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VIDEO: Croatia Becomes South Korea’s Gateway to Love

When reality kicks in, it is not often that one finds reasons to exult. But what happens when the pursuit of love and adventure leads to the introduction of a great nation to a tiny country on the opposite end of the globe? In the case of South Korea and Croatia, it is a match made in heaven…and a job well done.

Thanks to shows like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, HBO’s Game of Thrones and Discovery Channel’s Man, Woman, Wild, exotic images of Croatia traveled the globe this year and enticed the imagination of millions of viewers worldwide. The Croatian tourism industry is rubbing their hands in contemplation, speculating on the number of western tourists who are about to invade the sunny Croatian beaches and cities next summer in search of their own adventures.

Meanwhile, amid the financial crisis that continues to shake the West, the Croatian Tourist Board is working hard at trying to tap into the huge and rapidly developing market in the East. However, when it comes to South Korea, and to everyone’s surprise, it turns out that Croatia has already penetrated this market in Gangnam Style. Again, the formula to this remarkable success proved to be the universal denominator – pop culture. Mixed in with a healthy dose of romance.   

To Croatia, the first result of this successful pairing presented itself in the peculiar form of a group of young Korean women swarming the Zagreb Tourist Board stand in Seoul like it was the backstage exit of a rock-star concert.

It was hardly the scene the Croatian hosts were expecting to experience while attempting to promote what they thought was a little known destination to the South Korean market during the 25th Korea World Travel Fair held in Seoul in June 2012.

Koreans find love in Croatia

They soon learned that the reason behind this astonishing rise of Zagreb to Korean stardom was The Romantic in Croatia. A new reality show produced by the same creators of Korea’s no.1 reality show “2 Days & 1 Night” that aired on tvN (home to Saturday Night Live, Korea). Narrated by a Korean multi-talent star Lee Seung Gi, who has topped numerous lists such as ‘most romantic looking male singer’, ‘celebrity’s voice most wanted to be heard on your navigation system’, and ‘star most wanted to go on an ocean voyage with’ and featuring original music by popular Korean artists such as the up-and-coming Korean Superstar K3 finalists Two Months, the show was scheduled to become an instant favourite among reality fans in South Korea. And as a consequence, Croatia is likely to become the next big travel destination for many young Koreans.  

In this first season of the Romantic, which some sources describe as “a more elegant and sophisticated version of the American “Bachelorette” with beautiful cinematography”, 5 men and 5 women in their 20’s and 30’s embark on a 10 day adventure-packed, matchmaking and heart-breaking emotional rollercoaster ride from Zagreb to Dubrovnik in hopes of finding their true love amongst team members.

Producer Lee Myung Han said about the shoot, “I’ve seen many sights as a PD, but it was the first time I had seen such a beautiful place as Croatia. No matter where I pointed the camera, I got a beautiful setting. It was a great filming site for The Romantic, which will be showing a love trip even more romantic than those in movies. You can’t help but fall in love there. I’ll bring to you an experience like a weekend movie with sweet romcom-like relationships between the contestants along with exotic scenery that will make your hearts beat, so please look forward to it.”

And while we certainly hope that some of the show’s participants did indeed find true love during their trip to Croatia, we are sure that the Croatian Tourist Board looks forward to cashing in on its country’s many recent TV appearances by welcoming a whole new wave of unexpected tourists – love seekers, gourmets and adventurers from around the globe whose desire to visit Croatia was inspired by stunning location images and ravings of cast and crew members from some of the most popular shows today.

Anna Tucker

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