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5,000 legal professionals from all over the world convened at the Coex Convention & Exhibition Center in Seoul for the International Bar Association (IBA) annual conference as the centre transformed into a hub of education, networking, and celebration. The annual conference kicked off on September 22nd and lasted through the 27th during which some 230 working sessions and social functions taking place at Coex. As a large-scale event, the entire centre was transformed into a place conducive for networking and education sessions within some of Coex’s most popular facilities such as the Grand Ballroom, Hall C, and Hall D.

Extending the IBA conference attendees a warm welcome from the start of the conference, Coex decorated the various information desks, found within the centre, with traditional Korean paper lanterns while information desk employees dressed in the traditional, colourful Korean attire of hanbok throughout the week. Welcome badges were also worn by some 300 centre employees including room and hall managers, safety workers, and janitorial crews. Attendees were encouraged to share their memories on social media by taking photos alongside various special photo installations reading “Coex Seoul #IBA2019” and measuring nearly 7 meters wide and 2.5 meters that were put up within the centre. IBA’s international attendees were also offered complimentary invitations to the Korea International Art Fair (KIAF) and the Sourcing Fair which took place at Coex during the same week.

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A particular highlight was the conference’s official welcome party which took months of advanced planning. For the celebratory evening, Coex’s Hall C transformed into a unique and memorable space where Korea’s past, present, and future intersected. Drawing its theme from the Korean concept of Obangsaek, or the five traditional colours, the hall was divided into different spaces themed around the colours and their associated elements of earth, wood, fire, metal, and water. An elaborate garden, a glimpse of modern Seoul, a traditional village and more were all recreated with attendees able to partake in traditional and fusional fares and cocktails, Korean crafts lessons, a stage showcasing traditional music and performances, and even a K-Pop inspired disco. The evening’s food menu was entirely custom-made for IBA by Gramercy, Coex’s officially designated catering company, with vegan, vegetarian, halal, and gluten-free options clearly marked.

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Also prepared by Gramercy was a colourful and enormous makeshift “bowl” in which an array of ingredients for the Korean favourite mixed rice dish of bibimbap was arranged in a traditional Korean pattern and then mixed together by attendants for a tasty group effort.

The centre also renovated many of its meeting spaces in preparation of the IBA meeting. The entire 1,620 square meters Conference Room E had its carpets, walls, and partitions replaced and with upgrades to the AV equipment and AC systems ahead of space’s use as meeting rooms for IBA 2019. On the fourth floor, an entirely new permanent meeting space, Conference Room 400, equipped with a 22-person boardroom style table, was created with the 92 square meter room inaugurated in use as the IBA president lounge. An existing VIP meeting room on the ground floor was also refurbished to a modern boardroom setting while the entire 30 medium and large-sized meeting rooms of the Conference Room South 3F section freshened up with new paint and wallpaper ahead of their use by IBA as meeting spaces, session rooms, and multi-faith prayer rooms.

Coex Convention & Exhibition Center is Seoul’s largest and Korea’s busiest convention centre, hosting more than 2,000 events annually.

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