KTO Hallyu Tour – The Start

A pavilion at the top of Namsan
A pavilion at the top of Namsan

30 people from 21 countries… brought together by a shared love of Korea and Hallyu. What could be more fun than that?

The Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) planned an absolutely marvelous, fun-filled, whirlwind Hallyu-inspired trip to Seoul and invited people from all over the world to apply to participate via their local KTO offices. Participants had to prepare a Hallyu-inpsored 5 day travel plan and marketing report (up to 10 pages long, mine was 8 pages) to apply and those chosen (yay, I was one!!) were treated to an all expenses paid (except spending money of course) trip to Seoul.

Lol, Psy is everywhere... even as a teddy bear
Lol, Psy is everywhere… even as a teddy bear

Our lucky group of 30 people included bloggers, online media people (radio, magazine, even the CEO of an online media company), fan club organizers, K-pop event promoters, and more. We came from literally all over the world! One of the neatest things? I’ve read and/or visited the websites/YouTube pages of some of them. Cool, eh?

We spoke a ton of different languages – well, we were from 22 different countries – but our shared passion for Korea, Korean culture and Hallyu helped bridge any language gap we might feel. While the activities we did and the places we visited on the trip were beyond amazing, as a people person, I will always treasure the wonderful people I met. Everyone was lovely – the participants, the tour/team managers, the organizers – everyone!

I am so thankful that I had the chance to meet you all! Thanks KTO!!

The view - it was quite hazy (and through a window - so the picture isn't so good
The view – it was quite hazy (and through a window – so the picture isn’t so good

The Tour

But since I know you’re dying to know what we did… let’s get started. Everything started on Sunday. The KTO put us up in the Plaza Seoul which is probably the nicest hotel (and even though I love B&B’s and guest houses, I have stayed in some nice places) I’ve ever stayed at… definitely the most technologically advanced. Loved the control panel (yeah, I’m a geek). So after playing with the room a bit (loved the control panel but the toilet intimidated me a bit), it was time for the fun to start.

Seoul Tower with a cool light show on it
Seoul Tower with a cool light show on it

The tour started at 4:30 pm on Sunday when we all met in the lobby for the first time before heading off. It was so neat to meet all the wonderful people – some of whom I’d talked to a little online as the KTO organizers introduced us a bit in our groups (they broke us up into 3 groups of 10) via email prior to the trip. We were all ages (18 to 50 I think), spoke a variety of languages and like I said, were from 22 different countries… but everyone was super nice and friendly. I now have 22 new friends… plus the wonderful team leaders and tour organizers. Everyone rocked!

You can send a love letter too
You can send a love letter too

Our first night was a light schedule – just a welcome dinner and then off to Namsan mountain to visit Seoul Tower. Dinner was a light buffet were we all got to know each other just a little bit better. But I was super excited about Seoul Tower because I’m going to tell you a secret… I never visited it while I lived in Seoul. I know, I know… I lived there for two years and I always meant to go but just never made it.

The love chairs and love lock trees behind - reminds me of Dating Agency: Cyrano
The love chairs and love lock trees behind – reminds me of Dating Agency: Cyrano

Plus it was made just a little bit more special as I just watched the Korean drama, Dating Agency: Cyrano (and wrote about it on DramaFever) and they visited Seoul Tower in one episode. It was so cute seeing the benches in real life. ^^

Walking up Namsan mountain to Seoul Tower
Walking up Namsan mountain to Seoul Tower

Another highlight for me was the neat light show they put on the tower itself. We missed a bit of it doing a group photo but it was pretty. If you’re in Seoul and have a free evening, I definitely recommend visiting Seoul Tower. Just wear comfy shoes as you’ll have to walk the last portion up the hill/mountain.

The Participants

Remember I said we were 30 lovely people from 21 different countries… literally all over the world? Well, I was so curious (and knew some of my readers might also want to know) as to where we all came from, I asked. And my super amazing team leader – Sun, you were so friendly & helpful – was glad to tell me.

Wow, Toronto is so far!
Wow, Toronto is so far!

The Countries

North & South America: Canada, United States, Peru

Europe: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary

Asia: Philippines, China, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan

Middle East: Turkey, Israel

Australia: Australia

Another scene from the light show
Another scene from the light show

See we were literally from all around the world! ^^ Check back tomorrow for Day 1 of our trip…

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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