Insights on Seoul: An interview with Kiwan Lee

26th Apr, 2016

Kiwan Lee is the Director, Tourism Policy Division, of Seoul Metropolitan Government. Despite some difficulties last year, he shares here his ambitions for Seoul as a MICE destination.

How did Seoul do in attracting MICE events last year and what is their plan for this year?
Because of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome last year, Seoul experienced great difficulties in its tourism and MICE industries with cancelled or postponed international meetings, corporate meetings, and incentives. At that time, Mayor Park Won Soon announced a set of special support services and additional promotion through buyers fam tours, on and offline marketing, and other activities. Additionally, the Seoul MICE Alliance members strengthened their cooperation to better attract business events together. We succeeded in bringing 86 MICE events to Seoul, a 21% increase from 2014. We expanded our support service for MICE, pushed for a system to promote consumption for MICE attendees, and established special support programs to minimize the effects of MERS. We expanded the maximum funding for international meetings to about 130,000 USD and funding for incentives to about 87,000 USD.

To promote economic consumption of MICE attendees, we are also developing tour programs that reflect the various industries of MICE which we are promoting. We are also actively searching new venues such as museums, Han River parks, royal palaces, and more so they can serve as venues for banquets and welcome dinners.

Amid the strong global competition, how is Seoul working to attract business events?
As a high value industry, the MICE industry is increasingly being recognized globally as an important sector and Seoul and other major cities are working hard to attract business events. Seoul is working to attract MICE events by offering funding and a variety of support services and programs. These include assisting with proposals, providing venue tours, promotional marketing, and more. We are also explaining Seoul’s support programs and services to our Seoul MICE Alliance members through briefing sessions, while offering special MICE Tours for business event attendees and setting up Seoul Welcome booth with cultural activities to increase the satisfaction of business event attendees.

What is exactly the Seoul MICE Alliance and what is their role in Seoul’s business events?
Since 2011, Seoul is managing the Seoul MICE Alliance which has 195 members in 5 different industries. The Seoul MICE Alliance is operated by the city of Seoul and the Seoul Tourism Organization, with the joint aim of better promoting Seoul's meetings infrastructure and advantages to buyers around the world.

We are actively working with other organizations to attract MICE events by participating together in exhibitions abroad, the Korea MICE Expo, media fam tours, and more. In the future, we will strengthen our cooperation to develop joint tour programs, operating businesses together, and expanding the role and potential of the Seoul MICE Alliance.

How does Seoul plan to attract more business events in the future?
To better attract business events, the Seoul Tourism Organization was created in 2008. As competition to attract business events grows globally, Seoul and the Seoul Tourism Organization is actively working to expand MICE infrastructure and support services and programs. Our aim is to rank number three on the Union of International Association’s top ten meeting cities. In 2013, the Seoul Metropolitan government developed and unveiled a Master Plan to expand existing and create new MICE facilities and infrastructure on a larger scale. The Jamsil Sports Complex district, for example, will be heavily redeveloped to become an expanded MICE region with the existing MICE infrastructure near Coex. The new developments will include new luxury hotels, meeting, and entertainment venues.

For business event attendees, we will continue to develop new and exciting programs that are of high quality with the aim to make visitors want to return for another visit such as through our MICE Tour programs which offers business event attendees specialized tours of the city. Seoul will continue to work with the national government to create world class MICE venues and facilities and expand our support.

More info on

Other Articles

About Us

Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.