“I want to look like a K-pop idol!” Where do younger international tourists go when they come to Korea?

Tourists are listening to product explanations at the second Beauty Play store (Hongdae branch) that opened in Mapo-gu, Seoul. Photo C video media
Tourists are listening to product explanations at the second Beauty Play store (Hongdae branch) that opened in Mapo-gu, Seoul. Photo C video media

“Please do it naturally like a K-pop idol.”
Not excessive but natural eye line, pink lipstick, and juicy cheeks… . This is ‘K-pop idol makeup’ that can be easily seen on SNS. As K-pop idols gain popularity, their appearance and makeup methods also become a hot topic. Young people from all over the world who go beyond listening to K-pop and want to emulate their style and become like them are visiting our country.
‘Beauty Play’, which opened in Mapo-gu following Myeong-dong in Jung-gu, Seoul, is receiving a steady stream of foreign tourists who want to experience K-makeup.

On February 1, 2024, the 2nd Beauty Play branch (Hongdae branch), a ‘K-beauty experience and promotion center,’ opened. Beauty Play is an experience and promotion center supported by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and operated by the Korea Cosmetic Industry Research Institute. It was created to promote Korean beauty products to tourists. Here, a program is held to introduce and experience excellent cosmetics from Korean small and medium-sized companies.

The second Beauty Play branch is located right across from KT&G Sangsang Madang, a place where not only Koreans but also foreign tourists gather. “Not only young people in their 20s and 30s who are interested in beauty, but also foreign tourists visit Beauty Play,” said Dahyun Moon, a researcher at the K Beauty Promotion Team who was also involved in the opening of the second branch following the first branch. “This is a course where not only women but also men can experience Beauty Play. “I plan to come to Korea,” he said.

Beauty Play’s second branch occupies the 2nd to 5th floors of the building. It is easy to find as there are letters engraved on the outside of the building indicating that this is ‘Beauty Play’. The 2nd and 3rd floors are an exhibition space, and the 4th floor is a space for seminars, beauty classes, and small meetings. The 5th floor is used as an office.

Inside Beauty Play, various products from excellent small and medium-sized companies are on display. Photo C video media

As you enter the entrance, a pink staircase unfolds. There was a mirror hanging in the middle so that people could see how their appearance had changed. When you open the door to Beauty Play, which starts on the second floor, you can smell the fragrant smell and look around the cosmetics displayed at the entrance. The guidebook provided next to it is available in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and English.

Inside Beauty Play, various products from excellent small and medium-sized companies are on display. Photo C video media

What products do foreign tourists prefer?
Interest in ‘K-Beauty’ is also reflected in numbers. According to a survey conducted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2023 on the ‘K-product group preferred by foreign tourists’, the product group most preferred by foreigners was ‘clothing (30.8%)’ followed by ‘cosmetics and perfume (30.0%)’. Beauty Play is a space that reflects this demand.

The most popular places here are the experience zone where you can try K-style makeup yourself and the place where your personal color is measured. Next to the experience zone, there is a separate cleansing zone where you can remove makeup, so you can receive makeup service after washing your face. Waiting for your turn to apply makeup is never boring. You can measure your personal color yourself. Not only colored paper but also an application is provided, so you can receive the measurement results on your personal SNS. Once the measurement is completed, a message containing matching colors, styling tips, things to keep in mind, and recommended products is immediately sent.

Researcher Moon said, “As interest in personal color has increased, most visitors want to find their own color.” A link to purchase the product recommended in the message is also sent, which also helps with sales in the cosmetics industry.
In fact, Beauty Play served as a bridgehead for overseas expansion of domestic cosmetics small and medium-sized businesses. Since its official opening in October 2021, the first Beauty Play store (Myeongdong branch) has displayed 558 small and medium-sized business products and has been visited by more than 110,000 visitors.

According to the Korea Tourism Data Lab of the Korea Tourism Organization in 2023,
the number of foreign tourists visiting Korea last year was 11.03 million. It increased 2.5 times compared to 2022. The number of foreign tourists visiting Korea, which had plummeted during the COVID-19 period, has turned to an increase over the past two years and exceeded 10 million last year. What is noteworthy is that the main age group of foreign tourists visiting Korea is decreasing. Of the 11.03 million foreigners visiting Korea in 2023, those under 30 accounted for 35.6%. More than one in three people are foreign tourists in their 30s or younger.

The influence of K-culture cannot be overlooked as the reason why the age group of foreigners visiting Korea is getting younger. More and more people are visiting Korea to experience K-content such as K-pop, K-drama, and K-beauty. According to the results of the Korea Tourism and Culture Research Institute’s ‘2023 Fourth Quarter Foreign Tourist Survey’, the number one reason people became interested in traveling to Korea was ‘after encountering Korean Wave content (31.9%).’ A Japanese tourist I met at the second Beauty Play store said, “I am a fan of Le Seraphim among K-pop idols. “After becoming a fan, I wanted to come to Korea,” he said.

This trend was also revealed in the ‘2024 Korea Grand Sale’. 120,000 foreign tourists visited the 2024 Korea Grand Sale, which was held for 50 days from January 11 to February 29, 2024. It is the largest ever. The Korea Grand Sale is a shopping, tourism and cultural festival aimed at attracting foreign tourists and promoting tourism consumption during the off-season of tourism in January and February. This year, in its 13th year, 1,653 companies participated, the largest number ever, under the theme of ‘Special Moments in Korea.’

Welcome centers operated in Myeong-dong, Hongdae, and Seongsu, Seoul, which are popular destinations for foreign tourists, were visited by 21,770 foreign tourists, more than double the number in 2023. 6,542 foreign tourists participated in the purchase receipt event. This is a 314% increase compared to the previous event.

In particular, this year, we actively utilized K-content, which is loved by people around the world, and operated a variety of themed experience events such as K-pop dance, beauty, and Korean food that can only be experienced in Korea. The response from tourists was also good. As a result of a survey of foreign tourists who visited the Welcome Center during this event, 90.8% responded that they were ‘satisfied’ and 89.2% responded that they ‘intend to visit Korea again in the future’ based on their review of the ‘2024 Korea Grand Sale’. He said.

photo newsis

Park Jong-taek, head of the Tourism Export Strategy Promotion Division of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said, “The ‘2024 Korea Grand Sale’, which was held as the first event of the ‘2024 Visit Korea Year’, was successfully concluded. This success is supported by the ‘Visit Korea Year’ campaign that will continue this year. “It will be a driving force for expanding business and attracting foreign tourists,” he said. Reporter Seulgi Yoo

2024 Visit Korea Year

Promotion of 10 major projects with a goal of attracting 20 million tourists
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization have set a goal of attracting 20 million foreign tourists to Korea by 2024 and will use K-content to hold events to attract visitors to Korea from around the world.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced that it will experience unique K-culture and showcase local Korean tourism through the 10 major projects of the ‘2024 Visit Korea Year’. The 10 major projects are ▲100 K-Culture Tourism Events ▲K-Pop Playground ▲Korea Beauty Festival ▲Large Korean Wave Festival ▲Korea Bucket List ▲Special Promotion to Revitalize Local Tourism ▲Invite You Invitation Project ▲Korea Grand Sale ▲Welcome Week ▲ This is a K-Tourism Cooperation Promotion.

In addition, the Visit Korea Year Committee (hereinafter referred to as the Visit Committee) is promoting the ‘2024 Visit Korea Year Campaign’ project targeting foreign tourists with four key words: ▲K-pop ▲K-beauty ▲activation of local tourism ▲Korean people’s warm hospitality. do. In particular, the ‘Korea Beauty Festival’, held throughout Seoul during the month of June, is held as a public-private partnership event to encourage the world’s high interest in K-beauty to lead to tourism. After attracting attention with discount promotions, tourists can experience a comprehensive range of K-beauty through programs such as hair makeup, fashion consulting, and personal color analysis.

Lee Boo-jin, chairman of the Visit Committee, said on March 5, “Through the campaign, we will spread an atmosphere of hospitality to foreigners and expand attractive experience promotions based on K-culture to help revitalize tourism to Korea.”

Editor Miso

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