This week, I’m thrilled to be in Seoul, South Korea for the 2014 AREAA Korean Trade Mission, a real estate event that offers opportunities to expand our global reach, network with industry decision makers and promote goodwill between the U.S. and South Korea for purposes of business development.
After arriving at Incheon International Airport from Bangkok, I realized just how satisfying it is to do international real estate, although it certainly comes with its fair share of hard work and long travel days. But there’s always a payoff in the end, and this time it was seeing my son Alex, who flew in from Los Angeles to join me at the Lotte Hotel in the heart of downtown Seoul, one of many beautiful, 5 star hotels in the Lotte family.
There was a lot of energy surrounding the first meeting with Harry Shin, Regional Owner of RE/MAX Korea, whom I had met previously at the RE/MAX Global Convention in Las Vegas a few months prior, and LeAnn Yang, International Business Coordinator for RE/MAX Korea. We were treated to lunch with a view on the 38th floor of the hotel, which offered panoramic vistas of the city and delicious, traditional Korean food. Seoul is full of life—it’s an extremely vibrant and modern metropolis, crowned many architecturally pleasing skyscrapers and pulsing with nightlife. The only thing better than the food and setting, in fact, was the company. Harry and LeAnn are both very bright and friendly and were even gracious to invited us to their corporate headquarters and a lunch later this week.
It’s exciting to see these relationships blossom so quickly, and since Harry comes from a commercial real estate background, it was wonderful to discuss how we could work together with clients coming back and forth to Hawaii, Korea and Thailand. They had both attended the Asia Pacific Summit event in the last two weeks, and it was awesome to hear that theme of our RE/MAX family being woven together closely with other RE/MAX owners from around the world.
The first major reception of the AREAA Korea Trade Mission was to be held with local realtors, developers and other important decision makers involved in the real estate industry in Korea. We met in the hotel lobby, where I ran into Carmen Chong, whom I had met recently at the AREAA National Convention, and was just installed as Chairwoman of the event, in addition to our team leader, Grace Choi. It was great to meet everyone prior to the reception, and we were even treated to a shopping trip in the Itaewon district in Seoul. Here I splurged on a couple Cuban cigars and was introduced to many local shop owners by Michael Jun, publisher and chairperson of Itaewon News. I got everyone to join me in a shaka photo, which I like to do in order to bring a little piece of Hawaii with me everywhere I go and as an ambassador of aloha around the world.
The reception was held in an Indian restaurant in Itaewon, an area of Seoul where many international cuisines are offered in addition to myriad shops for foreigners. After noshing on tasty tandoori and curries, we handed out business cards, talked story and discussed how to do business between South Korea and the U.S. It was a great first day of networking and getting to know the culture of a highly expanding country. With a number of different economic models that are firing on all cylinders, including powerhouses like Samsung, LG, Kia and Hyundai, it’s easy to see and feel the expansion of such a strong economy.
I look forward to seeing more of this tremendous city, experiencing more of the culture, and have truly enjoyed meeting all of the attendees of the event thus far, including: James Park, Clara Paik, Aaron Yu, Young Ahn, Edward Koo, Peter Park, Charlie Suh, Zachary Benjamin, Sunny Kim, Sandie Choe-Yamasato, Okhee Suh, Moon Choi, Kofi Bonner, Michelle Han, June Nuri Oh, Judi Moon, Joanne Hyun, Jason Kim, Hae-Chan Park, Glen Park, GieFaan Kim, Chris Marlin and Mike Lee.
Mahalo for reading and stay tuned for more updates from what should be an action-packed week in Seoul!