A July 21 Yomiuri article that didn't even make it to its web site tells us that, between January-May this year, 1.03 million South Koreans visited Japan while 0.91 million Japanese visited South Korea. Think about it; South Korea has a little less than two-fifths of the number of people that Japan has, yet more Koreans are now visiting Japan than the other way around, despite the Han-ryu Korean-drama craze in Japan.
The article attributes the remarkable turn of events to the exchange rate, which puts the Won at a ten-year high against the Yen at 100 Won = 13.30 Yen (July 20). (There is, of course, no need longer any need to be reminded of the underlying prosperity of the South Korean economy.) Those are impressively pre-Asian numbers, and the article gives more facts and figures on tourism (in fact, there's even a small photo of a heavily Korean neighborhood in Shinjuku teeming with Korean tourists (and possibly even me, since I sometimes shop there for foodstuff that I cannot find elsewhere)) and, more broadly, trade. Within the nice array of solid information, anecdotes like the following indeed do illuminate:
A 28 year-old woman, a corporate employee who came to Japan from Seoul on a 4-day, 3-night trip, says of her choice of destination, "I vacillated between Hong Kong [and Tokyo], but I chose Tokyo because it would be cheaper to do shopping here." (my translation)
I'm not sure how the state-to-state relationship is doing right now, but the people-to-people one looks quite good. I'd like to know, though, what people on both ends of this exchange make of the effect of all this on the nation-to-nation relationship. Also, what they think about the per capita imbalance.