A growing number of Chinese tourists are flocking to Ewha Womans University in Sinchon, Seoul, generating not only financial benefit to the school but also concerns over the privacy of students.
Ewha Womans University has welcomed many tourists in the past, thanks to its beautiful campus, as well as the shopping street within the school’s vicinity.
The main entrance of Ewha Womans University (Yonhap)
But since China Central Television program selected the university as a must-see place in Seoul last July, many Chinese tourists have rushed to the university to have a look at the campus scenery and take pictures.
Chinese visitors, upon their arrival at the school’s main entrance, have a tendency to drop by the university’s souvenir shop to buy the school’s logo items. Popular souvenirs include a jacket embroidered with the school’s pear flower-shaped logo, which costs around $70. Some Chinese visitors spend as much as $1,000 on school logo-printed items, according to the store.
Ewha Womans University was established in 1886 by the American missionary Mary F. Scranton as the first women’s university in Korea. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in Seoul, with six former first ladies and many notable alumni graduating from the institution.
As well as its long history, the school’s name is cited as the reason behind a surging interest from Chinese tourists. Ewha, which means ‘pear blossom’ in Korean, is pronounced in Mandarin to sound like ‘lifa,’ meaning ‘money to accumulate.’ Also, the pear flower symbolizes wealth and good fortune in China.
While Ewha is enjoying the sudden influx of tourism cash, students have concerns about the large number of tourists roaming the campus. It has been reported that some Chinese tourists entered classrooms in the middle of lectures and interrupted classes. Some also took photos of students while pretending to take pictures of the campus, and posted them on Chinese portal sites, exposing Korean students’ faces to potentially millions of Chinese audiences.
In response to such concerns, school officials have asked tour agencies to help protect the school’s educational conditions. “When Chinese tourists visit the school as a group, we inform the group that they should not enter classrooms or research facilities and also refrain from taking photos of students without their permission,” said the school’s official.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org