Korean Tourism Organization chairman says South Korea is safe to visit


On the current situation between South and North Korea, Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) president Charm Lee assures that the tension would not escalate into a full-fledged war and did not reflect the daily life in Korea.

“South Korea is still one of the safest countries to visit,” he said.

Korea plans to continue to promote its shopping and medical tourism in the coming year to attract more foreign visitors, including Malaysians, as part of its “2010-2012 Visit Korea Year” campaign.

Charm Lee said the next Korean wave (also referred to as Hallyu) is fashion, with huge potential to attract the Malaysian market.

“We have many creative young designers who are quick to incorporate new trends and inject cutting-edge designs into the market,” said the German-born Lee, who has made South Korea his home for more than 30 years and had his South Korean citizenship approved in 1986.

Lee, who paid a visit to Menara Star, Petaling Jaya, recently was accompanied by Star Publications Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datin Linda Ngiam and the Star’s deputy group chief editor David Yeoh.

The campaign was officially launched in Seoul last year to encourage more overseas tourists to visit South Korea.

Lee said the 24-hour malls and markets in South Korea were perfect for Malaysians who were accustomed to the late-night culture. “They are open from midnight to 6:00 am, and these are places that offer good shopping deals,” he said.

He also highlighted major events like the upcoming Korea Grand Sale 2011, IAFF World Championships Daegu 2011, and Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix 2011 lined up for the coming year.

On medical tourism, he said South Korea’s state-of-the-art medical services were at par with the standards of the western countries.

“We have surgical robots including the ones called the ‘da Vinci,’ which are capable of performing key-hole surgeries. Surgeries can be performed faster, are less invasive, and patients can recover faster,” said Lee.

KTO expects 150,000 Malaysians to visit South Korea this year.