The K-pop industry saw significant success during the first half of 2021, marking the highest ever album sales for the period since 2011.
According to a report on the Korean music industry during the first half of 2021 by Gaon Chart, which the Korea Music Content Association operates, 25,976,644 copies of the top 400 best-selling albums were sold. That’s 65 percent of all albums sold during 2020.
Fifty-one albums sold more than 100,000 copies, a massive jump from 29 albums during the first half of 2020. Four acts sold over a million copies: NCT Dream’s first full-length album “Hot Sauce,” Seventeen’s eighth EP “Your Choice,” Exo’s unique album “Don’t Fight the Feeling,” and Baekhyun’s third solo EP “Bambi.”
K-pop’s most prominent band BTS did not release any albums this year but still managed to land 15 albums on the top 100 list of best-selling albums within the first half of 2021. “BE,” the band’s album released in November last year, sold 970,197 copies this year.
Gaon Chart’s social chart, which analyzes a band’s fandom power, was topped by BTS, followed by Blackpink, trot singer Yim Young-Woong, IU, and Twice.
IU dominated digital song sales. “Celebrity,” a song from her fifth full-length album “Lilac” released in January before the official album publication in March, topped both the Gaon Digital Chart and the Streaming Chart for the first half of 2021. The digital chart tallies a track’s downloads, streams, and background music on other works.
“Lilac,” the title track of IU’s “Lilac,” came in at No. 4 on the digital chart and No. 5 on the streaming chart. Her 2011 song “Hold My Hand” reclimbed the charts after a decade to land at No. 10 on the digital chart and No. 11 on the streaming chart.
Brave Girls’ “Rollin'” (2017) also had some newfound fame, reaching No. 2 on digital and streaming charts. It was followed BTS’s 2020 Grammy-nominated English track “Dynamite,” which sat on No. 3 of both the digital and streaming charts.