Korea Open BWF 500 tour – Incheon, South Korea September 2019
The Korean Badminton Association sure know how to look after their guests, I didn’t pay for anything when we went out as a group, despite being given the $60 a day allowance. We experienced a different Korean style restaurant each night (not all to my taste and I took lots of snacks to keep me going) but a great experience with my personal favourite being fried chicken and beer. The Korean umpires were extremely welcoming and made us all feel at home and part of the tournament immediately.
There were 16 umpires in total for 4 courts at the beginning of the week going down throughout the week. As usual the Wednesday was the longest day but more than manageable with plenty of time in between the matches. Unfortunately they didn’t run the rotation system but paired you with someone for the day so I didn’t get to work with everyone but still good.
The event seems to have moved since David (Evans) went last year – and is no longer in the centre of Seoul. On the plus side it was only 5 minutes from the airport to the hotel. My view from the hotel was the airport and you could hear the planes whenever you were outside (the rooms themselves were soundproof thankfully). This did mean that we did not get to do any sightseeing and I would advise going for an extra day if it is in the same place again next year so you get to see Seoul as everyone has said how beautiful a city it is. Also maybe go a day early to help with the jet lag as I struggled the first time with being tired!
The hotel had a sauna and pool which we could use on the late starting mornings and the breakfast was brilliant with lots of choice to fill you up. They made sure you had food every day at the venue, they were very kind to me and bought me sandwiches as I didn’t like the box meals they do which was traditional Korean style food – which overall is very spicy! They are really accommodating and will do anything to help you out and make your time there enjoyable.
The tournament itself felt like a standard tournament with the usual top players in attendance defending their titles. The atmosphere was incredible and all the fans were there to support their favourites which is not something we get to experience much in Europe. This enables you to work on your presentation skills of a game as you actually have a crowd there you are communicating with, rather than the other players. It was a great experience and I was extremely grateful to be able to do a semi-final at the tournament.
All of the umpires like to bring little gifts for one and other so I would advise taking something to share with them. As I am from Nottingham I got some little Robin Hood magnets.
Overall a great tournament and well worth going for those that get the opportunity. We were given a physical copy of the T.O.’s group photo in a frame too! There’s a picture of the venue and the view from the hotel room! I wasn’t kidding, it was just over the road to the airport. I was also lucky enough to get to umpire Lin Dan at the tournament (he’s getting old now and lost in 2 sets) but it was my claim to fame on this occasion!