1st C-Festival starts Friday

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1st C-Festival starts Friday

COEX, the nation’s largest convention center, hopes to attract 3 million Chinese and Japanese tourists during Korea Spring Tourism Weeks, which start Friday and run through May 15, with a new annual festival throughout the Samseong-dong area of Gangnam District, southern Seoul.

COEX on Monday said it will host its first 10-day C-Festival starting tomorrow on Chinese Labor Day.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization last year, foreign tourists spend an average of 1.3 million won ($1,215) per person, and visitors to the Samseong-dong area have increased an average of 6.5 percent a year for the past seven years.

COEX and other Gangnam-based businesses hope to make the area around Samseong station on subway line No. 2 a mecca for the nation’s MICE (meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition) industry, which has been designated by the government as a future growth engine.

“Seoul and Gangnam, in particular, have been the strongest brand image of Korea so far, but I would like to make COEX the nation’s flagship image by fostering the MICE industry here in Samseong-dong,” said Coex CEO Byun Bo-kyung at a press conference Tuesday.

“The Korean MICE industry is still at an early stage in size, but I think our role is to prepare required infrastructure and publicize our ambition to the rest of the world by holding big events like C-Festival, so the industry can grow.”

Planning for this year’s C-Festival began in September 2013 by 13 Gangnam-based companies, including COEX, SM Entertainment, Lotte Duty Free, Grand Korea Leisure, and City Airport, Logistics and Travel of Korea.

Parts of the festival were almost canceled due to regulations of Seoul City Government and Gangnam District, mostly because of plans to put up large banners on skyscrapers, launch a standing cultural event at the World Trade Center, display a media facade on buildings and open a Gangnam observatory on the roof of ASEM Tower.

Festival organizers initially aimed to erect a facade worth nearly 7 billion won to show videos and performances on LED screens on the Trade Tower.

However, the old Seoul law would allow it to be operational for only 10 minutes per hour after sundown.

But Gangnam District Office asked the central government to exempt the festival from the regulation by designating the Samseong-dong area as a tourism specialty district.

Thanks to the effort, the Blue House-led trade and investment promotion agency designated the complex as a MICE and tourism industry complex late last year.

In addition to the nation’s largest media facade, there will be performances including hologram musicals, plays and K-pop concerts outside the COEX building.

Outside movie screenings and a beer festival, previously banned, will also take place.

BY KIM JOON-SOOL, KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]
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