Ikea shows unique Korean displays ahead of opening

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Ikea shows unique Korean displays ahead of opening

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Ikea Korea revealed all of its showrooms and 8,600 home furnishing items on Monday to reporters prior to the official opening on Thursday of the company’s first store in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi. Provided by the company

GWANGMYEONG, Gyeonggi - After controversies over pricing and its use of maps that say “Sea of Japan,” Swedish home furnishings retailer Ikea is ready to welcome its first Korean shoppers at its grand opening on Thursday.

Located just outside of Seoul in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi, the Korean branch will sell more than 8,600 products and will have 65 display rooms.

The store will be the largest Ikea retailer in the world, with a floor area of 131,550-square-meters (32.5 acres). The new Ikea will be open from 10 a.m. through 10 p.m. and has three floors for parking and two floors of retail space.

Ikea Korea said that it interviewed 1,000 Koreans from all age groups over the past two years before making the room displays to be sure they were designed in a way that reflects Korean lifestyles.

The company’s survey focused on common features of Korean households.

“In a household with children, the arrangement and design of furniture is very oriented around the children,” said Seong Jin-ok, communication and interior design manger at Ikea Korea, during a press tour on Monday.

“So, we tried to reflect this aspect in the room settings and tried to find a solution by showing various storage options for a child’s items.”

She added that some of the room displays were based on a trend in Korea of combining a living room with a study.

“Since parents are always concerned with making sure their children study, they want bring book cases and small desks tucked inside the bedrooms out and into the living room so that they can help with their children’s studies, which is a unique trend,” the manager said as she showed a display living room that doubles as a study.

The store also has a supervised children’s play area called Smaland where staff will take care of visitors’ children for one hour for free.

Another highlight is the Ikea Restaurant on the second floor, which will offer Swedish-style dishes and local specials. The menu consists of Ikea’s famous Swedish meatballs, salads, salmon and cheese cake. Local specials include kimchi fried rice and rice with bulgogi.

Ikea Korea said that the food items on offer will be expanded in the future.

Cecilia Johansson, manager of the Gwangmyeong store, gave tips on how to shop at Ikea.

“Ikea’s business model is ‘cash ‘n carry, which means you can save a lot when you have an active role in purchasing, delivering and assembling the products,” Johansson said. “But in case you need help, we do offer help.”

Ikea’s delivery service starts at 29,000 won ($26) and depends on the distance. An official of Ikea said that Seoul residents may need pay around 40,000 won, but that the fees do not increase based on the size of the products.

The assembly service starts at 40,000 won and varies based on the size of the item.

“We are excited to finally greet Korean consumers at the store,” Johannson said, adding that “the IKEA Gwangmyeong has products and ideas for everyone with different tastes, individuality, and age, and we hope everyone who visits the store finds new home furnishing inspiration.”

Though the store has high expectations for its opening, the past few months have not been smooth sailing for Ikea Korea.

Last month, it came under fire for using “Sea of Japan” on its world map to identify the body of water between Korea and Japan. It was also accused of setting prices unfairly high on some items.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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