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(Yonhap Interview) Korean center to lure Chinese with authentic products: Chinese official

All News 11:30 June 03, 2016

By Chung Joo-won

WEIHAI, China, June 3 (Yonhap) -- The Chinese-Korean product exhibition center under construction in the Chinese eastern port city of Rongcheng will quench Chinese shoppers' thirst for authentic Korean products with reasonable prices, the top Chinese official involved in the project has said.

"There will be no problem in the exhibition center business, provided that the center offers a wide variety of goods at competitive price," Wang Wei, vice administrator of Haoyunjiao District and a key member of the Haoyunjiao Tourism Resort Committee of Rongcheng, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.

The Haoyunjiao District of Rongcheng and a China-based affiliate of the South Korean lighting manufacturer Feelux recently began constructing the Haoyunjiao China-Korea Product Exhibition Center, a multicultural exhibition and shopping center, in the district, for an opening possibly in late October.

Under a deal signed earlier in the day, the Chinese side will cover the construction costs of the center, while Feelux will be offered exclusive management rights of the Korean product section of the center and free electricity, heating and access to the Internet for the first three years.

The Korean product section of the center will offer more than 1,000 different kinds of South Korean brand products, including entertainment and Korean culture-related products, in addition to kitchenware and daily commodities.

Only authentic South Korean products manufactured by Korean companies will be displayed and put on sale, he stressed.

"In Weihai, there are many low-quality counterfeits of South Korean products, but they fail to satisfy the demand of Chinese customers," Wang said. "Our goal is to have Chinese tourists browse and shop for authentic South-Korean brand products in the Haoyunjiao China-Korea Product Exhibition Center."

Wang also highlighted the area's major feature as a summer retreat.

Comprising part of Shandong's 1,000-kilometer coastline, the Haoyunjiao District is a rising tourist cultural zone. This beautiful seaside district was designed by China's central government as a Korea-China special cultural zone following the signing of a free trade pact between the two countries on June 1, 2015.

Currently, Haoyunjiao is pushing to turn the marshland of Haoyunjiao into a beach resort town that resembles a mixture of South Korea's Songdo International Business District in Incheon and Marine City in Busan, constructing man-made lakes and high-end resorts.

"During the peak summer vacation season from late June to late September, about three million local Chinese tourists surge to Haoyunjiao beaches. Once the exhibition center is open, we will work with travel agencies to get them to stop by the center on their way to the beach."

According to Wang, the exhibition center is built on the only route that runs from Weihai City to Haoyunjiao's amusement park, zoo and beaches. It also sits on the way to Chengshan Cape, the easternmost tip of Shandong Province. Best known for the country's earliest sunrise spot and a temple dedicated to Emperor Shi of China's Qin Dynasty (B.C. 221-206), admission ticket sales for the cape reached 2.4 million last year and are expected to jump 30 percent this year, he said.

Besides summer vacationers, Haoyunjiao resort residents are also being targeted by the exhibition center, according to the Chinese official.

"Many of the accommodations in Haoyunjiao are for long-term residents, unlike some 'second house' condominiums for short-term use as in many other tourist cities."

The ongoing Asiawide boom of Korean culture, known as "hallyu" in Korean, is a major driving force behind the popularity of Korean products in China.

South Korean dramas, such as "Descendants of the Sun," and other cultural content are in exceptionally high demand among the young Chinese generation, according to Wang.

"We bet that a far larger number of Chinese people have watched 'Descendants of the Sun' than Koreans," he said, causing the room to break into laughter.

Wang showed a strong belief in the longevity of the phenomenon.

"We have zero doubt about the (lasting commercial value of) Korean cultural products," he said, adding that the Chinese government also has a positive attitude about hallyu.


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