June 25, 2024
A man poses for a selfie at Jogye Temple in Seoul, Tuesday, on the eve of an annual celebration of Buddha's Birthday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

A man poses for a selfie at Jogye Temple in Seoul, Tuesday, on the eve of an annual celebration of Buddha’s Birthday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

By Lee Hae-rin

Korea has invited K-culture lovers from around the world with special ties to the country to offer them opportunities to experience Korean culture as part of the 2024 Visit Korea Year campaign, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Wednesday.

The campaign, dubbed “KOREA Invites U,” will host around 50 participants who are “true fans” of Korea for a five-day tour from May 20 to 24.

The culture ministry and the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) are co-organizers of the campaign.

The 50 participants were selected through story contests and a recommendation process by KTO’s overseas branches.

A total of 77,224 applicants from 185 countries submitted their stories throughout the month-long application period from March 19 to April 19, according to the ministry.

Some of the stories selected through a four-step evaluation process included those who overcame personal struggles through training in taekwondo and those who went on to study Korean courses at university as late bloomers based on their interests in Korean drama, culture, history and language.

Participants will visit tourist landmarks in Seoul on a city tour bus and attend a welcoming event and an exchange meeting at Samcheonggak, a traditional Korean food restaurant in central Seoul.

The tour will also include a K-pop choreography session at 1MILLION Dance Studio, a renowned dance academy led by dancer Lia Kim, as many of the participants have shown high interest in K-pop.

They will also try “chimaek,” a portmanteau of chicken and the Korean word “maekju,” or beer, at Kyochon Pilbang, a fried chicken restaurant operated by Kyochon Chicken in Itaewon, Seoul.

Notably, they will participate in customized tour programs mapped out based on their preferences and characteristics from May 22 to 23.

They will be divided into five groups and travel around Seoul and other cities, including Busan and Jeonju, for sightseeing and gastronomic experience.

The tour program will be filmed for a television program, which will be broadcast on KBS World, the ministry said.

“There are a lot of foreigners who love Korea and have various stories regarding their interest in K-pop, drama, sports, traditional culture and the Korean language,” the ministry’s director general of tourism policy bureau, Park Jong-taek, said.

“Through this event, the ministry expects that participants experience Korean culture and tourism in person and become civilian honorary ambassadors who spread the word about Korea’s unique characteristics.”

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