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The Rise of the Korean Art Market

On 17 December 2021, by Vanessa Schmitz-Grucker

The success of the 2021 KIAF (Korea International Art Fair) is hardly an accident.

The Rise of the Korean Art Market
© Ropac gallery

With 88,000 visitors in October for its 20th anniversary, the fair saw its admissions jump by 7% compared to 2019, and its sales double (some €48 M compared to €23 M in 2019). The phenomenon has been noted by foreign galleries, which are flocking to Seoul in droves. Perrotin, Pace, Lehmann Maupin, König Galerie and Thaddaeus Ropac already have branches there, and Gladstone and Two Palms are considering their own. The political turmoil in Hong Kong has obviously prompted dealers to look for another international destination in Asia beyond the censorship of Greater China. Seoul's popularity also owes much to millennials, with 51% of KIAF visitors under the age of 30, and lovers of NFTs, which have also brought South Korean pop culture into the global scene with references like Squid Game on Netflix and Damwon, a flagship e-Sports company.

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