Pop: Buzzword for S. Korea

Byungsun Lee, Director, Korea Tourism Organisation, shares new plans to highlight the country’s captivating culture to increase Indian arrivals to the country.


Back in 2013, K-pop singer Psy suddenly shot to global fame with the release of his mega viral track ‘Gangnam Style’. One could repeatedly hear the contagious tune in every mall, shops, at parties, you name it, and although the craze eventually died down, it did what it had to – it left a strong impact. The song highlights South Korea’s urban chic area Gangnam district that makes up a major chunk of Seoul and is a hub for shoppers.

Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) is attempting to recreate the same fervour through a new Korean drama series called Descendants of the Sun, airing on the channel Zindagi to reach out to more Indians and familiarise them with the culture, enough to motivate them to travel to South Korea. “I feel that the Korean culture is not as wellknown here in comparison to the South East Asian countries where there is a huge following,” reveals Byungsun Lee, Director, KTO. “We want to create the same response. India is emerging as a very important market for us which is why we are aggressively promoting the country’s tourism products. This year, we are upping the budget, the steps and the resources to raise awareness of the destination, and welcome more Indians to our country.”

Plans to organise large-scale Korean cultural festival in New Delhi towards the second half of the year are already afoot to create a buzz in the industry. Almost 200,000 Indian travellers visited South Korea in 2016 and Lee mentions that a 20 per cent Y-o-Y growth in tourist receipts have been witnessed for the past five years. This is also due to the fact that Korean Air recently started plying between Incheon and New Delhi five times a week with the route receiving an average passenger load factor of 85 per cent and plans to add more routes after observing the demand. Lee informs that Asiana Airlines is already looking to add another route to South India, either Chennai or Bangalore.

“This will give direct connectivity to South India which is beneficial for both parties, since Koreans love Kerala and the backwaters, tea plantations etc. are already very popular. This will give a lot of traction for twoway traffic between the two countries,” he adds.

“This year, we are upping the budget, the steps and the resources to raise awareness of the destination, and welcome more Indians to our country”

• Byungsun Lee, Director, KTO

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