During Readmagine 23 the «focus market» was Korea. The Korean digital content specialist, Beatrice Yong-in Lin, presented the general landscape of the creative industries in the Asian country and her insights on the present trends. You can follow her complete presentation in this video recording.
- Yong-in Lin began by an explanation about the last figures in the publishing market and reading behaviour in South Korea:
- In 2020, the market size of the publishing industry in South Korea fell to around 228M USD while the print publishing industry is shrinking.
- The most relevant driving force is the country’s large education market.
- In 2020, around 76.7 thousand new books were published in South Korea, a 6.1 percent decrease from the previous year.
- In national survey in 2021, around 19 percent of respondents stated that they had read an e-book.
- In the survey conducted in 2022, 79 percent of respondents accessed news online via social media.
One of the big driven forces in that market is the audiobook expansion:
Korea Audiobook market expected to grow to 112M USD by 2024, which means a 75% of annual growth rate between 2019 and 2020, while 24.4% of annual growth rate of Global Audiobook market from 3.2B USD in 2020 to 15B USD in 2027.
- The market trends on audiobook in Korea are linked to certain platform strategies and changes in consumer behaviour. Yong-in Lin presented several data
- There were some funding measures which were drivers of the big development, such as Naver’s 30M USD Audiobook Supporting Fund in 2017 or the Audiobook Production Financial Support Fund by Gov’t since 2019 (300 unabridged audio per year).
- Market’s Growing Turnover at USD 30M in 2021 is linked to several facts:
- The spread of smartphones and AI speakers coincided with the soaring response of GenZ and the COVID-19.
- Paid subscribers soared by 800%+, number of audiobook increased by 90% (Weela).
- Accelerating audio content expansion (Millie).
- The GenZ’ huge ‘listening boom’ was fueled big the rise of high-tech sound equipment such as AirPods.
- Catalogue growth in genre and number, Teens and 40s and, in particular, 50s with eye fatigue
- Nevertheless, less that 5% of the publishing industry figures is linked to the audiobook market.
- The most popular genres in audiobooks are fictions (thriller, horror, crime, romance), literature, memoir, essay, history, children fictions and non-fictions, economy and management.
The figures of digital books:
33.9% of annual growth rate between 2019 and 2020 while 16% of annual growth rate of Global e-book market from 2019 to 2020. There are nine domestic e-book platforms including Ridi, Kakao ENT which sell webtoon and web novels.
- Subscription model:
- Book subscription services are on the rise every year after COVID 19 exceptional circumstances.
- E-book reading rate is increasing (the ratio of reading more than one book a year) increased from 10.2% in 2015 to 14.1% in 2017, 16.5% in 2019 and 19% in 2021 as it becomes difficult to visit bookstores due to social distancing (Statistic from the ‘National Reading Survey’ (2-year cycle) for 2020′ by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2021).
- Use of reading apps of subscription service in the significant growth. E-Book apps such as ‘Ridi’, ‘Millie’, ‘Yes24 eBook’ and ‘Weela’ of audiobook app, as book subscription service apps with the high number of installation record in South Korea.
Beatrice Yong-in Lin also shared some crucial insights in order to understand the meaning of the biggest thing in Korea: webtoons.
This phenomenon is a big shift in the behaviour of readers: «Readership Shift from Print to ‘Digital contents on Web’
She presented this Korean Webtoon hype as the driver to 5th Korean Wave.
Global webtoons market is valued at USD 3.7 billion in 2021 and predicted to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 36.8%, by generating a revenue of $56,09 Billion by 2030. The Korean webtoons market size reached a value of approximately USD 1.3 billion in 2022. The Korean webtoon industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.2% between 2023 and 2028, reaching a value of USD 3.4 billions by 2028.
Yong-in Lin used the term «Hayllu», meaning «wave» in Korean and is a tag for the trend of growing interest for Korean content in the western countries. In fact, there is the 2023 Overseas Hallyu Survey which states that: «Webtoons are the most actively consumed Hallyu content in overseas markets».
- Some more facts about webtoons in Yong-in Lin presentation are:
- Naver and Kakao Webtoon platforms rank 1st and 2nd in Japan’s sales.
- Naver Webtoon tops the sales and download charts in the French app market.
- Kakao’s popular work ‘Solo Leveling’ continues its high popularity with the release of its third comic book.
- As of 2022, the number of users of Naver’s Webtoon stood at 82 million users worldwide. Kakao Page on the other hand stands at 22 million.
One last remark can be underlined from Yong-in Lin presentation: what makes Webtoon so relevant and successful? She considers that cause are the following, due to the characteristics of Web-contents service:
- The micro-transaction Payment system.
- Wait & Free.
- Scrolled view experience.
- Snack culture.
Beatrice Yong-in calls herself a professional Digital Content Specialist (DCS) with technology in heart and the demonstrated career for decades from the licensing, publishing, ed-tech and digital content distribution and security fields, whereas seven years engaged in audio book publishing, production, and distribution for the market of South Korea. As a co-founder and managing director at her company CO.MINT Inc. she is leading rights agency, consulting and digital content distribution of Korean language eBooks and audiobooks. From 2017 to 2022, she had led Storytel’s audio publishing business in South Korea.
As a content reviewer and judge, frequent speaker, lecturer, and writer for Korea’s Digital Book Association and KPIPA of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea on the topic of eBook, audiobook, digital content trends, and copyrights in digital environment, she has been invited to speak at global arenas. She has bachelor’s degree of law.