Prevue January-February 2018 - 62

South Korea

The ancient and modern meet for unforgettable meetings and incentives
[ON LOCATION] LANE NIESET

S

eoul's past as a royal city sits just steps away from the
modern Chang's Kitchen. The Italian-Korean restaurant
isn't exactly what we expected for our first meal in the
country. Chefs are putting on a show with steaming
plates of seafood, tagliatelle pasta and Iberico pork stew from an
open kitchen in the center, beautifully blending these European
flavors with traditional Korean spices. Three oversized windows
overlooking the largest-and most stunning-of Seoul's five royal
palaces, Gyeongbokgung Palace, further emphasize this fusion
of 2,000 years of tradition and modernity that makes ancient cities
like Seoul a draw to North American groups.
"American groups often seek out culture and exotic
experiences but do not want to forego modern amenities," explains
Kap Soo Kim, executive director, Korea MICE Bureau, Korea
Tourism Organization (KTO). "In that sense, Korea is the perfect
destination. We offer a rich history full of interesting stories and
great food, as well as a high-tech modern society."
Combine this with a top-notch airport and high-speed rail, plus
over 50 unique venues ranging from the futuristic Dongdaemun
Design Plaza to the 123-story Lotte World Tower, and it's easy
to see why Korea holds Union of International Association's No. 1
ranking for global conferences.

A TASTE OF TRADITION
"One of the best ways to enjoy Seoul is through food," says Baeho
Kim, director of KTO's MICE Planning and Coordinating Team. "We
regard food as medicine that cures the body and soul." Over a

62 | prevuemeetings.com

dozen tiny bowls are brought over to our table, each containing a
modernized version of traditional royal Korean fare, from stir fried
duck breast to decadent boiled pork belly slices.
We're sitting in a hanok, or traditional Korean home, near
Bugaksan Mountain surrounded by forests, yet we're just a short
drive away from the bustling shopping district of Myeong-dong.
Here at the six-hall Samcheonggak cultural center, groups can
experience Korean cuisine and a "Byeolseon" performance of
music, singing and dancing. The lantern-strewn lawn serves as an
elegant spot for banquets up to 200, while the six hanoks offer a
more intimate option for up to 50. Groups can partake in cooking or
cultural team building experiences, from darye, or tea ceremonies,
to making masks or playing drums.
Another place where groups can learn more about the country's
traditional dishes and spices is at the four-story K-Style Hub. After
exploring the museum-like Korean Food Exhibition Hall, we walked
upstairs to the modern Korean Learning Center for a cooking class.
Our task for the afternoon: Korean sesame candies, or kang jung.
In "Top Chef" style, the instructor guides each of us through the
process of delicately crafting these sweet sesame treats.
At the Michelin-starred Balwoo Gongyang, known for its
artistically crafted temple cuisine, our group dined on the most
perfectly presented plates of vegan Korean monastic fare while
learning more about this unique cuisine that originated in Buddhist
temples 1,700 years ago. Our guide then took us on a tour through
one of the city's oldest hanok neighborhoods, the tucked-away
Ikseon-dong, and its trendy cafes and tea houses.


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