Current F1 leading driver Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull competes at the Korean Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit on Oct. 23, 2010 in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province. The second Korean Grand Prix will be held on Oct. 15-16. / Korea Times file
By Yi Whan-woo
Seven days from now, the country will host the second Korean Grand Prix in Yeongnam, South Jeolla Province.
As the organizing committee finalizes preparations, steadfast hopes are that its marketing and improved infrastructure will pay off for the three day Formula One (F1) event starting Oct. 14.
The drivers will have two practice runs on the first day at the Korea International Circuit (KIC), followed by the qualifying session on Day 2. The race itself will be at 3 p.m. Oct. 16.
While the F1 Korean Grand Prix Organizing Committee has been highlighting the race from the beginning of the year, promotions began in earnest from mid-summer.
Centered around “hallyu,” or the Korean wave, the organizing committee’s efforts has put weight on drawing Korean pop fans by providing the chance to watch a concert as a bonus with a ticket for the race. The organizers expect this will bring fans from neighboring nations such as Japan and China.
Such a strategy is in contrast to last year, when the marketing job by the Korea Auto Valley Organization (KAVO), the former organizer, was found wanting and ended up giving out free tickets to fill the seats.
With lessons learned from last year’s inaugural race, the committee expects new tactics coupled with improved accommodation and transportation to ensure success.
“We have come up with innovative ways in terms of our management this time,” an organizing committee official said.
“In terms of customer service, we expect this year’s F1 race to be much more satisfactory.”
According to the committee, the seats at the main stand are “almost” sold out.
The seats in other sections around the circuit remain but the committee does not regard the sales as worse than the last year. While 40,000 of about 100,000 available tickets had been sold as of late September, a committee official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the statistics do not suggest the sales are worse than for the first Korean Grand Prix.
“Last year, there was no data available on ticket sales with around 20 days remaining before the race, so we can’t yet comment,” he said.
The officials said they have enhanced facilities for fans, such as first aid centers and automated teller machines.
They also said there will be more accommodation available for visiting fans and media, assigning hotels exclusively for F1 tourists. For better service, the committee has provided etiquette information to the motels in the area, which were criticized for lacking in common courtesy in 2010. The organizers have also arranged temple stay programs at the Buddhist temples near the circuit.
As for transportation, visitors can reach the racetrack from more accessible exits on nearby highways.
The organizing committee also expects specially arranged public transportation, including planes, trains, and buses from Seoul will allow fans to more conveniently reach the KIC.
Korean F1 head assures success of event
YEONGAM, South Jeolla Province — The chairman of the Korean Grand Prix Organizing Committee has assured the race will be a success and believes it will help develop the remote region.
Park Joon-young, also South Jeolla Province governor, said the three-day Formula 1 (F1) event to run from Oct. 14 will be unique from other races across the world this year.
“I’m sure the nation’s second F1 Grand Prix this year will be deemed as a ‘watershed,’ to discover the vision of the province,” he said in a written interview received Thursday.
“Every part of the preparations have been going smoothly as we have supplemented what we were lacking in the inaugural event,” the head of the committee added.
His confidence comes from the fact that the Korea International Circuit (KIC) where the race will take place, is more convenient for both drivers and fans compared to last year.
The organizers have improving the condition of the circuit as well as facilities for visitors.
Park also said that experience of hosting the inaugural event was also critical.
The first Korean F1 Grand Prix drew about 165,000 spectators, including 80,000 for the race itself. Despite this, Park said that there was “immaturity,” in terms of transportation, accommodation and management, all of which will be better this year.
With a well-equipped venue, he anticipates the unique characteristics of the Korean Grand Prix will play a crucial role to attract fans.
The organizing committee has arranged a K-pop concert during the event to take advantage of “hallyu” or the Korean wave that already has a large number of followers.
Other Grand Prix such as the one in Malaysia and Singapore earlier this year already featured Korean singers to boost the popularity of the home race.
Park said the concert in Yeongam will be “incomparable” in terms of scale.
“While Malaysia and Singapore hosted one singer each, we will bring 20 pop bands to provide the best festival.”
He added the well-preserved maritime nature of the region is expected to impress visitors.
By hosting F1 in Yeongnam, Park anticipates the area, where people’s livelihoods depend mainly on agriculture, can come to rely more on the motor industry as well as tourism.
He gave the example that Shanghai, China and Suzuka, Japan, both F1 hosts, have seen an automobile industry formed following the success of the Grand Prix.