K-Pop and Koreanovelas fuel Korean tourism boom
June 27, 2012 | 3:59 pm
K-pop in its early days and its popularity today
K-pop is an abbreviation of Korean pop or Korean popular music. Within South Korea, the name generally means any genre of Korean music that is popular, however, outside the country; K-pop is used solely to describe the music made by popular teenage idols, boy bands and girl bands.
The style of music varies between pop, dance, electronic, hip hop and R&B. But don’t be fooled by the English sounding band names or even song titles like “Chocolate Love” or “Hurricane Venus,” K-pop songs are entirely sung in Korean, although they will often have a few meaningless English words thrown in for emphasis.
K-pop started out in 1992, when the boy band and dance group “Seo Tai-ji and Boys” emerged on the Korean music scene. The band became unbelievably popular, and their first single held a number one spot on the charts for 17 weeks, a record that has yet to be broken by any pop group.
Their style was unique for that time, being a mixture of pop, dance, rock and heavy metal. By the time the band broke up in 1996, it had opened up a whole new music genre.
The genre is very much alive today with bands like Girls Generation, Big Bang and 2Ne1 finding worldwide popularity through video sharing websites like YouTube.
A 2011 protest in Paris showed just how popular K-pop has become in recent years. Tickets for an SM Town concert were sold out in just 15 minutes, leading mobs of disgruntled fans to take to the streets in front of the Louvre Museum, demanding a second concert. Many carried picket signs saying things like “We Want a Second SM Town Live in Paris.”
And the trend has started spreading even beyond Europe and America, thanks to South Korea’s latest marketing strategies. This year in Columbia for example, Korean TV station Arirang TV ran a K-pop reality show together with a Columbian TV station.
The show has become a huge success, and the winners, a group of teenagers who taught themselves K-pop songs by watching YouTube videos, were awarded a five-day trip to South Korea, where they were able to meet K-pop stars and experience Korean culture.
The rise of Koreanovelas
Koreanovelas, also known as K-drama or simply Korean soap operas, are another part of South Korean culture that has had surprisingly far-reaching effects.
There are two main types of Koreanovelas, one type is a spinoff of western soap operas, (think Bold and the Beautiful and As the World Turns). These are mainly centered on relationships, overly complicated love-triangles, family dramas and money problems. Some seasons have been known to continue for over 100 episodes, making it hard to keep track of the story line’s many twists and turns.
Another form of K-drama can be found in the historical drama series, which are dramatizations of Korean history. They are popular for the many martial arts and sword fighting scenes they contain, as well as the elaborate storylines, scriptwriting and costumes.
Some of the most popular Koreanovelas include Stairway to Heaven, Lovers in Paris, Autumn in My Heart, My Girl, Full House and Jewel in the Palace. Many Koreanovelas are broadcast in countries outside of South Korea, including the Philippines, Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand.
The Korean Tourism Organization has begun offering special deals to filmmakers who want to shoot their movies in South Korea, in the hopes that this will further boost the rise in tourism. For the die-hard K-drama fans, the tourism board even offers guided tours to the locations where some of the most popular TV dramas and movies were filmed.
The following are some of most popular Koreanovela film locations to visit in South Korea:
Lotte World from the TV series Stairway to Heaven
Visitors to Lotte World in Seoul will be able to see the carousel where the lead characters played as children and later went on a date as grownups. It’s just a regular amusement park, with outdoor attractions and an indoor theme park, but because of its onscreen appearance it has become extremely popular with both Koreans and international visitors.
Shin-do Island from Full House
The rather ordinary looking house, which was the pretend home to the main couple from Full House is now open to visitors in Shin-do Island. Visitors can take a bus to the island, although the actual house is generally only accessible by bicycle. Be prepared to pay if you want to see the home’s interior, which you may well be inclined to do after your 1.5 kilometer bike ride.
Oedo Island from Winter Sonata
Oedo Island is home to a beautiful botanical garden where the last scene from the TV series Winter Sonata was filmed. Even if you aren’t a fan of the series, the gardens in Hanrye National Park are still worth a visit for its gorgeous species of flowers and plants, magnificent Cypress trees and quaint architecture. The island can be reached by ferry from Gujora Port.
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