The pop culture of South Korea has helped the number of tourists from the United Arab Emirates to the East Asian nation to almost double over the course of the last five years.

Over two-thirds of the 17,000 tourists going from the UAE to South Korea in 2019 were Emiratis.

There are a number of South Korean TV shows that are actually filmed in the UAE, including the likes of the reality show My Little Old Boy, which focuses on the mothers of South Korean celebrities, and travel programme Grandpas Over Flowers.

In 2018, the UAE was visited by around 160,000 South Korean tourists, with the filming of such programmes increasing interest in the UAE.

This week, with dialogue being launched between the UAE and South Korea, the latter’s minister of culture, sports and tourism Park Yang-woo says that raising cultural exchange is the firm and decisive intention of the two nations.

In an interview with state news agency Wam this week, the minister said that the dialogue was not just going to be formulaic rhetoric and that its exchanges in culture and arts are based upon inspiration from exchanges between real people.

South Korean pop culture has been a part of life for youngsters in the UAE, having gained a foothold in the country thanks to the popularity of K-Pop bands on video-sharing site YouTube in the mid-2000s.

Audiences in the UAE respond to dramas made in South Korea because of shared cultural values such as demure romances and filial loyalty.

This, in turn, created a rise in popularity for Korean language classes as well as postgraduate study within South Korea among residents of the UAE.

Park says that such cultural exchanges is a “win-win” for both countries and helps to stimulate creativity.

Making the comments on the 40th anniversary of bilateral ties between the UAE and South Korea, Park added that there has been a rise of nearly 90% in the number of UAE visitors to South Korea in the last five years because of pop culture.

Medical technology also played a part in the increase, which saw 11,427 Emiratis heading to South Korea in 2018 alone.

Park says that he is hoping that the anniversary will provide a chance for partnerships to be created between artistic and cultural institutions such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and the likes of the National Museum of Korea or the Korea Arts and Culture Education Service.

Language, media and music help people to understand the way of life in different cultures while also emphasising what they have in common, and they are important to strengthening bilateral ties, according to Park.

The Korean word ‘jeong’, which signifies caring, compassion, community and love, is also strong with the people of the UAE, Park says.

Anyone planning to travel to South Korea from the UAE, or vice versa, should take out travel insurance beforehand.

Travel insurance provides financial protection from unwanted travel events such as cancelled flights and lost luggage.


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