A Glimpse into Korea’s Maker Community

Thanks to the invite from Fab Monster, Lily and I had the chance to participate in Hello Maker Korea 2018 in October. If you haven’t seen the recap yet, check it out here. This is the first time the LVDuo (Lily & Violet from Community Team at Seeed) participated in events, so we also seized the chance to visit several maker companies/Fab Labs/Maker Spaces during this trip.
As Lily mentioned in the previous blog, we got the visa very late and started booking tickets the last minute before departure, and we also arranged our schedule very hastily. We are grateful for all who hosted us in Korea in such a short notice. We’ve visited 8 places in Busan and Seoul, and I can’t wait to share with you about the amazingness of these visits!
1. Fab Monster & Fab Lab Busan
On the first day of arrival in Busan on Oct 25th, we got to visit Fab Lab Busan and the company behind it: Fab Monster, which is also the organizer of Hello Maker Korea! As organizers of Maker Faire Shenzhen ourselves, we understand how busy and chaotic it would be on the day before the event. And we really appreciate it when the team squeezed their time to meet with us, give us tours of the facility as well as spend time for a meeting to explore future collaborations.
I love the facilities of Fab Lab Busan, and how they manage the space with an online system and divide the accessibility based on skill levels. What was most touching was seeing a series of artwork combining 3D printing with painting, which was made by a 72-year-old maker! Impressed! 🙂
We’ve learned about Fab Monster’s efforts in building the maker community through (1) networking events such as Hello Maker series events which was started in 2017 in Busan, and this year has spread to 7 cities in Korea, among which Hello Maker Korea in Busan was the largest one; (2) building and managing the maker space – Fab Lab Busan; (3) providing maker education services, including a mobile maker space in a truck (named Maker Shuttle, which we got to see it during Hello Maker Korea). It contains materials and tools for the teaching of 120 people. We really love the idea of mobile maker space/ fab lab, with a lot of flexibility and possibilities.
After the conclusion of the Hello Maker Korea event in Busa, we took the train from Busan to Seoul in the morning of October 28th and started our busy schedule of visiting many cool places!
Thanks to the hospitality of Sarang Hanyou and Sang Su Kwon, we had the chance to visit Cooperative M’s lab in Seoul Startup Hub as well as the Dream Factory at Seoul Upcycling Plaza.
2. Cooperative M‘s Lab at Startup Hub
We were blown away by the professional equipment in the lab, with all sorts of 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC and other tools and materials. They also have a team of 20+ engineers to provide support and services to the startups. Pictures will speak louder than my clumsy description, you can see the following pictures and imagine how wonderful it would be for a maker to access this lab 🙂
Apart from their own lab, Sarang and Sang Su also gave us a tour of the whole building of the Seoul Startup Hub, which is consisted of 10 floors, each provides spaces, services and supports for different startups at different stages. The startups in the hub even made it possible for visitors to tour the facility via VR contents. You can check it out on their website. The facility has almost everything that a startup needs, from prototyping to co-working, resting, to marketing, networking etc.
There is even a big slide for you to slide from the 2nd floor to the ground floor! I tried it twice! 😀
4. Cooperative M’s Dream Factory at Upcycling Plaza
After the tour of Seoul Startup Plaza, Sarang brought us to another location of Cooperative M, which is called Dream Factory located at the Seoul Upcycling Plaza. It is a maker space with a specific focus on upcycling. They also hosted workshops and competitions here, one of which is the RaceUp event, where they encouraged kids to make cars from recycled bottles and race it up at the NerdyDerby tracks.
We met the teams at the Dream Factory and learned about a few projects they are currently working on. One project is a smart Baby Box, which helps the staff and single mums to manage and take care of the babies better with sensors in the box to send out data and alarms. I love these projects, and couldn’t wait to see its progress!!
With Sarang’s companion, we got the privilege to visit several places at the Seoul Upcycling Plaza even it is not open on Monday! (THANK YOU Sarang!) Seoul Upcycling Plaza is located next to a water treatment plant, and each building of the plaza is made of different materials such as wood, concrete, and iron.
We also visited the exhibition center there, with so many cool projects that were turned from the so-called waste into treasure: new forms of art/display/daily objects etc. It’s such an educational, inspirational and thought-provoking experience for us to get to know about the process and possibilities of upcycling, some of which is actually very easily applicable in our daily life!
There was also a material bank, which we did not get the chance to visit because it’s not open on Monday. However, it gives us more reasons to come back to Seoul! 😀
6. Meeting with Techtreespace
We meant to visit Techtreespace after Seoul Upcycling Plaza, but our schedule was too tight and we might miss our next appointment if traveling back and forth. With the kind consideration of Alex and Reese, they came to the Seoul Upcycling Plaza to meet us! Techtresspsace has been participating in Maker Faire Shenzhen since 2017, but this meeting in Seoul allowed us to learn more about what they do, especially their work for education and training for teachers.


7. Fab Lab Seoul

Our host at Fab Lab Seoul is Winnie, who visited Chaihuo x.factory in early 2018, during which time she was still a university student. And when meeting again at Hello Maker Korea in Busan, Winnie told us she has graduated and is now working at Fab Lab Seoul. Hence, we got the chance to visit Fab Lab Seoul, which is located above the electronic market of Seoul. In Fab Lab Seoul, they will have workshops/ training for students and will provide scholarships for the students to study at Singularity University. The company behind Fab Lab Seoul is Tide Institute, which not only operates 3 fab labs in Korea (Suwon, Daejeon, and Seoul) but also a K Lab in Myanmar!
We had a great tour with Winnie and Sunny. Thank you so much for the warm host. Now, I can’t wait to visit the K Lab in Myanmar!
Our last visit was to the LifeSquare, meeting our long-time friend Hugh Choi! While enjoying desserts and milk teas, we were having a productive meeting with Hugh, Amy and Kieun, discussing future cooperations, linking the companies/startups/innovators in Seoul and Shenzhen through different projects and programs.
We headed to the airport right after the meeting at LifeSquare, ready to fly from the golden autumn in Seoul back to the warm summer in Shenzhen! Many of the things we saw and experienced couldn’t be presented to you with a mere article, hope you got to visit the beautiful and awesome Korea in person!
Stay tuned for LVDuo’s next adventures 😉  <3 

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November 2018