South Korea has stepped up its efforts to upgrade “hallyu,” or the Korean wave, beyond K-pop and K-dramas, by promoting its traditional music and indigenous musicals abroad.


The move is aimed at providing a new impetus for hallyu growth and increasing the number of inbound travelers by appealing to a wider tourist base abroad.

The latest development in the new drive was “K-Performance Night” held in Singapore from April 26 to 27 by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Singapore Office.

During the two-day event, the state-run tourism promotion agency introduced a set of truly Korean music and dance to Singaporeans, considered trendsetters in Southeast Asia.

Together with the famous nonverbal performance “Nanta!”, the event showcased a unique performance combining “gugak,” traditional Korean music, and a janggu (hourglass-shaped drum) dance.

It also introduced two popular Korean musicals named “Only You” and “Finding Mr. Destiny,” both of which are currently showing in Seoul.

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The KTO’s new shot turned out to be successful, with the event receiving positive feedback from Singaporeans.

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“When it comes to hallyu, most people here think about K-pop or Korean dramas. Few people are aware Korea has its unique traditional music and dance,” Lee Hwee Noi, senior manager at Hong Thai Travel Services, said after watching the show.

“It was a great experience to help me understand Korean culture better. I’m sure a wider list of cultural events will invite more tourists from Southeast Asia.”

The event, which attracted an audience of nearly 3,000, was part of the KTO’s commitment to promoting Korea’s traditional and contemporary performances, including gugak and musicals, to attract more tourists from abroad.

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“I think Korea has a wide range of performances Singapore is not offering,” said Sheryl Lim, founder and CEO of Travel Wander.

“Gugak and Korean musicals are good examples. I believe these can be appealing to people in Southeast Asia and can be loved by visitors to Korea.”

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What is most encouraging is that Korean musicals and traditional performances have shown the potential to become the next focus of hallyu to attract more foreign tourists.

“I came to this event with my son. Before watching the show, he never said he wanted to visit Korea,” said Siti Sansom, a primary school teacher in Singapore.

“It was a really fresh experience to both of us and now he wants to fly to Korea to see more about the country.”

Han Yeo-ok, general manager of the KTO Singapore Office, said positive feedback from the event gave them confidence in their new initiative.

“In order to sustain the hallyu popularity and continue to invite more foreign tourists, it is time to promote our traditional performances and original musicals containing core values of Korea,” Han said.

“That way, more foreigners will understand our culture better and eventually feel more attracted to visit Korea.”

Source: THE KOREA TIMES

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