Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that the Korean Wave is currently sweeping the world off its feet. Leading this wave is K-pop and leading K-pop is the seven-piece worldwide sensation, BTS.
Image credit: BigHit Entertainment.
Known for their meaningful lyrics, synchronized choreography and explosive talent (and hilarious shenanigans), RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook have collectively brought their country into the global spotlight – from the UN to the Grammys.
With fans from all over the world flocking to see all that the home of the boys has to offer, they’ve also become tourism ambassadors in the process. If you don’t believe the impact they have, the band is believed to contribute more than $3.6bn a year to South Korea’s economy.
But the Korean Wave is not all about K-pop – there’s also K-beauty, K-dramas and, obviously, kimchi!
Also riding that Korean Wave is Airbnb, which recently introduced a K-Wave trip for those of us who love all things Korean. The online marketplace lets us in on why the East Asian destination is appealing to South Africans, where we can spot BTS and all the best K-beauty spots.
Besides K-pop and K-beauty. What else makes South Korea an exciting destination for South African travellers?
South Korea has so much to offer! Shopping enthusiasts can enjoy the abundance of both modern mega-malls and traditional markets such as Namdaemun and Dongdaemun. For travellers craving both urban and nature, Seoul is your perfect retreat with the Han River weaving through the city and several mountains in its surrounds.
You can discover the charm of city life, relax by the riverside and hike mountain trails. South Korea is also one of the countries that South Africans are able to visit without a visa. This remains one of the top reasons why locals have South Korea on their must-visit list.
What are some of the must-see sites for South African K-pop fans? And where can we spot BTS or Twice?
There is also the opportunity to explore funky Hongdae on a music walk with local musician and TV personality Zozno where guests will learn about the history of the bustling arts district first-hand over a cup of coffee in a local cafe, then pop into Zozno’s personal studio and have the opportunity to play his personal collection of instruments.
Fans of BTS can visit the exact bus stop that appears on the group’s You Never Walk Alone album. The bus stop is located at the stunning Jumunjin Beach – it makes for the perfect Instagram shot!
Of course, K-Pop fans can’t leave South Korea without some merchandise. The Myeongdong Underground Shopping Mall in Seoul is known to be a good place to dive into for all things K-pop-related, while Play K-Pop at Jeju Island offers a live hologram concert where you can try over 31 unique interactive K-pop experiences, such as learning how to dance to K-pop music.
What about K-beauty enthusiasts?
The growing K-beauty trend has inspired enthusiasts worldwide to embrace Korean beauty and skincare products. For a one-stop destination for everything K-beauty related, Myeongdong is your best bet. You can find all sorts of beauty products from every brand available. And much like the K-Pop Experiences, the K-beauty Airbnb Experiences is a must for those who follow this trend.
How does Airbnb make travel to non-English speaking countries easier for South African travellers?
Some of our hosts practise several languages so they can chat with their guests, but there are lots of clever ways to connect, even if hosts and guests are not multi-lingual. Airbnb regularly shares host tips with our host community, including recommendations on how to create a warm welcome for guests.
We also strongly encourage our hosts to clearly communicate their house rules on the platform and to help their guests navigate around town with insightful pre-translated guidebooks. A willing and curious attitude and sense of humour are key to navigate any differences and build a real sense of connection!
What are some of your favourite spots?
Seoul is a well-loved destination by international travellers with a diverse range of attractions from old palaces and temples to trendy fashion hotspots and breathtaking mountain trails. It’s worth checking out Jeju Island, Korea’s favourite domestic holiday destination and only an hour’s flight away.