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The Korean Art Market in the First Half of 2022 Reached about 532.9 billion KRW

Kiaf Seoul 2021. © Kiaf Seoul/Galleries Association of Korea.
Kiaf Seoul 2021. © Kiaf Seoul/Galleries Association of Korea.

When the economic downturn happens, it is most likely that investor sentiment drops. This year, however, the Korean art market continued to grow, like it did last year.

K-ARTMARKET by the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS) predicted the size of the Korean art market to be about 532.9 billion KRW (approximately $47.1 million) in the first half of 2022. The total size of the art market in 2021 was 915.7 billion KRW.

To calculate the total sales figure for the first half of this year, K-ARTMARKET combined the estimated sales figures of art auctions (145 billion KRW), art fairs (142.9 billion KRW), and galleries and the fractional art ownership market (245 billion KRW). A number of market watchers say that the size of the Korean art market might finally reach one trillion KRW this year if this trend of growth continues through the second half of the year.

Art fairs have shown the highest growth rate. In just the first half of this year, the total sales figure of art fairs almost reached the estimated 154.3 billion KRW—the total sales of the art fair market in 2021. This is up 165.6% from the same period in the previous year. It turned out that the sales amount of all six art fairs held from January through June this year increased by more than 100%.

Compared with last year, the auction market increased by 0.1%, which was about 144.85 billion KRW in the first half of 2021. The fractional art ownership market accounted for 56.9% of 2021, which reached about 31 billion KRW this year.

Kiaf Seoul 2021.  © Kiaf Seoul/Galleries Association of Korea.
Kiaf Seoul 2021. © Kiaf Seoul/Galleries Association of Korea.

The size of the art fair, which is growing rapidly, is expected to continue to increase as a large art fair is scheduled for the second half of the year.

Frieze Seoul and Kiaf SEOUL, jointly held this year, will fill the entire exhibition halls of COEX in the Gangnam district from September 2, 2022. Kiaf SEOUL will use Hall A and Hall B and the Grand Ballroom on the first floor. Frieze Seoul will use Hall C and Hall D on the third floor.

More than 110 galleries from twenty countries, including twelve Korean galleries, will be participating in Frieze Seoul. The fair will consist of three sections—the main section focusing on contemporary art, Frieze Masters featuring masterpieces from the Old Masters to the late twentieth century, and Focus Asia introducing galleries aged twelve years or younger based in Asia.

The Gallery Association of Korea is hosting Kiaf SEOUL, with 164 galleries from seventeen countries participating. As one of Seoul’s largest art fairs, Kiaf SEOUL is expected to be filled with more diverse artworks, as about sixty international galleries will be participating in the fair this year. 

The fair will also hold an additional special section, Kiaf PLUS, at the Seoul Trade Exhibition & Convention (SETEC). Kiaf PLUS will have seventy-three galleries under five years old from eleven countries and feature the works of young artists, non-fungible token (NFT) art, and media arts.

Last year, Kiaf Seoul achieved an all-time high of sixty-five billion KRW in sales. This is more than double the figure of thirty-one billion KRW in 2020. 

As part of the partnership between Kiaf Seoul and Frieze Seoul, visitors will be able to visit both fairs with one ticket, but a separate ticket will be needed for Kiaf PLUS. The combined ticket price has not yet been determined but will be announced soon.

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