The global popularity of South Korea’s K-pop superstars has given the nation a massive boost in copyright exports, reaching a record level in 2019. It’s the seventh year in a row that Korea has achieved a trade surplus in copyright, and a record for the category since it was first tracked in 2010.

According to data compiled for the Bank of Korea, the total for copyright surplus exceeded $1.6 billion last year, the largest annual number since the nation began keeping track.

The total figure comes primarily from entertainment, including K-pop, computer games, and software, and extends the surplus streak since it was first reached in 2013 when the total was $20 million. For 2019, Korea exported more than $8.6 billion, an increase of nearly 10 times the amount of exports in 2010. At the same time, copyright imports totaled just over $7 billion for the year.

Record earnings from copyrights in the software and research & development sectors also made up much of the surplus. At the same time, the trade loss was the lowest since financial services specialists began calculating these figures – a total of $180 million registered in the culture and arts category.

Korea’s top officials in charge of copyright affairs noted that the record surplus was a testament to the top-quality products coming from the country.

“The achievement of the record high trade surplus in copyrights is very meaningful as it is one of the objective indicators of the global status of South Korea’s content industry,” Kim Jae-hyun, told the Korea Herald. Kim said that the government would continue to further expand exports of the Korean content industry and to better protect copyrights.