Psy is S. Korean tourism's new face

KOREA 101: Psy filming a commercial promoting South Korean tourism, one of six that started airing on Monday overseas. In the commercials, the singer introduces Korean words that feature a unique aspect of Korean culture, like food items and popular South Korean places.


    Jun 05, 2013

    Psy is S. Korean tourism's new face

    PSY became the new face of South Korean tourism in a series of new TV commercials promoting Korean culture to a global audience.

    The 15-second TV commercials started airing on Monday on major TV networks in places with the highest numbers of visitors to South Korea, such as Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, as well as global TV channels, including CNN, Discovery Channel and National Geographic.

    The commercials are also available on YouTube and Facebook.

    "Psy is a cultural icon now. No one else has made as huge an impact as Psy," said Mr Charm Lee, chief executive of the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO), at a press conference on the release of the commercials on Monday.

    "We expect to see (Psy bring) much exposure with the new commercials," he said.

    Each of the six commercials features a unique aspect of Korean culture and a scene that symbolises it. In the commercials, Psy pronounces words that represent each aspect and depicts it by acting it out.

    Such cultural aspects include banchan (Korean side dishes), cosmeroad (streets lined with major South Korean cosmetic brands), Olle-gil (a walking trail in Jeju Island), bulgeum (a Korean abbreviation for "burning Friday", the equivalent of "Thank god it's Friday"), Dongdaemun (a shopping district in northern Seoul) and samgyeopsal (pork-belly meat, a Korean favourite).

    Mr Park Chul Hyun, director of brand marketing at KTO, said: "We teach Korean words that symbolise unique Korean culture. We hope the commercials enhance the image of South Korea and increase the number of tourists here in the coming summer."

    KTO expects the Korean words that Psy promotes to eventually become iconic words that represent Korean culture.

    Mr Lee said: "Like the Italian word 'pasta', I hope everyone gets to know what samgyeopsal is and know that the best way to cook pork-belly meat is how samgyeopsal is cooked (grilled)."

    Psy became the goodwill ambassador of KTO earlier this year and finished shooting the TV commercials in April.

    Its previous tourism promotional campaign was led by K-pop groups Miss A and 2PM.