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Destination: Korea World Travel Fair (2010)

Feast your eyes on dozens of countries and every part of South Korea - the Korea World Travel Fair is a chance to learn more about traveling Korea and the world than, well, traveling Korea and the world. An overwhelming variety of information and stuff to see is pretty standard for a 'international' or 'world' festival - yet this one actually had an extensive international presence.

Held in one of the larger exhibition halls at COEX from June 3rd - 6th, at least a hundred different booths hailed from all corners of South Korea and the world. Roughly split into halves, the Korean half and the 'rest-of-the-world' half got roughly the same amount of traffic. The booths along the hall's walls served media, publications, and more than a few sales booths quite nicely.

The Sandman

When I discovered that finance ministers and central bankers from the G-20 were meeting in Busan I felt like I wanted to go and stand outside the hotel to watch because suddenly, as a financial trader, my world was coming to me - here in the relative backwater that is Korea's second city, and I wondered if I would ever again be in the presence of so much collective inaction. But as events transpired, by the time they reached Busan, all I wanted to do was catch a glimpse of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer and shout “Stop letting President Obama kick sand in our faces, Mr.

10 Magazine video contest - time to vote for your favorites

The 10 Magazine Video Contest has begun - some are quite professionally done, while others are... a little more amateurish. From silly and corny to quiet and beautiful, there's a wide range of ways to promote Korean tourism. Go here to vote for up to three of your favorites, and vote a second time for your favorite of the three on the page. Voting is open to anyone across the world with an internet connection, and it's the readers who decide the final 10.

The Choir

The day after the French Comedy I found myself at the Geumjeong Cultural Center ('금정문화회관') in Busan - I believe that around half the districts in the city have their own cultural centre - for a performance by the Busan Metropolitan City Chorus.

Unlike the French Comedy, which had cost 22,500 won per ticket (about £13/$20), tickets to see the Busan Chorus were a mere 1,000 won (59 pence/88 cents) - a special promotion as part of the event's proximity to Children's Day on May 5th and Parents' Day on May 8th. This meant that the tickets only cost us 10 won more than the price of the forty-five minute subway journey to get there.

Comédie!

Another weekend another festival. This time it was the Busan International Performing Arts Festival, or 'BIPAF'. Invariably all festivals in Busan are inexplicably 'International', but this one genuinely warrants the name in that it involved productions from France, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, as well as Korea. We travelled to the 'Busan Cultural Center' in Daeyeondong, Namgu, to see a performance unambiguously titled 'Comedy' by the - according to the announcer beforehand - 'world famous' Nasser Martin-Gousset Company otherwise known as 'La Maison'. I can't speak to the veracity of this claim, but Nasser Martin Gousset does at least have a page on the French version of Wikipedia.

Surviving Picasso

"Art is a lie that makes us realise the truth." - Pablo Picasso

The Lost Words

In June 1950 the North Korean Army crossed the 38th parallel, invading the Republic of South Korea. By September, most of the Republic had fallen, with only the area around the city of Busan, or Pusan as it was then known in English, remaining under the control of anti-Communist forces. As the Republic collapsed, half a million refugees fled south to the coastal city, swelling the population to around 1.4 million. The Battle of Pusan Perimeter raged, and conditions within the titular city were equally chaotic.

Fresh Air

After our pottery class in Haeundae on Sunday, we went to Songjeong Beach. It wasn't far, which surprised me. I realise in retrospect that every time we've been there before it was by car, and since separate trips to Haeundae and Songjeong have never connected, I'd never made the geographical connection between the two. This tells me I'm still orientating myself when it comes to getting around Busan.

Up Pompeii

A large crowd gathered around a sixty-foot bonfire on a waterlogged beach, tents on the ground nearby, kites in the air, Korea's famous health and safety culture. What could possibly go wrong?

Last Sunset

Cold. That will be my overriding memory of the 2010 Busan New Year Festival.

Dante's Inferno

Can you stop the cavalry?

Christmas Day in a Buddhist household be a rather anti-climactic affair so rather than stay in all day reading or watching TV, and considering that I'd already done the Kosin University Christmas Tree Festival two years ago, I planned to go to the Nampodong district, where we could have a quick look around the new Lotte Department Store before finding somewhere nice to eat in the shopping district. But leaving Korean Mother at home on her own on Christmas Day was deemed to be to awkward, even if she was a Buddhist, so she was invited along, and it became a fully-fledged shopping trip.

Hoosiers

I've never been to see a basketball game before; it's not very popular in England. So I jumped at the chance to see a game in Busan last Saturday afternoon, where judging on the crowd turnout, it isn't very popular either. Which is a shame, because while it doesn't have the epic feel of 30,000 people crammed into Sajik Stadium for a baseball game, being seated closer to the action allows for a much more personal experience.

How NOT to make a tourist website

Brian in Jeollanam-do and Stafford of the Chosun Bimbo have already weighed in, but I sincerely hope this is a lesson in what NOT to do when building websites. Here's the website in question, http://www.visitkoreayear.com/, now presenting: What NOT to do when building a tourist website:



A screenshot of the home page to visitkoreayear.com, current as of the posting date.


On Korea tourism and promoting the country through foreigners

If this sounds like a repeat of this story (and post), it's not :)

While not precisely linked to the recently-ended VANK contest (and the wonderful prizes won by 100 bloggers about Korea), far more needs to be done to encourage tourism in Korea.

As you might have guessed from reading my blog, travel is a subject near and dear to me - and for obvious reasons tourism is part of that equation. This article from the Korea Times reminded me that tourism is a difficult nut to crack. One excerpt:
In the past, a seeming lack of grounded foreigner input has been a downfall in campaigns, according to an international studies professor at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

Expats helping out the Korean tourism industry?

The discussion has already been going for some time over at the Marmot's Hole about an article from the Korea Times about using expats in Korea to aid in tourism / marketing. A second article, published today, was titled "Expats Ready to Help Seoul's Globalization", and is almost certain to garner some more comments or thoughts on the subject.

As a blogger that focuses on traveling around Korea (but especially Seoul), I can't help but say that yes, Seoul (and Korea) does have a lot to see. So does China. So does Japan. So does (insert your home country here). So does (insert neighboring country of your home country here). Take a quick look at how many Lonely Planet guidebooks are out there and you'll get my point:

Napoleon comes to South Korea...sort of

Napoleon comes to South Korea...sort of

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