The South Korea market is a highly saturated and lucrative one. There are over 40 million smartphone users in the country who spend more than five hours on mobile apps each day on average. However, while revenue has grown significantly in the past few years, the number of users have stagnated due to a declining population.
Users in South Korea have been spending more time on video sharing and short video apps than in previous years, while there have been falls in the popularity of investing and cryptocurrency apps amid an economic downturn. According to data.ai, younger people were more likely to use photo and video editing tools, forum style social media and fantasy sport apps.
Videogames are particularly popular in South Korea, with the top two grossing apps last year being games Odin: Valhalla Rising and Lineage M. The country was the main source of growth in mobile game spending in Asia-Pacific last year and is one of the top mobile game markets in the world.
In April 2023, the country’s Fair Trade Commission fined Google $32 million for allegedly blocking the release of mobile video games on the competitor platform One Store.South Korea has also warned Google and Apple of possible fines of up to $50 million for unfair practices against app developers. The Korea Communications Commission has claimed the platforms forced app developers into specific payment methods and delayed app reviews. This follows a 2021 law which banned app store operators from requiring developers to use their payment systems in an attempt to promote fair competition.
Some app developers have turned towards designing super apps which can provide multiple services for users. Neighbourhood marketplace app Danggeun Market, travel platform Yanolja Inc., clock app Alarmy and ride-sharing business So Car have all attempted to expand their offerings in the past few years by linking to other services such as ticketing.
There have been recent developments in AI technology in South Korea after the platform Naver launched a generative AI-driven search tool HyperCLOVA X with a chatbot function. AI apps have continued to trend, with the latest success being South Korean photo-editing app EPIK which generates 90s-inspired pictures of users.
We have collected data and statistics on the South Korean mobile app market. Read on below to find out more.
Key South Korean App Market Statistics
- The South Korean app market generated $6.3 billion in 2022, $300 million less than in 2021
- There were 2.3 billion app downloads in South Korea last year
- Odin: Valhalla Rising earned $55.1 million in 2022, making it the top grossing app
- There were 40.1 million smartphone users in South Korea last year
- Users in South Korea spent 46.7 billion hours on mobile apps in 2022
South Korean App Market Revenue
The South Korean app market made $6.3 billion in 2022, a slight fall from $6.6 billion the year before but a significant increase from pre-pandemic revenue.
South Korean app market annual revenue 2016 to 2022 ($bn)
South Korean consumer spend per user 2017 to 2022 ($)
South Korean App Market Revenue by App
Videogame Odin: Valhalla Rising was the top grossing app in South Korea in 2022 at $55.1 million. Lineage M also earned more than $50 million.
South Korean revenue by app 2022 ($mm)
|Odin: Valhalla Rising||55.1|
|EA SPORTS FC Online M||21.3|
South Korean Smartphone Users
There were just over 40 million active smartphone users in South Korea last year, a rise of four million since 2019.
Annual South Korean smartphone users 2017 to 2022 (mm)
South Korean Smartphone Population
Over three-quarters of the South Korean population used smartphones in 2022 at 77.4%.
South Korean population smartphone usage 2017 to 2022 (%)
Time Spent on Apps in South Korea
Users in South Korea spent 46.7 billion hours on mobile apps in 2022 and 2021, an increase from 40.9 billion in 2019.
Hours spent on mobile apps in South Korea 2019 to 2022 (bn)
South Korean App Market Downloads
There were an estimated 2.3 billion app downloads in 2022, up from 2 billion the year before.
South Korean app downloads 2019 to 2022 (bn)
South Korean downloads per user 2019 to 2022
South Korean App Market Downloads by App
Disney+ was the most downloaded app in South Korea in 2022 with 4.6 million downloads, ahead of TVING and KakaoTalk: Messenger at 3.8 million and 3.7 million respectively.
South Korean downloads by app 2022 (mm)
|EPIK - AI Photo Editor||2.4|