Home' micenet eMag : micenet August 2017 Contents edge, dip their feet, or meditate to the tranquil sounds of running water – not a hint of graffiti, no
litter, just clean clear mindful space... which brings us to thinking about lunch. And we’re in for a
treat. Here in the city centre, opposite another temple, the monks run the only Korean temple
cuisine to garner a Michelin star – this is Balwoo Gongyang, and it is explained that in this
tradition nothing is to be wasted in the spirit of “complete consumption”.
A degustation ensues featuring yet another version of the ubiquitous kimchi fermented food
for which Korea is renowned, even becoming fashionable among the ‘fermenteratti’. They say
there’s about 100 different types of kimchi apart from the typical salted, fermented and spicy
cabbage version and in five visits to Korea I calculate that I might have tasted 30 variants.
Temple cuisine shuns five pungent ingredients (onions, garlic, chives, green onions and leeks) lest
they interfere with the harmony of meditation sessions. Nobody left a grain of rice during this meal.
Satiated we boarded the coach for a visit to COEX, one of Korea’s largest venues which can
host almost 20,000 people, has four exhibition halls totalling 36,000sqm, 54 meeting rooms,
and three adjacent hotels: Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas (517 rooms), InterContinental
Seoul Coex (656 rooms) and Oakwood Premier Coex Center (280 rooms). We learn that Coex is
now “at capacity when you factor in holidays and turnaround periods” so the city plans to
duplicate Coex on the old Olympic park site with a 120,000sqm facility.
Olympic site inspection
Settling in for a three hour drive to Pyeongchang we look forward to seeing the Winter Olympics
venues up close... we did not realise how close.
It was obvious as we approached the town of Alpensia in Gangwon province that roads were
still being upgraded, the high speed train was not yet completed, buildings were going up, and
there was already a buzz though the Olympics were half a year away. Nobody was in any doubt
that everything would be ready on time, such is the adaptation of Japan’s kaizen manufacturing
system led by Korea’s Chaebols to implement their Kanban efficiency.
A site inspection of Alpensia’s InterContinental hotel, a quick meal and we stay overnight at
the sister Holiday Inn, adjacent to Alpensia Convention Centre which will become the Olympic
press centre. We are told that all hotel rooms and apartments in the village are taken but more
are being built in surrounding areas and there will be home stay options available – or a 2.5 hour
fast train from Seoul (only two hours from Incheon).
There’s no snow yet here 800 metres above sea level – and the ocean is quite close. So we
did not expect to see the ski jump in action. However, the Korean men were training on the
lesser 98 metre hill covered in artificial grass, jumping in full suits and helmets then sliding down
onto a soccer pitch. We saw them using surfboard wax to get extra slip...someone wondered
aloud if this was a performance enhancer on snow.
A gondola ride, then an elevator up the
tower found us on the 98 metre slide staring in
disbelief at the drop-off. Next door was the 125
metre slide. It was seriously steeper, however a
bigger, scarier vista awaited us back in Seoul.
That afternoon we visit the nearby
Woljeongsa Temple where there’s a temple
stay program and corporates can bring their
teams for “a discovery of self” through either
an experience-based or relaxation-based stay.
Songdo Hosts MICE Expo
Since 2009 the Songdo International
Business District has risen from scratch on
600 hectares of reclaimed land to become a
$40 billion New York-style smart city,
complete with its own Central Park. It is
linked to the international airport by a 12 km
concrete bridge, Seoul is 65 km away, but
Songdo is virtually self-contained with
schools, hospitals, apartments, office
buildings and cultural amenities plus 106
LEED-certified buildings, including hotels,
residential towers and the first certified
convention hall in Asia, Convensia - the site
of Korea MICE Expo 2017.
Billed as Korea’s top business events trade
show for MICE industry professionals, this
year’s 18th Korea MICE Expo was the largest
ever, attracting more than 3000 attendees from
all over the world – up 21.6 per cent on last
year. The two-day event in mid-June brought
298 domestic sellers across 399 booths, along
with 255 buyers, from about 30 countries.
After the traditional ribbon cutting by a
group of senior MICE executives and a
golden tickertape celebration it was down to
business at Songdo where one-on-one
interviews continued through the day.
We’re not sure whether our next stop
inspires motivation or perspiration, but we
were taken just weeks after it opened to the
123-storey Lotte World Tower. It takes 60
seconds from ground level to level 119, and
as you soar, a video plays on the elevator
walls. You’d swear you are flying over Seoul –
a little mind bending. But wait, there’s more.
You alight at level 119 and are escorted to a
roped off white glass floor. When everyone is
safely inside the rope, they flick a switch and
the glass goes clear, mind goes numb, knees
tremble and you stare straight down 550
metres (that’s 1800 feet). Maybe the ski jump
wasn’t so bad after all! m
training in summer.
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