Bus to Bulgogi

Huge day on the Walkley/Korea Press Foundation Roadshow. Seoul turned on the tap as far as weather was concerned, but rain did not stop play. Indeed not. The delightful Jiyoon from KPF took us on a bus odyssey over the Han River into what is now one of Asia’s most well-known neighbourhoods – Gangnam. Where we soon ended up at bus stop #1 The Korea Educational Development Institute (KEDI), for an overview of the nation’s supercharged learning culture. For KEDI, the big swing now is towards a less stressful experience for students (the pressure in SK is diabolical – exams, after-school tutoring til the wee hours). This approach is focusing on student happiness, and includes initiatives such as the Free Semester System (currently only occurring in the second grade of middle school for one semester). It’s a start.

Bus stop #2 was lunch at Omiga Restaurant. OMiGa! The banchan (side plates) that come with all Korean meals WERE the meal.

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Speaking of… bus stop #3 was the Korean Food Foundation, a government-supported body that promotes Korean Cuisine and sees food culture as part of the Hallyu (Korean Wave). And when you think that the South Korean government sees local cuisine as the next stage in cultural exports following K-pop, there may soon be much more kimchi on breakfast tables across the globe.

Bus stop #4 took the form of Naver, South Korea’s dominant web portal, located in a building that, from the outside looks like of Seoul’s imposing office towers, but inside is a southern-Cali style open-plan beanbag-strewn, plants-in-odd-places domain. With some peculiar Korean touches…

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This is the most popular search portal in SK. Yahoo could not compete with this outfit, and who could with conditions like this?

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In contrast was bus stop #5 – a company overview in very un-beanbaggy Hyundai HQ. And bus stop #6, dinner at Bulgogi Brothers Restaurant with the KPF team and local journalists. Perhaps today gave us the chance to see if we could handle a typical day for a worker/student in South Korea…I’m beat (but happy)

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