Chinese tourists back in South Korea's Myeongdong shopping district


South Korean tourist information helpers (in red) guide Chinese tourists in the popular Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul, on April 25, 2017.
South Korean tourist information helpers (in red) guide Chinese tourists in the popular Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul, on April 25, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The streets of Myeongdong are once again bustling with Chinese tourists, thanks to a thaw in relations between Seoul and Beijing.

Myeongdong, a shopping district in central Seoul, is one of the most popular tourist spots in South Korea.

Just walking down the streets is enough to see that it is a foreigner-friendly zone, as you will be stopped by sales staff calling out in different languages.

The number of Chinese tourists had been falling due to icy relations between the two countries following the deployment of an anti-missile system in South Korea.

But figures from the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) showed that the number of Chinese tourists is trending upward, marking 403,000 in April, up 11.8 per cent compared to the same period the year before.

Street vendors selling all kinds of food keep the streets lit up well into the night. One can enjoy Korean street snacks like tteokbokki or delicacies from other countries, sold by vendors of varying nationalities.

According to a survey by Nielsen Korea, 79 per cent of tourists that visited South Korea last year said shopping was what they enjoyed the most.

Myeongdong proved to be the most popular destination with 85.2 per cent of respondents, followed by N Seoul Tower with 56.5 per cent.

Local officials have increased the number of facilities to aid tourists in the area including opening a branch of China's online payment platform Alipay in Myeongdong.