If anyone needed yet another reason to visit Korea this summer, the Korea Summer Beauty Sale may be just the thing.
The sale is perhaps the country’s largest beauty and cosmetics event aimed at attracting overseas travelers to the peninsula. But do not be fooled by the name: cheaper prices and bundle sales aren’t the only things to look forward to.
The Korea Summer Beauty Sale kicked off Thursday and will run until Aug. 20. Hosted and organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Visit Korea Committee, the month-long festival targets tourists by providing them with special promotions on Korean beauty products as well as hands-on programs available mainly in Seoul.
“It’s not only about the discounts and trying to sell more products, it’s about encouraging the tourists to truly experience and enjoy the things you can only try out in Korea,” said Jang Mi-ran, the newly-appointed second vice minister of culture, sports and tourism, who attended the opening event at Amore Seongsu in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul. She was accompanied by actor Han Go-eun, Amorepacific Group President Lee Sang-mok, and beauty influencer Risabae.
Amore Seongsu, one of many stores Amorepacific operates nationwide, is tucked within the once-factory area in the current-day fashion mecca of Seongsu-dong and is an iconic example of the unique experience offered during the sales festa. It divides its space according to different themes, which includes a bathroom-like space where visitors can try out cleansing products using sinks, a powder room with lighted makeup mirrors and hundreds of testable cosmetic products and artificial intelligence (AI) technology that customizes foundation shades or lip tint colors according to the visitor’s skin tone.
“In this very building [of Amore Seongsu], anyone is able to experience the products of our 30 brands,” Amorepacific’s Lee said. Amorepacific Group is home to beauty brands like Sulwhasoo, Hera, Laneige, Innisfree, Etude House and the tea brand Osulloc.
Amorepacific also manages other unique spaces, like the headquarters in Yongsan District, central Seoul; the House of Sulwhasoo Bukchon in Jongno District, central Seoul; and the Osulloc Tea Museum in Jeju Island.
Amorepacific is one of the 175 brands taking part in the event, including Olive Young, T’way Air and Lotte Department Store.
Since last year, Amorepacific ranked No. 1 in sales in the beauty and personal care category during the twice-yearly Amazon Prime sale events, three times in a row, which Lee complimented as a “milestone” for the K-beauty industry. He acknowledged that, being the biggest cosmetics and beauty company in Korea, Amorepacific has a responsibility to actively promote the field on a global scale.
“K-beauty is thriving so much that it would not be an exaggeration to say it’s a sensation,” Lee said. “Initially, the industry was limited to China or Southeast Asia, but now it’s spread universally.”
In fact, in March this year, exports of Korean beauty products increased by 9.6 percent to $775 million compared to March last year, according to statistics by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Feeling the reality of this definite globalization of K-beauty is Risabae. As the K-beauty industry is able to appeal to the needs of customers not just locally but also internationally, she mentioned that it has influenced a significant shift in trends in the Western market as well.
Risabae has over 2.26 million subscribers on YouTube, 15 percent of which are foreigners.
“Western makeup was usually bold and flashy, but nowadays even people from the United States and Southeast Asia have become interested in the subtle and natural makeup look Korean beauty is known for,” she said. “My international viewers have increasingly been asking me for more tips and details on these looks.”
But it’s not just conglomerates that enjoy the fruits of Korea’s growing beauty industry. Smaller companies and startups are also seeing a bright future, according to Cho Yoon-soo, CEO of skin care startup Genie the Bottle. The company manufactures a skincare line for children between four and 12 years called I’m Not a Baby!, which consists of shampoos, facial cleansers, body wash and more.
“I have three kids of my own, but I’ve noticed that when your child enters elementary school, there aren’t many products that are kid-friendly for this age range,” Cho said. “Baby products are too mild for them to use anymore, but the products that I use tend to be too harsh. This is how I’m Not a Baby! was created.
“Our brand is in high demand overseas; We have a brand store on Amazon, and we are FDA-certified. We’ve also recently gotten the CPNP [Cosmetic Product Notification Portal] certification and are in the process of entering the European market.”
Many other programs are planned for the Korea Summer Beauty Sale. Lotte Department Store is running a “K-beauty Class” exclusively for foreigners, and there are docent tours available at the House of Sulwhasoo Bukchon. For more information on the discounts and schedule of the events, visit the official website.
BY SHIN MIN-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]