SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korean exports of red pepper paste jumped more than 35 percent in 2020 from a year earlier thanks to the global popularity of Korean pop culture, known as the Korean Wave, data showed Monday.
Overseas shipments of red pepper paste, called "gochujang" in Korean, came to US$50.93 million last year, up 35.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the data by the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.
South Korean exports had been on the rise since 2016, when the figure stood at $31.33 million.
The state company said exports of red pepper paste seem to have soared last year as more foreigners became interested in Korean food after watching Korean TV dramas amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The United States was the top export market with a share of 26.5 percent, followed by China with 17.3 percent and Japan with 10.3 percent.
Exports to Southeast Asia spiked last year from 2019, with shipments to Thailand and the Philippines shooting up 113.2 percent and 55.8 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, domestic sales of red pepper paste rose slightly in the first half of last year amid the coronavirus outbreak, snapping a three-year losing streak.
Local consumption of the spicy sauce amounted to 118.2 billion won ($107 million) in the January-June period of 2020, up 6.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.