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The dumbing down of the KTO?

KTO director Byun Choo-suk
Byun Choo-suk (photo: Korea Herald / Kim Myung-sub)

Hmmm. Gone is the 기, 흥 and 정 of Lee Charm. Instead, are we to get an emphasis on K-pop at the expense of the more traditional things? Two quotes from an interview with Byun Choo-suk, the new KTO president, in the Korea Herald:

“The royal guard changing ceremony at palaces in Seoul, traditional mask dances … these are like museum displays. They are not part of the everyday lives of Koreans anymore. They are not sufficient to represent Korean tourism. Tradition refers to practices that live on today.”

The immediate focus seems to be on young foreign tourists who are fascinated by Korean popular culture. With the recent popularity of the drama “My Love from the Star,” Byun expects it to herald another hallyu-driven tourism boom. “Utilizing the popular culture, we will slowly shift our target tourists from the older generation to younger ones,” Byun said.

At my visit to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza last week, ominously it was nigh-on impossible to find the exhibition of priceless treasures from the Kansong museum, while a TV drama based exhibition (in fact, it was probably “My Love from the Star”) was hard to avoid.

Let’s hope that the KTO is not retrenching to Hallyu 1.0 and 2.0, at the expense of 3.0 and 4.0.

Read the full article for yourself in the Korea Herald.

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