Jun 16, 2016

    South Korea festivals go extra mile to attract repeat visitors


    SOUTH Korea's festivals have evolved in both variety and scale over the years, drawing tourists and expats to join in the fun.

    According to data released by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the number of tourists revisiting South Korea jumped to 46.1 per cent last year, compared with 34.9 per cent in 2014.

    The Seoul Tourism Association even recently launched mobile education centres for tour operators and workers in such fields.

    These are customised service vehicles that visit tourist hot spots, such as festivals, to educate and provide aid.

    The service was launched last week at Dongdaemun Complex - one of Seoul's busiest tourist hubs.

    A growing number of festivals are also establishing additional online platforms in English and other languages so foreigners have better access to information, a complaint that was raised in previous years.

    The official website for the Boryeong Mud Festival - one of the quirkiest July festivals, which takes place by the mud flats on the west coast - is available in four languages.

    As is the case across the globe, music forms a central part of local festivals, and the Seoul Jazz Festival is the songbird that signals the start of the summer festival relay.

    This year's event made the most of various endorsements - including food trucks with quality food and a colossal pyramid-shaped event stage at the heart of the festival.

    The diverse line-up was also met with much fanfare, with American jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, Esperanza Spalding, DJ Mark Ronson, and Damien Rice featuring.

    Among the party-goers was Zeke Jones, an expat from the United States in his early 20s, who attended the festival with three other friends, also expats.

    "There was a separate booking line for foreigners so we didn't go through any trouble buying the tickets," he said.