My name is Taehoon Kim, and I' m working for an affiliated organisation (SBA) ) of Seoul City
Government. As noted in the title, I'm posting this message to get your precious opinions.
Any input will be appreciated. Hanok , the traditional Korean houses, have been attracting
many foreign tourists to Korea who want to experience something traditional Korean.
In that regard, further to utilize the Hanok as business residences for businessmen from abroad,
SBA is considering collecting Hankok with reasonable facilities and fees as a sort of Business
B&B (there are more than ten thousans of Hanok currently in Seoul). We belive, exactly speaking,
hope to believe, that Hanok can also attract foreign businessmen who are tired of staying at hotels
or interested in something Korean even for a short period if publicized for such use. However, there
were also pros and cons of such use since Hanok don't look like something business residences
and also are likely to be somewhat uncomfortable for businessmen. Therefore, we wonder
what the expats in Korea will think for our ideas. What will be more needed to get such use
for Hankok? Sorry for the long message. From Taehoon
Thanks for posting this discussion.
I am a big lover of Korean Hanok and one day will build one of my own (in Gwangaon-do, by a stream in the mountains)
I think the idea is wonderful. If I remember correctly, a few months ago, Seoul City was going to demolish a lot of Hanoks but there was some resistance by caring citizens. I am glad things have changed.
Two things we need to clarify;
1. Are you proposing that the Hanok become a “residence or place for foreign business people to stay (live) – like a hotel or home stay
2. Are you proposing Hanoks to be used as locations for foreign business to use for business purposes?
I think they are both great ideas. However, for a foreigner to come to Korea for a short-term business stay – there are many things that will have to be provided in the Hanok – i.e. clothes washing machines, refrigerator, cooking pots & pans etc.. The same as if staying at a pension house but the quality must be much nicer. Some call service must be included in case the foreigner needs assistance such as a fire, a clogged toilet, heating does not work etc…
I also think as a business location a Hanok would be wonderful, very traditional Korean and would be a great advertising tool for foreign business. However, the location, amenities and service will also be important.
I will be happy to lend my support or opinions to Seoul City or to you directly,. Just give me a call.
Thank you for your input. The policies during the term of Mr. Oh, the former mayor, seem to be changed
under the current regime(??) as Keynsians lost their fame during the era of monetarists (Milton Friedman).
Regarding your questions, Getting more facilities to Hanok as a sort of business hotels for a short stay
is our priority. The reason we utilize Hanok is that Seoul is quite short of business-level hotels comparing
the increasing numbers of annual visits of foreigners to Korea, which reach to almost 10miilion every year.
Besides, the new supply of hotels became limited due to the shortage of space and private investment whilst
other private-level investment is concentrated on megahotels. Public investment of city goverment, as an altern
-ative , will also face another priority issue of budgets as the former mayor faced controversies for his
" Design Seoul" policy. Thus, converting Hanok,though it should be restricted to ones with facilities as you
suggested, is believed to be another measure. I thinke it will not only solve a problem of accomodations but
also become a way to revitalize "Hanok". The image of "Hanok" for a tourism is already positive and
popular to tourists. Hanok as the concepts of alternative business hotel is still at the level of research
by SBA. Converting some Hanok to business hotels will need investment both from city and owners of
Hanok, certification, and publicity activities by governmental agencies. Considering all these investments
and support, we wonder if that is a worthwhile thing to make "business hotel Hanok" or just we just let
Hankok left for tourism purposes.
Hi Tae Hoon,
While the idea of staying in a Hanok has a certain, romantic appeal to it, I’m not sure business travelers would see it as a viable alternative to hotels.
When I travel for business, I like the convenience of a hotel with things like overnight laundry, daily housekeeping, on-site restaurants, a business center for printing, easy access to taxies (they’re usually waiting at the front door), and a large parking garage (if I have a rental car). Residence hotels, such as the Oakwood, offer apartment style living but still have the support facilities. Another advantage of a hotel is I can be in the same facility as other company workers on the same trip (where we all have our own rooms).
A fully furnished Hanok, with hi-efficiency windows (no drafts), air conditioning, full feature kitchen (stove, oven, dishwasher, etc.), and large screen TV, along with a nice garden area and of course the traditional wood construction would be nice if I had my family here for a couple of weeks, but only if the location of the Hanok was convenient for where I was working during the day.
Making business travelers aware of the option of staying in a Hanok if the business traveler was bringing his family with him for an extended stay would be good, but I think the market will be limited to executives who can afford a private residence, who’s work location is close enough to the Hanok, and who is experienced enough in Seoul to be able to do things like go grocery shopping.
I love Hanok but I really have my doubts that the average foreign businessperson would be willing to give up any conveniences at all to stay in one for a short visit to Korea. I say that because I've been surprised how little interest many business folks have in the culture; after all, they're in Korea to make money and they want to do it as quickly as possible so they can get home to see their family again back home... or on to the next leg of their business trip to Asia.
Perhaps an approach that provides the full business hotel experience with Hanok decor would be better, but I'm not sure if that's what you're proposing. I remember coming across and cutting out the following article from the newspaper a few years ago when they were talking about offering Hanok-style apartments...
If you can provide Hanok business hotel options along these lines, I'm sure it would get interest since it's really not actually a Hanok, with all the associated inconveniences.
Hi Tae Hoon.
I'd have to agree with Steven and Rich. Although the idea is somewhat eccentric and appealing, business people are here for the money, and their downtime needs to be spent surrounded by convenient technology and comfort that they are familiar with and that will faciltate their late night ideas. Hanok's are a tourist attraction and maybe a distraction for business people. I could see them as being good places for long term business visits, small business meetings or conferences, or business exchange Phd students.
Hanok hotels as Steve pointed out, could be a good idea that would offer accommodations for a range of business and VIP people.