Drawn by Korean TV drama, 4,500 Chinese tourists gather for chicken, beer

INCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) - About 4,500 employees of a Chinese cosmetics firm visiting South Korea as the largest tour group to arrive in the country by plane sat down on Monday for a dinner of fried chicken and beer, a staple made popular in China by a hit Korean television drama.

The group, from Aolan International Beauty Group on an employee reward trip, began arriving from Saturday on 158 flights for a seven-day tour and gathered around 750 outdoor tables for Monday’s dinner, according to officials in Incheon, 50 km (31 miles) west of Seoul.

The number of Chinese visitors to South Korea rose 17 percent in the first two months of the year to 1.07 million, and South Korea expects a record total of 8 million this year, lured in part by the popularity of Korean cultural exports, such as TV shows, movies and K-pop music.

The combination of South Korean chicken and beer became popular in China with the Korean TV show “My Love From the Star,” a romantic comedy about a famous actress and her alien boyfriend that aired in 2013 and 2014.

Reporting by Dagyum Ji; Writing by Minwoo Park; Editing by Tony Munroe and Clarence Fernandez