SEOUL-- More than half of foreigners coming to South Korea on private trips chose their destination after experiencing "hallyu," which refers to the Korean Wave of popular culture, a local poll showed Thursday.

The Korea Tourism Organization polled 3,199 people who visited the country with reservations for flights only or for flights and lodgings. The survey was narrowed to travelers from eight countries -- China, Japan, the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore -- and was carried out from the end of last year to the beginning of this year.

Results showed 55.6 percent of them picked South Korea after watching TV dramas and films. Another 36.8 percent said they chose the destination after watching travel programs on TV. The poll also said 28.4 percent made their decision based on postings on social networking services, while 26.5 percent had South Korea recommended to them by their acquaintances. Introductions and reviews on travel-related internet sites influenced 24.4 percent of the visitors. Respondents were able to pick multiple answers.

Asked which countries they compared with South Korea when deciding where to go, 65 percent said they looked at Japan. Taiwan followed with 29.2 percent, Hong Kong with 27.8 percent, Thailand with 24.7 percent, Singapore with 23.1 percent and China with 13.5 percent, according to the survey.

Once in South Korea, shopping was the biggest activity, with 67.2 percent of people citing it. The poll said 52.1 percent indulged in food-related activities, followed by visits to cultural and historic sites at 51.3 percent, nature-related activities at 36.4 percent, relaxation at 20.8 percent, going to festivals and performances at 11.7 percent and hallyu-related activities at 11.5 percent.

Friends and colleagues, making up 43.8 percent, were the most common companions on trips to South Korea. Spouses were next at 25.5 percent. Solo travelers counted for 15.6 percent of all visitors.

Source: Yonhap News Agency