S. Korean tourist locations borrow 'Squid Game' themes as life slowly returns to normal

Younghee, the four-metre-tall doll dressed in orange and yellow is displayed at the Seoul Olympic Park in Seoul until Jan 23 as South Korea rides on the popularity of "Squid Game" to draw tourists. (Pulse photo)

SEOUL: Local and district governments are rushing to borrow the themes of “Squid Game” to ride on the popularity of the global hit Korean thriller series as they are ready to accommodate visitors in full force when South Korea starts returning to normalcy by lifting virus mitigation restrictions.

The Ulsan Wale Cultural Foundation operating the Jangsaengpo Whale Special Culture Zone in Ulsan, a port city in southern Korea, reported that more than 10,000 tourists flocked to the Whale Culture Village on the first and second weekends of October, which is on par with the pre-pandemic levels, Pulse reported on Wednesday.

“Squid Game” fans visited the village, which was created in 2015 to promote the country’s traditional culture, to play Korean children’s games like sugar honeycomb making and marbles featured in the series.

Jeju Island, the long-standing favourite travel destination, has been lately enjoying renewed interest from global fans after it was mentioned in the show.

Introduced as the “Hawaii of Korea” by US-based magazine Newsweek following the “Squid Game” boom, the Jeju provincial government has launched online promotional events including an online sugar honeycomb game to raise awareness of the island.

The Incheon Tourism Organization posted on its official blog to promote the three filming locations of “Squid Game” — Wolmido Island’s theme park My Land, Kyodong Elementary School, and Seongapdo Island. Since Seongapdo Island is not open for public visit, the organisation recommended neighbouring islands Deokjeokdo Island and Guleopdo Island.

The southeast city of Daegu is working to launch a “Squid Game”-themed tourism programme to attract tourists from Singapore.

Singapore signed a travel bubble agreement with South Korea, which will take effect on Nov 15 to lift quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers between the two countries. The programme will offer tourists opportunities to play the survival games featured in the show in person at Gooam Farm Stay Village in the city.

An imitation of a giant robot doll named Younghee, which appears in the first episode of the series, was set up at the Seoul Olympic Park in southern Seoul this week. The four-metre-tall doll dressed in orange and yellow is displayed at the park until Jan 23, giving fans a chance to experience what it feels like to be in the game.

But some people argue that it is inappropriate to set up the doll at the family park, saying that it is difficult to explain children the meaning of the doll and the scene where the doll appears in the series, which is violent and brutal.

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