The West West Lake project, aiming to build a model urban township in Hanoi, is an emblem of the rich Vietnam-South Korea relationship.
The project developer T.H.T Development Company Limited’s general director Lee Kwon Sang shares his thoughts with VIR about the project and his feelings about the Lunar New Year in Vietnam.
Despite three decades with Daewoo EC working in diverse regions, few projects have occupied Sang’s mind from the onset like the West West Lake project.
Sang came to Vietnam at a time when the West West Lake project was conceived. He then joined the project’s planning process and after some interruptions he came back to Vietnam when the project left the drawing board and took on the post of general director at T.H.T Development.
Sang’s total dedication to the project has quickly become a source of inspiration to all other staff at T.H.T Development.
“He never asks the staff to work as much as possible. Instead, he urges us to mull how to get optimal work efficiency,” said the company’s Administration and Human Resources director Lee Sang Min.
Sang said through residing and working in Vietnam and especially after spending two years enjoying the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet), he has uncovered more than 100 similarities in Vietnamese and South Korean customs. It ranges from a year-end reunion and sharing the first meal in the New Year, to worshiping ancestors and giving lucky money to kids.
Sang said a good grip of Vietnamese culture and people has benefitted his work, but things do not always go smoothly.
The $314 million project was initially developed by a consortium of five Korean companies and was licenced in February 2006. It has since been delayed due to investors’ reshuffle and land clearance difficulties.
Recently, four co-investors decided to transfer their stakes to Daewoo which became the only investor to develop the 207 hectare project covering parts of Hanoi’s Tay Ho, Cau Giay and Tu Liem districts. Besides, like many other property development projects in Vietnam, land acquisition was a thorny issue of the West West Lake.
“But, I think land acquisition is a common problem even for local investors as Vietnam is in the process of gradually enhancing its policies and mechanisms on trade and investment. I never doubted the project’s success. The West West Lake is a long-term project with specific targets and we will strive to find out the most suitable ways to reach the set targets,” he added.
In the context of accelerating the project amid the current gloomy property market, Sang said the West West Lake was a mega project that could not be finalised within several years. The project has ambitious plans to match Vietnam’s development in the next decades in step with local people’s increasingly affluent lives.
“In the past two decades, Vietnamese people kept talking about Daewoo Hanoi Hotel as a symbol of modernity and comfort. In the next two decades and later years I hope they will talk of West West Lake urban township as a new lifestyle symbol,” Sang said. In Sang’s words the West West Lake project will accommodate Hanoi’s new financial and economic centres and important cultural and historical venues such as Thang Long Theatre and a historic museum. It will feature office buildings, commercial centres, luxury hotels, residential areas and parks.
Hence, the West West Lake is expected to stand out as a masterpiece symbolising Vietnam-South Korea friendship and cooperation in the next decades.