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The Ministry also stated that it was taking significant steps to improve the overall travel experience for visitors. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Calling all K-pop hopefuls! South Korea has just announced a new visa programme designed to make your dreams of training like a K-pop star a reality. While earlier you would only have the option for a short-term visa, the new programme will allow you to take a deeper dive into Korean culture with an extended stay.

Why the K-pop visa?

According to the announcement made on June 17 by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, while the country has seen tourism bounce back after the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism revenues have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels. This is because of a shift in tourism trends, as earlier the country had seen more middle-aged visitors, coming on group tours, spend a lot more on shopping. Post-pandemic, the profile of visitors has shifted more towards tourists in their teens, up to their thirties, who visit the country on individual visas, and gravitate more towards cultural experiences.

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The K-culture training visa caters to this growing desire among aspiring K-pop stars, or enthusiasts of Korean culture, to stay in the country for longer.

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Who is eligible?

While the visa will be implemented in the pilot phase later this year, the current announcement specifies that it will be available to those who wish to visit South Korea and attend training programmes on:

• K-pop
• Choreography
• Modelling
• Other cultural fields

Beyond the visa: A smoother travel experience

The Ministry also stated that it was taking significant steps to improve the overall travel experience for visitors, according to Korean news outlets.

Business Korea reported that the government has stated that it will focus on resolving the difficulties faced by these tourists in long-term stays and obtaining transportation and tourist information.

Here are all the ways in which the application process and travel will be made easier:

Simplified entry procedures: According to Korea Times, the application process for K-ETA (electronic travel authorisation) will get streamlined for group tourists. More automated immigration checkpoints will be set up at major ports to expedite the screening process for passengers arriving on cruise ships from abroad. Additionally, passenger terminals will extend their operating hours to accommodate travellers requiring extended travel times.

Enhanced transportation: New flight routes are also being planned for the second half of this year to connect cities regionally as well. The routes will include connections between Busan and Jakarta, Indonesia, as well as between Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province and Bali, Indonesia. This is aimed at capitalising further on regional tourism.

No need to lug the luggage: There are also steps that will be taken to help tourists get their luggage delivered to hotels, with 16 delivery locations connecting KTX bullet train stations to hotels. The Easy Drop service, which allows tourists to check their luggage outside the airport before departure, will also be broadened, according to Korea Times.

Boosted tourist content: Popular cultural experiences like instant photo shoots and personal colour consultations will also be a focus of the programmes designed around the visa. According to Business Korea, a 'foreigner-only transportation cards' will also be launched, making payments using overseas credit cards easier. A short-term public transportation pass will be introduced that foreign tourists can use in major cities. In Seoul, a one-day pass will be sold for 5,000 won (Dh13.31), a two-day pass for 8,000 won (Dh21.29), a three-day pass for 10,000 won (Dh26.61), and a five-day pass for 15,000 won (approximately Dh39.92).