28 Oct Terrazzo in Korea (대한민국)
One thing everyone should do once in their life is to travel to another country. I was incredibly grateful to step away for a few weeks at Concord Terrazzo Company to visit Seoul, South Korea. Experiencing South Korea first-hand I can tell you that it is much different than life here in the United States. Over the decades, Seoul became a leading and rising global city home to headquarters including Samsung, LG, and Hyundai, but still very rich in history and tradition. Sightseeing in South Korea is breathtaking, and I was amazed by how much terrazzo there was in Korea.
Believe it or not, South Korea is a dense city with thousands of people walking the streets daily. Almost any place I went to was crowded. Because of the high traffic volumes across the city, it was no wonder that I was able to catch a glimpse of terrazzo here and there. For this blog post, I will share as much about my experience in Korea as possible while giving you a look at traditional and commercial places using terrazzo today around South Korea.
Traveling to South Korea
After months of planning my trip, it was time to set off on a new adventure. The excitement was settling in and I was eager to what awaited me thousands of miles across the world. To get to Incheon International Airport, I had to depart from Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the largest terrazzo project Concord Terrazzo Company has been involved in since its foundation; however, this would be the first time I personally got to see the terrazzo floors in details. For several years Charlotte Douglas International Airport has been renovating and expanding its space to meet the demands of increased travelers. Today you will find epoxy terrazzo throughout the airport from its terminals and concourses, restrooms, retail shops, and restaurants along the way to your gate.
After a quick flight to Atlanta, Georgia (which is a 40-minute flight from Charlotte), I got off the plane and had a 3-hour layover. At this time, I took the opportunity to look around the airport. As the busiest airport in the United States, I wasn’t surprised to come across terrazzo flooring. Immediately I noticed how different the floors looked compared to the floors at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
The thing to admire about terrazzo is its design flexibility. It allows architects and designers the opportunity to create any floor design imaginable. Check out your local airport and see the type of terrazzo design it may have.
Soon I was ready to depart for Seoul, South Korea. During the 14-hour flight, I felt impressed and satisfied by the service and accommodations made by Korean Air. A bit of advice for anyone traveling a large distance: get some rest. Not having slept well on the flight, I was fatigued upon arrival. But that didn’t stop me from realizing that I had landed in South Korea and that an adventure awaited in the coming days.
Before stepping out of Incheon International Airport, I had passed several retail shops with modern terrazzo designs. Most notably was the Valentino shop, a luxury apparel and accessory store. Architect David Chipperfield impressed the industry with the use of Venetian aggregates for the store design. Elsewhere Celine, a luxury handbag store, exhibits a washed terrazzo design. Many of these stores had their unique style of terrazzo flooring, but terrazzo was not limited to just flooring but was used as countertops and wall designs as well.
Transportation System in Korea
The subway station plays an important role in the daily lives of South Koreans. Seoul is connected to every major city in South Korea by railway. South Koreans take it to travel to work, attend school, or visit cities to meet friends, sightsee, or do a bit of shopping. While there are different ways to get around Seoul like taking a taxi or taking a bus, traveling by railway is the most efficient and convenient way to go, not to mention budget-friendly too!
To get around Seoul, I took the transportation system. I observed a couple of things while boarding the train. Special seating privileges were given to women who were pregnant, the elderly, and the disabled. While crowded at times, especially during the commute during work hours or on weekends, it was easy to enter and exit a train at any time. And despite many people taking the train at once, trains remain quiet the entire time!
As you get off at a stop around Seoul, you’ll notice that most cities have terrazzo tile for their subway’s flooring system. While examining the terrazzo tiles, one can tell that these tiles have been around for decades. Based on my insights, the terrazzo remains in good condition even after all these years.
The Markets of South Korea
Markets provide the livelihoods of many Koreans, making Korea a place to shop for fashion, cosmetics, food, and other products. There are several markets around the Seoul area. Here are the ones I’ve visited:
Dongdaemun Market is designated a tourism zone in Seoul, South Korea known for having the largest wholesale and retail goods. Here you can find products like handbags and shoes, fabrics, and clothes at good prices. It is also a street food district where you can feast on some of the most delicious Korean foods and sweets.
For a high-end shopping experience, head to Myeongdong where you will find luxury brand stores, top Korean cosmetics, and international brand outlets like Nike and Forever 21. Hongdae was my favorite place to grab food and witness live performances. Both places are popular among tourists and younger crowds who want to experience the entertainment and fashion aspects of South Korea.
Insadong is mainly known for its market of antiques and artworks. It is also a street food haven for those looking to experience Korean food. If you are looking to experience traditional Korea, then Insadong should be marked on your travel list.
Namdaemun is the oldest and largest market in Korea. Here you will find a large collection of items for sale. You can find anything from jewelry, clothing, flowers, electronics and street food here. You’ll likely find an middle-aged to elderly crowd in Namdeamun.
At first, witnessing the number of shops around South Korea can feel overwhelming, but dependent on what you want to buy, Korea has a lot of stores catered to different products all at affordable pricing. If you prefer sightseeing over a shopping experience, at least partake in a few street food indulgements.
One of the trends I’ve noticed was the amount of terrazzo installed in beauty and fashion stores. Korean has some of the most advanced beauty products and clothing trends around the world and is infused with their culture. Their floor designs reflect what is typically seen in modern terrazzo floors today: a pop of color, minimilist styles, and use of large aggregates.
To get the get view of Seoul, South Korea, I recommend visiting Namsan Seoul Tower, which is an observatory deck with restaurants and museums inside. Seeing the city at night is a truly memorable experience.
At the top of the Seoul Tower, you will find the place laid with terrazzo tile. Because Seoul Tower receives hundreds of visitors daily, terrazzo is a great selection of flooring for the observatory deck keeping the place looking clean and appealing.
Also, be sure to check out the “Locks of Love” collection right next to Seoul Tower. Thousands of people bring their own locks to hang in this location which symbolizes an endless love between two people.
Terrazzo Among the Locals
One of the most interesting things I’ve learned during my stay in Korea is their desire to live in high-rise apartment buildings. Unlike America where owning a house is part of the “American Dream”, high-rise complexes are sought after in Korea. Wherever you go in Korea, you will notice a ton of high-rise apartments particularly due to the size of land vs. increasing populations. To live in a high-rise building meant having good finances and social status and is believed to be a comfortable way of living for many Korean families.
Upon visiting family in Korea, I’ve entered multiple high-rise apartment buildings and noticed a significant amount of terrazzo tile installed in the hallways and elevator cabs. It was surprising to see how terrazzo was already part of people’s daily lives from the subway station, at school and work, and now even their own homes.
Walking along the streets of these cities, you will notice terrazzo here and there. Many older shops and buildings have terrazzo flooring. Despite the age and neglect of the terrazzo, the terrazzo holds up well for a building lasting over 40 years. Even the manholes for sewer systems were made out of pink cement terrazzo. Quite fascinating to see!
Places to Go
South Korea is a very unique county with a very rich culture. As amazing as South Korea can be, it can be hard to see everything in a few days. If you plan to visit South Korea in the future, here are some of the places I recommend.
A great place to experience the history and traditions of South Korea is visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest of five palaces around South Korea. People can rent traditional costumes known as a hanbok that gets you free admittance into the palace. The fondest memory from Gyeongbokgung Palace has to be the changing of the guards’ ceremony. Performed multiple times a day, guards reenact old traditions and watch over the palace the entire day. Inside the palace, you’ll get to experience what it’s like to live like royalty!
2. Take a walk along Cheoggycheon River
You will do a lot of walking in South Korea! But I found taking a walk along the Cheoggycheon River to feel quite serene. After experiencing large crowds and tall skyscrapers, this an opportunity to relax before continuing to the next location.
Cheoggycheon River runs through downtown Seoul and was created as part of an urban renewal project. The steam was covered with highway development after the Korean War (1953) but was removed in 2003 to its present form.
3. Trickeye Museum
If you are looking to have a good laugh and get some really great pictures during your time in Seoul, take a day to visit the Trickeye Museum. This is a place you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Capture shots as you blend in with paintings and illusions.
Take advantage of the museum’s Augmented Reality (AR) phone app, which brings the paintings to life!
Adjacent to the Trickeye Museum is other attractions including the Ice Museum and Love Museum. I did get to experience the Ice Museum which showcases amazing ice sculptures. Bring a jacket with you as this museum will have you freezing but don’t forget to try the gigantic ice slide as you exit the museum.
To sum up my trip to South Korea, I would describe it as a lifechanging experience. Traveling to South Korea taught me so much about different cultures and lifestyles. While visiting South Korea you may get to see many get attractions around the country, but it’s hard to pack everything in within a matter of days or few weeks. Hopefully, you get to experience South Korea and enjoy all it has to offer.
Having never left the United States, I was surprised by how much Koreans are surrounded by terrazzo. While only mostly the markets and top attractions of South Korea, I have no doubts that terrazzo impacts many of their school systems, hospitals, and commercial buildings as well.
Coming back to Concord Terrazzo Company, I hoped to share how experience is shaping the world today. Concord Terrazzo Company is a single-source supplier in terrazzo materials. If you are looking for a terrazzo contractor in Korea, please check out CIA Co, LTD and their Shine-Terrazzo flooring system. We had the opportunity to meet with the Owner Mr. Soon Yeon Kim and his team to train them in installing and maintaining an epoxy terrazzo floor using TERRAZZCO Brand Products. Thank you for reading about terrazzo in Korea! Gamsahamnida (감사합니다)