Chinese tourists are flocking to Ewha Womans University in Seoul every day with their cameras in their hands, apparently because they believe it brings them luck. Parking lots near the prestigious university are filled with buses carrying Chinese tourists, who take pictures of themselves in front of the main gate.
"There's a growing belief among people in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan that having one's picture taken in front of Ewha Womans University or walking along the streets in front of the school brings good luck," said an official at the Korea Tourism Organization. In Chinese, Ewha is pronounced "li hua" and "li" means profit, while "hua" sounds similar to the Chinese word meaning make money.
The KTO official added Chinese tourists are also aware that many Ewha graduates are married to successful, high-ranking officials including the first lady. One Chinese tourist walking along the campus, said, "Our tour guide told us women from this university are the most sought-after brides. This will give me good energy for my daughter." And a tourist from Shanghai, said, "I had my photo taken as I prayed I will find a good catch."
An employee at a parking garage near the university said, "Each day around 40 to 70 buses carrying Chinese tourists park here. Three or four hours later, they return to their buses with shopping bags in both hands." And a tour guide catering to Chinese visitors said rumors spread last year that having one's photo taken in front of Ewha Womans University will lead to a good marriage, a smart baby or lots of money, and this has made the university a must-see spot.
Business is booming at clothing stores and restaurants around the university. Kim Yong-ho, who heads a merchants' group in the neighborhood, said, "We put up a banner welcoming Chinese tourists and passed out around 200 visitors' guide booklets in stores in the area. Sales have doubled due to the Chinese tourists, an assistant in one store said. Stores are hiring workers who can speak Chinese, and owners are learning short phrases.