SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - There's just no stopping the K-pop express.
A record 18 million K-pop albums were sold in the first half of the year, despite the cancellation of tours and stage performances as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Korea Music Content Association's Gaon Music Chart, which tabulates the weekly popularity of songs or albums in South Korea, reported that the country's top 400 albums sold 18.08 million copies in the first half of 2020, up 40 per cent from last year's 12.33 million.
This is also the highest figure since the chart started tallying album sales in 2010, according to The Korea Herald.
The top 10 albums - by popular groups and solo acts like BTS, Seventeen and Twice - exceeded a combined 10 million copies sold.
BTS's Map of the Soul: 7 was tops with more than 4.2 million copies sold. A best-selling album in the United States, it also topped the United Kingdom's Official Chart and Japan's Oricon chart.
Seventeen's seventh mini album Heng:garae came in second at over 1.2 million copies, driven by growth in Japan.
Japan remains one of the major markets for K-pop, accounting for about 60 per cent of its exports, reported The Korea Herald.
In a list dominated by groups, solo act and EXO vocalist Baekhyun stood out with his release Delight, which was just shy of a million with over 970,000 copies sold.
Gaon chief researcher at Kim Jin-woo told the South Korean daily that "album sales have been driven heavily by K-pop acts with a strong overseas presence and big international fandoms, as the domestic market has reached near saturation".
He added: "Ironically, the cancellation of concerts and fan meetups due to the pandemic seems to have aided K-pop album sales because the fans didn't have any other choice...buying albums was the only way to show support for a while."
Top 5 most sold albums in the first half of 2020
1. BTS - Map of the Soul: 7 (4,265,617 copies)
2. Seventeen - Heng:garae (1,207,513 copies)
3. Baekhyun - Delight (971,876 copies)
4. NCT 127's - NCT #127 Neo Zone (784,260 copies)
5. NCT DREAM - Reload" (604,480 copies)