Friday, February 23, 2007

So This is London

A few weeks ago we found out that there was going to be a 'London Carnival' exhibition at Busan's exhibition centre 'BEXCO' during January and February. I thought it would be fascinating to see how London and the UK in general was portrayed in Korea, so even though it was on the other side of Busan in Haeundae, we provisionally planned to go over to check it out for ourselves.

However, when we looked it up on the web, the event was presented as a British-themed amusement park - and not a very good one at that - rather than the mix of culture, food and trade show we expected. Maybe it was a lot better in reality than the marketing suggested, but it put us off going.

It seems that the Koreans also weren't convinced, because they didn't go either. The upshot of this is a commercial disaster that left the organisers unable to properly pay 200 people, who had been promised 2,000,000 won
(£1,060) for the month's work but actually only got 400,000 won (£218). Two hotels in Haeundae and the carriers who had transported amusement park equipment from the UK to Korea weren't paid either. Quite why it was necessary to transport equipment from the UK to Korea isn't clear when there are plenty of amusement parks here, but it fits in with the slightly bizarre nature of the entire event I suppose. For their part, the organisers are very apologetic about the failure and do intend to try and pay back everyone eventually, although unbelievably their method for doing this is going to be... by holding the event again next year.

Much as I'd like to see a more interesting cultural exhibition, if only so I can give my Korean family and friends a little more insight into what being British means, I guess I'll believe someone's giving the organisers a second chance when I see it. But who knows - maybe next year it might be sufficiently interesting that at least the British people bother to turn up.

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