Although the South Korean economy struggled through 2012, and tensions with North Korea ran high earlier this year, the pulling power of Korean pop culture remains as strong as ever in drawing a record number of tourists to the country.
Building on a 3.6% year-on-year rise in international arrivals in the first half, the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) has set a full-year target of 12.5 million visitors, hoping to attract US$15.6 billion (about 16.5 trillion won) in revenue. Aggressive marketing campaigns, coupled with the appeal of K-Pop, films and TV, are expected to sustain healthy growth in the tourism market.
“The history of the ‘Korean Wave’ can be traced back to about 15 years ago when the romantic comedy My Sassy Girl was released and became a blockbuster hit throughout East Asia,” said Yong-Ju Jeon, the CEO of IHQ, South Korea’s leading entertainment company.
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