Ninety high school and university students from France exclaimed in delight as Designer Lee Hyo-jae made ribbons, bags, hats and shawls out of bojagi (wrapping cloths) of various colors and sizes. Many clapped and applauded throughout the session.
The visitors, who will stay in Korea for a 20-day journey, participated at the Bojagi session, Korean cuisine tasting, Hanbok try-on and K-pop program hosted by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO). The state tourism organization invited participants to attend the Hallyu (Korean Wave) Program, and the participants covered the expenses on their own. The students came from various areas across the Francophone region, including Nante, Aix-en-Provence and Tahiti and Reunion Island, which is Southeast of Africa. They used chopsticks to sample Japchae and Bulgogi and cleaned their plates.
University student Opele Kanbai (18) saved up money for four years and did part-time jobs of baby sitting and serving fast food at McDonalds for six months each. “I was enraptured by Korean dramas and cuisine that I saw on the Internet, scenery that was different from France,” he said. “I want to tour all the palaces in Seoul, including Gyeongbok Palace and Changgyeong Palace, and visit Busan and Sokcho.” He attended Korean language courses at university and said that he wishes to use as much as Korean as he can on this trip and experience the daily Korean life.
Bourdeaux Evan (21), a university student visiting with his mother and older brother, grinned as he placed a dark purple bojagi on his head in the shape of a beret. “As I grew up listenening to K-pop and watching Korean drama, I got more interested in Korea as a grew older. I have so many places I want to go, including the Dongdaemun Market, War Memorial, Incheon and Mt. Seorak.”
The visitors clad in hanbok toured Seoul’s Cheongyecheon, while fanning themselves with traditional Korean fans. The number of French visitors to Korea last year recorded 100,000, which is growing by 5.6 percent annually. The Korean Tourist Organization explained that French tourists tend to stay relatively longer than other tourists, an average of more than 10 days. “France stands out among European countries where the Hallyu is relatively dominant, which is why we decided to launch this tour program. We will continue to develop tour programs where visitors can experience Hallyu to encourage other foreigners to visit Korea for extended stays,” said Kim Young-hee, the head of the KTO’s Korean Wave Tourism Team.
Hyo-Lim Son firstname.lastname@example.org