Seoul Plans Big for Meetings

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The JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square opened in February with 170 guest rooms and a rooftop bar.

Seoul is growing as a major international meetings destination. In 2013, the South Korean capital saw 125 international association meetings, an increase of 25 percent from 2012 and enough to place it ninth in the 2013 County and City Rankings report released by the International Congress and Convention Association in May. (In 2012, Seoul held the 17th spot.)

The city is now implementing a three-phase master plan in an effort to continue attracting meetings business for decades to come.

Phase one: New MICE District
The first phase of the plan, aimed at establishing a Central MICE District, was marked by the debut of Dongdaemun Design Plaza. The facility, which opened in March, comprises two art-gallery  halls (totaling 53,318 square feet), a 200-seat conference hall, a design museum and several other large spaces for groups. Surrounding the striking building, which was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, is a 322,000-square-foot park and plaza.

Also new as of April is the Floating Island on the Han River. Spanning more than 100,000 square feet, the island comprises a 8,200-square-foot convention hall, restaurants, various water sports facilities and a live-entertainment stage.

Phase one will culminate with the construction of the Seoul Station Convention Center at the present site of the historic Seoul Station subway stop. Details for the complex have yet to be announced.

Phase Two: COEX Expansion

To be completed in 2020, the plan's second phase focuses on the city's Yeongdong area and calls for a major expansion of the Coex convention and exhibition center. The project will add nearly one million square feet of function space, bringing the total amount of meeting and event pace at the facility to more than two million square feet.

Phase two also covers a redevelopment of nearby sports facilities, including those built for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and the Seoul  Medical Center.

Phase Three: Focus on Magok
The master plan's final phase, scheduled to be completed in 2030, involves redevelopment of the city's Magok district in the southwest, near Gimpo International Airport. Plans call for the creation of meeting facilities to support the area's high-tech industries.