SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to promote Buddhist temples and other traditional culture as a way to attract foreign tourists and improve its national branding image, officials said Friday.
The move unveiled by the Presidential Council on Nation Branding comes as South Korea seeks to enhance its international standing, which has often been undermined by North Korea's provocations and threats toward Seoul.
"Discovering and spreading the value of traditional culture, such as temples, are critical to enhancing Korea's image," President Lee Myung-bak said in the council session, according to his office.
South Korea has about 2,600 Buddhist temples across the country, many of them in mountains. Buddhism is one of the nation's major religions with more than 10 million followers in a country of 48 million people.
Some temples have already offered programs that allow foreign tourists to stay in temples for several days to enjoy religious and cultural experiences.
An official of the Jogye Order, South Korea's largest Buddhist sect, said he had no immediate comment. He asked not to be identified as he was not aware of the government's plan.
Lee Bae-yong, the head of the presidential council, vowed to make efforts to transform indigenous cultural assets into cultural content that can appeal to foreigners, according to the presidential office.
The council also plans to spread local cultural content through smartphones and social networking sites. (Yonhap)