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  • Writer's pictureGrégoire Musitelli (戈虎)

South Korea: Market Overview 🌏

Quick Overview of the Korean Market

10th world largest economy and 8th world largest importer, Korea is an unavoidable market, with an economy geared towards import-export.

However, South Korea is a relatively small Asian country with only 51 million inhabitants.

In South Korea 81% of the population is urban.

Seoul is the economic and politic capital with 10M inhabitants; however, Greater Seoul represent half of the country population (25M) and 50% of the Korea’s GDP.

Busan is the 2nd largest city (3.5M inhabitants) and main port of the country, with a large industrial basin and shipyards.

An outward-looking economy

South Korea has 18 free-trade agreements with 58 countries and economic areas including the EU, APAC, USA etc.

South Korea's TOP suppliers are:

1) China : 22,6 %

2) USA : 11,9 %

3) Asean : 11,1 %

4) European Union : 10,7 %

5) Japan : 8,9 %

General characteristics of the Alcohol industry in Korea

On average, Koreans consume 10L of pure alcohol per year.

South Korea is a big “beer market” ; Introduced by the Japanese at the end of the 19th century (during colonization), beer consumption has since been dominated by the local supply. In terms of sales volume, beer remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in Korea. In 2021, Koreans consumed nearly 43 L of beer per person.

The wine consumption is increasing since 2012 and reached 1.2L /person per year. France is the 1st wine supplier of South Korea, with around 160M EUR export value in 2021.

Stay tuned, our next article on Korea will discuss local alcohol production and the dominant market segments.

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