SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korean exports of red pepper paste soared nearly 63 percent in the past four years thanks to the global popularity of Korean pop culture, data showed Sunday.
Overseas shipments of red pepper paste, called "gochujang" in Korean, came to US$50.93 million in 2020, up 62.6 percent compared with 2016 and 35.2 percent from 2019, according to the data from Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp. and the agriculture ministry.
Exports of red pepper paste seem to have soared in recent years as more foreigners became interested in Korean food after watching K-pop stars, such as BTS, as well as increasing exposure to Korean culture on over-the-top services, the state company said.
Experts said the Korean Wave generated by K-pop and TV dramas could turn fans in foreign countries into active consumers of South Korean products.
The United States was the top export market with a share of 26.4 percent, followed by China with 17.3 percent and Japan with 10.3 percent.
Exports to the Philippines and Canada accounted for 6 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.
Outbound shipments of soybean paste "doenjang" also jumped to US$11.72 million in 2020, up 44.8 percent from 2016, the data showed.