Korean art market boom continues in 2022

July 12, 2022

SEOUL – The South Korean art market is estimated at around 532.9 billion won ($410.2 million) for the first half of 2022, according to a report by the Korea Arts Management Service last week.

The six-month figure was 58% of the annual art market size in 2021, which was 915.7 billion won.

Six major art fairs held in the first half showed strong growth. Total sales reached 142.9 billion won, up 165.6 percent from a year earlier. The total number of visitors also increased by 72% to 366,000.

About 245 billion won of art transactions took place at local art galleries.

Some 145 billion won in domestic art transactions were reported at 141 auctions held by the country’s top 10 auction houses. The figure represents an increase of 0.1% compared to the first half of 2021.

“From Point” by Lee U-fan (1982) (Seoul auction)

“Atelier” by Kim Whan-ki (1957) (Seoul auction)

Yayoi Kusama’s “Statue of Venus Erased by Infinity Nets” (1998), at 4.4 billion won, fetched the highest price at an auction in the first half of the year. “From Point” (1982) by Lee U-fan and “Atelier” (1957) by Kim Whan-ki are the best-selling works by Korean artists, each selling for 1.7 billion won.

The online art market has continued to thrive on growing interest in “fractional ownership” and symbolic non-fungible art as young, tech-savvy youngsters continue to enter the art market, explained KAMS. The art market has also expanded into other areas such as retail and fashion. The co-ownership market – a type of investment in which customers share ownership of a work of art – is estimated to have reached 31 billion won in the first half of the year, or 56.9% of the size of the condominium art market in 2021.

KAMS estimates that the total amount of art transactions will reach 1 trillion won this year, with Kiaf Seoul and Frieze Seoul’s first joint art fair set to take place in September.

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