ministry will then reflect this statistical figures in its art policy for 2023. First, it will give greater policy attention to domestic art fairs where the trend of sales growth is strong, and which enable both purchasers and the general public to enjoy artwork. Second, it will actively assist rising or middle-standing artists and art galleries with participation in art fairs and holding exhibitions overseas towards their advancement into markets abroad.