South Korea was badly impacted by the GFC in 2008.

To re-boot its economy, the Southeast Asian nation earmarked several major industries to springboard recovery and cosmetics was among the top four.

The strategy paid off handsomely with annual average growth of 26 per cent from 2015 to 2019 alone.

Korea’s cosmetic export volume rose 4.2 per cent to US$6.5 billion in 2019, reports the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS).

The results confirmed Korea’s position as a global cosmetics powerhouse, says the MFDS, after France, the US and Germany.

South Korea is now the world’s fourth largest cosmetics exporter, ahead of Japan, Italy, China and Spain.

China is the number one market for Korean beauty exports, accounting for 46.9 per cent of total revenues valued at US$3.06 billion in 2019.

Other major export destinations are Hong Kong, the US and Japan.

In 2019, Korean beauty exports to Australia rose 22.9 per cent.

Exports to Japan and Vietnam both rose by 32.9 per cent and shipments to Russia soared by 34.1 per cent by contrast to 2018.

Korea’s total cosmetic production grew 4.9 per cent in 2019 to reach US$13.7 billion.

Skincare accounts for 60 per cent of Korean beauty products, followed by colour cosmetics and haircare.

The two giants of the South Korean beauty industry are running neck-and-neck in terms of production – LG Household & Healthcare and AmorePacific at 30.5 per cent and 30.22 per cent, respectively.

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