[VIEWPOINT]Chores Aplenty Must Precede World CupBefore the Olympics it was not easy to find foreigners in Korea, even in downtown Seoul.
Just within the last few years, Korea has changed a lot. These days you often run into foreigners, not only at the top business hotels, but also on the subways, at restaurants and in bars, as well as in clothing shops at Dongdaemun. You can also find many foreigners at Hanwoori and Beodeunamujib, which are two of my favorite restaurants.
Today, Seoul is definitely an international city. Korea has become an important part of the global village and I believe the Olympics played a vital role. The 1988 Olympics served as a great tool to promote Korea's beautiful tradition and culture.
Ahead of Korea now lies the World Cup, which could be a bigger and better opportunity than the Olympics. Less than a year remains on the electronic board that counts down the days until the event. Those of us at DaimlerChrysler have already decided on which events to hold, who to invite and where to visit during the World Cup.
Foreigners know that Koreans can work well as one when they are faced with major projects. The miracle of the Han River, the "Gather Your Gold" campaign during the economic crisis, and a quick rise as a strong IT nation are good examples.
However, no matter how fast Koreans react, there are projects that require time. A global festival like the World Cup is definitely one that requires extensive planning and effort. Not only that, this project requires the assistance of all Koreans, not just the effort of those organizations or groups in charge.
As a start, we need to develop a variety of travel packages that offer visits to beautiful places in Korea. A foreigner I know, a CEO, visits a Korean temple nearly every weekend. A while ago he gave me a book titled "The Smile of The Baby Buddha," written by Professor Yu Hong-june, as a gift. Reading the book made me realize how many beautiful temples exist in Korea. To have these foreign visitors serve as "Honorary Ambassadors for Korea," we make great tourism products out of these places.
Also, we must promote great Korean food. In addition to bulgogi, kimchi and bibimbab, which are already well known, there are many fascinating food items, such as samgyetang, yookhoi, dwenjangjikye, pajeon, budaejikye and samkyubsal to be promoted.
Dishes made with eel and chicken intestines at pojangmacha (outdoor tented restaurants) could also be unique experience for foreigners. Nothing beats having soju, baekseju or ginseng liquor with these dishes.
Books that feature tourist spots, restaurants and culture need to be published in many languages, such as English, French, German, Spanish and so forth, and distributed worldwide so that many foreigners can visit Korea during the World Cup.
Another project, which must start now, involves the improvement of road signs. If one drives in Korea following the English signs, it is most likely that he or she will get lost. Many times I have failed finding a place in the rural parts of Korea because at one point the signs simply stopped.
Much effort and time need to go into making or remaking the signs, adding English to them and indicating where the signs are on maps.
We need to fix all these things and we don't have much time.
But what's more important is that the people need to come together as one to plan and prepare for the World Cup. Many Koreans I know say that there is still one year left until the World Cup and that it is far in the future. Not only that, the "Korea Corporation" is busy these days with many issues.
It is the people's homework to make sure that the many beauties of Korea make the news on CNN instead of the demonstrations, the conflict with North Korea and other disturbances.
Remember, the World Cup is just around the corner.
The writer is the president of DaimlerChrysler Korea.
by Wayne Chumley