Five-member K-pop girl group, NewJeans.
Five-member K-pop girl group, NewJeans. Image Credit: Instagram/ Newjeans Official

Dubai: K-pop girl group NewJeans are set to become the new face of Korean tourism.

The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) announced today that the band members have been appointed as honorary ambassadors for Korean tourism.

"We are very happy to be appointed as an ambassador to promote South Korean tourism today," band member Minji said, adding it would be a "great joy" for the supergroup to promote their country's charms.

The five-member group appeared in two videos on the official KTO’s YouTube channel, Imagine Your Korea. The videos are themed around Korean cuisine and experiences Koreans enjoy.

The two commercials show the band members share their personal recommendations for visitors, including eating gimbap dipped in tteokbokki sauce and taking a photo a day, an "unspoken rule among young Koreans".

Haerin said she recommended tourists to visit a hanok - or traditional Korean house - while Hanni urged visitors to embrace Korean cuisine.

K-pop girl group 'NewJeans' members (L-R) Hanni, Haerin, Danielle and Minji pose for photos during an appointment ceremony of the 2024 Korea Tourism Honorary Ambassador. Image Credit: AFP

"You have to eat Korean food when you come to Korea, and since it's summer and the weather is hot, if you eat food like samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) or mul-naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles), you'll be able to enjoy it a lot," she said.

According to an article on the Korean news website "The videos will be displayed on electric signboards at 14 major cities' tourism landmarks in 12 countries, including New York's Times Square, Tokyo and Beijing, until October.... During the Paris Summer Olympics, short-form versions of the videos will be shown on digital screens throughout the city.”

Previously, the ministry has appointed renowned celebrities, such as the ‘Squid Game’ actor and Emmy-winner Lee Jung-jae in 2023, and BTS in 2022, as honorary ambassadors for Korean tourism.

"The ministry hopes that NewJeans' ads will inspire young people around the world to imprint Korean tourism in a sophisticated manner and motivate them to visit and experience the real Korea," Culture Minister Yoo In-chon said.

According to a report by the news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP), South Korea has seen tourism figures recover to nearly pre-pandemic levels this year, with around a third of visitors citing K-pop or K-drama – the so-called ‘Hallyu’ or Korean wave – as a major motive for travelling to the East Asian country.

Tourist arrivals are at "…about 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels…. With NewJeans as tourism ambassadors, I expect even more people from all over the world to visit Korea," the minister added.

The group will serve as ambassadors with no actual diplomatic responsibilities for a year.

According to the ministry's survey, 35.6 per cent of inbound visitors last year were under 30, while 84 per cent were independent travelers.

More than 11 million tourists visited South Korea last year, a 245 per cent increase compared to 2022, when some pandemic restrictions were still in force.

Chinese and Japanese tourists made up the majority of the visitors.

"We will take the lead in promoting Korean culture and tourism to the world,” the group said during the appointment ceremony in Seoul.

The band is managed by South Korean agency Ador and label Hybe. The members consist of Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein.

They released their debut single 'Attention' on July 22, 2022, followed by their debut extended play, New Jeans, which was released on August 1, 2022.

The band recently held their first fan meet at the Tokyo Dome – the fastest Tokyo Dome debut for any foreign artist. Tickets were sold out in minutes.

The group's Japanese debut single 'Supernatural' sold over a million copies as of Thursday, marking their fifth million seller.