This year's Korean auto sales worldwide are expected to exceed 5m units for the first time on the back of rapidly rising exports, according to data released by the Korean carmakers.

According to data provided by Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., Renault Samsung Motors Co. and Ssangyong Motor Co., the five domestic manufacturers' combined sales at home and abroad neared 4.7m cars in the 11 months to November.

The Korean carmakers are experiencing a boom in export sales, with overall overseas sales surging 20% over year-ago levels to almost 3.7m cars, the Korea Herald reported.

Annual sales of Korean-made cars broke the 3m mark in 1999 and 4m last year.

But import sales in Korea remain very low, if growing. Sales of foreign cars in South Korea account for around 2% of the market. However, import sales did record 30% growth over the same period last year during the first 11 months to 27,090 units.

"Sales of import cars already exceeded the earlier forecast of 26,500 units thanks to diverse promotions by each car marques," Yoon Dae-sung, an executive at the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association told the Korea Herald.