Pop Culture Attracts Capital, Tourists to Korea

K-pop and Korean soap operas are making a great contribution to attracting foreign capital to Korea, the Wall Street Journal blog claimed Monday.

"Korean debt issuers looking to attract overseas investors now have two surefire conversation starters: K-pop and TV dramas, one banker notes," according to the paper.

Citing Whang Youn-sung, director of global capital markets at Bank of America Merril Lynch, the WSJ said the topics help break the ice in negotiations.

"In the past, it was mostly about Asian investors talking about how much their wives love Korean dramas. After 'Gangnam Style,' some U.S. investors started conversations with it," Whang was quoted as saying.

According to the bank, Korean debts maturing next year account for the second-biggest part in Asia after Japan with 27 percent. China and the Philippines come next with 15 percent and 13 percent.

Thanks to K-pop and Korean drama, the atmosphere in meetings between debt issuers and investors will be much smoother next year, according to the WSJ.

Meanwhile, Filipino broadcaster ABS-CBN on Tuesday said that despite Japan's efforts to lure tourists from ASEAN, "Seoul has been leading Tokyo in drawing booming middle-class visitors from ASEAN for the last several years."

Japan has been promoting its pop culture to Southeast Asia and relaxed visa requirements for tourists from the region.

ABS-CBN quoted figures from the Japan National Tourism Organization as showing that 387,000 Thais visited Korea last year, 2.4 times more than in 2008, but only 260,000 visited Japan, up only 35 percent from 2008.

It concluded that the success of K-pop and Korean drama is the key to Korea's success in attracting more tourists.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 12, 2013 12:35 KST