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The Genesis Experience in Seoul, Korea: Welcome to the Land of the Morning Calm

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Filed under Automotive, Genesis, Multicultural Automotive Addicts, News

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

To understand the tenets of the brands you revere—whether automotive or fashion—it is ideal to pay homage to their heritage, innovation strategies, and cultural values by venturing to the homeland, immersing yourself within the culture, and commingling with the people. I was thankful to represent as a son-nim (honored guest) while ingesting the Korean nation’s social etiquette and enriching habits during the Genesis Experience in Seoul.

Welcome to South Korea, the Land of the Morning Calm

With that in mind, I traveled with Genesis Motors America to South Korea on an immersion tour to witness its manufacturing processes, explore the various towns in which Genesis operations take place, attend the local auto show, and spend invaluable moments with company executives to learn about their hospitality principles which make visitors like myself feel at home. Ultimately, we would explore pivotal cities and districts such as Ulsan, Suji, Bukchon, Busan, and Hannam-dong. At the same time, serene Buddhist temples, Korean fusion foods and BBQ, and hanok traditional Korean houses captivated us.

I arrived to the Land of the Morning Calm eagerly anticipating newfound culinary, automotive, educational, and technological practices. South Korea’s terrain consists of 70% mountains and hills, as natural beauty takes precedence by manifesting relaxing and calming awakenings. The mornings are peaceful and meditative before the population of nearly 50 million begins moving about. This is why you will see almost endless high-rise apartment buildings when touring the country. They also make up the majority of living quarters here.

Visit Seoul’s Immaculate Lotte World Tower

The media tour began with a flight from Washington Dulles Airport to Incheon International Airport on United Airlines, which connected through San Francisco. After 16 hours of United Polaris travel, I arrived enthusiastically and ready to discover Seoul, Korea. Genesis picked me and my automotive colleague Brian Armstead up in the opulent G90 touring sedan, which escorted us in style to the immaculate 7-star SIGNIEL SEOUL ultra-luxury hotel, housed inside the wondrous Lotte World Tower in Sincheon-dong, Songpa-gu. Consisting of 123 stories with a glass-bottom observatory, it’s South Korea’s tallest building at 1,861 feet and the 5th highest skyscraper in the world. SIGNIEL SEOUL is located on the 76th to 101st floors, where you can enjoy the impeccable panoramic skyline and fantastic night view of Seoul. My room was situated on the 91st floor. Also, plan to shop in the adjacent Lotte World Mall or run around tranquil Seokchon Lake Park to maintain your fitness goals abroad.

Genesis Suji Retail Center

After settling in and adjusting to the time zone, my media group was transported to Genesis Suji in Yongin City, approximately 29 km south of Seoul. Opened in 2020, it’s the second standalone showroom comprising four floors, particular receiving areas, and displays of 40 of your most desired Genesis vehicles in a full spectrum of hues and finishes, including the G80, G90, G70, GV80, GV60, and GV70 to name a few. Envisioned by Suh Architects, who designed Genesis House NYC, the dynamic space offers specialty services, including vehicle handover ceremonies where new owners receive their polished vehicle in a private lounge, a service-delivery platform, and test-driving. The atmosphere creates a pacifying environment with the brand’s signature scents and sounds to elevate your mood. A vital virtue regarding Genesis design is that simplicity defines the vehicle’s purpose while lines and imagery can be mirrored from Korean nature. 

While perusing the showcase, I discovered a compelling Genesis G70 Shooting Brake (wagon) with a 2.5-liter turbo that amazed everyone. Yet, it is not coming to the United States. On the third floor were the GV60 and GV70 SUVs enhanced with human-centric tech, including Face Connect to lock and unlock the doors, a globe shifter (GV60), and digital mirrors. The updated 2025 G80 sedan, with a stellar Sports Package and updated dual-mesh grille, patiently awaited a suitor to hit the runway like roadrunners. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel. Continue up to the fourth floor to witness greatness in the form of the all-mighty Genesis G90 Black, which represents athletic elegance in every respect. Everything is blacked out from the rims to the grille to the insignia and internal controllers. There is a very high probability that The Black Editions will make their way to the US.

Korean Historical Tour in Bukchon

After leaving Genesis Suji, we were ready for contemporary Korean cuisine at Gongi to satisfy our souls. Along with Japan and Thailand, Korea will leave you with one of the most satisfying culinary experiences in your lifetime. From there, we visited the residential neighborhood of Bukchon Hanok Village in the Jongno District, home to hundreds of traditional Korean hanok houses that have been restored, many of which date back to the Joseon Dynasty. The area is centered within the Gyeongbokgung Palace, Jongmyo Shrine, and Changdeokgung Palace.

Many traditional Korean homes operate as tea houses, guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, and cultural centers. Unlike conventional building techniques where you erect a dwelling and then plant a garden or lay out the landscape, a hanok was placed around a garden, near a set of trees, or in front of an epic mountain view. Minimalism and attention to empty space is a preferred style of architecture. Moreover, self-restraint in furniture design leads to minimalism. You will also find an array of sliding doors in each home for flexibility; one room can become two. Additionally, the lines of Korean construction are intentional in Korean roots to evoke nature. For example, the slope of the roof can mirror mountain silhouettes.

I truly felt like I was jettisoned back into time as I envisioned life centuries ago. Once you finish observing, venture to Osulloc Tea House for refreshments and green tea garaetteok, aka Korean rice cake.

A Visit to Busan for the BIMOS: Busan International Mobility Show

Busan is the Miami of South Korea and the second largest Korean city with a 3.4-million population. A 190 mph bullet train from Seoul Station transported us there in a few hours. A relaxing evening at the 5-star Paradise Hotel Busan overlooking Haeundae Beach was just what the doctor ordered while visiting the vibrant coastal metropolis. The following morning, I arose early to catch some wellness vibes along the paved running trail. The country takes physical fitness seriously, especially for older adults. Moreover, you will be hard-pressed to find a breakfast experience as epic as Korea’s first luxury all-day dining restaurant at Paradise Hotel Busan. During the entirety of the trip, we ate more than anything else.

Next up on the agenda was witnessing the action at the Busan International Mobility Show (BIMOS) for each Korean auto brand, Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis. With the 10th anniversary approaching, Genesis presented three timeless pieces, each adopting a specific reductive design: the ultra-supreme Neolun Concept EV SUV, the Genesis X Gran Racer Vision Gran Turismo Concept (VGT), and the Genesis Electrified G80. For this model (Electrified G80), Genesis elongated the wheelbase to add elegance and meet the demand for more rear comfort. The automaker correspondingly incorporated rear-wheel-steering for driving agility and safety. The electric driving range increased as well.

Representing two distinct spectrums of the pendulum, Neolun Concept symbolizes the brand’s desire to appease owners with ultimate Genesis hospitality when seated inside the revolutionary cockpit, including B-pillarless coach doors, swiveling front-row seats, and Genesis Sound Architecture to create orchestra-level hearing sessions. On the other end is the VGT, which highlights the brand’s leap into high-performance, luxury racing. Finished in Magma Orange to show grit and a powerful presence, it’s the latest concept to appear in the cult classic digital game Gran Turismo 7. The racecar’s digital interface is intuitive for precise and confident driver engagement.

Genesis Factory Tour in Ulsan

Moving along, Genesis organized a tour of the Ulsan Factory, where Hyundai and Genesis vehicles are manufactured. The plant is the world’s largest auto manufacturing facility and goes by the mantra “progress for humanity for a better tomorrow.” Today, the company exports 1.1 million vehicles annually and produces 18 models from this location. Genesis is located in Factory 5, along with the Hyundai Palisade SUV. We watched robotics lifting and placing heavier front seats into the position and employees assembling rear seats since they are lighter. The automation process also includes robots picking up, maneuvering, and installing the front and rear windshields, which are weighty. They also apply the sealant. Factory 5’s daily production is 400 units, while the factory’s total production is 6,000 a day.

I also had one of the most interesting opportunities in the auto industry over my 30-year career when the head supervisor allowed us to board the 10 to 12-floor Glovis Century cargo ship. I even watched vehicles being driven up the ramp and parked inside the export vessel by drivers with massive handling skills. In fact, we were the first non-employees to witness the loading procedure. Holding 6,800 maximum units, the ship travels to the USA, Australia, South America, and Germany for deliveries.

Excitement in Hannam-dong

Back in Seoul, the group reconvened for gift shopping and exploration in the Hannam-Dong neighborhood, akin to Beverly Hills, California. Quite a few Korean stars live in this area, which is noted for creating trends. Hannam-dong is very popular and known for its shops, restaurants, galleries, and art culture, such as the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art,  managed by the Samsung Foundation of Culture. You will also find epic eateries, restaurants, and cafes that focus on Korean fusion fine dining. An example is the fashionable and popular Aracharim, where we had lunch on our last day. One thing to note about eating out is that meals are prepared quickly, no matter the star rating. Koreans are known for their hustle, being on time, and accomplishing tasks quickly. This is known as ppalli ppalli culture, which is the national sentiment in the country, especially at restaurants! Even during our last supper at Jung Sikdang, a 2 Michelin Star establishment, my 5-course plant-based meal came out within 30 minutes.

Genesis Lounge at The Shilla Seoul

We finished the immersion tour at one of South Korea’s most elegant properties, The Shilla Seoul, where you will sleep in stately quarters and transition into bliss at the therapeutic spa. Traditional heritage meets elegant luxury here, including 17 opulent designer brand shops such as Graff, Moynat, and Hermès. The Shilla Seoul symbolizes the ancient Shilla Dynasty, equating to the golden age of prosperity.

More importantly, the Genesis Lounge is located on the fifth floor and represents an escape for membership-only G90 Long Wheel Base model proprietors. The lounge consists of an eclectic meeting room, an entertainment area featuring McIntosh professional sound equipment and state-of-the-art metal speakers crafted by renowned sound master Guk-il Yu,  a fine dining room, and a bar serving up over 40 different types of single-malt whisky and wine from 17 countries. With vistas of Namsan Mountain, the Genesis Lounge incorporates several pieces of furniture carefully crafted by emerging Korean artists known for their distinctly Korean and contemporary style. Lastly, Ogam philosophy (five senses in Korean) infuses tactile, taste, visual, sound, and scent doctrines into creating the open lounge space. Enjoy!

Thankfully, I have been fortunate to travel to over 50 countries, from West Africa to East Asia and South America. Building relationships and friendships with people across the globe expands your horizons, deepens your principles, and instills character. So please put South Korea on your bucket list for another unforgettable travel experience. Live beyond expectations!

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