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C-Festival 2018 draws crowds with beer and YouTubers

May 09,2018
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Left: Visitors try out craft beers at the 10th Great Korean Beer Festival during the C-Festival at COEX in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. Right: Diplomats to Korea from 20 countries pose with PR ambassadors at the opening of the C-Festival on May 2. [COEX, YONHAP]
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Kim Yong-hak, a 30-year-old who’s planning to launch his own start-up, spent 100,000 won on a ticket [$92.81] and traveled to COEX in southern Seoul on May 4 in hopes of getting some useful tips.

He attended a lecture from Josh Carrott, one of the most famous foreign YouTubers in Korea.

Carrott, who has 2.5 million YouTube subscribers, gave a speech on content and spending trends and how to profit as a YouTuber.

The lecture from Carrott was part of C-Festival 2018, which was held at COEX from May 2 to 6.

“It opened my eyes to the digital content industry,” Kim said after the event. “It was worth every penny.”

Chung Jin-hoo, a 22-year-old college student who traveled to Thailand last summer, was intrigued when she spotted the Thai Embassy’s booth at COEX last weekend.

The booth offered up mangosteen imported from Thailand as well as the popular Thai soup tom yum goong.

Visitors could also try out Muay Thai kickboxing through a VR game.

Chung paid 10,000 won for admission and said he was very satisfied, as the booth reminded him of his trip to Thailand.

The C-Festival was created by the Korea International Trade Association, the Gangnam District government as well as the COEX MICE (meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition) Cluster Committee, and is now in its fourth year.

The C-Festival was created to put Gangnam’s trade center on the map as Asia’s most important business center. This year’s festival aimed to provide quality drinks and food for visitors along with meaningful lectures and experiences.

“If the MICE industry does not evolve, it could die out,” said Oh Soo-young, head of the COEX public relations office. “That’s why this year we have held several lectures from popular companies and celebrities.”

K-pop stars were a highlight of this year’s festival. Popular singers like Sunwoo Jung-ah and idols such as Hwang Chi-yeul, Monsta X and the Cosmic Girls attracted foreign visitors. Other bands from Uzbekistan and Thailand also drew the interest of the crowd.

The 2018 C-Festival placed an extra emphasis on food and beverages, and 27 craft breweries attended a beer festival set up on the front lawn of COEX, while 32 popular restaurants served up dishes out of food booths.

At a wine market, bottles were sold for up to 70 percent off. The wine market was a big hit, as buyers could drink their wine at the Intercontinental Hotel for no extra charge.

The Korea Industrial Development Institute estimated that the C-Festival had a total economic impact of 143 billion won.

The institute estimated that 1.55 million people visited the festival and spent 80.4 billion won. It contributed to larger spending in the surrounding commercial areas, which could lead the Gangnam District government to collect more taxes.

According to data from Hyundai Department Store’s trade center branch, which is located next to COEX, purchases made by foreign customers between April 27 and May 4 increased by 41.2 percent. Chinese customers’ spending surged by 174 percent this year over 2017.

A total of 903 people worked at C-Festival, including those at the beer and food festival.

“Other than the visible income [made from the festival], intangible profit, such as promoting Gangnam as a MICE tourist district, is much larger,” said an official at the industrial institute.

“The success of the C-Festival will be the stepping stone that will brand the area surrounding COEX and the trade center as a MICE industry center,” said COEX president Lee Dong-won. “We plan to continue to develop C-Festival in accordance with the global MICE industry, which combines arts, culture and entertainment.”

Many locations across the globe see trade shows and conventions as a potential gold mine. Foreign visitors to conventions spend three times more than ordinary tourists and stay 1.4 times longer.

Singapore, which has a population of only 5.8 million, is a leading center for business conventions and trade shows.

The Southeast Asian city-state is estimated to have created over 60,000 jobs through such events, lowering its unemployment rate to 1 percent from 3 percent.

Korea led the world in international conferences in 2016, hosting 997 out of the total 11,000. Seoul was ranked third in the world, hosting 526 conferences, and the southern port city of Busan came in 14th after hosting 142 conferences.


BY PARK TAE-HEE [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]