Beauty tourism & experiencing a new wind blowing through the land of Kimchi

Besides experiencing the tourist attractions and traditional culture, now visitors travelling to Korea to transform their appearance and become more beautiful, dive into a paradise of natural cosmetic or comfortably show the immortal spirit of girl fandom to their idols.


South Korea is famous as a place where tourists come with the hope for beauty transformation. Along with the development and infuence of the Hallyu wave all over the world, foreign visitors travel to Korea not only to visit, but also to adjust their appearance to become more beautiful, like Korean stars.

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Beauty tourism & experiencing a new wind blowing through the land of Kimchi

Although, the cost for such transformations is not cheap, it cannot stop the desire for beauty of women and men. To get double eyelids, customers have to pay USD700-1,500. The price for a high nose is from USD1,500 to USD4,500. Not to mention those who want to have a completely Korean-looking face, they will have to pay a huge fee to conduct more complex surgery such as grinding and cutting off part of the facial bone structure.

Lan Yu, 33, from Hunan, China, feels unhappy with her slowly aging body. “I came to Seoul this time to visit the natural scenery of Korea, and also to get belly fat removed and stretch my facial skin. If the results are good, I will do more surgery,” she said. The cost for Lan Yu’s beauty journey is estimated at USD8,000.

In Seoul’s Gangnam District, a place famous for the Gangnam Style song, it’s usual to see many Chinese women with bandages wrapped around their head and faces. They are the new trendsetters: beauty tourism in Korea. These women believe that the quality of health care in Korea is safer and more reliable than in China.

According to the Korea Tourism Organisation, the number of tourists entering Korea for cosmetic surgery tripled in the period 2010-2014, from 81,789 to 266,501 people. The increase in beauty tourism has created a huge wave, bringing great revenue to the country. Bloomberg estimated that South Korea’s medical tourism industry (including beauty tourism) in 2012 brought in USD453 million to the country. It is predicted that by 2020, the figure will increase to USD3.2 billion.

In addition to the demand for travelling and plastic surgery, one of the simple but important reasons attracting many people to Korea is cosmetic products. In the country of Kimchi, cosmetics have become a necessity, like carrying a purse when leaving home. On the streets of Korea, you rarely see anyone without make-up, from middle school students to middle-aged men and women.

Korea’s cosmetic industry has been completely transformed in recent years. From low-priced and low-quality cosmetics, Korean cosmetics are rising both in quality and design, comparable to the products of famous Western brand names. The most popular Korean cosmetic brands are The Face Shop, Innisfree, Laneige, Skin Food and Etude House.

In Korea, cosmetic shops are everywhere, from the subway stations, to the streets, from the common markets to the crowded commercial centres.

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Beauty tourism & experiencing a new wind blowing through the land of Kimchi

Yeongdeung shopping mall in Seoul is a popular shopping destination not only for Seoul residents, but also for tourists when they arrive in Korea. Thanks to the global K-Pop infuence, the 100 stalls in this shopping centre are always crowded with visitors. At other shopping malls in Seoul such as Myeongdong, Garosugil, and Apgujeong-dong, there are always crowds of visitors focking from all over the world to buy beauty products.

Like the United States or France promoting fashion through famous movies, K-Beauty also penetrates into people’s lives through K-Pop (Korean music) and K-Drama (Korean film). Every music and movie star is a model promoting Korean cosmetics, such as the movie “The Descent of the Sun”, thanks to the promotion of actress Song Hye Kyo in the role of a beautiful doctor, the two-tone lipstick of Laneige was bought by many people. Not only Korean girls, but also many foreign tourists coming to this country want to own this hot lipstick. In addition to the two-tone lipstick, Laneige’s BB Cushion, which Song Hye Kyo used in the movie, also became widely known. Laneige is one of the famous cosmetics brands of the Amore Pacifc Group.

According to a report by the Hyundai Research Institute, the number of foreign tourists visiting Korea for shopping has increased from 2.64 million (equivalent of 36%) in 2011 to 4.76 million (equivalent to 47%) by 2015. The estimated amount of money visitors spent on shopping in 2015 was nearly USD9.8 billion, double the USD4.1 billion in 2011. According to a survey by the Korea Tourism Agency, when asked about the products being bought, 60% of foreigners say that perfume and cosmetics are what they look for the most.

Among foreigners, Chinese and Japanese tourists spend the most money to buy beauty products from Korea. According to Amore Pacifc, the country’s largest cosmetics company made up 40% of the gross market share and Chinese tourists accounted for 40.1% of gross revenue in 2011, while Japanese visitors contributed 9.1%.

Although most of the Korean cosmetic brands are already available overseas, Korean travel combining leisure with shopping for cosmetics is a trend that many visitors choose. It is not diffcult to explain this. First, if you buy directly in Korea, the price will be much cheaper than in your country. In addition, stores of Korean cosmetics brands in Seoul also regularly offer promotions, discounts and freebies.

There are a lot of Korean cosmetics in Vietnam, but I do not feel it is reliable and am afraid of buying fake products. During the trip to Korea, in addition to the time to visit the famous places, the rest of my time I went shopping for cosmetics. At that time, cosmetics companies had big sales programs, sometimes the discount was up to 70% ,” said Minh Anh, who just returned from a Korea tour.


About 15 years ago, Korea became the “Hollywood of the East”, producing a series of movies and idol groups stirring the Asian entertainment market. This country is also home to the phrase “Hallyu” (Korean wave) – the popularity and infuence of Korean culture rising throughout the world in the 21st century.

The Hallyu Wave not only helps Korea spread its art and culture to the world but also promote the cosmetics, fashion and tourism industry of this country.

Many people come to Korea because they like culture, people, food, or shopping for cosmetics, but I’m sure there are plenty of people like me coming to Korea to meet our idols, to at least one time in life see the work place of our idols, and when wandering on the streets, we may come across our beloved idols, and indulge in calling their names out loud.”

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Beauty tourism & experiencing a new wind blowing through the land of Kimchi

The story of the young girls who come with the nickname TUGARU.VIV is one of many stories of other young girls who come to Korea with the main purpose being to live in the atmosphere of the place where the Hallyu Wave started, and to meet K-Pop and K-Dramas stars.

It sounds impossible, but actually it is quite practical. There are countless things for girl fans to experience in the country of Hallyu. If you manage the travel yourself, you can go to the headquarters of entertainment agencies like JYP or SM Entertainment and wait, if you’re in luck you may fnd the idols you are looking for. One way to be sure to meet an idol is to attend fan meetings or concerts, but the ticket price is not cheap and the way to get it is not easy. The best and easiest way to get into the Hallyu Wave is to visit some of Korea’s Hallyu cultural highlights such as SMTOWN COEX ARTIUM COEX Complex (COEX Trade Centre) and K-Star Road. Here you can comfortably take pictures with giant posters of your idol or buy everything related to your favourite stars from albums and jackets to lovely chibi statues. You can even try to become an idol through a one-day dance class taught by back-up dancers or record at professional studios with vocal training, recording, music mixing, MV shooting and CD publishing.

Currently, the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) coordinates with tour operators to build Korean tours for tourists – especially young people, based on the effects of the Hallyu Wave. Coming to Korea, visitors not only visit the famous attractions, enjoy food, learn about traditional Korean culture but also explore the selected places like the flming locations of Famous TV dramas such as N Seoul Tower, Dongdeamun Design Plaza (Man From the Stars) and Samtan Art Mine (The Descendants of the Sun) or enjoy K-Pop night music at Hologram or The Show and you cannot miss a journey to explore the centre of flm and music production – the cradles of training Korean singers and artists such as KBS, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment, who the top stars of the Hallyu Wave such as Big Bang, TVXQ, Girl’s Generation, 2PM and Super Junior work for.

Together with the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO), we have organised a number of new tours combining sightseeing with the experience of Korean culture (Hallyu). Travellers are all excited about this new travel trend. We are planning to organise more tours like this to explore the market for young travellers who love Hallyu,” said Vu Thi Bich Hue, Deputy Manager of Marketing – Communications Department, Hanoi Redtours Tourism Joint Stock Company.

Whether for beauty purposes, buying cosmetics or experiencing the Hallyu Wave, a trip to the land of Kimchi will always be memorable to visitors. The trend of beauty tourism and Hallyu tourism also promises to bring a new wind to the smoke-free industry of Korea in the future.


Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Beauty tourism & experiencing a new wind blowing through the land of Kimchi

SM TOWN Coex Artium – the cultural complex of SM Entertainment – is located at Coex Mall (Samseong-dong, Seoul). SM Entertainment is one of the three largest entertainment groups in Korea, others are YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. The SM was originally understood to be the abbreviation of Soo Man (the founder of the company) but later people called it the Star Museum. This place has produced many famous stars and music bands, leading the Hallyu Wave such as TVXQ, SNSD, EXO, Super Junior, BoA, SHINee, F (x) and Red Velvet.

As one of the most popular companies in caring for fans and giving them more opportunities to approach their idols, SM Entertainment has built SM TOWN Coex Artium, where the images of idols appear everywhere from the candles to the food. It can be said that this is a paradise for K-Pop fans especially foreign fans who are visiting Korea for the first time.

SM TOWN Coex Artium opened on 13th January 2015 and consists of 6 foors, divided into many unique entertainment spaces for fans. Here, fans can enjoy a true experience relating to their idols in four areas: SUM, SMTOWN STUDIO, SMTOWN LIVERESS CAFE and SMTOWN THEATER.

SUM is a shopping area, including a chain of souvenir shops. Here, there are a lot of CDs and second-hand objects of SM idols available like hats, balloons, masks, blouses, Bluetooth speakers or cute souvenirs such as artist chibi and idol images.

SMTOWN STUDIO is a cyberspace, bringing experiences relating to idols’ activities. Here, you can record your favourite songs, be made up beautifully and dance and shoot music videos like real idols. The awards that SM’s idols have achieved over the years are also on display here.

SMTOWN LIVErary CAFE is a café for resting and energy recovery. This is like a mini supermarket selling food and drinks presented by idols such as snacks, instant noodles, confectionery and canned goods. Most impressively the tables here all signed by SM idols.

Finally, the SMTOWN THEATER – the multiplex cinema projects a variety of formats and content. There is the Surround Viewing projection – for which the audience is sitting in the auditorium surrounded by three giant screens and Hologram – with images that make the audiences feel like they are watching the real idols on stage. In addition, the SMTOWN THEATER has the Hologram Musical School OZ with the participant of SM artists performing a storyline about an adventure in the magical world called OZ.

♦ Address: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
At the Samseong Staton (Seoul Subway, Line 2), take exit No.5 or 6. Go to COEX Mall via the underground road connected to the staton.
♦ Open hours: 10am-10pm/all year round
♦ Website:
♦ Tel: SUM: 02-6002-5811, SMTOWN STUDIO: 02-6002-5820, SMTOWN LIVErary CAFÉ: 02-6002-5838, SMTOWN THEATER: 1670-6330.
♦ Surrounding Atractons: COEX Artum, COEX Aquarium, Megabox COEX.


Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Beauty tourism & experiencing a new wind blowing through the land of Kimchi

Amore Pacifc (아모레퍼시픽) is one of the largest beauty corporations in Korea, founded in 1945 and after more than 70 years of development, Amore Pacifc ranks 7th among the top 100 beauty companies in the world voted by Women’s Wear Daily’s Beauty.

The group currently has more than 30 cosmetic brands and personal care and health care products including:

Cosmetics: Amore Pacifc, Laneige, Innisfree, Etude House, Espoir, IOPE, Aritaum, HERA, Sulwhasoo, LIRIKOS, Verite, Mamonde, Hanyul, TeenClear, Primera, Lolita Lempicka, Odyssey, MIRAEPA, Annick Goutal and RYOE.

Personal care products: Mise-en-Scène, Rye, Happy Bath, Dantrol, Median, Songyeum and Illi.

Health Care: O’Sulloc, VB Program.

With a domestic market share of 35.1% and an annual revenue of 49 billion Won, Amore Pacifc is one of the largest cooperation in the Korean cosmetic industry. At Myeongdong – the shopping paradise of Korea with shopping centres and retail stores of international brands, every few hundred meters, customers pass by a cosmetics store owned by this corporation.

Amore Pacifc’s export revenue to other countries accounts for about 25% of their total revenue. With ambition to dominate the global market, Amore Pacifc’s business strategy is focused on China, Asia and North America. For Asia, the giant is consolidating their presence in developed markets such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and Vietnam.

To maintain the unique element of its products, Amore Pacifc spends an average of 3.5% of its revenue on research and development. They focus on exploiting oriental aromas such as ginseng, green tea and herbs to pander to the nature-oriented tendency of consumers.

Since the establishment of the frst cosmetics laboratory in Korea, Amore Pacifc has become a historical contributor to the beauty industry in Korea. The group is constantly pioneering in product improvement, bringing a variety of beauty values to consumers. Its cosmetic categories that are contributing to the beauty culture are: skin essence, sleep masks, BB cushions and two-tone lipstick from brands of Amore Pacifc.

Currently, Amore Pacifc is building a research and production complex in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Expected to be completed by 2020, this will be the centre of research and production in the Asian region.
To fnd out more about Amore Pacifc, you can visit the Story Garden building opened in 2013, which recalls the past, present and future of Amore Pacifc as well as showcases Amore Pacifc products.


♦ Address: AMORE PACIFIC SCM, 37 Gajang Industrial Dong-ro, Osan City, Gyeonggi-do. Visitors can go to Sema Staton on Line 1, take bus No.31 and get of at Amore Pacifc Bus Staton or you can go from Osan Staton Line 1, take bus No. 31, and get of at Amore Pacifc Bus Staton.

♦ Tel: +82 31 8047 1481
♦ Website:
♦ Open hours: 10am-6pm/Closed on Saturday, Sunday and holidays
♦ Language: English, Korean, Chinese.

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