The Case of Winter Sonata

Gyeoul Yeonga was first released in Korea in January of 2002 and quickly became one of the most popular shows on television. Broadcast on NHK BS2 television in Japan, it was first shown from April to September of 2003. Due to popular demand, it was aired again in December of that year. Interest and demand for the show continues around the world.

The effect of the show on the Japanese market was never expected to reach the US $23 billion impact that resulted from DVD sales, souvenirs, and tourism. Over 400,000 tourists have visited from Japan and Korea to discover the scenes where the soap opera was filmed. Korea, post-Winter Sonata broadcast, saw a 37 percent increase in foreign tourists. From a social perspective, 20 percent of Japanese now perceive Korea in a more positive way. As well, an increase in Korean food and pop culture has been seen, helping to alleviate some long-standing hostilities between the two countries.

Film-related tourism, while usually viewed as a positive economic contributor, can present challenges for communities. Short-term visitor impacts on places not ready for the influx can have devastating consequences. Social problems, crime and policing challenges along with discrepancies between film images and reality can all occur as a result of screen tourism.