SEOUL, April 4 — In just a few years, K-pop has become an international musical phenomenon. Such is the enthusiasm for this South Korean musical genre that almost all the records in the chart of best-selling albums for 2023 are K-pop albums.

In detail, 19 of the world’s 20 best-selling albums last year (physical and digital sales) belong to the K-pop genre. Taylor Swift‘s fourth re-recorded album, 1989 (Taylor’s Version), is the only outlier in the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s (IFPI), global album sales chart for 2023, taking sixth place.

The top three are Seventeen’s FML, Stray Kids’ 5-STAR and NCT Dream’s ISTJ. Seventeen is one of the most influential K-pop groups in the world. The boy band first came to prominence in 2013 through the reality TV show Seventeen TV, during which “recruits” undergo intensive training in the hope of becoming a member of the group. Seventeen has generated enthusiasm beyond the borders of South Korea over the years, to become one of the most beloved Korean bands on the planet.

Seventeen’s great rival, BTS, does not feature in the top 20 best-selling albums of 2023. This is because the world-famous South Korean group announced that it would be taking a career break in 2022, so that its seven members could devote themselves to their personal careers and their military service. Two of them, Jungkook and Jimin, have nevertheless managed to make their way into the IFPI ranking — the former features in seventh place with his first solo album, Golden, and the latter in 18th with FACE.


Three K-pop girl bands feature in the list of the world’s best-selling albums in 2023: IVE, (G)I-DLE and aespa. Blackpink, the world’s biggest girl band, does not feature, as the band’s second and most recent album, Born Pink, dates from 2022.

All in all, the IFPI top 20 shows just how far K-pop has come in establishing itself as one of the world’s most popular musical genres. And it’s also a lucrative business. The K-Pop industry is estimated to be worth some US$10 billion, according to Forbes. As such, K-pop has become a real economic powerhouse for its country of origin. — ETX Studio