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SEOUL -- South Korea is "re-branding" itself in a major tourist campaign this year with the goal of attracting a record 5.8 million visitors and $7.3 billion in tourist revenues.

"Visit Korea Year 2001" promotes the country as a place "where East meets West," said Dho Young Shim, chairwoman of Visit Korea Year 2001's organizing committee.

Ads focus on the traditional and modern aspects of Korea, featuring cultural activities such as pottery, music and food festivals, while stressing it as a great place for shopping for the latest fashions and undertaking various outdoor sports in Korea's plentiful mountains.

Korea is still a country of war in the minds of many westerners, said Ms. Dho. "We think the world knows Korea, but the world doesn't know Korea."

However, the campaign has gotten off to a rocky start, thanks to an unusually long winter and concerns about the safety of Seoul's new international airport, which opened in March.

Korea is the world's 10th largest economy, but only the 28th most popular tourist destination, Ms. Dho notes.

The organizing committee has commissioned ads for the campaign from various agencies. -- Michael Baker

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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