Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Welcome to Pusan's love hotels
Olympic dreams and love hotels at APECKorean cuisine
14 Nov 2005 08:54:35 GMT
By Jon Herskovitz
PUSAN, South Korea, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Participants at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum had a chance to experience South Korean passion and spirits on Monday ahead of the arrival of leaders later in the week.
Here are a few notes from the southeastern port of Pusan, which is hosting the summit:
FEEL THE LOVE
South Korea's second city, with a population of about 3.7 million, is awash with hotel rooms.
But the five-star rooms go quickly in any city when leaders of 21 economies, foreign ministers and chief executives from some of the world's richest companies -- along with all of their related staff -- turn up at the same time.
As a result, media groups and other APEC participants are staying in places euphemistically called "love hotels" where couples can rent rooms by the hour.
Pusan's love hotels have spruced up their rooms, covered mirrors on the ceilings and put their cleanest sheets on round beds for a new sort of clientele.
News agency journalists found their pink-lit rooms to be spacious and clean, but lacking some amenities. Since typical customers do not usually worry about unpacking, the rooms come with no closets and only two hangers.
There are no exact figures for the number of love hotels in Pusan because they are not registered as such, but a city official estimated that about 30 percent rent rooms by the hour.
DRINK LIKE A KING
APEC has a happy hour for participants to down spirits fit for a king. Every afternoon during the event, South Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism is sponsoring a liquor-testing session where participants can taste wine-based spirits once served at Korea's royal court.
The drink called "samhaeju" has a deep and slightly sweet taste, not unlike mead, and is about 18 percent alcohol.
"This is a wonderful drink for cold days," said Kwak Yong-hwa, an exhibition worker.
The ministry is sponsoring a traditional Korean foods booth too, complete with people dressed in royal garb. The character who plays the king gets to use silver chopsticks because they are supposed to change colour if there is a poison in food.
The booth offers food-tasting sessions and a little hands-on experience with Korean cuisine.
Participants can roll up their sleeves and try making cakes with green, red and pink rice in the shape of flowers for a dish called "tteok".
Pusan expects to announce during APEC that it wants to host the 2020 Olympics, a city official said on Monday.
Pusan Mayor Mayor Hur Nam-sik is planning a news conference to announce that his city will officially seek to be a candidate for the Summer Games in 15 years' time, the official said.
South Korea hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
BUSH TO RECEIVE GIFT FROM N.KOREA DEFECTORS
A group of North Korean defectors living in the South will try to present a gift of traditional ceramics to U.S. President George W. Bush, who arrives in South Korea on Wednesday.
The defectors want to thank Bush for his push to improve human rights in North Korea. (With additional reporting by Lee Jin-joo in Seoul)
Monday November 14, 10:46 AM
APEC Visitors Forced To Lower Standards On Accomodation
BUSAN, Nov 14 Asia Pulse - While five-star hotels here are enjoying brisk business with the APEC forum, some visitors are being forced to lower their standards as premium accommodation in Busan has pretty much dried up, according to hotel officials Sunday.
Some visiting executives, the kind that are used to staying in the best hotels, are finding that they have to make do with lesser accommodation. With 800 executives from around the region scheduled to attend the APEC CEO Summit on Nov. 17-18, some have had to find places to stay other than the six top-quality hotels specially designated for the use of 21 Pacific Rim leaders, the officials said.
A total of 2,500 rooms have been reserved for the APEC period at the six Busan hotels chosen for their proximity to summit venues, level of service and outstanding views.
All other five-star hotels in the city claim to be booked out by government officials attending the APEC forum, they said.
"The hotel business in Busan is thrilled about capitalizing on APEC to enhance its reputation worldwide. But some CEOs are having a hard time finding a good place to stay," said Yu Eun-joo, a public relations official at the Paradise Hotel Busan.
The Paradise Hotel is to accommodate seven heads of state attending the 21 APEC economic leaders' summit on Nov. 18-19, the largest number for a single hotel.
Lee Mi-young, an assistant public relations manager at the Westin Chosun at Haeundae Beach, agreed on the situation.
"If a hotel accommodates a head of state, the hotel cannot lodge other guests due to the large number of the VIP's accompanying delegation," Lee said.
"Also, if a hotel has been designated to accommodate heads of state, it is required to restrict other guests from using the hotel to ensure the leaders' safety, which means some CEOs and private visitors have to find other places to stay," she said.
Although it is not to provide lodgings to a head of state, the Hotel Paragon, a five-star hotel with 232 units, is fully booked with APEC-related guests.
"The city has been blocking all the rooms at the five-star hotels in Busan in case of an emergency situation. As I've heard, some businesspeople and tourists are having to stay in four-star hotels or even condominiums," an official responsible for managing rooms, said on condition of anonymity.
'Love Motels' Abound Near APEC Summit
Wednesday November 16, 1:52 pm ET
By Burt Herman, Associated Press Writer
Round Beds and Red Lights: Many Guests at Asia-Pacific Summit in Korea to Stay in 'Love Motels'
BUSAN, South Korea (AP) -- Round beds and red lights are among the amenities on offer to guests attending a regional summit in this port city.
While world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit will stay in five-star hotels, hundreds of others are booked into "love motels" -- the colloquial term for lodgings more suited for the kind of "love" that lasts for hours rather than for eternity.
The affordable motels are a fixture across South Korea. In one of the world's most densely populated countries, where extended families often live together, such accommodations provide a refuge for those seeking discreet locations for intimate encounters.
Luxury hotels in Busan's Haeundae beach area near the summit venues are at a premium, housing an estimated 10,000 guests connected to APEC's weeklong meetings, culminating in the leaders' summit Friday and Saturday.
"A lot of visitors have requested rooms at super-deluxe hotels, but due to the limited number of hotels available, not everyone was able to stay at the hotels they desired," said Koo Yu-na, an official with the APEC accommodation team.
The room shortage sent organizers to the "love motels," which often have fanciful English names like Crystal or Luxury. Nearly half of these motels are fully booked during the summit, Koo said.
"Love motels" are decked out with features designed for covert liaisons of amorous sort. Curtains of rope at parking lot entrances allow cars inside but keep out prying eyes. Frosted glass and heavy curtains in the rooms provide further cover.
The features are necessity for some visitors: Adultery is illegal in South Korea and punishable by up to two years in prison, although the law is only really enforced by angry spouses.
Other amenities can include the red lights and round beds. At the Motel Aqua Beach where some journalists are staying, staircase railings are decorated with fanciful drawings of bare-breasted maidens.
Not included are closets. Instead, guests get a couple of hangers, enough to hold what you came in wearing.
APEC organizers acknowledge some guests aren't pleased.
"We have had visitors complaining about outdated facilities at some of the inexpensive hotels," Koo said.
South Korea has turned to the "love motels" before during big events, with many visitors staying in them during the 2002 World Cup the country co-hosted with Japan and during the Asian Games later that year.
And despite the influx of APEC guests to Busan, the motels aren't necessarily happy. Intense security means many local clients are staying away. Rooms that can be rented by the hour, possibly several times over the course of a day and night, are now occupied 24 hours by single guests.
At the Queen, which boasts neon lights and rope curtains but where managers insist this isn't a "love motel," business has turned for the worse during APEC. Normally, all 42 rooms are full but only six were occupied early this week.
Categories: SouthKorea, kimchi