So last week a call went out on Facebook promising free tickets to the Korea Grand prix, being held just outside of Mokpo in Jeollanam-do this weekend.
I should have been cautious from the start, but everything seemed legit.
By all accounts Grand Prix sponsor NH Corp (Nyung Hap?) was giving away free tickets - exclusivly to foreigners who could meet at the track at a certain time on Sunday and produce their Alien Registration Card. It was a given amongst those of us who expressed interest in taking NH up on the offer, that this was probably a case of a big Korean sponsor, desperate to fill the stands with foreign looking faces, to make the Grand Prix look like a success.
But it's the Grand Prix right? Tickets retail for W137,000. So a freebie, despite the treacherous journey to Mokpo, is well worth it right!?
Over 700 people had expressed interest in going to the Grand Prix mid-week, but another call went out for the first 600 odd to reconfirm their attendance and details of time etc for picking up the tickets were disseminated. People booked and paid for bus tickets, Love Motels were booked and rides down to Mokpo were organized . (Me with a couple of the crew from caranddriving.net) and a general feeling of excitement for the weekend in anticipation of sucking in the smells of burnt rubber and high performance racing fuel settled across a large swathe of Facebook, and those getting ready for the trip south.
Until Last night (Friday).
When the word came out that sponsors were only interested in giving out 100 tickets, and that those closest to Mokpo and the first to sign up getting the tickets. (about 50 to each).
Arrrgh, you know, OK, 600 people is quite a few. I can perhaps understand a sponsor not wanting to part with 82 Million odd won worth of tickets, but it seems this is just one in a huge line of Korea Grand Prix faux pas and f*ck ups that are leading to the Grand Prix being an international embarrassment for Korea.
Among other things the race has been criticised for being in the best of all the Korean provinces: Middle-of-f*ck-nowhere-Do (some 450km south of Seoul, not to mention 12 hour plus flights to Korea from the rest of the world) . And not quite the Brothels that some in the international press have dubbed them, said press are being put up in some well appointed love motels.
The Telegraph though hit the nail on the head about our current situation:
The organisers say they are expecting 100,000 on Sunday. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility although that is not to say the race has grabbed the locals. Someone pointed out that race organisers in the Far East have previously been known to herd numbers of spectators using ‘incentives’. Free tickets usually do the trick. Allegedly one GP2 race in recent years was packed to the rafters with prisoners on day release.
Day release prisoners....Foreign English Teachers.....half of one etc. etc.
The biggest screw-up seems to have been averted though, with qualifying laps being completed with little fuss. The Telegraph continues:
The track looks OK but I have to admit that there are some out here (mentioning no names) who are waiting, hoping almost, for the wheels to fall off. Clearly the place is way off the pace in some areas and there is a faint whiff of pandemonium in the offing. The circuit is basically a building site in a rather unlovely coastal region miles from anywhere. There is no greenery to speak of. The cobbled paths next to the enormous, deserted car parks look like they were built in a hurry last week..
The organisers are not blind to that fact. They apologised for the state of affairs this morning (making a bizarre plea for understanding which revolved around the size of the towels in hotels) and promised they would do “better next year”. It was all rather sad.
Pandemonium noun /ˌpæn.dəˈməʊ.ni.əm//-ˈmoʊ-/ a situation in which there is a lot of noise and confusion because people are excited, angry or frightened
Yup. Sounds about right.
Of course tomorrow will tell if everything works out or not, and whether I will get a chance to see the Gran Prix next year.
Meh. I prefer Touring Cars anyway.