Korea taking steps to promote hallyuWith the number of Chinese fans of Korean pop culture rising every year despite concerns about the staying power of the exports, the Korean government has been coming up with several new plans in recent months to support the hallyu boom in China. To promote Korea’s traditional and pop culture to people living in the southeastern part of China, the Korean Tourism Organization is building a public relations office in Guangzhou. Dubbed “Korea Plaza,” the center will be one of three new foreign offices the organization is establishing by 2010 in locations in Asia where more hallyu fans reside than anywhere else. “We are hoping that the Guangzhou Korea Plaza can work as a landmark in China to maintain the hallyu boom there,” said Chun Hyo-sik, team head of marketing and planning at the Korean Tourism Organization. Along with the wide exposure toKorean dramas in broadcasts, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea has grown as well. In 2004, about 190,000 Chinese visited Korea, but the number jumped to 265,000 in 2004 and again to 314,000 last year, according to Korean Tourism Organization data. This prompted the agency to set up specialized tourist programs for Chinese travelers; one example is a “100 good restaurants” promotion after selecting establishments around the country deemed to be of specific interest to tourists from China. The selected restaurants mostly serve Korean cuisine, especially grilled beef or pork, two dishes popular among the Chinese. The program is being advertised at popular Chinese tourist destinations here. “In the past, tour agencies took package travelers to random restaurants,” said Park Seok-ju, the head of the agency’s tourism environment team. “But we now give them separate guides showing where they can get better service and food within their budget.” The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is also hoping more Chinese tourists will come to Korea to meet their favorite hallyu stars. It designated mid-October to December as “hallyu months,” when concerts and fan meetings for tourists will continue almost nonstop. Hallyu stars participating in the program include Bi (Rain), Ryu Si-won and Song Seung-heon. Well-known groups such as Nanta, Jump and B-Boy “Mario Net” will stage performances as well. by Lee Min-a
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