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Firms look to enhance image at nuclear summit

Leaders’ summit, industry forum seen as a good chance to improve image, products overseas

Korean companies in sectors from auto and retail to telecom and electronics waged promotion campaigns on Tuesday to cash in on the Nuclear Security Summit and other sideline events taking place in Seoul.

The largest-ever diplomatic event here offers major opportunities to boost their image and market products overseas, the companies say, with nearly 10,000 public officials, business people and journalists coming from across the globe.

Fifty-three state leaders gathered for the two-day summit through Tuesday and more than 200 corporate leaders took part in the Nuclear Industry Summit on Friday.

Industry figures show the premier diplomatic forum may generate about 100 billon won from visitors’ spending. Other experts see the figures as incalculable given potential effects in investment growth and new business opportunities.

While chief executives discuss economic collaboration with visiting top officials, companies provided cars and display panels, distributed refreshments and souvenirs, or facilitated power supplies and internet access. 
Participants in the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit visit the nation’s ICT exhibition booth at the event venue COEX in southern Seoul on Tuesday. (KT Corp.)
Participants in the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit visit the nation’s ICT exhibition booth at the event venue COEX in southern Seoul on Tuesday. (KT Corp.)
“Companies, those seeking to branch out abroad in particular, voluntarily lined up to sponsor the event to promote their brands and products, as well as Korea’s national value,” said an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the summit’s host.

Hyundai Motor Group carried the 58 leaders in its flagship luxury sedan Equus Limousine, the official vehicles of the summit. Their spouses and other delegates were given BMW Group’s premium 740 Li and Gran Turismo 30d sedans. The Korean auto giant also supplied its Starex vans and Mohave sport utility vehicles, as well as 70 engineers for maintenance, to the forum’s steering committee.

Samsung Electronics rolled out its latest smart television, the ES8000, across the summit venue of COEX in southern Seoul to display the event schedules and other information.

The 58 leaders were provided with the electronic powerhouse’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 with their respective name engraved on the back, using a special design of najeon chilgi, a traditional mother of pearl craft where colorful pieces of shellfish are inlaid with a layer of lacquer.

“We’ve added video clips to remind them of Korea’s traditional culture and cuisine even after they return home,” a Samsung official said.

AmorePacific Corp., a leading beauty house, said it has equipped power rooms in COEX with its hot-selling cosmetics and perfumes for first ladies. The items include Sulwhasoo skincare products and Lolita Lempicka fragrance.

SPC Group, a leading retail chain, catered some 40 food items including coffee, bottled water and rice cakes for the attendees. Its Oceanique white wine was also on the dinner table for the commanders-in-chief.

Among other refreshment providers were Samdasoo, a Jeju-based mineral water company; Korea Yakult Corp., a dairy producer; Caffe Bene, a coffee shop chain; and Ogada, a traditional tea house.

On the infrastructure front, Korea Electric Power Corp. and KT Corp. were on 24-hour standby throughout the months-long preparation period to ensure that all the participants stay online.

While KT installed Internet, telephone and broadcasting systems as the summit’s main telecom service provider, KEPCO, the state-run electricity grid operator, established a five-layer and three-tier power structure at COEX and press rooms and major hotels to preclude any outage.

“We want to offer perfect telecom services at the summit based on our know-how from multiple international events including the 2002 World Cup, the APEC meeting in Busan and Group of 20 summit last year,” said Yoon Yong-shik, chief of the telecom operator’s fixed-line network operation.

Korean Air, the country’s flag carrier, said it is running a check-in counter for summit participants only and smoothening the landings and takeoffs of private jets.

By Shin Hyon-hee (