Monday, 4 September 2017
In the morning, we had the opening of the Global Infrastructure Cooperation Conference (GICC) at the InterContinental Seoul COEX. The opening speech was delivered by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MoLIT), Ms Kim Hyun-Mee. Something interesting happened when Minister Kim was giving her opening speech. A protester barged into the conference hall and started yelling loudly (in Korean). It took a few minutes for the security to escort the protester out. Apparently it’s related to a local housing issue. It was a lively start to the conference!
We had a networking session during lunch. It’s always nice to be able to make new friends from government ministries from other countries.
After lunch, we went to visit the Rail Command and Control Centre in Guro, a district on the outskirts of Seoul. Too bad we couldn’t take photos at the site.
In the evening we had a welcoming dinner, hosted by MoLIT. It was at the same venue as the lunch earlier.
Tuesday, 5 September 2017
In the morning, we visited the KTX Depot. We were given a briefing by the team, and followed by a visit to the operations of the depot.
The depot manager gave us a high level explanation on the daily operations at the depot. I have seen the high speed rail depot in Japan, and KTX Depot has a similar look and feel.
After lunch, we had a bilateral meeting with the Vice Minister of MoLIT, Mr Maeng Sung-Kyu. A Vice Minister in South Korea is equivalent to a Secretary General in the Malaysian government. We exchanged pleasantries, talked about the GICC, and then talked about the Malaysian high speed rail project. Naturally, the Koreans are very interested in the project.
We had some time to spare before our next meeting, so our local host took us to visit Lotte World Tower. Opened to the public in April 2017, at 555 meters, it is currently the 5th tallest tower in the world! We had a nice view of Seoul city from the peak.
From Lotte World Tower, we went to Suseo Station. The plan is to take the SRT high speed rail to Daejeon, where out next meeting will take place. The Suseo Station was new and modern. It has an interesting design from the outside.
In the evening, we took the high speed train from Seoul to Deajeon. It was my first time taking the Korean high speed rail (HSR). It’s impressive and comfortable. If I were to rate it, I would place it just under the shinkansen. It’s better than China’s HSR, and definitely way way better than the overrated Eurostar.
In Daejeon, we visited the Korea Rail Network Authority (KRNA) headquarters and met the Chairman & CEO, Mr Kang Yeong-il. We discussed various railway developments in Malaysia, and later adjourned for dinner nearby.
In the evening, back at the hotel, I went to explore the hotel’s various facilities. They have a full equipped gym, and they were thoughtful enough to provide t-shirts and shorts to users. I was also most impressed with the indoor driving range at the hotel. These Koreans really love golf!