From e-sports to technology, cosmetics to culture, Seoul offers a variety of inspiration in the worlds of business and leisure. During a three-day trip to the Korean capital in July, the Executive Committee of the Chamber’s Young Executives Club (YEC) enjoyed a packed schedule of company visits and cultural activities.
The first stop was the Korean E-sports Association (KeSPA), where members toured two e-sports stadiums: the city’s newest arena, LoL Park, which opened last year; and the OGN Stadium, the largest e-sports venue in Korea.
Members had the opportunity to see some of the advanced equipment and facilities at the stadiums. However, they were most surprised by the extensive backstage areas. With space for gamers and coaches to relax, make-up rooms with vanity mirrors, and media rooms for broadcasting and conducting interviews, it was more like going behind the scenes at a major Hollywood production.
During the visit, the group met Alex Kim, President of KeSPA. He discussed the rise of e-sports in Korea, which has seen increasing activity from the private sector in building the infrastructure needed to support the sector and ensure it maintains its competitiveness.
He also explained how the attitude towards e-sports among South Korean people – particularly parents – has evolved. Previously, playing online games was seen as a bad habit, but the huge sums now involved mean that it can be a lucrative career for the top gamers. The champion team in Korea makes more than US$500 million annually, Kim explained.
The e-sports industry has also been creating more job opportunities as it has developed, and receives government support for promotion. Some schools and universities have also launched related academic programmes to develop talent for the sector.
South Korean cosmetics are celebrated for their quality, with brands such as Laneige, Sulwhasoo, Innisfree and Etude House becoming well-known names overseas. In fact, all of these brands are from the same corporation, AmorePacific. The YEC group visited AmorePacific’s factory in Seoul and learnt about the brand’s story and philosophy, and viewed the manufacturing area.
AmorePacific was founded in 1945 and is the country’s biggest cosmetics corporation. Its overseas sales have been growing, and the company has climbed the ranks of the Beauty Top 100 from U.S. trade publication Women’s Wear Daily to reach number seven.
The Chamber group also had the opportunity to get an insight into two of the country’s huge diversified conglomerates, known as chaebols. Samsung D’light is an exhibition space that lets visitors play interactive games and explore some of the latest innovative products from Samsung Electronics.
At SK Telecom, Alice Hyunju Kim, Manager of the Global Alliance Group and Global Business Development Team, introduced the company’s background and its expansion into fields including AI, Internet of Things, mobility, security and media.
She explained that SK Telecom had achieved a number of global “firsts” over the years, including the world's first commercial 5G services. It also launched the first real-time TV broadcast using a 5G network in January this year. With more than 48% of local market share, SK Telecom is the biggest player in the mobile telecoms space in Korea.
After the meeting, the group took part in a tour of the company’s T.um experience centre. The tour is themed as a time machine travelling to the future, and gives participants the opportunity to experience interactive 4D virtual reality and more of the company’s cutting-edge technologies.
Apart from the company visits, the YEC group also had some time for leisure and cultural activities. They enjoyed an evening of live jazz performances on a music cruise along the Han River, tried on traditional hanbok at Gyeongbokgung Palace, and visited Insadong Antique Street.
The visit was led by YEC Chairman Eric Fok and supported by Any Tours Enterprises Ltd and RYSE, Autograph Collection.