Literacy > Lodging Glossary > Urban Minbak

Urban Minbak

A rural minbak is a lodging establishment where residents in rural areas use their homes to register and operate a lodging business, so that foreign tourists experience Korean home culture. In principle, it is intended only for foreign tourists, restricting use by domestic travelers. However, due to the dominant use of global distribution channels such as Airbnb, there are limitations in restricting domestic travelers, leading to various discussions regarding effectiveness of the restrictions.
Statutory Definition
Urban minbak business is a type of ‘tourist facility’ business under the Tourism Promotion Act. It refers to a business where residents in urban areas use their own homes, whether single-family house, multi-family house, apartment, row house, or multiplex housing, to provide accommodation and suitable facilities for foreign tourists to experience Korean home culture.
Lobin Commentary

‘Foreign tourist urban minbak’, the official name for urban minbak, was newly established in December 2011 under the Tourism Promotion Act as a type of ‘tourist convenience facility business.’ In March 2016, it was reclassified as a type of ‘tourist facility business’ under the same act to strengthen the control. In principle, urban minbak is intended for foreign tourists, and use by domestic travelers is restricted. However, since 2020, lodging establishments registered with the domestic shared lodging platform ‘WeHome’ are allowed to accept domestic travelers for up to 180 days a year under special provisions.

Urban minbak does not include lodging establishments in rural and semi-rural areas as defined by the Agricultural and Fishing Villages Improvement Act. However, it includes businesses operated by village enterprises in urban areas, as defined in Article 9 of the Special Act on Promotion and Support of Urban Regeneration, that provide accommodation and meals primarily to foreign tourists. These businesses also offer accommodation and meals to domestic tourists visiting the area to experience its unique culture, as long as it does not interfere with the accommodation of foreign tourists.

According to Annex 1 of the Enforcement Decree of Tourism Promotion Act, the registration criteria for urban minbak are as follows:

  1. The total floor area of the house must be less than 230 square meters.
  2. The business must be capable of providing foreign language guide services.
  3. At least one fire extinguisher must be installed, and each guestroom must have standalone smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (only if individual heating systems are installed).

The terms ‘guesthouse’ and ‘homestay’ are frequently used for urban minbak, and majority of bookings are made through platforms like Airbnb and Instagram. Since these lodgings primarily cater to foreign tourists, global distribution channels are heavily utilized. However, it is also challenging to restrict domestic travelers through these channels. Despite the controversies surrounding the effectiveness of restrictions, urban minbak is currently one of the fastest-growing types of lodging establishments.

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Data Source

  • GDP: GDP, Current $US (World Bank Open Data)
  • Establishments: Compendium of Tourism Statistics (UNWTO), Lodging Business Ledger (MOIS)
  • Rooms: Compendium of Tourism Statistics (UNWTO), Lodging Business Ledger (MOIS)
  • Lodging GDP: Value Added by Industry (BEA), National Accounts (Cabinet Office), GDP of Indonesia (BPS), GDP & GNI by Sector (BOK), Economic Census (KOSIS)
  • Period: 2017-2021

※ In Korea, general & residential accommodations are included while rural & urban minbaks are excluded. Comparable countries are selected based upon availability of lodging GDP statistics for all types of accommodations.

Data Source

  • Population: Population, Total (World Bank Open Data)
  • GDP: GDP, Current $US (World Bank Open Data)
  • Rooms: Compendium of Tourism Statistics (UNWTO), Lodging Business Ledger (MOIS)
  • Lodging GDP: Value Added by Industry (BEA), National Accounts (Cabinet Office), GDP of Indonesia (BPS), GDP & GNI by Sector (BOK), Economic Census (KOSIS)
  • Period: 2017-2021

※ In Korea, general & residential accommodations are included while rural & urban minbaks are excluded. Comparable countries are selected based upon availability of lodging GDP statistics for all types of accommodations.

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Data Source

  • Korea: Lodging Business Ledger (MOIS), Tourist Accommodation Ledger (MCST)
  • USA: Census Database (STR)
  • Period: As at the end of 2021

※ General & residential accommodations other than rural and urban minbaks asre included for Korea. Life cycle was calculated as of December 31, 2021 or actual closure date. If there exists a discrepancy between data sources for an establishment, the discrepancy was settled through an algorithm before use.

Data Source

  • Korea: Lodging Business Ledger (MOIS), Tourist Accommodation Ledger (MCST), Economic Census (KOSIS), Hotel Operating Statistics (KHA), DART (FSS), Trends Report (STR)
  • USA: Compendium of Tourism Statistics (UNWTO), Census Database (STR), Trends Report (STR)
  • Period: 2005-2021

※ General & residential accommodations other than rural and urban minbaks asre included for Korea. Visibility was calculated as the number of establishments for which revenue data is available divided by the total number of establishments. If there exists a discrepancy between data sources for an establishment, the discrepancy was settled through an algorithm before use.

Data Source

  • Guests(Korea): Domestic Traveler Survey (MCST), International Traveler Survey (MCST), Hotel Operating Statistics (KHA)
  • Rooms(Korea): Lodging Business Ledger (MOIS), Tourist Accommodation Ledger (MCST)
  • Guests(USA): Compendium of Tourism Statistics (UNWTO), Trends Report (STR)
  • Rooms(USA): Compendium of Tourism Statistics (UNWTO), Census Database (STR)
  • Period: 2005-2020

※ General & residential accommodations other than rural and urban minbaks asre included for Korea. If there exists a discrepancy between data sources for an establishment, the discrepancy was settled through an algorithm before use.