Thu, 28 Sep 2023


Sabah top pick on Korean TV
Published on: Thursday, September 14, 2023
By: Ricardo Unto
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Sabah top pick on Korean TV
Soo-kyung and Seul-gi kayaking through the mangrove forest.
Kota Kinabalu: The scenic State Capital has found its way onto the screens of South Korean television, making two memorable appearances on the popular show “Battle Trip,” where it emerged as a favourite pick.

“Battle Trip” is a well-loved South Korean television entertainment programme produced and distributed by KBS. 

The show, known for its unique travel competition format, has attracted significant viewership since its inception.

The programme’s first season, from April 16, 2016 to April 3, 2020, comprised 177 regular and four special episodes. 

Soo-kyung and Seul-gi enjoying the Tanjung Aru sunset.

In that season, the show featured travel competitions between two groups of celebrities or individual celebrities who embarked on trips based on specific themes. 

The episodes provided viewers with travel insights, tips and unique experiences. The votes of a 100-strong audience determined the winner of each episode.

Season 2 of “Battle Trip” premiered on Oct 15, 2022 and concluded on Aug 12, 2023, with 39 episodes. 

The format remained the same, featuring celebrity travellers who went head-to-head in trip planning. 

However, the winner was determined by the celebrities’ votes, including the main host, the special host and the travellers.

Kota Kinabalu debuted on “Battle Trip” during Episode 106 of Season 1, aired on Sept 1, 2018. 

The battle’s theme for the episode was “Romantic Getaways for Married Couples”.

Comedian couple Choi Yang-rak and Paeng Hyun-sook, renowned for their wit and humour, chose Kota Kinabalu for their 30th wedding anniversary celebration. 

Their competitors, Kim Yoon-ah (Jaurim) and Kim Hyung-kyu, who have been married for 15 years, opted for Hokkaido, Japan. 

Yang-rak and Hyun-sook’s daughter Hana recommended Kota Kinabalu for their anniversary celebration as it is a popular destination among South Korean tourists.

During their Kota Kinabalu visit, they went for a trip to Manukan Island, where they had a thrilling parasailing experience.

Aside from that, they visited the Sunday Gaya Street Market and tried local favourites in eateries, such as noodles and Bak Kut Teh (simmered pork rib dish).

“Food is reasonably priced and cheap at the eateries,” they said.

They also went for a special photoshoot session with a professional photographer at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) – apparently, the campus has hidden gems for good photography spots.

The highlight of their trip was enjoying the sunset at the Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort’s Sunset Bar.

“The top three sunsets in the world are Santorini (Greece), Fiji and Kota Kinabalu, and the famous sunset spot in Kota Kinabalu is Tanjung Aru,” said Yang-rak.

Sipping on their cocktails and a game of “alkaggi” (a Korean board game), they rekindled the flame of love for one another.

Eventually, Yang-rak and Hyun-sook emerged victorious, winning the battle with more points from the voting audience.

Kota Kinabalu’s appeal was further cemented when it was featured again in Season 2, Episode 37, which was aired on July 22, this year.

The episode’s battle theme was “Hot Summer – Recommended Travel Destinations for Summer Vacation”. 

Hwang Soo-kyung and Park Seul-gi, famous South Korean celebrities, selected Kota Kinabalu as their destination. 

They faced off against Kim Min-seok (MeloMance) and Park Jae-min, who planned trips and travelled to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. 

When they were in the city, Soo-kyung and Seul-gi went for a nature adventure by kayaking for 2km through the mangrove forest to the sea.

“I have never seen these many trees at once in my life. Mangrove trees emit lots of oxygen,” said Seul-gi.

Soo-kyung then said she was made to understand that mangrove trees can only exist in clean areas. 

“It (mangrove forest) is even called the second lung of the Earth – that is how much oxygen is emitted there,” said Soo-kyung.

At the end of the kayaking, they rushed to the beach to enjoy the highlight of their trip – the sunset.

“The colour when the sun sets is so beautiful,” said Seul-gi.

A trip to the city is only complete with indulging in the many delicacies it has to offer. Soo-kyung and Seul-gi tasted the Sang Nyuk Mee (pork noodles) and Kon Lo Mee (dry sauce noodles).

“This costs only US$3, which is less than half of the price in Korea,” they said on one of the dishes.

During the trip, they also went for sea fishing, where Seul-gi managed to catch a grouper and a remora.

In a thrilling battle, Kota Kinabalu secured another victory at the end of the episode, further establishing its attraction as a top-notch travel destination.

The repeated spotlight on Kota Kinabalu on “Battle Trip” proved that the city continues to captivate travellers with its unique attractions.

In 2019, the State recorded 4.2 million tourist arrivals, with 1.47 million international tourists. Of the figure, 396,660 were from South Korea.

Last year, Sabah charted 1.73 million tourist arrivals as countries reset themselves to the new norm post-pandemic. Of the number, 55,152 were from South Korea.

The State recorded over 1.6 million tourist arrivals in the first six months of this year.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew was reported as saying that this figure demonstrates that despite facing global challenges, Sabah continues to maintain a strong appeal, attracting visitors worldwide to experience the State’s natural beauty and unique culture.

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