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Sunday, October 23, 2016

A (very) short trip to Korea

Panorama view from my room at the Nest Hotel in Incheon.  The Incheon Airport is visible on the right.
Earlier this month, I was in Incheon, South Korea, to present a talk at the Symposium for "Statistical physics, machine learning, and its application to speech and pattern recognition", organized by Prof. Kang-Hun Ahn as part of the Korea Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS).  I was specifically invited to give a talk there (along with Jörg Lücke and Steven van de Par). One does not refuse such an invitation, esp. as a post-doc trying to make an academic career happen.

As a conference, the event was very good, in both of scientific content and forging connections that hopefully can  continue in the future.  Many interesting discussions happened outside the sessions, too.
The location of the Symposium banquet. It was excellent.  Don't ask me for the name though; but I can give the coordinates: 37°25'53.1"N 126°25'27.0"E

The trip was bizarre for me for one reason, though.  It's the first time I traveled that far just to present at a conference.  Unfortunately, this symposium was scheduled not long after I had returned from Italy (where I was at MLSP 2016, coupled with a 1 week vacation), and the week before classes start here at the University of Oldenburg; so I had no time to do any sightseeing in Korea.  I literally arrived the day before the first day of the symposium, and left the morning after the last day.  Total time in Korea: about 66 hours. Total time flying there and back: 30 hours. We (myself, Jörg, and Steven) never went further than about 5 km from the Airport.

I certainly hope to go to Korea again, but then stay a little longer! There is so much to see, and I have friends in Japan I'd like to visit, too.  (I've been to Jeju before, so I know Korea can be very beautiful. Next time I'd like to bring the wife and kids along!)