24 June 2010

Made in South Korea

On Tuesday night I was invited with some friends to watch the World Cup game between Nigeria and Korea. We were invited to ‘Hotel Slavutych’ on the left bank of the river in Kyiv. This hotel was built during Soviet Union times and I had only visited once many years before. It is not a hotel you normally associate with good service.

However, we had been invited by our friends from the “Korean Community’ in Ukraine.
Our Koreans friends are also good golfers. In fact come to think of it, they are good at most things. We were taken to the 16th (top floor) of the hotel. On arrival I was amazed as to the environment we were entering. It was like entering a typical Korean club.
In fact I was to discover that it was called the “Korean Business Centre” complete with sliding doors to each room. The whole place was buzzing with Korean families getting ready to watch the many TV screens around the whole of the 16th floor supplied of course by companies like LG and Samsung.

We were greeted at the entrance by Lim Myung Jin – General Manager of the Korean Business Centre. We were also presented with red T-shirts courtesy of the Korean Football Association, which we were expected to change into from our normal shirts. We were then dressed like everyone else in the ‘centre’ including women and children.

We were greeted with great enthusiasm by our hosts and shown to a table, where service was provided very quickly by local Ukrainian staff. (We all knew this was very unusual. the fast service that is). Plus, Koreans being so smart, they had organised a direct link via the internet so they could watch the game with Korean commentary.
But it was a little funny as the internet link proved to be about 2 minutes slower than the local TV station showing the game on the next screen. Some time later the TV with the Korean commentary was moved to one side and the local TV screen was given prominent position much to the applause of the Korean crowd.

On visiting the centre I couldn’t help but notice that one room had a sign ‘Golf Simulator’. During the football interval I was invited to play on the Golf Simulator and it was interesting to find out why our Korean friends are so good on the golf course.

Also joining our table was Park Robyug – Ambassador of the Republic of Korea – in Ukraine. We were impressed by how Koreans stood up when the Korean national anthem was played at the beginning of the game and how exciting it was at goal scoring time. Although the match ended in a 2-2 draw it was a great night at the Korean Business Centre. This was the first time my wife and I had tried Korean food and we can recommend it as very tasty. The Koreans are people that just seem to make things happen and we were reminded of this during the commercial breaks on local Ukraine TV, most of the Korean companies had taken full opportunity to advertise on TV.

The Korean company – Kia Motors must have invested heavily in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I just found out they supplied all the vehicles for the official transport in South Africa, over 200 buses and other vehicles etc.

Plus many of the South Korean companies in Ukraine are already market leaders in many sectors including of course the electronics, mobile phone, home entertainment consumer markets. Maybe we can beat them at golf this weekend. Oh..and well done to Bill Bennett our Director of Golf for organizing this event.

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