The idea behind media tourism is simple: the media we consume influences what places we know about and how we feel about those places. Because of that, it also shapes our decisions to travel and the entire tourism experience, from planning the trip to retelling our travel stories afterwards. South Korean television drama series (‘K-drama’) adds an interesting case to the study of media tourism. As a relative newcomer to the global television arena, it has attracted a devout following in East Asia and beyond within two decades. While the Korean media industry have grown into a transnational network, as a strategic industry it retains strong linkages to the national government.
Looking at the content of K-drama as well as associated industrial formations and viewing practices, this sub-project will try to articulate what K-drama tells international audiences about South Korea as a nation and particular filming locations as places. It will visit places with a special meaning or ‘magic’ for tourists, and retell stories about how the enchantment of these locations come into place. Finally, it will probe how viewers and tourists work with the signs and locations they come in contact with, in order to create an experience individually enjoyable, memorable, and magical. Does media tourism hold the promise for an alchemy of enchantment, which recasts the mass products of television drama and tourism into priceless individual experiences? This sub-project will move to find answers.