Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Seoul launches 'Gangnam Style' tourist police force

By Karla Cripps, CNN
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 17, 2013
Seoul's multi-lingual tourism police force, decked out in Psy-inspired uniforms, attend their inauguration ceremony at Seoul's Gwanghwamun Square. No prizes for those who guess which song was played during the event.
Seoul's multi-lingual tourism police force, decked out in Psy-inspired uniforms, attend their inauguration ceremony at Seoul's Gwanghwamun Square. No prizes for those who guess which song was played during the event.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Uniforms of Seoul's new tourist police force designed by "Gangnam Style" singer Psy's costume designer
  • Tourism force, made up of 101 officers, launched to crackdown on overcharging merchants and taxi drivers
  • In April, Psy was hired to be South Korea's tourism ambassador

(CNN) -- Just when you thought South Korea had milked the global success of "Gangnam Style" rapper Psy for every drop, along comes the unveiling of Seoul's new tourist police force.

The connection? The officers' uniforms were created by Korean fashion designer Kim Seo-ryong, who has made costumes for Psy.

Naturally, "Gangnam Style" was played as a group of Seoul police officers performed Psy's famous horse-riding dance during the tourist police inauguration ceremony at Seoul's Gwanghwamun Square on Wednesday.

South Korea launched its new tourist police force to protect tourists from being ripped off during their stay in Seoul.
South Korea launched its new tourist police force to protect tourists from being ripped off during their stay in Seoul.

South Korea's Tourism Board (KTO) says the government decided to launch the force, made up of 101 men and women, in response to the rising number of visitors to the capital.

"These tourist police officers will be patrolling major tourist areas in Seoul such as Myeong-dong, Insa-dong, Itaewon Tourist Special Zone and Hongdae," said the official announcement.

"Aside from maintaining law and order and cracking down on overcharging merchants and taxi drivers, the officers will also be providing tourist assistance in English, Japanese and Chinese."

Psy: Growing up 'Gangnam Style'

According to the Korea Tourism Organization, complaints from tourists involving shopping rose from 23.6% of all complaints filed by foreign tourists in 2008 to 34.7% last year, while overcharging by taxis and other transportation operators accounted for 15-20% over the last five years, reported Korea's Chosun.com.

The tourism police are only on duty in Seoul at the moment, but will be expanded to other regions in the coming years.

"At the moment we don't have enough personnel to expand the service to other regions but we are planning on hiring more officers," says Ryou Hyun-cheol, director of foreign affairs planning division at the National Police Agency, in a Korea Times report.

"By early next year, we are planning on launching tourism police in Jeju Island. We will also expand the service to cities such as Busan and Incheon."

This isn't the first time South Korea tourism officials have used Psy's global fame to promote tourism. And who can blame them, really.

To date, the official "Gangnam Style" music video has had over 1.79 billion views on Youtube.com -- making it the most watched video of all time on the site.

In April of this year, Psy was hired to be South Korea's tourism ambassador, a gig that had the star appearing in a series of TV commercials to show off the country.

According to the KTO, Psy will hold the honorary position for approximately a year.

In the TV commercials, which air in 70 countries, the comedic singer helps showcase things to eat and do and places to visit in South Korea, such as the late-night shopping district of Dongdaemun and "Cosmetic Road" in downtown Myeongdong, known for its rows of flashy makeup shops.

Psy accepted minimal payment for the gig as officially representing South Korea was meaningful work, he said.

Frances Cha also contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:26 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
the Teufelsberg or
Spooks have left their mark on a once-divided city still thought to be an espionage hotbed.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
nanjing, handicrafts
With more than 6,000 years of history, Nanjing is one of the few cities in China still practicing the country's endangered traditional crafts.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Rock and weather collide over millennia to create natural bridges. Here are 15 of our favorites from around the world.
updated 1:39 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
A one-nun brewing operation, Sister Doris is putting Germany's women beer makers on the map. Sort of.
updated 2:07 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
From Myanmar to Mickey Mouse, Stefan Zwanzger, aka The Theme Park Guy, gives his rundown of the best.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Four hundred years after the death of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, her murderous exploits prove a grisly attraction.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Formed by volcanoes and steeped in a rich history of Polynesian culture, Hawaii sounds more like a place in a fantasy novel rather than an American travel oasis.
updated 7:56 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Despite Kyoto's allure, until this year there's been a glaring absence from the city's travel scene -- a top tier, super-luxury hotel brand.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Why global adventurer Alastair Humphreys now looks for 'microadventures' close to home.
updated 7:33 AM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Don't order Corona and don't freak out when you see Jessica Alba without makeup and you might pass for local.
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
History buff? Hardcore surfer? These South Pacific islands have every traveler covered.
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Airlines and airports are going high-tech to reduce your time in line.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Eight of the top 10 scoring cities in the Economic Intelligence Unit's annual Liveability Survey are in Australia and Canada.
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
When a man tells me to "trust him," my typical reaction is to run.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT