"Don't go to Korea. If you don't want to learn about fascinating history…, eat the tastiest foods…, have the most amazing time or leave a piece of your heart there, you don't need to go to Korea. You have to experience Korea."

Franco Rizzo from Malta sarcastically begins his video by telling viewers not to come to Korea, and then expresses deep love for the country. Titled "I have something to tell you…," his clip won the grand prize in the "Talk About Korea" section of Talk Talk Korea 2019, a global contest of Korea-related content featuring videos, photos, illustrations, webtoons (online comics) and more.

The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS), a subsidiary of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly hosted the seven-category competition under the slogan "Korea Lovers." A combined 32,519 entries were submitted from 167 countries, the most since the annual contest debuted in 2014.

This year, contestants from 167 countries participated in TTK 2019, up from 146 last year, with the rise in competitors from Europe and North America especially sharp.


In the "Hansik and I" category, Missaoui Meriem from Morocco won the grand prize with her post "Capture the Moment."

"Recommended Korean Songs (instrumental cover)" by the group Sotto Voce from Venezuela took top honors in the category "Recommended Korean Songs." The act performed Korean pop and traditional tunes using classical music instruments such as the violin and the cello.

In the "Hansik and I" category featuring images of people enjoying Korean food, Missaoui Meriem from Morocco won the grand prize with her post "Capture the Moment."

Marjolaine Dinh from France's "One family" earned first place in the category "Illustrations of Peace." Her work portrays the reunion of two relatives separated during the Korean War in a mosaic formed by using the word pyeonghwa, which means "peace" in Korean.

In the "Webtoon on Koreans" category, Arishay from Poland won the grand prize for "Friends from Seoul," an online comic about pets in Seoul discussing Korean culture through their owners' lives.

Lindsay Lotta Williams from Germany topped the "Speaking Korean" section with her clip "Why a German studied Korean." "I'm so happy that the Korean language exists," she said, adding that she will continue uploading videos on teaching Korean.


In the category "Illustrations of Peace," Marjolaine Dinh from France won the grand prize for her mosaic work "One family."

Contestants in the category "Korea Experience" presented their own experiences of Korea, and Katrina Noble from the Philippines won the grand prize for her clip "Korea is like a dream." She says she likes Korea mainly because of the people, such as the friendly staff on the streets of Myeongdong, young people busking in the Hongdae area and a police officer who handed her an umbrella on a rainy day.

The grand prize winners of these seven categories each earned an all-expense trip to Korea next month for five days. Their stays in Seoul will be produced into a film to be shared with people around the world.

KOCIS Director Kim Tae-hoon said, "The atmosphere for enjoying Hallyu (Korean Wave) thanks to the contest is expanding around the world, especially in Europe and North America."

"The means of enjoying Korean culture isn't merely limited to watching and observing it but have been deepened and diversified into creating something by utilizing Korean culture."

All 184 prize-winning works can be seen on the Talk Talk Korea homepage (www.korea.net/TalkTalkKorea/English) as well as on Korea.net (www.korea.net), a multi-language media outlet promoting Korea.