Confusing signs cause headaches at Gimpo

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Confusing signs cause headaches at Gimpo

The construction of a shopping center at Gimpo International Airport is causing headaches and confusion for tourists, airport merchants and area residents, who complain of traffic congestion and lack of signage.

Work on a seven-story mall began in November 2007 and is expected to be complete by early December, but construction work on a dozen passageways linking the airport to the shopping mall and subway station as well as construction of an adjacent park are getting tourists and drivers lost.

In particular, lack of signs informing travelers of detour routes has made for a frustrating welcome for many.

A 25-year-old tourist from China said he wandered around Gimpo for half an hour trying to find the subway station. When he followed the signs to the station, he was met by a construction site and a cloud of dust.

“Incheon International Airport has signs in Chinese characters, but I don’t understand why Gimpo doesn’t provide any signs about the construction,” he said. “It is my first day on this trip, but I’m already tired.”

A 38-year-old tourist from China also had a hard time finding his way around. “This is an airport that’s supposed to handle many international groups. I can’t understand why they don’t provide the signs in foreign languages. I decided to spend my vacation in Korea, but the first impression is not very good,” he said.

Airport merchants are worried that confusing signage and frustrated travelers will hit their bottom line.

“Chinese customers are big buyers at airport outlets,” said a clothing store owner surnamed Choi. “I see many Chinese tourists wandering around the airport because they can’t find their way. I’m afraid that the confusion will reduce the number of Chinese tourists because many of them looked angry.”

Nearby residents, meanwhile, say the construction has confused them because of frequent detours in the area.

“I’ve come here three days in a row, but I’ve had to take three different routes to go to the same destination,” a taxi driver surnamed Jeon said.

A resident surnamed Lee complained about the construction noise. “I can’t even wait at the bus stop next to the airport because of the noise from the trucks,” Lee said.

An official from the Korea Airports Corporation, which operates Gimpo, said, “We’re trying to finish the construction as soon as possible, and we will try to minimize visitors’ inconveniences as much as we can.”

By Lee Ji-sang []
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