In June 2014, Asia Society had a board meeting in Seoul, Korea. Thanks to the generous contribution from the Lotte Group and its chairman Mr. Shin Dong-bin, the 3-day event was full of fun and variety. I have a working relationship with the Asia Society Korea Center, and was honored to take part in this ceremony and celebration as an event photographer and interact with the world’s leading CEOs and luminaries.
In attendance were the board Co-Chairs Henrietta Fore and Ronnie Chan, Global Trustee and Chair of the Korea Center Board Shin Dong-Bin, Trustees Warwick Smith, Charles Rockefeller, Lee Hong-koo, Lew Kaden, Lulu Wang, Sandiaga Uno, Stephen Bird, Tom McClain, Doris Ho, the just-elected Viswanathan Shankar, and Trustee Emerita Susan Lynch. Roughly 20 other members of the global family – Global Council members, Asia 21 vets, and senior staff were also present.
On the first day, the group of VIPs visited the DMZ in the morning and then at night took a Moonlight Tour in the Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO heritage site and summer palace to the royal families of the Joseon Dynasty. Walking with delicately adorned lanterns, the group was captivated by the palace’s beauty, accentuated by lighting at night. The Moonlight Tour is pretty well-known worldwide and its ticket is difficult to get: you have to compete with numerous wanna-be-visitors, local and international, to get a spot. Even though I was born in Seoul, it was my first time to walk around the Secret Garden at night. The experience was delightful and exquisite.
On the second day, a group tour with a guide was arranged in the Samsung Museum of Art, better known as Leeum in Korea. Under normal circumstances, you’re not allowed to take photos in the museum. But even for the prestigious Leeum, the visit by this delegate of VIPs was special, and I was granted the permission to photograph inside the building. Of course, I was careful not to go overboard with the privilege and carried myself in a respectful and professional manner.
In the afternoon, the group was taken to the Lotte World Tower, a massive skyscraper and shopping complex with 123 floors. It’s Lotte Group’s most ambitious real-estate project, and Mr. Shin was delighted to show it around to the VIP visitors. Wearing safety helmets, we were taken to the 36th floor of the Tower, and the view was spectacular. I’m eager to see what it would look like from the 123th floor.
On the night of the same day, a banquet was held at the Crystal Ballroom at Lotte Hotel Seoul. Everyone was well-dressed and the top quality food and drinks were served. Famous Korean actor and Hanryu star Lee Byung-hun received the Cultural Diplomacy Award.
The life of an event photographer is rather interesting. Generally speaking, PR and event photography takes a long time and there is a lot of waiting around involved. But it’s fascinating to have a glimpse into a world different from your own. These people know the value of good photography and public image. And my job is to make them look as good as possible while documenting the event inconspicuously.