South Korea's health care and cosmetics exports surged to $14.6 billion last year, helped by solid demand, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Monday.
Outbound shipments of drugs, medical equipment and makeup products jumped 19.4 percent from the previous year, with the annual average growth rate for the past five years hitting 21 percent, according to the ministry.
Of the total, cosmetics accounted for $6.3 billion followed by drugs and medical equipment at $4.7 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively, the latest data showed.
Exports of cosmetics products shot up 26.5 percent compared with 2017, with corresponding numbers for pharmaceuticals and medical equipment rising 14.9 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively.
The ministry attributed the overall gains to "hallyu," or the Korean Wave, centered on K-pop and various other entertainment content and steady growth of local drugmakers on the global stage.
China was the biggest overseas market for South Korean beauty products, with more than $2.6 billion worth of goods being shipped last year, while the United States was the single largest importer of drugs and medical equipment.
Europe, Japan and China were all growing markets for health-related goods, with demand for local biosimilars rising steadily.
Biosimilars are officially approved copycat medicines developed after patents for the original biopharmaceuticals expire. (Yonhap)