Home News South Korea The Global Hit Gangnam Style Boosts South Korean Tourism

The Global Hit Gangnam Style Boosts South Korean Tourism

E-mail Print PDF

Download By now you’ve probably heard the South Korean pop music sensation Gangnam Style.

And you’ve maybe even have done the invisible horse dance that singer Psy shows off in the song’s video, which has gone viral worldwide.

Gangnam Style is K-pop’s biggest hit to date and is putting South Korea on the map as a entertainment powerhouse. 

And now the South Korean government sees an opportunity to cash in on the song’s success.

Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.

Alexis Martinez is in a tour group that is learning the dance made famous by South Korean musician Psy in his music video Gangnam Style.

The 14-year old American says even back home in Texas the song is a big hit.

“It was basically my whole school knew about it, it was crazy. There was a flash mob in our school that did it, the Gangnam Style.”

Psy’s Gangnam Style is one of the most viewed videos ever on the Internet. 

It has ranked high on music charts in Asia, Europe and North America.

The song is about the district south of Seoul’s Han River that is known for its trendy clubs, high fashion and lavish lifestyle.

Very few people predicted Psy would become a global phenomenon.  
That includes Je Sang-won, who heads the Korea Tourism Organization’s Hallyu, or Korean Wave, division.

“This was definitely unexpected.  Psy isn’t the typical idol type or even really handsome. But I think this makes him more interesting and exciting. It’s great to see that he’s promoting Gangnam to the rest of the world.”

Gangnam Style might be South Korea’s most successful cultural export ever. 

Je says his organization hopes the song can help import more foreign tourists and money.

“I think Gangnam Style is bringing up Korea’s brand value.  It’s attracted more western fans and made them interested in Korea.  We did a survey in the Los Angeles and found 70-percent respondents said they wanted to visit Korea after they saw the video.”

Out on the streets of Gangnam  Psy’s image can be found on video billboards and on cardboard cut outs in front of shops.

Some merchants here say ever since Gangnam Style went viral, they have seen an increase in foreign shoppers. 

Om Jong-ryul sells roasted nuts at a stall right outside of the Gangnam metro station.

“I think it’s created a positive image for the neighborhood. People are excited to be here, they sing and laugh. It’s a good atmosphere.”

Kwon Da-na manages a boutique clothing shop in Gangnam’s fashionable Apgujeong neighbourhood.

“Sometimes there are more foreign customers than Korean shoppers coming to my store. When I turn on the Gangnam Style song and open the door, some people come in off the street. They smile a lot and I have had some Japanese customers start dancing to the music when they come in.”

South Korea is breaking the 10-million tourist mark for the first time this year.

And according to the Korea Tourism Organization K-pop’s growing international attraction has something to do with it. 

And Hallyu division leader Je Sang-won says there are plans to use K-pop’s most famous song, to bring in even more foreign travellers.

“We are now looking at starting a marketing campaign using Gangnam Style to promote visiting the country.”

But like with any pop song, what’s trendy today could be out of style tomorrow.

And some foreign tourists here say Gangnam Style might be reaching its peak already.

Inside the KTO’s Korean Wave gallery, I met a group of teenage tourists from Singapore. 

17-year old Connie says she’s a big K-pop fan, but she’s heard enough of Gangnam Style.

“I think it’s nice but it got too over popular after awhile. It got annoying because it was everywhere. Usually you walk into a store you hear a lot of music, other than just Gangnam Style, but now you just hear Gangnam Style everywhere.”

But for American tourist Alexis Martinez, Gangnam Style and its wacky horse dance aren’t getting old. 

She says it’s easy to learn and maybe that’s why it’s so popular around the globe.

“It’s bringing the world together, I guess, it’s cool.”

And being cool is what Gangnam Style is all about.


Last Updated ( Sunday, 25 November 2012 15:31 )  

Add comment

Asia Calling House Rules for Comments:
We reserve the right to fail messages that:
· Are likely to provoke, attack or offend others
· Are racist, homophobic or sexists or otherwise objectionable
· Contain swear words or other language likely to offend
· Break the law or encourage illegal behavior
· Include contact details including number or email address
· Are considered to be advertising or promoting a product or SPAM
· Are considered off-topic

Security code