South Korea: Classic, Modern, Quirky

C&IT checks out a variety of the best venues for events in South Korea, from the spectacular Korea House to the unique Demilitarised Zone.

Seoul, South Korea (©iStockphoto.com)
Seoul, South Korea (©iStockphoto.com)

CLASSIC

Gyeongbokgung Palace, located north of the Han River, was the first royal palace built by the Korean Empire in 1396. During its 620-year history the temple has been rocked by conflict and demolition. Despite this turbulence it still remains one of Seoul's greatest attractions, with the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea inside the 410,000sqm complex. Groups can combine a tour around the many temples, pavilions and artificial islands with a front-row view of the iconic Changing of the Royal Guard, which is performed daily between 10am and 3pm.

Cross to the south side of the river for a spectacular gala dinner at Korea House. The venue has been the host of the Korea House Arts Performance for decades, a display of eight different traditional Korean dances that attract visitors from all around the world. Intricately decorated Korean houses surround an outdoor court and private garden that can accommodate up to 120 guests for a dinner or standing reception. Red-and-blue silk lanterns light up the hexagonal sloped rooftops as classic Korean cuisine, such as yeolguja tang, which means 'to make the mouth happy', is prepared using authentic methods from centuries ago.

MODERN

The Four Seasons Hotel Seoul is the city's newest hotel after opening in October in Gwanghwamun, an area considered the heart of the capital. A total of 317 rooms include 43 luxury oneto three-bed suites, each with palace or city views. Bars and restaurants throughout the city vie constantly for the title of most fashionable hangout, and groups staying at the hotel will be the envy of locals with what they find at their disposal. Michelin-starred chef Sawada Kazumi fronts the Kioku restaurant, serving Japanese cuisine from the 12th floor of the hotel, while the Italian-influenced Bar Boccalino is one of the most stylish spots for a nightcap in the city. Event space includes a 788sqm ballroom, which can host 800 delegates for receptions, and six additional meeting rooms.

On the horizon is Starwood Hotels & Resorts' The Parnas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, due to open in January 2017. The property will adjoin the World Trade Center Seoul (COEX), host venue for a variety of major events. A total of 138 rooms will feature inside a 38-storey tower, with 120sqm of event space and a luxury spa.

QUIRKY

In 1953, the end of the Korean War was marked with an Armistice agreement between North and South. A truce line was drawn across the Korean peninsula and two kilometres either side is an area where military activity is forbidden. This is the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), one of the world's most peculiar yet fascinating tourist attractions, and still poignant today. It's an hour-and-a-half drive from Seoul and foreign visitors must carry their passports to gain access.

Although access to the DMZ is heavily controlled, the areas available for sightseeing, the Peace and Life Zones (PLZ), offer an insight into the fraught relationship between the warring neighbours. Sights include Panmunjeom, where the military armistice agreement was signed, the Freedom Bridge, which saw the return of 13,000 war prisoners, and a museum.

Amid Seoul's bustling metropolis are dozens of high-rise venues, offering sights from incredible vantage points. One of which is restaurant Top Cloud on the 33rd floor of the Jongno Tower. Groups of up to 220 can be hosted for a spectacular private dining experience, with surrounding floor-to-ceiling windows giving uninterrupted views of the surrounding cityscape.

On the incline of Namsan Mountain is the 236-metre N Seoul Tower. At the top is the revolving N Grill restaurant, which serves western-style cuisine to small groups seeking private fine dining.

DIRECTORY
Korea MICE
CONTACT: Anne Ridyard
TEL: 01628 526184
EMAIL: koreamice@moulden-marketing.co.uk
WEBSITE: koreaconvention.org

More:

South Korea: Venue Update

South Korea: Five of the best... new and upcoming hotels

In Pictures: Seoul, South Korea fam trip

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