In recent years, Korea has been saying As-salāmu ʿalaykum to an increasing number of overseas Muslim visitors, with recent official figures showing a record-breaking 980,000 arriving in 2016. Although it may be only a fraction of the 17.2 million total arrivals that year, the figure represents a 33% increase over the previous year and around double the number of inbound Muslim visitors to Korea from five years ago.
As a result, Korea is stepping up efforts to raise that number to 1.2 million in 2017 while seeking to improve services and infrastructure for Muslim visitors, here for both business events and leisure. Below is a look at the services that Muslim visitors can already enjoy in Korea and what lies ahead.
Prayer Rooms: Where to Find Them
Although they are not always available, more and more venues and districts now have prayer rooms for the convenience of visitors. For example, Seoul’s largest convention and exhibition center Coex has prayer rooms for their Muslim event attendees. Check the infographic below for more information on prayer rooms at international airports and major tourist attractions in Korea.
Eat Out: Halal and Muslim-friendly Restaurants in Korea
As part of its efforts to attract more Muslim visitors to Korea, the KTO is encouraging local restaurants to seek accreditation for the providing of halal foods on their menus, which would then be promoted through KTO channels. A week-long festival in September is also being planned, featuring Korean dishes cooked to halal standards. The event follows the KTO’s Halal Restaurant Week last year, which sought to promote local halal dining options. Overseas meanwhile, the KTO is conducting tourism roadshows in neighboring countries with large Muslim populations between April and June, including Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It will also attend this year’s Arabian Travel Market in April.
A full list of halal and Muslim-Friendly restaurants can be found in the Muslim-Friendly Restaurants in Korea guide.
Dine In: Sourcing Halal Ingredients for Your Catered Events
Event planners working with Muslim groups may need to prepare for several meals or banquets to be prepared at hotels or event venues that are not used to preparing halal cuisine. Although it may be hard to accommodate the strictest of guidelines, it is often possible to supply halal meats and ingredients for use with your Korean F&B partner. There are many places to source halal meat, especially in Seoul, and so this is one way to show extra care and concern for guests that prefer to eat halal food.
Check out pages 118-120 of the Muslim-Friendly Restaurants in Korea for information on Halal-certified Korean Food and Where to Buy Halal Products.
Read Up: Online Resources for Muslims
As with any overseas travel, knowing where to find the home comforts in the country you’re visiting makes a big difference to the enjoyment of your stay. For Muslim travelers, the Korea Tourism Organization has provided an online Muslim-Friendly Korea Tourist Map, showing the locations of both restaurants serving halal cuisine and prayer rooms across the country. They can also read a more detailed Muslim-Friendly Restaurants in Korea guidebook, which also provides useful information on things such as Korean halal products and where to buy them, and other information related to Muslim life in Korea.