shilla ipark-sign-1-300x225SOUTH KOREA. HDC Shilla Duty Free Shop, operator of Shilla IPark duty free, has signed a key agreement with the Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons to promote medical tourism.

At the signing ceremony at Shilla IPark duty free in Yongsan, Seoul, Yoo Jae-yong, Director of the retailer’s Sales & Marketing Division, and Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons Chairman Lee Byeong-min agreed to a pioneering joint marketing campaign.

The two bodies plan to integrate the worlds of premium shopping and advanced medical treatment.

Medical tourism is huge business in South Korea, particularly for Russians and Japanese – who both also rate among the highest-spending shopping nationalities. Thirty South Korean hospitals and clinics are now JCI-accredited (an international patient safety benchmark), more than any other North Asian nation. South Korea is often described as “the plastic surgery capital of the world”, a popularity that has been enhanced by the popularity of K-Pop and K-Drama featuring young Korean men and women with flawless skin and bone structure.

The two sides said they will work together to integrate their mutual expertise gained in shopping and medical care to boost tourism in South Korea.

Under the terms of the agreement, foreign tourists who use medical services through Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons can enjoy special benefits at Shilla IPark duty free, including shopping and spa privileges.

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Tourism takes many forms and the area of medical tourism has been one of South Korea’s fastest-growing niches in recent years. Here Yoo Jae-yong, Director of Shilla IPark duty free’s Sales & Marketing Division, and Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons Chairman Lee Byeong-min celebrate the landmark deal

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[Click on the YouTube video above to watch Martin Moodie’s tour of Shilla IPark duty free]

As reported, January saw Shilla IPark duty free post its first monthly profit since its soft opening in December 2015. In that month the retailer posted sales of KW53.2 billion (US$46.2 million) and an operating profit of KW125 million (US$108,536).

While describing the profit as “small”, HDC Shilla put the positive result in the context of total 2016 sales of KW397.5 billion (US$340 million) and an operating loss of W20.9 billion (US$18.2 million).

It commented: “We believe the company has now built a sustainable business capacity amid a full-fledged earnings turnaround.” The company claimed that it is the first of Seoul’s downtown duty free newcomers to break even.

HDC Shilla aims to achieve sales of KW750 billion (US$651.5 million) this year, driven by what it described as sound management policies.