Source: The Korea Herald/Asia News NetworkKorea's overseas sales of music and video content surpassed 150 billion won (S$165 million) in the first half of this year, buoyed by the K-pop craze overseas, a report said.K-pop fever is also lifting the stock value of the nation's major entertainment agencies.According to the Bank of Korea on Tuesday, audiovisual service revenues, which include sales of overseas music, film and other showbiz areas, reached about US$137 million (S$170) in the first half. About US$64 million was earned in the first quarter and the rest in the second.The figure is below that of the second half last year because of year-end concerts. But the amount increased 11.4 per cent compared to the same period last year."We assume that culture exports increased as hallyu stars and Korean films became internationally popular," said an official at the Bank of Korea.Experts expect that "hallyu," or the Korean Wave, will bring even a bigger earnings in the latter half of the year, possibly marking their biggest ever."It is certain that the amount of cultural exports will reach their highest-ever level this year. The world market is sluggish due to the European financial crisis, but the Asian market is maintaining its buying power," Kim Pil-soo, a researcher at Hyundai Research Institute, was quoted as saying.The balance of international payments in the culture and entertainment category was also favourable for three consecutive months from March to May, according to the BOK. It was the first time ever the index was in the black for three consecutive months.Stock prices and earnings of the top three entertainment agencies, SM, YG and JYP, are skyrocketing as well. The three companies marked total sales of 78.6 billion won outside of South Korea last year, while the figure marked 21 billion won in 2009. The share of overseas sales increased from 19.5 per cent in 2009 to 41.2 per cent last year.The closing price of S.M. on the first day of 2009 was 1,412 won per share, but peaked at 51,479 won on Feb. 20, 2012, and marked 49,450 won on Monday.YG's stock price was 39,100 won on Nov. 23, 2011, the first day it was listed, and reached its peak in February with 60,900 won per share. On Monday, it was 51,600 won.Analysts expect the stock prices to rise even higher, possibly to around 60,000 won to 70,000 won."The prices can rise more, as agencies are planning to expand more into overseas and also into other business realms like TV dramas, and also thanks to the improvement of the digital music charging system," said Kim Si-woo, a researcher at Korea Investment and Securities.