November 18, 2023 08:28
Foreign tourists are mad for Korean desserts, which have captured their imagination on Instagram.
The Seoul Tourism Organization analyzed the credit card usage patterns of tourists in the year ending June this year and found that while galbi or grilled ribs and sampyeopsal or grilled bacon still topped the list of spending on food, desserts such as waffles and pies were getting popular.
Russians loved Korean desserts most, with their spending accounting for 83.6 percent of their total spending on food. Next were Jamaicans with 35.3 percent and Japanese with 11.6 percent.
Japanese, who are the biggest foreign tourist group to Korea and whose country is also famous for desserts, preferred meat but still enjoyed patisserie like pandoro and croissants.
Desserts were also the second most popular food among tourists from Singapore and Taiwan. Interestingly, the pandoro, croissants and scones they favor are not Korean in origin, but the dessert hotspots that sell them are huge on Instagram.
"Not only do the sweets taste good, the shops that sell them are often in renovated traditional houses or otherwise cutely decorated, which makes them the popular selfie spots," a tourism industry insider said.
Dessert shops in the trendy Seongsu-dong and Insa-dong areas of Seoul are listed as must-see places on social media, and long lines form outside.
Popular dessert shops are also clustered in Gye-dong, Jae-dong and Ihwa-dong in Jongno, central Seoul, where desserts account for 40 to 90 percent of food sales generated by tourists.
Waffles and cakes accounted for 97 percent of food sales to tourists in Seobinggo-dong in Yongsan district. Sandwiches and pastries were the most popular desserts in Seokgwan-dong and madeleines were favored in Seongbuk-dong in northeastern Seoul.
Department stores and convenience stores have jumped on the bandwagon. A famous bagel chain opened at Lotte World Tower in August of this year and long lines snake from the shop every day. It sells 300,000 bagels a month and the cumulative number of visitors reached 400,000.
The CU convenience store chain has teamed up with the Seoul Tourism Organization to come out with desserts specifically targeting tourists. A CU staffer said, "Banana milk and whipped-cream bread are extremely popular among tourists, and tourists have come up with a bucket list of desserts to buy in Korean convenience stores."
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