K-pop popularity worldwide 2018

In a survey conducted in 16 countries in 2018, around 33.1 percent of respondents stated that the genre K-pop was “very popular” in their country. The survey found that the popularity of K-pop reaches far beyond South Korean borders.

K-pop industry

K-pop is a genre of South Korean popular music. Although the term includes music of a variety of stylistic origins, it is often associated with so-called K-pop idols. Idols are usually young individuals, who are known for being good-looking, fashionable, highly trained in singing and dancing, as well as having an almost perfect image. They often make their debut in boy- or girl groups, who promote their songs with music videos that feature intense choreographies. The most successful groups are often signed under South Koreas biggest agencies, were they undertake strict training before they make their debut. The K-pop entertainment company with the highest sales revenue in 2018 was SM Entertainment, who manage multiple successful idols, for example the boyband EXO.

K-pop is constantly growing

While the majority in Western countries have not heard about K-pop before PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ in 2012, Korean pop idols started to become famous in Asian countries in 2003. Singer BoA and boyband TVXQ became the first K-pop idols to successfully break into the Japanese market. With the support of the South Korean government, who saw the industries economic potential, the so-called Korean wave started to spread even further, and K-pop gained a global audience. Girlband Blackpink was the first K-pop band to headline the famous U.S. music festival Coachella in 2019. Nevertheless, with both nationwide and global success, the seven-member boyband BTS is the biggest active boyband in South Korea currently. In December 2018, it was estimated that the band generates around four trillion South Korean won as economic value to the country per year.

Popularity of South Korean pop music (K-pop) worldwide in 2018

Share of respondents
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Release date

February 2019


Worldwide, South Korea

Survey time period

November 19 to December 10, 2018

Number of respondents

7,500 respondents worldwide*

Age group

15-59 years

Special properties

respondents who experienced South Korean cultural contents

Method of interview

Online panel

Supplementary notes

*This survey was conducted in the following countries: China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, United States, Brazil, France, United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey, UAE, and South Africa.

Original question: "How popular is K-pop in your country at the moment?"

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Statistics on "Music industry in South Korea"

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