After three exhausting but interesting days, today was our first day to discover Seoul by our self. The majority missed the breakfast because of our late return from our tour of Seoul night life. Some of the group went to the Seoul Tower to get another impression of Seoul and its size. Others went to the palace to see the guardian change, because yesterday the guardian change was canceled due to the rain. Popular was also the shopping areas in Seoul. In the evening the majority was on the roof terrace to have a drink and talk about our different impressions of the day.
After the DMZ-Tour on Friday, we had the next tourist attraction today. A city tour through Seoul with a private tour guide was on the schedule. We met our tour guide Sally at 8:50 am in the hotel lobby. Because of the bad weather we had to change the initially planned program. We were forced to do more indoor activities. Because of the rain, we were not able to see the changing of the guard ceremony in front of Deoksugung Palace, which only takes place by nice weather. Thanks to our great tour guide Sally we still had a very interesting day.
Our program mainly took place in the Older City of Seoul. First we visited the Sarangchae House. This is in front of the guest house of the official residence of the South Korean President. Sarangchae is an ideal place for tourist to get more familiar with facts of South Korea and Seoul, for example we could learn more about the Korean car industry. After an introduction from Sally, we had half an hour left to explore the Sarangchae House.
Next we visited the Deocksugung Palace. This part took place outside. Because of the heavy rain, umbrellas were a very popular utensil. Despite of the bad weather, the class was very interested in the speech of Sally about the Deoksugung Palace.
A little bit wet, we got in the bus again to drive to the Jogaesa Buddhist Temple. On the way to the temple we learned from Sally, that Buddhism is one of the two main religions in South Korea. The Jogaesa Temple is a very interesting place. First we learned more about Buddhism and after that we had the opportunity to get more impressions of the temple by ourselves.
Next we had our deserved lunch. We ate a traditional Korean meal, which is called Bibimbab. Main ingredients are rice and vegetables. Because we were now already used to eat with chopstick, we finished lunch quickly and continued our city tour.
We drove to Insadong. This is a shopping street, where you can buy antiquity souvenirs. After one hour of buying presents for our friends and family at home we drove to our last place.
The Namdaemun Market is a very impressive place. When walking through the market, you got the feeling that everything you need you can buy here. Especially fabric and food selling points dominated the market. After a long walk through the market and with a lot of new impressions we returned to the bus, which brought us back to the hotel.
The interesting history of Seoul and our excellent tour guide Sally impressed all of us. We received a lot of impressions of the traditional and yet modern City of Seoul.
Today was a very remarkable day for every single one of our group. We had the opportunity visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). In order to catch our train we had to get up very early. We met at 5:50 a.m. at the hotel lobby. Despite the fact that the breakfast was due to start at 7 a.m. we didn’t have to go out without the most important meal of the day. The organization team arranged a breakfast box for all of us.
After a long journey with metro and train we arrived at 8:50 a.m. and were warmly welcomed by Major Moritz Schönenberger (Swiss Army), Captain Edwin Juleus (U.S. Army) and Lt Matt McQuaid (New Zealand Navy). With our bus we travelled through various military checkpoints to the highly controlled camp Bonifas were we had the pleasure to listen to an interesting presentation about the Korean War the United Nations Command (UNC) and the DMZ by Lt. Matt Mc Quaid.
After that we continued our tour to the Dorasan Station Railroad station which is located on the Gyeongui Line. Major Bo Pedersen (Danish Army) guided through the station and gave us some interesting background information. The aim of this station was to connect South Korea with China, Russia and Europe. This overland connection would cut the travel time from South Korea to Europe roughly by 20 days compared to the sea route. Between 2006 and 2008 there was a train connection between South Korea and North Korea which was only used by tourists and South Koreans. In 2008 North Korea accused South Korea of a confrontational policy. This led to the closure of the train connection. Major Bo Pedersen showed us also the control point to enter the North Korean trading zone Kaeseon industry complex.
The next stop on our tour was the Demilitarized Zone short DMZ. Before we entered the zone we met MP Wilson who was responsible for our security, he was the only one who was armed which can identified by a black armled. We drove 2km inside the DMZ to the Military Demarcation Line (DML) which is a military line and not a political border as many of us might have thought. Standing right at the line to North Korean territory we were not allowed to give any verbal or non-verbal signs to the North Korean guards and the tourists on the North Korean side to avoid missinterpretations as MP Wilson mentioned. While our visit we were under close supervision of the North Korean forces which also took fotos and video recordings of the actions on the enemy’s side.
Later at the Swiss camp MG Urs Gerber gave a concise and interesting introduction into the role of the Swiss Army at the DMZ. A Swiss and Swedish delegation of total 10 officers is responsible to observe and control the activities of the South Korean and United Nations from a neutral point of view without taking sides. A major challenge as the two star general explained. They have to report their observations to the United Nations. After the presentations we enjoyed a very delicious meal hosted by MG Urs Gerber and Admiral Anders Grenstad (Swedish Army).
Our last stage was the Third Tunnel which was one of a few tunnels which the North Koreans built to infiltrate South Korea. This tunnel was discovered in October 1978. Even if the North Koreans refused to take responsibility having digged the tunnel, the location of the drilling holes for placing dynamite proved that the tunnel was built by North Korea. We had the opportunity to enter the tunnel with a cog railroad. Tall members of our students group were not very pleased about the height of the tunnel. However it was a very interesting experience.
Around 4pm we had to say goodbye to our guides and took the train back to Seoul. It was very interesting to see one of the last remains of the Cold War.
The today’s program started at 07.45 at the hotel lobby and included a visit to the SKK University and to the Swiss embassy in Seoul. After a long journey with the subway in which was more space than we expected. The manager of the international department, Mrs Kim Hee-Kyoung, warmly welcomed us. Following a short introductory video, the class was amazed by the spirit of the university and is contemporary approach to teaching.
After this, the MBA program Director Mr Sang Soo Lee gave us a short presentation over the MBA Program of the SKK University. The innovative structure sounded very appealing and convinced us entirely. It might be possible that for some ZHAW students it wasn’t the last visit at the SKK University.
As interesting as the first part, the Assistant Professor, Mr Wooyeal Paik held an interactive and enjoying lecture over the current issue of East Asian political economy and security. His insights provided us with a deeper understanding of the prevailing situation in South Korea and the country itself.
The visit was concluded by a guided tour through the university historic premises. It was very fascinating to see the student’s way of living in past decades. For example four students lived in a room of six square meters. This first part of today’s program was finished with a delicious traditional Korean meal.
Before the second point on today’s agenda we enjoyed some leisure time. At 16:00 we met again for visiting the Swiss embassy in Seoul. Mrs Lynn Reinhart friendly welcomed us. After the introduction and the overview of the today’s agenda we had some time to receive an impression of an embassy residence. The ambassador of Switzerland Mr Thomas Kupfer held an interesting speech in his “current” living room. He emphasised the massive growth of South-Korea in the last four decades from a poor country to the 12th regarding the GDP. Furthermore, he mentioned the traditional Korean lifestyle and that only 200 Swiss live in South-Korea. After the speech of the ambassador Mr Claudio Mazzuchelli, Swiss Business Hub, presented his job and the current situation of the trade relation between South-Korea and Switzerland.
Finally, the embassador invited us to a delicious snack.
Finally, after months of preparation and excitment we have arrived in Seoul. Our first impression of the city was breathtaking. There are huge, modern skyscrapers but also hidden, traditional alleyways. Also the locals seem very helpful and friendly. Our class met up today for a welcome dinner. We hadn’t seen each other since May and were happy to meet all our classmates and our teacher Mr. Rüttimann in Southkorea. Some students took the opportunity to travel in Asia before the official trip started and flew in from China, Japan or Malasia. Unfortunately not everyone arrived on time. Two flights were delayed and four poor students still haven’t got here – hopefully they will arrive soon! We are very excited about the next two weeks and think it will be a unforgettable trip. The company visits, city tours and other activities will give us alot to write about on our blog.
ZHAW’s School of Management and Law is organizing another fieldtrip to Asia. This time the focal points of the visit are in South Korea and China. The class led by Prof. Dr. René Ruettimann will visit companies, listen to speeches, exploring historical sites, and do general activities to get an insight into the economical, business, social, and cultural world of these two countries.
This year, the tip starts in Seoul on the 27th of June and ends in Shanghai on the 14th July 2012. In Korea, we will visit the World Exhibition Yeosu 2012 and the industrial town of Busan. In China the activities will be in the area of Shanghai.
During our trip we will daily fill our blog and report about our activities.