Korean Trade Mission—Gangnam Style!
Today was the last of an unbelievably successful trade mission and it started with another fantastic meal, this time indulging in the swanky international buffet at our Lotte Hotel. After a few plates were polished, we gathered to the bus and headed to Gangnam, the high-end shopping and business district, for a meeting with the Korea Association of Property Appraisers (KAPA).
They prepared an informative presentation and slideshow, followed by a Q & A session where we furthered our knowledge and understanding of the appraisal process here in Korea. We also signed a MOU (memorium of understanding) to solidify our relationship with each other. After the meeting ended it was lunch time. We all headed just down the road to Woonsan restaurant, where they had a private banquet room waiting for us with table set for 30!
I know, I know—another phenomenal meal may sound like a broken record at this point—but this is only to highlight the fact that Koreans take their meals very seriously. This is a definitive foodie’s paradise! After networking and noshing on some fantastic banchan, kimchi soup, bulgogi and pork belly, we had to say goodbye to our new friends from KAPA, as next up was a trip to the Gangnam City Hall.
Upon arriving at the Gangnam City Hill, we were whisked into a large conference room and greeted by a number of important politicians of this quickly growing district. We met with the Vice Mayor of Gangnam, the Chief of Tourism Promotion and Development Section, the Chief of City Planning, the Chief of Transport Policy, and an expert for the upcoming Investment Consulting Center.
After a welcome speech from the Vice Mayor, and an introduction of ourselves as the AREAA KTM delegation, we watched a brief, but well produced movie titled, “The World Intrigued By Gagnam.” This concise, 8 minute video gave an overview of the city’s rapid growth, business and investment infrastructure, as well as plans for further development starting as soon as November.
We also were presented with a few slideshows pertaining to the announcement of the new Gangnam District Development Plan, which included a designation of a Special Tourist Zone, the $10 billion sale of the KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Corporation) HQ to Hyundai Motor Co., the complex development of a transit center at KTX Suseo Station, and an introduction of the Investment Consulting Center for investing in Korea. Again we were offered the opportunity to ask any questions that we had lingering, and all of us left the meeting wowed by the value it provided. I personally would love to invest in Gangnam, as it appears it will continue on a path of steady growth well into the coming years.
We left City Hall and got on our bus for a brief drive into the city’s luxurious shopping district on Rodeo Drive—no wonder Gangnam is called the Beverly Hills of Seoul! Seriously, this area had to contain more international luxury brands than the famous Los Angeles municipality, as well as many high-end boutique shops and restaurants. After we broke into up into smaller groups, Alex, Giefaan and I grabbed some iced coffees and strolled the streets for a few miles taking in the myriad sights and sounds. I was personally shocked how many separate real estate offices were in the area, I guess the price of rent was lower than imagined! We stepped into one of these offices, met an agent, and explained who we were and the delegation we were apart of. He seemed very interested in our story as he had yet to do any type of transactions with foreigners, but of course would love to in the future.
Our whole group then reconvened after a few hours and headed into a back alleyway for our last meal together. It turns out we had reserved an entire small restaurant, a Japanese establishment called September, that highlighted the day’s fresh seafood and the seasonal ingredients of Autumn. We were all wowed by the care and presentation that went into each dish—the beautiful aesthetics of the individual courses were precursors to the wonderful flavors, textures, and aromas that would envelop the body soon after.
Add to that some great conversation, and all the senses (sight, taste, touch, smell, hear) were stimulated and accounted for! Some of the consensus highlights included: the sashimi platter of halibut, squid, red clam, mackerel, and sea urchin; the raw tuna and figs in sesame dressing; a steamed whitefish and mushroom in a handmade redwood pouch; and the tempura platter which featured, in my opinion, the single best piece of prawn tempura I’d ever had!
We all thanked the owner and head chef, Hakata September, for a memorable dining experience and ventured back into the night and streets of Gangnam. It was already getting pretty late and after a full day, many of the members of our KTM got onto the bus and headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest. We said our goodbyes with a little bit of sadness, but much more excitement as the trip had been such an overwhelming success. I’d like to thank Charlie Suh, Peter Park, Carmen Chong, and James Park for being the driving forces and organizers of this trade mission; all our other delegates including: Grace Choi, Clara Paik, Aaron Yu, Young Ahn, Edward Koo, 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; as well as the various Korean organzitaions we met with for making this all possible. Be sure to look for a wrap up article in the coming days!