03 Dec Premium Commentators Who Take Seoul Tourism to the Next Level
Seoul City and Seoul Tourism Organization supports the premium tourism commentary service tailored to a wide array of topics, such as recreation, culture, art, and tourist venues. Similar to cultural and tourist commentators, premium commentators are responsible for providing commentaries on major tourist attractions in Seoul and offering premium commentaries to MICE participants. Currently, Seoul City offers premium commentary services in nine major categories as part of its effort to promote the city.
|1||Museum||Korea Furniture Museum|
|2||Seoul Museum of History|
|3||National Museum of Korea|
|4||War Memorial of Korea|
|5||National Folk Museum of Korea|
|6||Ahn Jung Geun Memorial Museum|
|7||World Jewellery Museum|
|8||Seodaemun Museum of Natural History|
|9||Modern Design Museum|
|11||Royal Palace/Seoul City Wall||Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung|
|12||Bukchon Hanok Village|
|13||Seoul City Wall|
|14||Architecture||Architectural Structures in Seoul|
|15||Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)|
|16||Some Sevit (Hangang Floating Island)|
|19||Environment||Seoul Energy Dream Center|
|21||Foundation||Gangnam Foundation for Art|
|24||Association||Korea Kite Fliers Association|
|25||Hanok Village||Namsangol Hanok Village|
▲ The premium commentary service is available in the 26 venues listed above.
This month’s webzine of the Seoul Tourism Organization introduces two premium commentators to hear their behind-the-scenes stories.
Rhee Ki-Tai , Traditional Kite Master
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us.
Nice to meet you! I’m Rhee Ki-tae and ‘I’m one of the few knowledgeable experts remaining on the original Korean traditional shield (“bangpae” in Korean) kite making technique from the Joseon period.
Would you like to share with us any interesting story about your experience as a premium commentator?
A group of international tourists visited my hanok studio once and they entered indoors with their shoes on. So I asked them to observe Korean traditional etiquette and custom of removing one’s shoes before entering. After all the old saying goes, “when in Rome, do as Romans do.”
I’ve also given lectures on traditional Korean kites for 17 professors of HEC Paris, a prestigious business school in France, where François Hollande, the President of France CEOs, and staff with the UN-affiliated International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) graduated from. I am working as a premium commentator while being acutely aware of my position as a Korean traditional kite master and, at the same time, a citizen ambassador.
Do you have any memorable visitors to your studio?
A group of some 40 internationally adopted Koreans visited my studio once. They were anxious to learn traditional Korean culture through the traditional Korean kites, although they didn’t speak the Korean language. I can never forget the eagerness in their eyes.
What are foreigners most interested in about traditional Korean kites?
Each nation has developed different types of kites. I incorporate the Korean shield kite with art to introduce the beauty of traditional Korean culture.
In your opinion, what is necessary for the improvement of the premium commentary service?
I hope there is more support for the effort to succeed and preserve traditional culture. MICE participants visit Seoul on business, but it would be too regrettable if they went back home without any chance to learn traditional Korean culture. I hope we can we can support them to have the opportunity to enjoy diverse aspects of traditional Korean culture. Personally, I would like to create a Korean traditional kite museum someday in the future.
Seonwu, Buddhist Monk at Jingwansa Temple
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us.
Welcome to Jingwansa Temple. It’s getting cold and I hope you are taking good care of yourself.
What brought you to get involved in the premium commentary service?
I happened to have a chance to work with Seoul City in relation to the temple stay program which I’m in charge of at Jingwansa Temple. This motivated me to become a premium commentator.
Would you briefly introduce the programs run by Jingwansa Temple?
Most MICE participants who visit Jingwansa Temple join a half-day program, which lasts roughly four hours and consists of diverse courses, including an introduction to Jingwansa Temple, gongyang (communal Buddhist meal service), dadam (tea ceremony), and more. Jingwansa boasts a long history and visitors can observe the diverse buildings in the temple and learn Korean history and traditional culture. For example, Jingwansa is home to the Korean flag that was used by activists during the independence movement against Japanese imperialism.
Gongyang is a symbol of Buddhism through which Buddhist trainees and monks learn non-possession and awakening. Dadam is the highlight of the program. Simply put, it is a time to strike up a conversation with the participants while making and drinking Korean tea. The topic of the tea time is, “Are you really happy?” We always do dadam because it really soothes the mind and soul of the participants, which can be seen in their eyes afterwards. During dadam, participants ask themselves if their happiness is solely your own feeling and not relative to others. Participants can also take part in activities such as Buddhist cooking classes, lotus lamp making, and performances as well.
Do you have any memorable participants?
Many VIPs from all over the world visit Jingwansa Temple, including some of the world’s richest and most powerful people. Once, a visitor who was known to be the richest cash possessor in the world asked me after a dadam, “Do I have to become a Buddhist monk in order to become happy as you are?” People wish to be loaded with money, but it seems that money does not necessarily make people happy.
What kind of premium commentator would you like to be?
The force that changes the world is, after all, people. I hope these people feel happy and they truly mean it. The head monk of Jingwansa Temple is old, but she still enjoys cooking and says she feels happy when serves food to others. I would like to be a premium commentator who transmits happiness and introduces Korean tradition, like the head monk of Jingwansa and other great monks who reach out to the world.