Busan residents show support for Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in the southern port city, waving banners at Busan Citizen’s Hall, Tuesday, a day before the Bureau International des Expositions votes in Paris to choose the host city. Korea Times Photo by Shim Hyun-chul The Eiffel Tower and the telephone are just a couple of the groundbreaking inventions that were introduced at the World Expo, a prestigious global fair held every five years with the potential to generate economic benefits and stimulate job creation. Since its inaugural event in 1851, the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) has chosen the host city through a vote by member states. This year, Korea’s southeastern city of Busan competed against Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh and Italy’s Rome to host the 2030 event. During the BIE’s general assembly in Paris on Tuesday, the Saudi capital secured a landslide victory after winning a two-thirds majority with 119 votes against Busan’s 29 votes and Rome’s 17 votes. Many observers say that Busan, as a late entrant, failed to pull off an upset against the deep-pocketed Middle East nation, which had initiated a significant marketing campaign from the early stages. Since joining the lobbying campaign in July 2022, the Korean government has mounted an all-out effort, utilizing high-profile figures and business leaders to showcase its unique vision. Through a series of meetings and seminars, South Korean delegates shared their plan to position the World Expo as a platform for addressing humanity’s challenges, such as war and conflict, the digital divide, and climate change. Busan has presented itself as a potential role model for developing countries based on its successful embrace of industrialization in recent decades. President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized during his final push in Paris last week that the Expo would be an opportunity for the country to give back to the world after benefiting from international aid in the aftermath of the 1950-53 Korean War. Local officials describe the campaign trail as unprecedented. Yoon has met with 462 officials from 96 countries and visited 12 countries to bolster Busan’s bid. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo has met with over 150 officials from 90 countries as part of the campaign. Members of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for Riyadh City, celebrate at the Palais des Congres in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Paris’ suburb, Nov. 28, after winning the host of the 2030 World Expo, the showpiece event held every five years. AFP-Yonhap Busan loses bid to host World Expo 2030 2023-11-29 04:33 | Foreign Affairs Saudi Arabia wins vote to host World Expo 2030; Korea’s Busan comes up short 2023-11-29 01:29 | Foreign Affairs Korea’s business and industry delegations, led by SK Chairman Chey Tae-won, also supported the Busan bid. “Joint efforts of the government and private sector in the bidding process were highly effective,” said a ranking government official on the condition of anonymity. Since the launch of the bidding committee, delegates from both government and private sectors have traveled over 20 million kilometers during their part of the campaign trail. Officials from major local conglomerates noted that the months-long campaign provided an opportunity to find new business markets. “Various business opportunities in overseas that we have not known so far were newly detected,” said an official on the condition of anonymity. Local authorities have estimated that the Busan Expo would have brought economic benefits worth 61 trillion won ($47 billion) and attracted over 50 million tourists. Additionally, more than 500,000 new jobs were expected to be created. The Expo was not just a national goal but also a high-stakes ambition for Busan, the country’s second-largest city, home to 3.42 million people, that was vying to benefit from balancing effects. Anticipation was high among people in Busan and the surrounding region that the Expo would serve as a catalyst for decentralization efforts, ultimately addressing the country’s unbalanced issues. Prior to the voting, Yoon emphasized that the campaign for the Busan bid is aimed at bringing balanced development, apparently referring to the country’s long-lasting deconcentration efforts. Busan is poised to propel its push by considering a run to host the event in 2035. “The process of securing the World Expo 2030 was a truly honorable time for our city,” said Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon, adding that the global community has recognized Busan’s competitiveness and high potential. Other observers noted that despite South Korea’s track record of hosting global events such as the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 2002 World Cup, it was an uphill battle from the beginning, as the BIE was unlikely to select two Asian cities hosting back-to-back Expos. Japan’s Osaka will host the World Expo 2025. “We humbly accept the outcome, and we will continue to build on the diplomatic assets we have gained from visiting 182 countries,” Han told reporters after the Tuesday’s voting. (Yonhap)

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