“Seoul leaders are the silent achievers”

written by Wayne Brown

This small Korean peninsula is home to two of the worlds dominant players – both claiming legitimate government of to the entire territory.

North Korea with a population of 25+ million and its capital Pyongyang, the largest city in the country (approx. 3 million residents) . To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia.

South Korea, with 50+million and it’s capital Seoul, largest in the country (approx. 10million residents) and ranked as one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world.

Separating these two powers is a heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Returning to Seoul after 2 years…

A couple of weeks back I was in Seoul, participating in a HR workshop and spoke about Learning developments as we transition towards digitalization together with the topic of Change Leadership. It was a pleasant return after an absence of almost 2 years.

Courtyard Marriott, Times Square, Seoul – picture courtesy of the hotel website

As with the global economy, South Korea continues to grow and with-in our industry comes new construction and expanding service.

Government legislative changes are placing considerable short term pressures on the industry, who’s service base was typically supported by small subcontractor companies – the Mum and Pop businesses. The industry is required to re-build an internal service operation with yearly milestone targets and completion towards the end of 2020.

Coupled with the Korean culture, strong unions and general reluctance to change, it is proving quite a challenge to find solutions whilst maintaining the some resemblance of a profitable and viable business plan.

The Sky is getting closer…

Despite these challenges the broader construction industry continues to head ever upward, with Skyscrapers dotted across the horizon.

Here the Lotte World Tower one of the highest in the world topping off at 555m.

However, with 80 buildings rising above 150m and a further 5 under construction, Seoul is listed by CTBUH as #15 in the world for cities in this category.

South Korea’s total population in 1955 was 21.5 million, and has more than doubled, to 50 million, by 2010. South Korea is considered one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in the world with ethnic Koreans representing approximately 96% of total population.

The current population of the Republic of Korea is 51,303,084 as of 2019, based on the latest United Nations estimates. South Korea population is equivalent to 0.67% of the total world population. South Korea ranks number 28 in the list of countries by population.

Seoul, officially known as the Seoul Special City, is the largest metropolis and capital of South Korea. This megacity is the largest city proper in the developed world and the Seoul Capital Area is the second largest metropolitan in the world with more than 25.6 million people, which is half of all the residents in the country.

Seoul, home to a traditional culture…

Gyeongbokgung (Hangul: 경복궁; Hanja: 景福宮), was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Built in 1395, it is located in northern Seoul, South Korea. The Changdeokgung Palace, set up later, became the favourite residence of later Joseon Dynasty Kings, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In total 5 palaces can be found.

To the drone of tourists annually, Seoul is home to some of the worlds great royal palaces.. From the outside these locations appear tranquil with grand gardens and unique architecture.

However it’s history is any but tranquil. For those historians that have an interest in Asian power struggles, particularly around the Qing dynasty – you will likely be aware the reasons behind the demise of the Korean royals.

Selection of Korean art and crafts

In addition to the Palace Musuem, Seoul offers a wide selection of Museums providing something for almost everyone. Including a continuation of the traditional theme at the National Museum of Korea which offers a huge selection in excess of 200,000 pieces spanning ancient through to modern history. Really worth the visit.

A personal favourite are the mother of pearl pieces which come in all shapes and sizes.

Street food, shopping and nightlife…

For anyone that likes the adventure of trying new foods, then Seoul offers plenty for the palette. Streets vendors everywhere serving up hot, grilled varieties of Asian and local delicacies. If you’re wanting to sit down and eat then find yourself at a Korean barbeque restaurant and sample some of the locals favourite ways to dine.

If you’re planning to spend some time looking for a new outfit and you don’t have that typically slim, petite Asian figures or attachments such as small feet, then be prepared to loose a few kilos searching. There’s a wide selection with all the famous brands on offer but as you might expect, the range typically caters more towards the Korean population than those overseas visitors.

And then there is the Seoul nightlife. Be it casinos, clubs, karaoke, restaurants or even just strolling the brightly light streets then Seoul truly has an abundance on offer. Check out areas such as Itaewon for the foreigners wanting english speaking Koreans packing the bars and restaurants or Hongdae for a more local experience around the college district. Gangnam station and Apgujeong are additional options for more up market adventure.

Getting a view from above the noise…

If your lucky enough to be visiting during a clear day or evening, then I’d recommend taking the elevator to the Lotte World Tower – Seoul Sky Observatory. Located on the 117th floor the 360 degree views are quite breathtaking.

The elevator travels from basement 1 straight to level 117th. You’ll have to climb the stairs from the 117th floor to the 120th floor as you check out the entire observatory with each level offering different features.

For those wanting to expand on the elevating experience then try this trio. Starting at the base with the inclined elevator, which ferries 20 passengers at a time up to the cable car station in just over 2 minutes.

Then to the 48 person cable cars, which in turn ferry passengers to the N Seoul Tower (telecommunications). The original cars were replace in 2008 and now offer a much more panoramic view.

The tower has two 24 person elevators transporting passengers over the 135m rise at a maximum speed of 9m/s, to the observation deck.

For the die hard lifties out there…

Here’s a list of the 10 tallest buildings (planned, under construction and existing) – visit the CTBUH site for additional details

1 Hyundai Global Business Center 569 m
2 Lotte World Tower 2017 555 m
3 Parc1 Tower A 2020 338 m
4 Three International Finance Center 2012 284 m
5 Tower Palace Three, Tower G 2004 264 m
6 Parc1 Tower B 2020 261 m
7 Mokdong Hyperion Tower A 2003 256 m
8 KLI 63 Building 1985 250 m
9 FKI Tower 2013 245 m
10 Mokdong Hyperion Tower B 2003 239 m

And so to wrap up…

My next article turns the spot light on two capital cities located on the east coast of Australia – Sydney and Brisbane following a visit last week. Join me to learn about some exciting developments occurring in the land down under.

Until next time, bye for now.