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Seoul Convention Bureau jumps on 'Gangnam Style'
Official agencies add itineraries and launch contests to lure travelers to previously overlooked Gangnam area
With its high concentration of palaces and museums, Gangbuk, the northern area of Seoul, has been a traditional tourist magnet.
Now, thanks to the Psy music video "Gangnam Style," which recently became the most viewed YouTube video of all time, its counterpart, Gangnam, is fast becoming Seoul's most talked-about destination.
Seoul tourism agencies have been busy looking for ways to capitalize on the area's newfound global fame.
While a local media flurry met the Novotel Ambassador Gangnam launch of a "Gangnam Style" hotel package aimed at Australian tourists, Novotel ended up renaming the promotion to "Special Package" due to copyright reasons.
Official tourism bureaus are also looking for fun ways to market Gangnam.
Along with a video called "What is Gangnam Style?" made "on an absolute shoestring budget," the Seoul Convention Bureau is sponsoring a contest on its Facebook page, giving away two tickets to Seoul and 30 US$50 iTunes gift certificates as prizes.
"After a recent tradeshow to the U.S., we were bombarded with questions about Gangnam," said Seoul Convention Bureau vice president Maureen O'Crowley.
The Visit Korea Committee also added a Gangnam section as a must-see route on its official online itinerary.
The area was previously absent from most official Korean travel itineraries. Gangnam has generally been regarded as unremarkable for tourists, lacking cultural, architectural and food draws for foreign travelers.
Energized by the heightened interest from the travel industry, the district of Gangnam is aiming to name Psy an official honorary ambassador.
"We've put in the request, but Psy has to return from overseas first," said a spokesperson for the Gangnam district office. The office hopes to proceed with the induction early next year.