The main lifeline for famous Korean restaurants are not locals but tourists, recent data suggest.
Based on an analysis of visitors to famous restaurants in Busan, Gangneung, Jeju, Jeonju and Yeosu via SK Telecom's smartphone navigation app T map, it said tourists accounted for up to 97 percent of their customers. Local residents accounted for a mere three percent.
SK Telecom analyzed about 1.5 billion searches on the app collected from July last year to July this year.
Among visitors to the top 10 restaurants in Gangneung and Yeosu, only three to seven percent were locals.
"The search results varied by region but proved that locals avoid famous restaurants that are crowded with tourists," an SK Telecom staffer said.
But the analysis was only based on data collected from T map users, and few locals have any need for a navigation app on their home turf, suggesting the actual numbers are less startling.