It seemed like a surefire way to catapult this beach into the ranks of Bali and Waikiki: a 10% discount for anyone in a bikini.
The scheme was cooked up in 2003 when South Korean officials were looking for a way to attract tourists to a stretch of sand on the western coast of the country. So they renamed it Byeonsan "Bikini" Beach.
Alas! A name change + discount offer was not enough to change attitudes. Barely 10% of beachgoers are estimated to have opted for bikinis - and even that number was probably on the inflated side.
So why don't Korean women patronise bikinis? Broadly I would think the same set of reasons that Indian women don't -
a) They feel self-conscious esp. if their bodies are less than perfect
b) They have no interest in getting tanned - fair skin, after all rules in Asia.
c) Add to that possibly the lech factor - don't know about Korea but in India even wearing a one piece swimsuit attracts gawkers. Goa mein bhi!
Itsy bitsy teeny weenie - no thanks
I think it's all about 'safety in numbers'. The standard 'beachwear' for women in India is a hiked up nylon sari or salwar kameez. The more Westernised junta will roll up their jeans or perhaps wade into the water in shorts.
So the tiny minority which does don Speedo automatically attracts eyeballs.
Now as far as feeling awkward in a swimsuit goes - that is a very real problem. But again, it's more about cultural context and not just a body image issue.
Even perfectly endowed Indian women would feel uncomfortable wearing a bikni in public. In our culture it's akin to being 'nanga'.
Are all bikini wearers in phoren countries perfect 10s? Looking at the
the Baywatch beach you might think so but hey - those washboard abs are on hire.
On real beaches in Florida or even Goa you will see plenty of old, freckled and less-than-shapely ladies soaking in the sun in their one or two piece swimmies.
They don't care what anyone thinks! Sun and sand is meant to be enjoyed in this clothing - so why be inhibited and spoil one's fun?
Which is exactly the attitude of Indian men at the beach. Paunchy, extra-hairy, stick-thin - the Indian guy has no qualms about stripping down to his Rupa underwear.
Yes, sadly you see plenty of those on public beaches - along with guys in proper swimming trunks. Doesn't make for a pretty sight but hey - one must admit this is an area where the bhaarat putras are not lacking in confidence!
They don't even bother to suck in their stomachs while sauntering by...
There is however an interesting new development - Indian women are finally embracing a uniquely desi version of the swimmming costume: Nylon tights with oversize nylon tees.
Visit Esselworld's Water Kingdom - where 'swimming costume' is compulsory to enter the water - and you'll see women short, fat, young and old all togged out in this somewhat strange but socially acceptable adaptation of the swimsuit.
The tights come in ankle and knee length versions; the most popular colour is navy blue.
The suits are available on hire but I'm wondering why doesn't some smart company market the concept? Nike or Adidas could actually sell such costumes - and make a success of it.
This in turn might encourage more Indian women to actually take up swimming instead of the standard sight you see at all but the most upscale holiday resorts: women watching their husbands and kids splashing around in the pool from a safe distance.
Even that would be a big enough revolution... Bikinis? Now that will take another hundred years! Unless some secret ingredient is added to our morning milk which mutates the ogle-ogle gene in mankind.
Ashton Kutcher being voted American President sounds rather more plausible...