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South Korean Cosmetic Exports Hit Record High in 2021

July 24, 2022
July 24, 2022

South Korea's cosmetic exports posted a record high, surpassing the 10 trillion won mark for the first time. Korea's Food and Drug Safety Ministry reported that cosmetic exports grew 21.3 percent from 2020, reaching 10.5 trillion won ($8.1 billion) in 2021, according to Yonhap News. Cosmetics outperformed biopharmaceutical products and smartphones, which posted $8.4 billion and $4.9 billion, respectively.

"The ministry will support the development of the domestic cosmetics industry and strengthen our international competitiveness by boldly innovating unnecessary regulations while ensuring safety. We will continue to communicate and cooperate with the cosmetics industry," Food and Drug Safety Minister Oh Yu-Kyoung said.

  • South Korea is the third-largest exporter of cosmetics globally after France and the United States. 
  • Exporting to 153 countries, China represented the largest export market for K-beauty, accounting for 53.2% of total exports. 
  • Exports to the United States and Japan increased on-year 17.7% and 22.4%, respectively.
  • Trade surplus in the cosmetics sector grew 28.6% on-year to 9.2 trillion won ($6.9 billion), remaining in the black for 10 consecutive years. 
  • Cosmetics were responsible for 25.7 percent of South Korea’s total trade surplus in 2021. 
  • The total value of cosmetics produced recovered to pre-pandemic levels, rebounding by 9.8% from the previous year to 16.65 trillion won ($5 billion). This was backed by a 10.73% increase in the color cosmetics category, which contracted due to social distancing rules and mandatory mask wearing.

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