July 24, 2024
People walk by the Korea Beauty Festival pop-up store in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, Monday. Courtesy of Visit Korea Committee

People walk by the Korea Beauty Festival pop-up store in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, Monday. Courtesy of Visit Korea Committee

Monthlong festival held across capital boosted by beauty tourism trend

By Lee Hae-rin

Lefan Yang, a 22-year-old student from China, came on a three-day trip to Seoul during the Spring Dragon Festival holidays with a group of friends.

Initially, it was her passion for K-pop music and shopping that led her to choose Korea among neighboring destinations.

Online posts related to the Korea Beauty Festival on Xiaohongshu / Captured from Internet

Online posts related to the Korea Beauty Festival on Xiaohongshu / Captured from Internet

Based on their interests, she and her friends collected information on what to do and where to go through social media and mapped out their own itinerary. They booked a small Airbnb apartment in a quiet neighborhood in Seoul for the three-day trip. During the day, they went shopping and had gimbap (seaweed rice rolls) at a local market. In the evening, they chilled out at a nice bar, had a drink and enjoyed the summer breeze by the river.

The Korea Beauty Festival was one of the must-do things she discovered from Xiaohongshu, a Chinese social media platform and e-commerce giant. Yang and her friends visited the K-beauty pop-up store in eastern Seoul’s Seongsu area, a trendy shopping neighborhood also dubbed the “Brooklyn of Seoul” or “the second Myeong-dong.”

There, they were given fashion tips based on their personal tastes as well as discount coupons that can be used in neighboring stores of Korean fashion brands. They also crafted personalized photo key rings with a picture they took on the spot. As of Monday, some 3,000 foreign visitors like Yang visited the pop-up store since its opening on June 1.

She and her friend, Yuanze Dai, 23, both said their impression of the country from this first visit is that Koreans are “friendly and trendy.”

“I will definitely come again, maybe in the next holiday or in summer,” Dai said.

Foreign visitors make personalized photo key rings at the Korea Beauty Festival pop-up store in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, Monday. Korea Times photo by Lee Hae-rin

Foreign visitors make personalized photo key rings at the Korea Beauty Festival pop-up store in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, Monday. Korea Times photo by Lee Hae-rin

Meanwhile, a beauty influencer from Japan nicknamed Sou, 23, who has been a longtime fan of Korean cosmetic products, said the highlight of his visit to Korea this time was the personal color diagnosis offered as part of the Korea Beauty Festival.

“In Japan, people recommend colors to match skin tone such as ‘yellow base’ and ‘blue base,’ but it was the first time for me to have a professional to make a personal color diagnosis for me. I was able to learn about my skin color and tone in details and discover cosmetics that suit me,” he said through a written interview.

He also said he was surprised to find out that his skin tone was completely different from what he had expected. After the diagnosis, he had a Korean lip gloss product applied to match his skin tone, which made the tone of his face look brighter.

Foreign visitors attend a personal color diagnosis session during the Korea Beauty Festival at Beauty Play in Seoul, June 5. Courtesy of Visit Korea Committee

Foreign visitors attend a personal color diagnosis session during the Korea Beauty Festival at Beauty Play in Seoul, June 5. Courtesy of Visit Korea Committee

“I was impressed because I realized that it was very important to understand the color and tone in detail through professional diagnosis,” he said, adding that he wishes to visit Korea again in the near future hopefully with a longer itinerary where he can spend more time experiencing Korean beauty.

Organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and hosted by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) and the Visit Korea Committee, the Korea Beauty Festival is a month-long event that promotes K-beauty to foreign nationals here and abroad during the month of June.

In the inaugural edition, large-scale K-beauty experiences and promotional events are held across Seoul, encompassing Korean makeup, hair, fashion, health care and wellness with over 330 Korean companies in the beauty industry.

The festival comes amid the growing popularity of Korean culture and beauty.

According to the KTO’s annual survey on potential inbound tourists, beauty tourism was included for the first time in the top 10 list of activities desired by inbound tourists last year.

Courtesy of Visit Korea Committee

Courtesy of Visit Korea Committee

Hair and makeup in Hongdae

The festive and trendy Hongik University area — better known as Hongdae — in western Seoul hosts outdoor hair and makeup consulting events and several K-beauty promotions and experiences.

At the second branch of the K-beauty experience promotion center, Beauty Play, seminars on idol makeup classes and Korean fashion trends are offered throughout the month.

Notably, K-pop-themed beauty and dance events will be held at the outdoor site of the neighborhood’s landmark venue Rolling Hall on Friday and Saturday.

Fashion in Seongsu

Seongsu, another trendy neighborhood in eastern Seoul, hosts several fashion-themed events and programs. A pop-up store that offers K-fashion style consulting and photo shoots, photo keyring and a look book making experience will be open between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. throughout June.

Also, a special K-fashion trend seminar by designer Vegan Tiger and an image consulting session by an image consultant Byher are each scheduled on June 19 and 26.

Photos and look books by foreign visitors are posted on the wall of the Korea Beauty Festival pop-up store in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, Monday.  Korea Times photo by Lee Hae-rin

Photos and look books by foreign visitors are posted on the wall of the Korea Beauty Festival pop-up store in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, Monday. Korea Times photo by Lee Hae-rin

Shopping in Myeong-dong

In Seoul’s leading shopping and tourism district Myeong-dong, a pop-up store will open from June 17 to 30. There, the beauty shopping receipt reward events will be held, where foreign visitors who present the receipts for purchased Korean cosmetic products from the area are given beauty-related gifts as rewards.

The neighborhood will also feature a beauty shopping map stamp tour in duty-free and shopping landmarks as well as weekend-only special prize events throughout the landmark shopping district.

Additionally, the festival includes promotions for flights and accommodations.

Airlines including Korean Air, Asiana Air, Jeju Air, T’way, Eastar Jet and Air Seoul offer discounts on air travel bound to Korea from overseas countries throughout June. Seoul Shilla Hotel, Mayfield Hotel Seoul, Four Points by Sheraton Seoul Gangnam and Paradise Casino Walkerhill present special packages and discounts for foreign guests. Also, travel agencies like Hana Tour and Creatrip offer special programs themed around K-beauty.

The Korean government is considering holding the festival on a regular basis and developing the program into a key tourism attraction.

“Korean beauty culture has firmly positioned itself as the center of K-culture. K-beauty has taken the world by storm, assigning a large following,” Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yu In-chon said during the opening ceremony held at Gwanghwamun Square, June 1.

Yu In-chon, minister of culture, sports and tourism, delivers a congratulatory speech during the opening ceremony of the inaugural edition of the Korea Beauty Festival at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, June 1. Yonhap

Yu In-chon, minister of culture, sports and tourism, delivers a congratulatory speech during the opening ceremony of the inaugural edition of the Korea Beauty Festival at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, June 1. Yonhap

“We expect the Korea Beauty Festival to demonstrate the new charms of Korea’s tourism to foreign visitors and take position as key content to attract 20 million inbound tourists this year,” Yu said.

According to KTO statistics, some 1.46 million inbound tourists visited Korea in April, which is an 89.5 percent recovery from the pre-pandemic record high of 2019. The country saw over 4.87 million inbound visitors between January and April this year.


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