An expo in Istanbul focusing on Korean culture is drawing more attention than anticipated, attracting over two million visitors in its first nine days, according to the organizing committee of the Istanbul-Gyeongju World Culture Expo 2013 on Tuesday.
By Monday night, 2.04 million people had visited the expo grounds, with around 200,000 passing through its gates every day. The committee expects the total number to reach 3.5 million when it wraps up on Sept. 22, exceeding its original target of 2.5 million.
"We have seen lots of tourists from European and Middle Eastern countries like Bulgaria, Greece and Iran," a committee official said.
One of the keys to the expo's success is its location close to a series of top tourist draws including Hagia Sophia, a masterpiece of the Byzantine Empire, Sultan Ahmed Mosque popularly known as the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, which was the residence of Ottoman Sultans in former times.
Traditional Korean culture has proved a hit with many European visitors. Some 15 performances were staged by Korean troupes over the last nine days. Groups from Sangju, Mungyeong and Gumi in North Gyeongsang Province presented their local songs and dances handed down from generation to generation at Ayasofya Square, while a traditional wedding ceremony was simulated at Sultan Ahmet Square.
Korean classical music concerts were also staged, as well as taekwondo and B-boy demonstrations at Taksim Square, a popular spot among young people in the city.
Many visitors also got hands-on experience of Korean culture, such as dressing up in traditional hanbok and making Shilla Dynasty-era crowns from gold-colored paper.