Lifestyles



Karaoke is part of doing business in Changwon City
March 01, 2008 2:01 AM

by Joan Tupponce


Greg Boyer of Moog Components Group admits he is no singer. Yet, each time he visits Changwon City, South Korea, he steps onto a stage and croons the latest tunes.

“Lots of businesspeople in Changwon City are doing karaoke, and they expect you to participate,” explains Boyer. “It’s part of doing business in that city, part of the culture.”
Boyer travels the world as group vice president of sales and business development for Moog Components.  He lives in Blacksburg, home of the components group division for Moog, which is based in East Aurora, N.Y. Moog came to Blacksburg in 2003 when it acquired Poly-Scientific. The company designs and manufactures slip rings, fiber optics and high-performance motors for commercial, industrial, aerospace, marine and defense customers.

Boyer travels to Changwon, capital of South Korea’s South Gyeongsang Province, because of its large number of defense contractors. The city has a population of 515,000.  “Changwon is putting a lot of money into defense contracting,” says Boyer.  “It’s a very modern, technology-driven city with an excellent highway system. Everyone lives in apartments so there are numerous high-rise apartment complexes.”

Mountains border Changwon, which is at the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula. The city’s shoreline includes nearly eight miles along Masan Bay. Its best known attraction is the Junam Reservoir, a sanctuary for migratory birds. The reservoir is home to 20 types of birds, and birdwatchers can find 30,000 to 40,000 birds there during the winter.

Changwon residents are friendly and accommodating, Boyer says, but he suggests hiring a guide who speaks Korean. “The percentage of the population that speaks English is low,” he observes. “We have representatives in countries such as Korea that help with the language and also getting us around.”

Along with karaoke, pastimes in Changwon include soccer and golf. “There are tons of driving ranges but not many golf courses,” Boyer says, noting the lack of available space. “There are also many Korean cultural shows with traditional Korean dancing and music.”

Boyer participates in karaoke at one of the city’s local hotels. “What I sing is unrecognizable,” he says, laughing. “They certainly don’t invite me back for my singing skills.” 

Where to stay

When he travels the world, Greg Boyer chooses to stay in Hiltons, Marriotts and Intercontinental Hotels. But when he is in a mood for karaoke, he visits the Changwon Tourist Hotel. The hotel offers karaoke and a lively night club along with three restaurants featuring western (European and American), Korean and Chinese cuisine.

The city’s economy

Many of Changwon’s residents work in the mechanical industrial sector and defense contracting. Changwon boasts more than 1,300 companies, with many of them located in the city’s industrial complexes. The first and most prominent is Changwon Industrial Complex. A major employer is automaker GM Daewoo. Changwon’s economy relies on manufacturing, finance, commerce, agriculture and exporting. Changwon exports to more than 70 countries around the world. Exports include machinery parts, automobiles and household electronic goods.

What to eat

Greg Boyer says that one of his favorite meals is Korean barbecue, which is easy to find at restaurants throughout the city. A waiter brings out a pot of hot coals and grills the beef tableside. The beef is then wrapped in lettuce. “It’s like a wrap,” Boyer says. “They give you some sauces to go with it. I’ve found it to be enjoyable.”

Changwon restaurants also feature lots of seafood, which is usually served raw. They also serve kimchi, a fermented dish with a selection of vegetables and seasonings. “I’ve grown to like that,” says Boyer.

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