By Travel Editor Lee Sam-sun with Reporter Ms. Jang Ji-sun
General Manager Lee Sung-Soo of Holtel Kukdo in downtown Seoul is a unique hotel manager in the that he runs two prestigious tourist hotels in Seoul. One of them is the Kukdo Hotel in Seoul on the Uljii-ro Street in the busy downtown district of Jung-gu in Seoul and the other, the Seoul Garden Hotel, is near the Han River in the somewhat western sector of the heart region of Seoul.
The Euljiro Street in Seoul used to the one of the briskest business areas of Seoul, that is, before the emergence of the Gangnam area south of the Han River.
General Manager Lee who has an English first name, Peter, has a very lengthy and rich experience in the hospitality industry, especially so in view of his young age.
Offhand, GM Lee commands a wonderful degree of both spoken and written English—to speak nothing of the well-refined manner in the accommodation of the international guests as well as the Koreans.
GM Lee is proficient in the spoken and written English and also has a measure of other foreign languages. As for his English language ability one could guess the measure his English language ability when one learns that he attended the Canada Centre for Languages (University of Grande Praire College, Albota in 1997.
The Kukdo Hotel site used to be a land-mark property in Seoul for decades of years, formerly and perhaps more popularly known as Kukdo Keukjang (Kukdo Theater).
Now, Hotel Kukdo is run by General Manager Lee who is also the general manager of the Hotel Garden in the Mapo-gu Ward in Seoul which has won the fame of a ‘Premier Hotel’ from Best Western International.
GM Lee is a seasoned hotel manager with an experience in hotel management spanning over a few decades.
“The guests for us are the queens, kings, princesses and princes,” he said at a recent interview with The Korea Post reportorial team at his hotel in the business town area of Eulji-ro Street in the heart of Seoul.
Located in the middle between the brisk business district of Dongdaemun East Gate and the downtown Myeong-dong district of Korea’s capital city, Seoul, Hotel Kukdo is considered one of the most ideal hotels for the people for sightseeing and doing business in the downtown area of Seoul, namely Dongdaemun, Myeong-dong, Cheonggyecheon-ga, and the Namsan Mountain.
In addition, Hotel Kukdo is rated as a popular business and leisure hotel where the guests can enjoy both business and rest and recuperation.
Also, easily accessible from Hotel Kukdo are various traditional and modern sites and sights of beauty of the capital city of Seoul.
Since the Hotel’s establishment in 2007, Kukdo has been growing as a valuable partner of the visitors and guests providing convenient tours and various other forms of refined services within various designations in Seoul and the Capital region.
Hotel Kukdo also offers high-tech equipment, convenient transportation, over hundred classy rooms with facilities, and banquet halls where can be held a wide variety of events such as medium- and small-scale receptions, events, seminars, conferences, fairs, First Birthday parties, and various other forms of engagements.
Hotel Kukdo, too, provides guests with comfortable transportation service. The limousine bus Number 6021 from Gimpo International Airport and the bus Number 6015 from the Incheon Airport stop right in front of the Hotel Kukdo.
Also, a total of four subway lines have stations at or in the vicinity of the Hotel which allows the guests to enjoy business and tours more easily at the attractions of Seoul.
General Manager Lee says, “The first priority of our hotel is guests’ satisfaction and the best-quality service!”
Then he said: “Along with this value, Kukdo Hotel, as well as the larger Garden Hotel, provides modern and chic guest rooms and comfortable facilities as a space for relaxation. We will keep doing our best for excellent service from the beginning to the end of your stay in Korea.”
Here are excerpts from a recent interview with General Manager Lee:
Question: What are the outstanding features of the Kukdo Hotel?
Answer: After the Liberation of Korea from the colonial rule of Japan on Aug. 15, 1945, our property was built and named Kukdo Geukjang (Theater) and was opened on May 28, 1946. As the opening ceremony performance, a performance by the Joseon Musical Theater was presented.
Such renowned Korean films as ‘Love Me Once Again Though You Might Want to Hate Me,' ‘Home of the Stars,’ ‘Young-Ja's Heyday,’ and ‘Winter Woman’ were given the opening showing.
Hotel Kukdo is situated in the middle of the Myeong-dong business district and the area of rich tourist attractions, including Dongdaemun (The Grand East Gate, one of the four main gates). Many people walk on foot between the two destinations enjoying the street attractions in the area. Most importantly, the Incheon Airport limousine bus stops in front of Hotel Kukdo.
Kukdo is providing various services, which include Netflix and Cheonggyecheon-view deluxe room program targeting at Koreans who enjoy they call Hocance, meaning a ‘hotel-stay’ vacation. We are also preparing to provide eco-friendly amenities.
Q: What are the strong points of your property?
A: Kukdo Hotel has the geographical advantage of easy access to the Namsan Mountain, the Seoul City Hall, the Namdaemun Gate area, the Myeongdong town, and the Dongdaemun (East) Gate by subway or on foot. In addition, the fact that there is a ladies' floor in the guest room and a bathtub in all rooms at such facilities attract a lot of Japanese tourists. Also, recently Euljiro has won the name, 'Hipjiro,' by the MZ generation, and the MZ generation in their 20s and 30s is constantly visiting the district.
Q: Please introduce yourself in detail.
A: I have 22 years of experience in the hospitality industry. In 2000, I started as a promotion manager at the Rahanho Hotel (formerly Hyundai Hotel), and, in 2017, I worked as the sales manager of the St. John’s Hotel in Gangneung on the East Coast of Korea, where I managed a banquet for former President Moon Jae-in and accommodation for the Heads of State of 15 different countries of the world. After that in 2020, I worked as the Deputy General Manager of Mercure Ambassador Hotel in Ulsan and then after that on August 1 this year I was appointed as the Cluster General Manager of both the Seoul Garden Hotel and Hotel Kukdo.
Q: What are the special features of your hotel?
A: Hotel Kukdo and the Seoul Garden Hotel in Mapo Ward are headed by the same Chief Executive Officer and as such I work as the General Manager of the two prominent hotel properties of Seoul. As such, the two renowned properties are known to produce a considerable measure of synergy effects, including various economic benefits such as cost-reduction.
Q: What are the high and low seasons of your hotel? And also, please introduce the important personalities among your guests and clientele.
A: The high season is August, October and December. In August, we have guests who enjoy the so-called Hocance meaning ‘enjoying vacation at prestigious hotels. In October, we have guests from business companies, schools, in-bound tourists and group visitors as well as leisure guests. And in December, we have guests hosting year-end events and FIT guests.
The low season is mostly the holiday spell of the New Year month of January and I would say that February may also be classified a low period.
The low season, as seen above, is January and February, although there is a Lunar New Year holiday spell, which does not significantly affect our room operation.
Lim Jae-sik, head of the Grupo Vocal Millennium, led the orchestra members in August and stayed at Hotel Kukdo to oversee events in the provinces and Seoul for 10 days.
At the end of November, the Estonia National Opera Young Choir is scheduled to visit Korea with 21 members. They are our main clients and VIP customers.