[D-30] Team Korea makes final sprint before Busan Expo 2030 vote ━ Gov’t officials, business leaders travel 10 million miles to push BIE bid President Yoon Suk Yeol gives an English-language presentation on Busan’s 2030 World Expo bid at the 172nd general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions in Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, on June 21. [JOINT PRESS CORPS] More than 400 times around the globe. That is the distance Korea’s government and business leaders traveled to promote Busan’s 2030 World Expo bid. One month remains until the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the Paris-headquartered intergovernmental organization that oversees the World Expo, elects the host city of the 2030 mega event. South Korea’s Busan is in a tight race against Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh and Italy’s Rome in a three-way bidding competition. “The public and private sectors have run together 16,408,822 kilometers (10.19 million miles), or 409 times around the globe,” as of the end of September, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo told dignitaries at the Busan Expo Symposium in Paris earlier this month. The total distance traveled by President Yoon Suk Yeol, Prime Minister Han, ministers, presidential envoys and businesspeople displays seamless public-private coordination to promote Busan’s bid. Korea’s government officials and business leaders met with a total of 2,308 figures as of last month to promote the bid overseas, including heads of state, ruling and opposition politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, university presidents, businesspeople and international organization members, according to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat on Oct. 9. During this period, Yoon met with 455 people from 91 countries, while Han met with 153 figures from 92 countries. Likewise, Korean businesspeople from 13 major companies met with 1,700 people from 151 countries. “We have now entered an era where all countries, societies, companies, organizations and individuals must work together to solve the problems we face,” Jang Sung-min, special envoy of the president and senior secretary for future strategy, told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “We seek to pursue new governance by creating a win-win cooperation model between countries and businesses, the public and the private sector. President Yoon is pursuing such new governance through public-private cooperation through the Expo bid.” Jang, who has coordinated the presidential office’s diplomatic outreach for the Expo, stressed that securing the bid “will be a meaningful milestone on Korea’s path to becoming a global hub country.” And Korea’s government and business leaders are not letting up on their coordinated outreach to promote Busan’s Expo bid in the last stretch before the BIE general assembly next month. Stiff competition Busan faces fierce competitors, as Riyadh is a modern metropolis in the middle of the desert, and Rome is a world-renowned tourist destination filled with ancient, medieval and contemporary attractions. The port city of Busan, surrounded by the sea, rivers and mountains, holds a history of being a center of trade and a provisional capital during the 1950-53 Korean War, housing tens of thousands of refugees at one point and overcoming adversity to become representative of Korea’s inspiring transformation into an industrial, technological and cultural powerhouse. On Nov. 28, the 182-member BIE will elect the host country of World Expo 2030 during its 173rd general assembly through a secret ballot, with one vote for each country. The BIE stipulates that a country must gather two-thirds of the votes cast to win the election if there are more than two candidates. If none of the three candidates earns two-thirds of the votes cast in the first round, the third-place candidate is eliminated, and the two leading candidates will move into a second round of voting. In the case of a runoff race, the host country can be elected by a simple majority. Busan reportedly received the highest score in the evaluation by the BIE inspection team that visited Korea in April. But the odds were stacked against Busan initially, as Korea officially joined in the Expo bid relatively later than the other candidates, which included Ukraine’s Odesa, who dropped out earlier this year. Despite three candidates in the running, many observers say the final race will likely be a two-way battle between Busan and Riyadh. Korean Ambassador to Italy Lee Seong-ho told the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee during a parliamentary audit held in Rome on Oct. 18 that it was Italy’s “internal judgment that Rome was pushed to third place.” Some officials are cautiously saying there is a 50-50 chance of winning the bid, leaving open the likelihood of a runoff between Saudi Arabia and Korea if no one country secures two-thirds of votes in the initial round. Considering that the next World Expo in 2025 will take place in Japan’s Osaka, there are some concerns over two Expos in a row being held in East Asia. World Expo 2020 took place on 1,083 acres of reclaimed desert in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, also a Middle Eastern country, from October 2021 to March 2022, postponed a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It received over 24 million visitors. The Osaka World Expo will occur between April and October 2025 under the theme “Designing Future Society for Our Lives.” Busan envisions a World Expo to be held between May 1 and Oct. 31, 2030, for 184 days, with an estimated 34.8 million visitors. The theme would be “Transforming Our World, Navigating Toward a Better Future,” calling for collective hope and responsibility in times of crises and for a more sustainable future. Busan is appealing to be a venue for inclusiveness and solidarity to find solutions to global challenges such as climate change and the digital divide. It plans to share Korea’s own growth experience with developing countries and showcase Korea’s cutting-edge digital technology. Busan, Korea’s second-largest city, is also the world’s second-largest transshipment hub, handling up to 75 percent of domestic trade. The Expo would take place in Busan’s North Port, an area of approximately 3.4 million square meters, including land and water. The trading port dates back to 1876, handling most of the country’s export and import shipments. The project proposes using the North Port area as the Expo site and returning the infrastructure to businesses and citizens after the event. The city touts being “well-developed, well-placed and well-experienced,” a logistics hub that can serve as a passageway that can connect the Eurasian continent to the Asia-Pacific, a center of research and development and a culture mecca home to the annual Busan International Film Festival. “President Yoon is making big plans to grow Busan into a global city like New York, Osaka and Shanghai,” Jang said. “‘Busan is ready,’ one of our Expo slogans, is not just a nice catchphrase. Busan is a city that is already prepared.” He continued, “Through connecting the Pacific Ocean and the Eurasian continent, a Busan World Expo will be a global game changer that can advance the world toward peace and technological advancement through the coexistence of humans and nature.” President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, greets Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), at the official reception for Busan’s 2030 World Expo bid at the BIE general assembly in Paris on June 21. [JOINT PRESS CORPS] Final sprint “The war 70 years ago once turned Korea to ruin, but thanks to the help of the international community, Korea transformed itself into an economic powerhouse full of high-tech industries and innovative technologies,” President Yoon said in an English-language speech at the fourth presentation of the BIE general assembly in Paris in June. “The Busan Expo will be a venue creating new business opportunities.” Korean singer Psy of “Gangnam Style” fame was one of the presenters alongside Yoon, appealing to Korea’s soft power on the global stage. Yoon has emphasized “public-private unity,” mobilizing his Cabinet, aides and companies to contribute to Expo bid efforts with a “one team” approach over the past year. The president visited over a dozen countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Poland, Lithuania, Japan, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. During his trip to New York last month to attend the UN General Assembly, Yoon met with the leaders of 47 countries over five days to drum up support for Korea’s bid in a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings. This week, Yoon visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar for state visits during heightened tensions in the Middle East amid the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group. In Riyadh, the 2030 World Expo, which the two countries are competing to host, was not raised as a topic of conversation in Yoon’s summit with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman A senior presidential official told reporters Sunday that while the Expo bid was not discussed between the leaders, they share the mindset to “compete in good faith and congratulate each other on the results with a friendly spirit.” Regardless of who wins the bid, they plan to “fully cooperate with the preparation process in the future.” Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ahead of their bilateral summit at the Al Yamamah Palace in Riyadh last Sunday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS] Prime Minister Han also visited 17 countries, including the Czech Republic, China, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Ghana and Mozambique, according to his secretariat. Earlier this month, Han made an eight-day Europe trip to France, Denmark, Croatia and Greece. On Oct. 9, Han spoke at the 2030 Busan World Expo Official Symposium in Paris, attended by a 200 figures including Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who also heads the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and special envoy Jang. Han and Chey are co-chairs of the joint governmental-civilian World Expo 2030 Bid Committee, overseen by a presidential commission. The symposium was also attended by BIE Secretary General Dimitri Kerkentzes and representatives from BIE member countries, alongside 25 Korean business executives, including Hyundai Motor Executive Chair Euisun Chung, Doosan Group Chairman Park Jeong-won, Samsung Electronics President Park Seung-hee, Posco International CEO Jeong Tak and HD Hyundai Vice Chairman Ga Sam-hyun. Han and other Korean business and government figures met with local correspondents at the Korean Cultural Center in Paris, among other activities, to promote Busan in France. Likewise, high-ranking officials at related ministries have recently been busy appealing to countries worldwide. Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Bang Moon-kyu visited Ethiopia, and Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Won Hee-ryong head to Nigeria. Foreign Minister Park Jin visited Britain and France last month. Last Friday, Park held a virtual meeting of heads of missions in Europe, Africa and the Middle East to discuss last-minute promotion strategies for each country. “The government and the private sector have come together as a team to host the Expo,” Prime Minister Han said in a Cabinet meeting last week. “Even though our bid began later than competing countries, support is growing thanks to public-private efforts and public support. It’s time for one last sprint.” From the left, Hyundai Motor Executive Chair Euisun Chung, presidential special envoy Jang Sung-min, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, and Jeremy Rifkin, a renowned American economic theorist and head of the Foundation on Economic Trends, chat at a banquet at the Busan Expo Symposium at Pavillon Gabriel in Paris on Oct. 9. [YONHAP] One Team On May 22, 2022, the KCCI launched the Civilian Committee to promote the 2030 World Expo, comprised of top executives from 11 conglomerates tasked with using their business networks to leverage Busan’s bid globally. According to the KCCI, committee members visited 119 countries and consulted with representatives of 161 countries as of the end of September. This comes to some 892 meetings. At the BIE general assembly in Paris in June, Korea’s top four conglomerate leaders — Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung, LG Corp Chairman Koo Kwang-mo and Chey — came together at Expo events alongside the president to support Busan’s bid. According to the government, business leaders from 13 companies have continued Expo bid efforts behind the scenes, reaching out to figures from over 150 countries. Korean companies contributing to Busan’s Expo bid efforts include Samsung Electronics, SK, Hyundai Motor, LG, Lotte, Posco, Doosan, HD Hyundai, GS Engineering & Construction and Hanwha Aerospace. Business organizations include the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Korea Economic Association. Choi began an eight-day trip abroad on Oct. 19, the KCCI said Wednesday, instead of joining the president’s business delegation to Qatar this week after consultation with the government. This comes at the heels of his Paris trip. Choi plans to tour seven African and European countries to promote the Busan Expo, accompanied by KCCI and SK executives. He heads to Vietnam later this week. Since Choi became co-chair of the Expo committee, he and other SK executives have visited or met with figures from more than 160 countries at home and abroad. This included some 800 high-ranking officials, seen as a part of all-out efforts ahead of the final vote. Other SK executives also departed for Europe and the Middle East last week to support Expo promotion. From left, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon pose for a photo in matching “Busan is Ready” t-shirts during a banquet in Paris on Oct. 9. [PRIME MINISTER’S SECRETARIAT] In September last year, as a special presidential envoy, Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee visited Mexico and Panama to promote Busan, while Hyundai’s Chung visited the Czech Republic and Slovakia last October. Over February and March, Chey visited Spain, Portugal, and Denmark as a special presidential envoy. Local businesses in Busan are also actively supporting the Expo bid, and 49 companies donated 19.42 billion won ($14.3 million) for such efforts as of this year, according to data compiled by the Busan Metropolitan City. In the final month ahead of the BIE vote, business executives and government officials have generally kept mum on the details of each country they will be visiting as a part of their divide-and-conquer strategy. Africa is considered an especially strategic region to attract votes before the final stretch. According to BIE, the 182 member countries consist of 49 African countries, 49 European countries, 32 American countries, 20 Asian countries, 19 Middle Eastern countries and 13 Pacific countries. “We have an epic story of how we developed from the ashes of colonialism, poverty and war into today’s center of the fourth industrial revolution and a semiconductor powerhouse,” presidential envoy Jang said. “We explained to world leaders how we will share this experience with the international community.” He continued, “We must share the spirit of ‘sharing and caring,’ which means listening to the world’s thoughts, sharing their difficulties, and bearing burdens together.” French President Emmanuel Macron, center, poses for a commemorative photo with the leaders of Korea’s top conglomerates at Elysee Palace in Paris on June 21. [YONHAP] BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *