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Thu, 12/29/2011 - 03:46
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S. Korea to expand support for 'hallyu,' lure more foreign tourists next year

SEOUL, Dec. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans next year to increase efforts to promote the overseas boom of Korean pop culture while pushing policies aimed at luring 20 million foreign visitors in 2020, the government said Thursday. Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik reported that and other key policy plans for next year to President Lee Myung-bak. "Hallyu," or the wave of Korean pop culture, especially contemporary Korean pop music known as "K-pop," has become a sensation in many Asian and European countries. To help keep this wave surging, the government will increase its budget for policies to support hallyu from 1.7 billion won this year to 5.3 billion won next year, the minister said. The government will help the tourism industry develop more programs that involve hallyu and support the production of more pop culture products that appeal to foreigners, he said. "The economic value of hallyu is always high since it serves as an infrastructure of exports and contributes to creating new jobs," the minister said during the policy briefing. "I will become a 'hallyu minister,' raising the hallyu wind all over Korean culture next year." The government earlier announced a goal of attracting 20 million foreign tourists and earning US$30 billion in tourism revenue in 2020. As part of plans to achieve that goal, the government will increase the number of licensed tour guides specializing in cultural relics from the current 2,400 to 3,000, the minister said. About 500 qualified foreign-language speaking households in urban areas will be chosen to offer lodging to foreign visitors, he said. The number of foreign travelers to South Korea jumped from 5 million in 2000 to 7.8 million in 2009 and 8.8 million in 2010. This year's figure is close to 10 million, according to the ministry. (END)