Thai tourists surge on ‘hallyu’ boom

For an innumerable amount of newlyweds and young frugal vacationers, Thailand has been a favorite destination for many years now. This was not reciprocal as very few Thais visited Korea.

But thanks to “hallyu,” or the Korean wave sweeping Southeast Asia, more and more Thai tourists are coming to Korea.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), the state-run promoter of Korean tourism overseas, Tuesday, Thais now rank the sixth largest tourist group visiting Korea after the Japanese, Chinese, Americans, Taiwanese and Filipinos.

As of the end of November, the number of tourists from Thailand jumped 20.7 percent from a year earlier to 277,000.

Among Southeast Asian nations, only Malaysian visitors increased at a higher rate of 44.9 percent to 102,000.

KTO also said that per-capita-spending among Thai tourists reached $1,392 in 2010, higher than Japanese tourists’ average of $1,070.

Shortage of flights

“There are many reasons why more Thais are choosing to tour Korea. Above all, hallyu is the main reason,” said Park Suk-ju, director of KTO’s Asia Oceanic division. “K-pop groups are enormously popular among Thai youths. Additionally, “Hello Strangers” and other recent Thai movies filmed on Nami Island along with the traditional popular tourist spots here have been a big hit among Thai moviegoers, further encouraging more people to come here.”

Park said the majority of Thai tourists are women in their 20s and 30s, adding their shopping patterns are identical to that of the Chinese visitors.

“Thai tourists buy cosmetics, clothes, and other fashion and beauty-related products. Many want to copy their Korean idols,” he said.

To attract more visitors from the Southeast Asian country, the director said the number of flights connecting the two nations should be drastically increased.

“Winter is a good season to draw more Thai tourists because it doesn’t snow in their country. But a shortage of airplane tickets during the winter peak season has and will make it difficult to bring more Thai visitors into the country,” Park said. “We would like to see more planes fly between Korea and Thailand.”

Subsequently, Park expects the number of Thai tourists to grow at a double-digit rate next year.

According to a recent survey by consulting firm Nielsen, Thais have picked Seoul as their top travel destination for three consecutive years since 2009.

(Source: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/12/113_100273.html)

Korean Fashion Craze | Korean Culture News

Korean fashion craze had come a long way since Winter Sonata. Like a Tsunami, the whole of Asia was swept away by the Korean wave. Korean culture can be seen mushrooming all across major Asian cities (or maybe US too, Rain had a sold out concert at Madison Square!). Below is an article from a Singapore newspaper about the popularity of Korean Fashion.

Now if you, like many people, can’t tell what is the difference between Korean fashion, Japanese fashion and Hong Kong fashion, you gonna read the article below. Remember, authentic Korean fashion represents quality, so cheap stuff doesn’t mean it’s good stuff and price can never comprise quality. Do ask yourself if you want to get the real stuff or the ‘copied’ stuff next time when you are buying what is deemed as ‘Korean fashion’.

Korean Kraze – After K-pop and K-drama comes K-fashion. A handful of boutiques selling Korean fashion have opened shop.

(Reported In Singapore Newspaper: The Straits Times ‘Urban Magazine’ – 18 Jan 2007)

Angeline Lee’s Lilica shoe boutique may be hidden away on the fourth storey of The Cathay, but skilled shopaholics will know how to sniff it out.

A chandelier swings from the low ceiling while a large plasma TV plays the music videos of South Korean popster Rain. A Victorian-style chaise longue is the centrepiece of the store.

And, oh, don’t forget the shelves of shoes, which cost about SGD100 each.

‘The inspiration for the shop was The Princess Hours,’ says Lee, 24. The hit K-drama plays out in a palace, which boasts decadent interior trimmings not unlike those in her shop.

‘I try to watch every single Korean drama,’ she gushes. ‘I also make it a point to go to the KBS (a Korean TV station) website every day.’

So when Lee, a former travel contract manager, came across Korean shoe brand Lilica – which specialises in handmade shoes – in Seoul early last year, she seized the opportunity to set up a franchise here.

Say ‘annyonghaseyo’ to the Korean pop culture invasion of Singapore. First there were barbecue restaurants and weepy dramas, then a sprinkling of make-up brands appeared. Now, Korean fashion is here.

Notable shops include Myth and Green Petals at Far East Plaza, which sell an assortment of Korean streetwear; Sugar House at Far East Plaza and VivoCity, which stocks up on lovely, empire-line dresses; and Sentiments at Millenia Walk, which even sells the hanbok, Korea’s national dress.

This month, Korean- wannabes can go ga-ga at Square 2, a new 200,000 sq ft mall in Novena that will feature one floor of Korean products.

Out of 20 Korean-themed tenants, 20 to 25 per cent will be fashion boutiques, says Chia Boon Pin, chief operating officer of retail business at Far East Organisation, which runs the premises. Most of the smaller shops are hole-in-the-wall and run by enterprising Singaporeans who, like Lee, were inspired by the ever-growing Korean wave.

Former air stewardess Fiona Tan, 27, shopped so much in Seoul that she discovered her ‘flair for fashion’. She set up Myth two years ago, which imports 60 per cent of its wares from Korea.

To ensure they are getting their pick of the trendiest items, boutique owners make regular buying trips to Korea. So, rather than the mass-produced clothing you get at say, Topshop, you get one-off pieces that you probably wouldn’t find on anyone else.

Adelene Tan, 29, who owns Green Petals, started bringing in Korean fashion in late 2005. She scours the wholesale malls in Dongdaemum in Seoul for pieces to sell here.

Over at Sugarhouse, owner Alvin Ng, 30, works exclusively with factories in Seoul to create his own designs.

But really, what’s the big deal about Korean clothes? And how different are they from, say, Hong Kong fashion?

It’s about the quality, insist retailers.

Says Sentiments’ marketing manager Karen Wong: ‘One thing that sets Korean fashion apart from other Asian fashion is the meticulous detail in the workmanship of textiles as well as the production of its ready- made garments.’

So while Korean designs may be copied by Chinese or Hong Kong manufacturers, ‘feel the material and you should know what you’re paying for’, says Ng.

This is why clothes from Korea are about 10 to 20 per cent more expensive than those made in China or Hong Kong, he adds.

They may also be pricier than Japanese fashion, given the mass appeal of the latter.

Style-wise, Korean fashion is widely seen as more wearable than Japanese fashion, claims Myth’s Tan. Rather than outrageous Harajuku styles, you get clean lines that are more suited to Singaporean tastes.