South Korea’s art market continues its bull run in the first half

SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s art market remained bullish in the first half of this year despite an economic downturn, industry data showed Thursday.

Total art sales in Korea reached about 532.9 billion won ($410.1 million) in the first six months of 2022, according to data from the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS).

The six-month amount was 58% of the previous year’s total of 915.7 billion won.

This is the first time that KAMS has compiled such semi-annual data.

Some 245 billion won in art transactions were reported at local art galleries in the January-June period, while auctions held by the country’s top 10 auction houses brought in a total of 145 billion won.

Six art fairs held in the first half recorded total sales of 142.9 billion won, up close to the 2021 level of 154.3 billion won.

The so-called art portfolio investment, referring to a new type of artistic investment in small shares of iconic works of art, is estimated at 31 billion won in the first six months of this year. Figures are excluded from total industry sales.

KAMS expects the new sector to hit 90 billion won in sales by the end of 2022, up from 54.5 billion won a year earlier.

The local art market has been booming since last year thanks to growing demand for artwork from individual investors amid the prolonged pandemic.

Total art sales reached 915.7 billion won last year, up sharply from 327.7 billion won in 2020.

KAMS said the annual amount is expected to reach 1 trillion won for 2022 for the first time ever, as the Korea International Art Fair, the country’s largest art event, is set to be held in September in partnership with Frieze Seoul, a prestigious international Contemporary Art Fair by the art platform Frieze.

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