Posted by: Matt Kelley | 24 February 2009

Korea Travel Expo 2009

20090224_exposignThis past weekend, southern Seoul’s COEX center hosted the sixth annual Korea Travel Expo.

The historically weak Korean won and global economic crisis has many Koreans looking at domestic travel destinations instead of holidays in Southeast Asia or the U.S. To meet their needs, this past weekend the Korea Travel Expo 2009 (site in Korean) hosted its sixth annual event at the Atlantic Hall of the COEX center in southern Seoul.

Nearly 500 booths representing 280 different regional governments, transportation companies and local festivals took part in the nation’s largest expo promoting domestic tourism. This being Korea, several booths offered free samples of indigenous liquor.

Supposedly, the four-day Expo’s overall theme was “Green Tourism,” but I didn’t know it. Despite an exhibit promoting bicycle travel, and, of course the environmental benefits of avoiding jet travel for local destinations, the theme seemed mostly in name only.

20090224_clayIf this kid is actually responsible for that pillar of clay, I’m impressed.

Among the diverse array of high quality exhibits was one promoting overnight stays at Buddhist temples. Others profiled South Chungcheong Province‘s Taean County area, which was ravaged by a huge oil spill in 2007.  In one of several hands-on exhibits, a booth celebrating Korea’s proud tradition of producing world-famous celadon pottery offered kids a chance to try their hands at a potter’s wheel.

20090224_incheonWhat’s a Korean event without humans in fuzzy costumes?

I was happy to see a number of new materials that better communicate Korea’s travel potential. One booth offered six beautiful little booklets, each highlighting one of Seoul’s five major palaces, and another for the Jongmyo Royal Shrine. The booklets’ sophisticated design featured nice photos, brilliant bird’s eye renderings of the palace grounds and excellent historical information.

20090224_eastseaSee that pesky “typo” calling the body of water between Korea and Japan, the “Sea of Japan”? Thanks to the folks at V@NK, these stickers can remedy the situation.

I was also intrigued by another exhibit hosted by the folks at V@NK, the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea. Started in 1999, the controversial NGO aims to inform people about “inaccurate” descriptions of Korean history, culture or geography. As such, the V@NK booth offered stickers where people could “correct” textbooks that call the East Sea the “Sea of Japan”, or call Dokdo either “Takeshima” or the “Liancourt Rocks.” In a less guerilla fashion, the booth also presented very attractive notecard-sized descriptions of famous Korean historical figures or contributions to the world, such as King Sejong the Great, moveable type (a precursor to the printing press), and bibimbap.

20090224_jejuAs if Jeju even needs a special exhibit!

The Expo’s intended audience was definitely Korean speakers, as there was virtually no English (or other language) signage, and the bag loads of free brochures, maps and other take-aways were exclusively in Korean. 

While the event met a need by targeting a domestic, Korean audience, I think the Expo could also be a great way for foreigners living in Korea to identify other parts of the country where they would like to visit. 


Getting There:
→ Unfortunately, the event has ended, but for future reference, COEX always has lots of special  exhibitions. From Seoul, take subway line 2 to Samseong Station (exit #5 or #6). The event was 2,000 won for adults.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: