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Have you ever heard the beautiful, exciting and passionate sounds of the music called “Sanjo”?

If you have, you may know that Sanjo is a form of Korean traditional music that allows the performer to freely express his or her outstanding technique and original interpretation of the piece. It is one of the most representative artistic forms of Korean traditional music.

I experienced Sanjo at a recent event and was taken by Sanjo and enthralled at what I learned about South Korean culture, history and people.  It reminded me that a positive and low-risk experience with a new culture can spark passion for and create a fervent desire to work more with a culture.  In business context, it enhances our Global Mindset levels and increases our global leadership and creative thinking skills.

To that end, a huge thank you to the The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Korean Tourism Organization for organizing a great learning experience for association executives considering holding events in South Korea and for being such gracious hosts of this event. And to So-yeun Jung and her students who performed the Sanjo and two other magical pieces called “Wind, River” and “Canon for the Gayageum Trio” with their impressive instruments called “Gayageum” – a Korean traditional zither like instrument; your music was beautiful. And as a global mindset trainer I could not help but see and sense some characteristics of the Korean culture rise through the tunes and harmony of the musicians conveying the different kind of formality, relationship orientation, high context communication style, expressiveness and role of silence intercultural trainers like to discuss in business trainings when they train business professionals about Korean business culture.

Not to mention the delicious dessert we enjoyed called “Tteok”, a sweet and a flavorful rice dessert before being served the most colorful and artistically prepared traditional cookies I have ever seen.  I later learned that these traditional Korean cookies are called “Hangwa” and come in many varieties like “yumilgwa, gangjeong, sanja, dasik, jeonggwa, suksilgwa , gwapyeon, yeotgangjeong and yeot”.

Opportunities like this event, museum visits, watching foreign movies/documentaries, reading related books and websites and developing friendships with people from different cultures of interest are great to make observations, ask questions and learn to become effective for further business and personal adventures with these new cultures.

It was also wonderful to learn more about Korea in the wonderful presentations given by Sejoon You, the Executive Director of the Korean Tourism Organization, and Sung Kyung Kim, the Manager of the Organization.  They have every reason to do be proud and confident with South Korea preparing to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and having hosted other major events like the 2002 World Cup and the 1988 Summer Olympics.  Korea Air is an ambitious and growing airline, representative of the excellence the country currently strives.

Seol, with its high energy – stores operating 24/7 – sophisticated and cosmopolitan vibe combined with low crime, makes it very appealing to visitors.  An association executive at my table told us all how he was so pleased with his association’s regional conference experience in Seoul.  The 5000 attendees loved it, with much praise and not one complaint.

Again, kudos to the Korean Tourism Organization and ASAE for making this event happen. The hands-on expertise of the panel was also very helpful.  Click here to review the details of this past event and look out for similar future events. Looking forward to any insights you may have for working well with South Korean business partners and/or getting a chance to enjoy other specifics of the Korean culture.

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