중앙데일리

Social media campaign kicks off with a tour for expat bloggers

Aug 24,2011
Nine bloggers, including Charlie Brummitt, center front, learn the basics of samulnori last Wednesday in Gwanghwamun Hall, northern Seoul, as part of a tour of the city organized by the Korea Tourism Organization. Through the tour, the KTO is hoping to bolster tourism to Korea through social media sites. Provided by the KTO

As the presence of blogs and other social media become more prominent than ever, travel guidebooks no longer feel like an essential item when visiting a foreign country.

Acknowledging this shift, the Korea Tourism Organization launched its Buzz Korea campaign (www.buzz-korea.com) late last year to bolster tourism to Korea through social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Ameba, among other platforms.

To promote the new campaign, the KTO organized a tour called “Real Touch Korea, Season 1 - Seoul” from last Wednesday to Thursday for 24 expat bloggers living here who write about Korea in English, Japanese or Chinese.

“As a part of the KTO’s Buzz Korea campaign, the ‘Real Touch Korea’ tour will help promote Korean food and traditional culture through social media,” said Kim Hyeon-hee, a manager at the KTO’s brand marketing division.

“The tour is also a chance for foreign bloggers living in Korea to get to know one another and share information about Korea.”

Bloggers Curt and Becky Meverden dine in Insa-dong, northern Seoul.

The Korea JoongAng Daily followed nine people who blog in English that were invited to tour Seoul on Wednesday. The next day, eight people who blog in Japanese and seven who blog in Chinese went on the same Seoul tour.

During the tour, the group took a class on the basics of samulnori (Korean percussion music performed by a quartet) ate ssam (rice and vegetable wraps) and walked around Bukchon Hanok Village near Gyeongbok Palace in northern Seoul.

As soon as So Kyoung-jin, the lead samulnori artist with Samulnori Hanullim and the samulnori instructor of the day, began the class, Charlie Brummitt (www.charliebrummitt.blogspot.com) an American blogger and student in Korea, took off his shoes and listened intently as So explained how to play the four traditional instruments - kkwaenggwari (small gong), jing (large gong), janggu (hourglass-shaped drum) and buk (bass drum) - used in samulnori.

During a short Q&A session near the end of the class, Rahul Prabhakar, an Indian blogger living in Korea, and So engaged in a conversation about the similarities and differences between samulnori and the tabla, a traditional Indian percussion instrument.

For Sarah Hasan, a Ph.D. student in Korea and part-time blogger (http://sarahinsouthkorea.blogspot.com), one of the most enjoyable parts of living in Korea is the food.

Pointing to all the dishes served to us at the ssam restaurant in Insa-dong, Hasan said “There is very little fat in these dishes.” Putting rice, doenjang (soybean paste), mushrooms and kimchi into a perilla leaf, Hasan spoke enthusiastically about Korean cuisine.

Bloggers pose for a photo in Bukchon Hanok Village, northern Seoul.

The last part of the tour, which included a walk around Bukchon Hanok Village and time for photos in front of a popular tourist site, proved to be a favorite for Rady Heng (www.radyheng.blogspot.com) and Molyna (www.molyna.wordpress.com), both from Cambodia. The two bloggers posed for photos in front of Choong Ang High School, which was featured in the hit Korean TV drama “Winter Sonata.”

“The Hallyu [Korean Wave] is still going strong in Cambodia and people from my country still flock to Korea to go on ‘Winter Sonata’ tours,” Heng said.

Zaryne Geneberth Gelua, a blogger from the Philippines, said that a government organization embracing bloggers and social networks to boost tourism is “quite innovative.”

“I think that the KTO should get recognition for trying to keep pace with the younger generation and promoting their image with this kind of campaign,” Gelua said.


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]



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