Interview Da Young Kim
„People discovered interest in Korea through K-contents“
Da Young Kim, member of the MICE Planning & Coordination Team of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), about the Netflix series Squid Game, 39 Unique Venues, Seoul as leading digital city, and Gwangju as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts.
tw tagungswirtschaft: How does the Korean MICE industry see itself?
Da Young Kim: This is a gilt-edged meeting destination: Korea is one of the world’s top and most sought destinations for international conventions. This is according to the UIA Global Meetings Statistics, which ranked Korea second place in 2021. It is the world’s most innovative nation: according to the latest Bloomberg Innovative Index, Korea ranked 1st in that category. It follows that Korea has a great pool of industry experts and innovators. Also, Korea incorporates new technology and ideas to improve meeting productivity, knowledge, and experience. It provides ample support as well: the Korea MICE Bureau offers associations and corporate groups comprehensive and highly customized support to successfully host business events in Korea. Check this link for complete details of this support.
How will the Korean MICE industry aim to position itself in the future?
Over the pandemic period, people around the world discovered and took an interest in Korea through K-contents, including films, shows, and music. Moving into the future, we plan to come up with innovative ways to combine these K-contents with the MICE industry for new, engaging experiences for MICE groups. As an example, the Korean Netflix series Squid Game took the world by storm over the pandemic period. The traditional Korean games introduced in the series have the potential to be developed into teambuilding experiences for groups, and there are opportunities to visit filming locations for popular films and shows.
“The Korean Netflix series Squid Game took the world by storm over the pandemic period”
Da Young Kim
Why should planners make the long journey to South Korea?
For MICE groups visiting from Europe, it is indeed a long journey to South Korea. We find that groups from European countries often seek out culture and exotic experiences but do not want to forego modern amenities. In that sense, Korea is the perfect destination: far enough to be a great reward, but not too far that travelers spend a whole day in flight; a rich history full of interesting stories and great food – Korea’s traditional cuisine is full of unique flavors and healthy ingredients, making it nutritious and tasty. Plus, Korea’s high-tech infrastructure makes it the ideal destination for business meetings and events.
What special features does South Korea offer the MICE industry?
Despite its small scale, Korea offers a diverse range of experiences, with 13 MICE cities across the country which are well-connected by efficient public transportation for easy access. Seoul is Korea’s most popular meeting destination, however, outside of Seoul, attendees will have a much better opportunity to discover Korea’s beautiful natural sceneries and traditional settings – from oceans, mountains, Buddhist temples and hanok villages, there is so much to discover beyond the boundaries of the capital city. Some places we recommend are Jeonju, where you can experience Korea’s rich traditional culture at the Jeonju Hanok Village, and Suncheon, where you can visit the beautiful wetlands and national gardens. Also, Incheon is right by Incheon International Airport and a central business district. Korea also offers the Korea Unique Venues, a collection of 39 venues located throughout the country which showcase Korea’s various regional charms.
What are the advantages of the KTO's unique venues? Korea Unique Venues provide attendees with a one-of-a-kind experience in an unconventional MICE facility, each with its own characteristics, rather than venues such as convention centers or hotels. For example, the Royal Room of King in Jeonju is a traditional hanok style hotel located in a quiet, peaceful setting by the mountains. The venue offers a comfortable and memorable night’s stay for delegates, and an on-site convention center and restaurant make it convenient for business meetings and events. There is also the National Museum of Korea in Seoul, the representative museum of Korea. The museum has a picturesque location with a view of the television tower “N Seoul Tower” and offers spaces for both indoor and outdoor events. In addition, the Korea Unique Venues have been specially selected as Korea’s representative conference facility, so they are ideal for promoting Korea as MICE destination.
Which criteria are applied to select the KTO's Unique venues? So far, the Korea Unique Venues have been selected from a list of candidates nominated and recommended by regional governments, and then further short-listed in a screening process which examines the venues’ infrastructure, unique characteristics, accessibility, management, marketing, etc. However, we are currently conducting research to further improve the Korea Unique Venue project and we plan to upgrade the operation method, such as reclassifying venue types, improving selection methods, and preparing a re-examination system.
Do you see a particular advantage for certain sectors planning events in South Korea?
We find a lot of interest coming from groups in the technology industry. This makes perfect sense because South Korea is considered to be among the world’s most digitally connected and most technologically advanced countries. In fact, Seoul was ranked as the world's "leading digital city" and a "tech capital of the world.” Based on South Korea’s economic clusters, sectors including electronics, automobiles, telecommunications, shipbuilding, and chemicals industry offer huge potential for meetings. In addition, regional attractions add to the colorful spectrum of Korea’s MICE destinations. While Seoul, the capital city of Korea, hosts diverse international conventions, other major regions each have a specialized industry. For example, Gwangju is designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, as well as a "Hub City of Asian Culture". Due to this unique asset in arts and culture, the city often hosts related events, including the Gwangju Biennale and the Design Biennale. The following chart lists the main industries of regions located throughout Korea. Organizers can choose the destination that best suits their group’s needs and preferences.