Day 2, Tuesday March 12

We started the day sliding from the second floor of Seoul Start Up, with tours and visits with Seth and his team.  We then spend the afternoon at the DMZ.  What were your take-aways from today? What did you learn about Seoul Start Up, and what did you most appreciate about the history that brought about North and South Korea?

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29 Responses to “Day 2, Tuesday March 12”

  1. Nikki Says:

    My biggest take away from Seoul startup hub was how practical the entrepreneurs were in terms of doing business – “If you pay, we will support you and if they pay, we support them” separating business from emotional – keeping the eyes on the prize.

  2. Leili Says:

    I really enjoyed the environment they created at the start-up hub, primarily the test kitchen. It felt as though it was an open space where entrepreneurs could take calculated risks.

  3. Chase Says:

    At the Seoul Start-up Hub, I enjoyed learning about two Korean start-ups and the challenges they face. I especially enjoyed the V Bros’ founder’s off-the-cuff remarks – he was less politically correct that I’d expect to see in the U.S.

    The DMZ was a fascinating and disconcerting experience. I felt like I was both living history and peeking into someone’s suffering.

  4. Nicholas Pyne Says:

    It was really interesting to see the level of government involvement and support for startup companies in Seoul. The culture in South Korea is very tech-forward and innovative. I loved having free access to wifi nearly everywhere we went!

  5. Chandler Moody Says:

    The DMZ was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was very eerie to look at North Korea from the telescopes. What I found very strange was all of the propaganda about “One Korea.” While the train was supposed to symbolize the joining of North and South Korea, the train station that was completely dead/empty.

  6. Margaret Mauel Says:

    The test kitchen at the Seoul Start-up Hub was awesome. I would have loved to taste some of their creations.

    I was blown away by the DMZ. It is so interesting to think that the DMZ may not exist at some point in our lifetime, and we were able to experience it in person. Like some of the above comments, I too thought it felt eerie/disconcerting, especially the empty train station.

    I also found myself thinking how interesting it is that in the U.S. it often takes years to complete much needed infrastructure construction projects, and the DMZ boasted a beautiful train station without any running trains or an operable destination…

  7. Rachel Compton Says:

    Visiting the DMZ and laying eyes on North Korea was the highlight of my trip. The stark difference between the tree-filled South Korea side and the eerily barren North Korea land visually showcased the powerful divide between these two countries.

    Additionally, I was fascinated by the way South Korea chose to portray the DMZ in the short video before the tunnel tour. I especially found it interesting that the video included a segment on the beauty and wildlife of the world’s most dangerous border.

  8. Emma Blumstein Says:

    Visiting the demilitarized zone, walking the tunnel, looking out onto North Korea, and watching a bizarre, dramatic, ‘advertisement’ of sorts all made Day 2 my favorite day of the trip.

    A few years ago, I visited Israel with my family. We drove around the edges of the West Bank and also looked out onto the Gaza strip. Visiting the DMZ reminded me of these experiences as I felt the same sense of disbelief and incredulity that there are still such heated disputes entrenched between countries/peoples in today’s world. It’s hard to imagine as an American citizen with (relatively) good relationships with our neighbors!

  9. Jeff Ochfeld Says:

    The entirety of the DMZ trip was an incredibly interesting experience. Similar to my peers, I was fascinated that South Korea aimed to create this border — which embodies a very tense, hot-button political issue — into a tourist/sightseeing experience. From the DMZ signage in front of the theater area that was conducive to a group photo, to the souvenir shop at the tunnel site, the South Korean government actively encourages sharing the DMZ experience to their respective communities.

    I was also intrigued by the train station at the border that had individuals staffed, yet no trains were running. This was purely for political purposes and is meant to signal South Korea’s stance on normalizing relations through a very odd medium.

  10. Paula M Says:

    I love that the country is investing in entrepreneurship so heavily. South Korea has a lot of unicorn companies relative to its size. It seems like the government is acting as its own VC firm. I really enjoyed hearing about the company that uses comics for marketing for all things — from beauty to k-pop.

    The DMZ experience was a little strange…as a tourist attraction with souvenirs, amusement parks, cafes, and intense “wildlife” videos. I did find it interesting that the prospect of unification was plastered everywhere. Also I had no idea that if both countries were unified, South Korea would be connected to the rest of world via train — that was eye-opening.

  11. Anika Urfi Says:

    The DMZ visit really made an impression upon me. It was an incredible feeling being there in a place of such historical significance. I appreciated this experience for making me feel so much smaller and humbler. It was fascinating to learn the details of the DMZ history and when looking over at North Korea, I almost felt like I was intruding. I couldn’t imagine what the North Korean people were going through living in a small village just on the edge of the DMZ like that, without trees or readily available resources.

  12. Anna Edelman Says:

    It was great to see how supportive Korea is of start-ups. Despite being a seemingly risk-averse culture, there were so many innovative companies being formed at the start-up hub.

    Visiting the DMZ was a once in a lifetime experience. It really made me appreciate the society that I live in and the freedoms that I have to choose my career path and travel the world when I want to.

  13. Bryant Buraruk Says:

    It was great to learn the perspective of startups in a different country. Often, I assume that entrepreneurship and startups are solely a Silicon Valley-thing. For a country that is so tech focused, it only makes sense for more technology related startups to flourish in the near future.

    Visiting the DMZ was a unique opportunity to see the Korean War from the perspective of North and South Korea. It made me realize how complicated and tangled the separation of Korea must have been for its citizens. At times it felt like the DMZ was a beacon of hope for a united Korea, but it also served as a reminder that things are far from fixed.

  14. Laura Greissing Says:

    Visiting the DMZ was another highlight for me. I was not aware how the korean war left south korea in extreme poverty. Visiting here really made me thankful to live in a place like America where we can sometimes take freedom for granted. I will never forget this day.

  15. Cecile Cosby Says:

    Visiting the DMZ was one of the most interesting experiences of the trip for me. It was fascinating to be in the tunnel and learn about the relationship dynamics between those two countries. I also thought the video that we viewed before the tunnel walk (which was very tiring!!!!) was definitely dramatic with all the music and effects. It left me wondering if there was something that was being lost in translation when they were pulling it together,

  16. Amanda Wilson Says:

    The Seoul Start Up Hub was one of the business visits I was most excited for and it lived up to expectations. Getting to hear from 2 entrepreneurs who are focused on very different ventures, from VR to e-comics, was very interesting. And the culinary incubator was awesome to see, something I would have enjoyed to spend more time learning about.

    The visit to the DMZ was a memorable experience. It is difficult to articulate what I was feeling throughout this day, as it was strange to be a tourist visiting a site that is associated with such a tense political issue. Regardless, I learned a lot about the history of the country on this day and I feel lucky I had the opportunity to visit.

  17. Grace Ferguson Says:

    I loved learning about the history between North and South Korea. It was something that I had heard about over my entire life but I didn’t really know the true story. It is something that always felt in the past but being in Korea made me realize that it is still something in the present for them. The splitting up of the two countries happened within this century and the two countries have been at war ever since. Walking down into the tunnel brought to life for me how war/invasion is still something South Koreans worry about.

    The Seoul Start Up Hub was such a cool place. It is a space that inspires innovation from the test kitchen to the bean bag napping rooms to the great collaboration spaces. It was awesome to see teams at work within the space and hear about several of the startups that utilize this space to develop their business.

  18. Waldo Arreola Says:

    I was very impressed at the level of success some of the startups have come to with a proper nurturing environment. I also liked how the cafeteria was its own startup incubator for folks interested in the food industry. I was a bit thrown off by the comic book marketing guy’s comments, but it goes to show that there’s a difference when comparing Koreans’ value system to Americans’, especially given America’s heightened ultra-PC environment that has ramped up during the past decade.

  19. Blake Schwartz Says:

    I learned how extremely difficult it is to establish a thriving eco-system for startup to be successful. There are so many aspects required such as entrepreneurs, investors, regulation and academic pipelines. We are extremely fortunate to live in a place where all of those pieces have developed to support an entrepreneurial ecosystem. The trip to the DMZ made me think about how difficult history can be to overcome in order to progress. Even with pro-unification sentiment, I was reminded that old wounds don’t always heal quickly.

  20. katrobinsonmba Says:

    I was really intrigued by the entire Startup Hub visit and am glad that particular company visit was part of our trip. While I’m super appreciative of those that gave us presentations, I wanted even more about what types of companies were there, what types of successes (and failures) the hub has seen! The entire vibe of the place was very “WeWork”-esque, and impressive that they have such an elaborate, built out space to support entrepreneurs. As others noted, the Test Kitchen was by far the coolest aspect of it. I want to launch something like this in Austin because it’s getting more and more expensive to start out as a food truck, so I think the idea could really have legs (you heard it here first folks and I’m looking for some SK Trip members to get on-board this venture with me….)

  21. Kathryn Robinson Says:

    I was really intrigued by the entire Startup Hub visit and am glad that particular company visit was part of our trip. While I’m super appreciative of those that gave us presentations, I wanted even more about what types of companies were there, what types of successes (and failures) the hub has seen! The entire vibe of the place was very “WeWork”-esque, and impressive that they have such an elaborate, built out space to support entrepreneurs. As others noted, the Test Kitchen was by far the coolest aspect of it. I want to launch something like this in Austin because it’s getting more and more expensive to start out as a food truck, so I think the idea could really have legs (you heard it here first folks and I’m looking for some SK Trip members to get on-board this venture with me….)

  22. Molly Pfister Says:

    The DMZ was an unforgettable experience. It genuinely felt like we were leaving South Korea and entering an eerie, potentially dangerous area. Knowing that there were land mines scattered throughout the forest to the right and left of our bus, only intensified the reality that is the Korean conflict. Hearing how families were separated in the division of the country was a stark reminder of how sheltered and oblivious Americans can be to the seriousness of international war and crisis.

  23. Ramon Cordova Says:

    Our visit to the startup hub was pretty interesting. My first impression when walking into the building was that it seemed awfully quiet for a place that is a hub for collaboration and technological innovation, but our speakers quickly had me fascinated with their stories. I particularly liked the app that allows people to try on glasses virtually, especially because the app was dynamic enough to adjust to any head movements the user made, and the attention to detail was astounding. It reminded me of how technologically advanced South Korea is relative to the rest of the world.

    The DMZ visit was something that I never imagined I would accomplish in my life. It was surreal to be so close to North Korea given the acrimonious history between North and South Korea, as well as the political tension between North Korea and the US. However, it was interesting to learn that North Korea had attempted to tunnel into and invade South Korea various times and that there are likely more tunnels that haven’t even been discovered! The tunnel itself was eerie and made me think of what must have been harsh working conditions for the North Korean tunnelers. Glad I got to visit and have a story to tell future generations.

  24. Clare Lanaux Says:

    The start-up hub reminded me of what I imagine a Silicon Valley start-up hub to look like. The large, open space with the modern kitchen, slide and nap room was very reminiscent of American start-ups. I enjoyed hearing about the two start-ups but wish we could’ve heard more ideas that come through the start-up hub.

    The DMZ was one of my favorite stops on the trip. I think the intertwined history of North Korea, South Korea, the West and Russia is fascinating so seeing the border in person was like seeing living history. The way South Korea marketed the DMZ at the beginning of the visit was surprising and a bit odd — it was clear that this is a historical site but the welcome video pitched the DMZ has a sort of tourist hot spot.

  25. M. Ku Says:

    It’s still surreal to think that we were at at the DMZ within spitting distance of North Korea. It was difficult to know exactly what to think or how to behave while there. On the one hand, it was clearly designed for photo ops with large signs and statues as props. On the other, it felt a little dissonant to laugh and smile in front of statues of soldiers when you remember that those soldiers patrol the border of one of the most problematic and mysterious countries in the world. If anything, it was a reminder that propaganda is everywhere, not just in North Korea. In fact, according to Helen, most South Koreans are not in favor of reunification, as the DMZ materials tout. They are more interested in working together as two different countries to mutually benefit both. This kind of nuance was clearly lost at the DMZ. From the highly stylized introduction video to the DMZ-branded hats and shirts in the souvenir shop, the entire experience has been carefully designed and commoditized for tourists. A fascinating experience.

    Contrast this to our earlier visit at the Startup Hub, and I’m reminded of just how much innovation South Korean has cranked out in the last several decades. From the rubble of the war to some of the most creative technology within a generation, the pace of progress is astounding. I found the presentation of comic-book marketing especially entertaining . I think the presenter’s humor was not everyone’s cup of tea, but the concept is genius and I loved how frank and honest he was about his strategy and tactics. Plus, it addresses a really interesting problem I would never have thought of– how to get young men engaged in pop culture dominated by female fans? A question unique to South Korea but with a creative solution that is applicable across countries and industries.

    Also, food startup lab. Can we get one of those at Rowling??

  26. Jaey Li Says:

    The start-up hub was very nicely built, and we heard many interesting ideas. The 3D augmented reality demo was extremely cool and I wish we have that in the market already. The web-comic start-up was definitely something else. It’s an idea that I’m not sure would work in the western world but definitely has a strong hold in Asia. The founder himself was quite funny and seemed to genuinely enjoy what he does.

    The DMZ was definitely the highlight of the entire trip. It felt a bit surreal in many sense. It was something that I’ve only read about or seen on serious TV news so being physically there was extremely eye opening. When we were on the observation deck, we were even able to see some North Koreans through the telescopes, which I had never thought I would see in real life. The fact that the two countries are really THAT close, yet completely separated seemed ridiculous and sad at the same time. Most importantly, through both the tour guide and all the descriptions along the way, I sensed a strong yearning for peace and re-unification from the South Koreans. They do not view the north as alienated enemies but rather brothers separated by unfortunate events. They seem to be able to separate politics and human emotions and that’s something I think many in the world should learn from.

  27. Garrett Arras Says:

    My group was responsible for researching and presenting on the Seoul Start Up hub. I was very excited to see the building and how the South Korean start up culture comes to life. It was great to hear more about the businesses that utilize the services offered there. My favorite part of the visit was seeing the start up kitchen! The kitchen provided the shared space to test out culinary ideas before investing in real estate space. They had a variety of different restaurants, even one service Mexican food. Overall, the Start Up hub provided us a great opportunity to hear and see how entrepreneurs start their ventures in South Korea.

    The visit to the DMZ was truly one I won’t forget. It was interesting to hear more about the relationship between the two countries both past and present. While the 3rd infantry tunnel was a very unique experience, I thought the visit to the still train station was extremely powerful, representing the unfulfilled hope that the two countries will one day be able to work together again.

  28. Jolene Wang Says:

    It was a bit surprising that the start-up hub was sponsored by the government and was run so smoothly. DMZ was fun and it was interesting to see how South Korea commercialize this historical event and turn it into a tourist stop. I sensed the general South Koreans wanted to be united with the North regardless of their political differences.

  29. Neomi S Says:

    My favorite part of the Seoul Start-up hub was hearing from the entrepreneurs – we saw a great variety of personalities. A close second was the food incubator – eating lunch here would have been cool!

    The DMZ was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Getting an in-depth explanation from Helen about the history and current issues with N Korea was fascinating. I also found it interesting to hear from Helen about their view of Trump vis-a-vis N Korea. Seeing N Korea with my bare eyes was surreal. Thinking of unfound tunnels was eerie. Seeing how touristy the area was (with giant DMZ letters for photos, and an amusement park) was so weird. I was so intrigued by the video we watched there – it included more about the wildlife and dream of unification than the current political tension and dream of peaceful co-existence. I couldn’t help but compare and contrast the history of India/Pakistan.

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