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|Exhibiting in Korea: An American Soul in Seoul|
|Written by Kelli Steckbauer, MG Design Associates|
|Tuesday, March 15 2011 12:04|
Heading to Seoul for an exhibition? In this article, you’ll find tips on how to navigate your way through the city and a successful show.
For those of you who read my article on India, it was clear that an American entering the country was in for a completely different experience and navigating your way through Indian society was a bit more complicated, than let’s say, figuring out the über punctual German railway system! South Korea, on the other hand, can feel like a mini-U.S. at times.
Upon arriving at the airport, you’ll find the easiest and most cost effective way to get to your hotel is not a taxi, but a bus. This isn’t a city bus, but something more along the lines of a Greyhound that has a specific route to the hotels and convention centers. There are multiple ticket counters once you walk outside. Tell the cashier where you are heading and they’ll tell you what line to stand for your specific bus. There are more than 10 options, so clarifying is important: ride into Seoul to Grand Intercontinental Hotel Coex. Note that if you arrive after 11 p.m., the buses are not running and you will need to take a taxi.
Seoul looks like any other modern, metropolitan city – skyscrapers, rush hour, a plethora of restaurants and amazing city lights. I highly recommend a restaurant atop of one of the buildings. The view is amazing. Most people you come across will speak at least a bit of English and coming upon an English menu is not difficult.
Speaking of menus: If you haven’t been to a Korean Barbeque or tried Kimchi, it’s a must. I’ll admit, I struggled with the food at first but appreciated the experience of trying authentic Korean. If you don’t like your seafood looking back at you, I recommend another option. If it becomes too much, no worries, I was able to dine at a “Koreanfied” TGI Fridays and enjoyed a modified version of Chicago-style pizza at Pizzeria Uno. Sometimes, you just need a piece of home and you can definitely find it in Seoul.
Weather in Seoul is comparable to Chicago. Well, perhaps a bit more temperate. I experienced the coldest winter in Seoul in over 20 years in January, and it got down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. We had a bit of snow, which capped the mountains beautifully.
However, with no heat in the convention center during set up, it made for a few chilly days. Much like the U.S., the Koreans don’t turn on the heat or air until the show opens. The dock doors remain open for you to experience all the weather has to offer.
A few other things to note about exhibiting in Korea:
• Rental furniture is basic. They don’t have a lot of companies that specialize in rental furniture like we do here in the states. If you want something specific, like a larger table, a lot of times, they will build it.
• Like most other countries, a lot more is built on-site than in the shop.
• Wallpaper is a common wall covering as opposed to paint or laminate. You’ll see specific people that specialize in wallpaper and graphic applications on site, working hard.
• Before wallpapering the walls, you’ll see they paint on a white substance. This is to make the product fire retardant.
• Carpet is thin and they typically don’t use cushy padding like we do here. Wear very comfortable shoes for those long days on show site.
• Raised floors are common.
• Aisle carpet is not typical.
• While South Korea is home to many high-tech companies, don’t expect to get the most high-tech devices. Finding things like color kinetics is tough and rather pricey.
• Graphics are typically applied right to the wall, much like wallpaper, instead of mounting to a substrate. If you want substrate-mounted graphics, be sure to specify this.
• If you do not have an island exhibit, it is important to build walls next to your neighbors, or you could be looking at the back of their unfinished stand.
In closing, Seoul is ripe with culture and amazing things to see and do. If you have a chance to break away from the hustle and bustle of the convention, take a chance to experience it. In the summer, enjoy a walking tour and if you head there when it is a bit colder, they offer bus tours as well. After all, if your job allows you to see the world, definitely take the time to take advantage of it.