South Korea

K-Hype reaches congress world

South Korea has come to appreciate the opportunities generated by the new attention focused on the stars of the K-Hype movement. The hit series Squid Game on Netflix is being celebrated on social media. The first season of the South Korean drama series was released on September 17, 2021 and was viewed from circa 142 million Netflix accounts in four weeks. It is the most successful series on Netflix. The picture shows Gangnam, a district of Seoul. Photo: KTO

South Korea has come to appreciate the opportunities generated by the new attention focused on the stars of the K-Hype movement. The hit series Squid Game on Netflix is being celebrated on social media. The first season of the South Korean drama series was released on September 17, 2021 and was viewed from circa 142 million Netflix accounts in four weeks. It is the most successful series on Netflix. Photo: KTO

South Korea is attracting a lot of attention via social media, especially due to the developments of the K-Hype movement in recent years. This new focus, driven by the boy band BTS and the skincare movement, is fundamentally changing the country constituting the southern part of the Korean peninsula and is giving it a global reputation. The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) is incorporating the K-hype for its event business.

The word K-hype, short for Korea hype, encompasses the current wave of attention for Korean pop culture. In particular, the focus here is on K-pop, K-drama and K-beauty. The image of the peninsula state, which is usually shaped by traditions, is being overtaken by well-known K-pop bands such as BTS, Black Pink and Girls' Generation and the Netflix success Squid Game, and is being celebrated for this on social media, especially by the Generation Z. “Over the pandemic period, people around the world discovered 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”, says Da Young Kim, member of MICE Planning & Coordination Team der Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).

Photo: KTO

“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 Korea Unique Venues, Seoul as leading digital city, and Gwangju as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts.

Not to be forgotten is the "10-Step Skincare Routine" – a ten-step skincare procedure that Koreans rely on for beautiful healthy skin. The K-hype phenomena have one thing in common: aesthetics. Flawless and healthy skin as well as the "glow" are at the center of the Korean beauty movement, which has long since found its way to Western countries. This is noticeable in the fact that Korea is fighting its way up the world market in the beauty sector. Today, the country is among the top 10 beauty markets in the world and among the top five exporters of beauty products worldwide. Korean sunscreen creams are particularly popular in international trade. The country's special expertise in sunscreen and decorative cosmetics originated from a beauty ideal of fair skin and its preservation. Even today, the traditional beauty ideal still includes fair skin and standardized body measurements, which place high demands on people, especially women.

„The secret of Korean beauty is skincare and Kimchi.”

Kim Sun-Kyung

On your skin and on your plate

The fact that South Korea is now handled as a gateway to the beauty industry and thus a precursor to the global market has another reason besides innovative products. Traditional Korean cuisine offers a varied diet of fermented and fresh products, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and fiber, which is central to the Korean way of life. Thus, for a wedding, it is customary for the entire family to give the wedding couple a refrigerator. A second refrigerator, the kimchi refrigerator. Kimchi is the main ingredient of Korean cuisine and is served with almost every meal. The side dish of fermented cabbage pickled in a spicy sauce alone is considered by Koreans to be the No.1 beauty tip. Thanks to the generally healthy lifestyle combined with a conscious diet and not least the government's efforts to improve life expectancy, that factor in South Korea has risen by three years to 83.5 years in the past ten years, according to the OECD. So, good for the skin and health. "Korea's traditional cuisine is full of unique flavors and healthy ingredients, making it nutritious and tasty," says Da Young Kim.

The K-Hype in the Event Format

Da Young Kim is a member of the MICE Planning & Coordination Team at the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO). Her organization welcomes the K-Hype development and aims to reposition itself through its new USP. The KTO is South Korea's MICE Bureau with the goal of establishing tourism as an important driver of national economic growth and increased prosperity. In the future, the KTO plans to find innovative ways to combine the content of the K movement with the event industry to create new, engaging experiences for MICE groups. One example of this is the Korean series Squid Game, which became the most popular show on Netflix in a very short time during the pandemic period. The traditional Korean games featured in the series have the potential to be developed into team-building experiences for groups.

The Korea MICE Expo (KME), Korea’s leading event tradeshow, in 2020 was an online format and in 2021 hybrid. Photo: KME

Changes due to Corona

In South Korea, the pandemic has also made participation from overseas difficult due to Covid 19 regulations. As a result, many events have been transformed into hybrid and virtual formats. One example is the Korea MICE Expo (KME), Korea's largest trade show for meeting professionals and incentive planners, held annually in Incheon. In response to the pandemic, the 2020 event was transformed into a hybrid format for the first time. Themed "Driving Innovation through Challenges", the event included 1:1 online business meetings between buyers and local service providers with live streaming via an online platform. The virtual format provided an opportunity to showcase the latest Korean conference technologies, including hologram loudspeakers, multiview presentations, and contactless registration systems. In 2021, the event was held for the first time as a hybrid event, the Korea International Travel Expo (KITE). Buyers from South Africa, Italy and Peru were able to attend for the first time, these being regions from which it would otherwise have been difficult to participate in an offline event.

Why South Korea?

Over and beyond Korean cuisine and the K hype, South Korea also offers advantages specifically for planners. "Korea's high-tech infrastructure makes it the ideal destination for business meetings and events," said Da Young Kim, citing three reasons for planners from Europe to make the long journey of almost 12 hours by plane from Frankfurt.

  1. Korea is one of the world's most sought-after destinations for international congresses. This is according to the UIA Global Meetings Statistic, which puts Korea in second place in 2021.
  2. According to the latest Bloomberg Innovative Index, Korea ranks first as the most innovative country, and the city of Seoul has been ranked as the "leading digital city" and "tech capital of the world." Korea has industry knowledge especially in the field of technology.
  3. The Korea MICE Bureau provides comprehensive support to associations and business groups to successfully hold business events in Korea, facilitating the realization of events.

The Floating Island Convention Center is a convention center in the capital city of Seoul on the banks of the Hangang River. It ranks among the KTO’s 39 unique venues. Photo: KTO

Why South Korea?

Over and beyond Korean cuisine and the K hype, South Korea also offers advantages specifically for planners. "Korea's high-tech infrastructure makes it the ideal destination for business meetings and events," said Da Young Kim, citing three reasons for planners from Europe to make the long journey of almost 12 hours by plane from Frankfurt.

  1. Korea is one of the world's most sought-after destinations for international congresses. This is according to the UIA Global Meetings Statistic, which puts Korea in second place in 2021.
  2. According to the latest Bloomberg Innovative Index, Korea ranks first as the most innovative country, and the city of Seoul has been ranked as the "leading digital city" and "tech capital of the world." Korea has industry knowledge especially in the field of technology.
  3. The Korea MICE Bureau provides comprehensive support to associations and business groups to successfully hold business events in Korea, facilitating the realization of events.

The Floating Island Convention Center is a convention center in the capital city of Seoul on the banks of the Hangang River. It ranks among the KTO’s 39 unique venues. Photo: KTO

Unique Venues of South Korea

The Unique Venues in South Korea are selected event venues of the KTO that have unique features and a signature atmosphere. The purpose of the award is to help planners select suitable venues and find a site that provides attendees with a singular experience in an unconventional MICE facility. "So far, the Korea Unique Venues have been selected in a way that a candidate list is formed after receiving recommendations from regional governments, and then further selected through a screening process which examines the venues' infrastructure such as unique characteristics, accessibility, management and marketing," explained Da Young Kim.

Jeonbuk: Traditional with the 11 Kings

The Jeonbuk region is just under 1½ hours away from Seoul. In addition to its long tradition and world-renowned expertise in taekwondo, the region offers various traditional Korean experiences and the opportunity for deceleration in the extensive natural surroundings. Many young Koreans come to Jeonju City to rent a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, have their hair done and take pictures in the backdrop of the city. Mostly, Korean visitors come for special occasions such as graduations, weddings or for family photos.

The city of Jeonju in the Jeonbuk region stands for a long tradition and taekwondo. Traditional Korean experiences can be incorporated into programs – including options for deceleration. Photo: KTO

The venue and hotel of the Royal Room reflects this traditional atmosphere. In 11 different buildings of traditional design, the Royal Room offers space for 232 guests in 64 rooms. The buildings are named after the 11 kings of Korea and are reminiscent of the Korean Empire, which existed until 1910. The venue has the advantage of being within two minutes walking distance of the in-house Convention Center. A total of four rooms offer capacity for a wide variety of event formats. With a capacity ranging from 130 sqm to 300 sqm, a total of up to 440 people can attend events with 70 to 150 people per room.

Gwangju: Packed with Art and Culture

The Asia Culture Center was created in the course of the 2002 campaign "Gwangju as a Cultural Capital" and opened in 2015. Due to the fact that the Democracy Movement of South Korea culminated on May 18, 1980 on the current site of the ACC, the center became a place for history, exchange and coming together. The "May 18th Democracy Plaza," a photo exhibition, and the entrance area commemorate the site's history-making events. The site covers 80,000 square feet and includes the complexes ACC Children, Archive & Research, Creation, Theater and Culture including parks, courtyards and rooftop terraces. The ACC provides a special place for art and culture throughout the site. The changing art exhibitions and installations also address current issues such as climate change.

Created on the site of South Korea's democracy movement, Asia Culture Center (ACC) stands for a place of history, exchange and coming together. Photo: ACC

A wide variety of events can be held in indoor and outdoor areas of the site and the premises can be combined. Various formats can be implemented with conference rooms, exhibition areas and auditoriums. Projection systems can support lectures or bring speakers onto the virtual stage in hybrid formats. The ongoing art exhibitions and theater programs can be visited alongside business events or included as an agenda item. Accommodation is also available within walking distance. The ACC Design Hotel is located directly opposite the Democratic Movement Square.

Seoul: Floating Islands in the Land of the Morning Calm

The Floating Island Convention Center is a convention center in the capital city of Seoul on the banks of the Hangang River. A total of three floating venues are available for arranging various event formats. The buildings Gavit, Solvit, and Chavit are connected by bridges and can be reached on foot. The entire complex was completed in 2014. Gavit is the building with classic event facilities and has seven small and large banquet halls. Especially the dome-shaped conference room, with an 18-meter wide screen, has all it takes for impressive presence and hybrid events. With capacities for 500 people at seated events, this facility is often booked for runway shows or launching events. The Roof Top Area can accommodate 1,000 people on two floors and provides a direct view of the city of Seoul and the river. At night, a light show creates a spectacular atmosphere with a direct view of the Seoul skyline.

Incheon: Industrial history

The event venue Cosmo40 looks back on a history of hard work and diligence. The former industrial hall of the Cosmo Chemical complex was converted into an event space and café in 2016. Three event spaces span four floors and can be used together or separately. With its proximity to Incheon International Airport, the location has the advantage of good accessibility to air traffic.

The former industry hall of the Cosmo Chemical Complex has been converted into an event facility with café known as Cosmo40. Photo: Cosmo40

The main hall on the first floor covers 1,650 square meters and has an open gallery. The structural elements of the former industrial hall in combination with indirect lighting make it a prime location for performances, film shoots and evening events. The hoist hall on the third floor covers an area of 660 sqm. With the former control room, which is now often used as a lounge, and access to the café, the area can be flexibly arranged. The third event space can be accessed over stairs from the hoist hall. With a capacity of up to 100 people, the Community Hall offers space for seminars, networking parties or smaller runway shows. Adjacent to the Community Hall, the semi-circular gallery on the fourth floor offers an overview of the entire hoist hall.

It is particularly interesting how the exhibition manages to involve and integrate viewers in the artwork. At the painting station in the Arte Museum, stencils can be individually painted and then scanned. The personal interpretation of an animal then appears on the large digital canvas and swims or runs across the screen. Photo: Arte Museum

Yeosu: Koreas Multimedia Vision

Within walking distance of ther Yeosu Expo site is the Arte Museum, designed by d'strict, the design firm also known for the public media art "WAVE." As Korea's largest immersive media art exhibition, the exhibition provides 4,600 square meters of space for tangible media art works. By incorporating the exhibition space 180 degrees, the installations manage to redefine the boundaries of experiential space. Interactive offerings and the integration of an olfactory concept extend the experience to multiple senses.

“We find a lot of interest coming from groups within 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.”

Da Young Kim

The art installations highlight South Korea's progress in multimedia technology. Not least, the process is driven by the success of the Samsung and LG companies. With global success, LG Electronics achieved a turnover of 67 billion US dollars in 2021. Samsung is the most valuable company in South Korea and generated around US$201 billion in sales in fiscal 2021. Thanks in part to these companies, as well as Hyundai and KIA, the country over the past 50 years has worked its way out of a weak economic situation to become the tenth richest country in the world and continues to build on this through the economic successes of the K-movement.

Pia Such

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