Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon, left. [Photo by Yonhap]
[Photo by Yonhap]
South Korea’s bid to host the World Expo 2030 came to close on Tuesday after a 509-day campaign. A total of 165 countries cast their votes with no abstentions, with Saudi Arabia getting 119 votes, Korea 29, and Italy 17.
Korean President Yoon Seok Yul and Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, as well as SK Group Chairman and Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Chey Tae-won and Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon, united the nation’s public and private sectors to work toward one goal. Park, Busan Expo Public Relations Ambassador Na Seung-yeon, Chey, Han, and former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made final presentations to gather last-minute support from member states.
In the process, Korea made a step forward in its diplomatic and economic territories.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) has 182 member countries. In just a year and a half, the Korean government and senior corporate executives traveled distances equivalent to navigating the globe 495 times over to engage in diplomacy with each country. In many cases, it was the first time that the Korean government or a Korean business ever visited these counties, with the government and companies planning to harness the global network built over the bidding process to expand trade and diversify supply chains.
“We met with all of the BIE member countries to discuss economic cooperation and request their support, and, in the process, fulfilled the government’s commitment to expanding Korea’s international role via diplomacy,” Yoon said at the cabinet meeting. “We have gained more friends in the international community, and people around the world say they are greatly impressed with Korea’s dynamism and potential after witnessing our public-private teamwork.”
The three African countries that Han traveled to in October 2023 in support of the Busan Expo bid—Malawi, Togo, and Cameroon—had never been visited by top-level officials since diplomatic ties were established. Bang Ki-sun, head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, recently traveled to Benin and Guinea-Bissau as a presidential envoy. The visit to Benin was also the first by a minister-level official since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Some companies note that the bidding process led to a major accomplishment, which was the expansion of Korea’s economic territory, and it was said while Korea has “K-companies,” there is no equivalent in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the public-private economic mission comprising secondary battery companies also signed several business agreements with African countries, including Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for key minerals such as nickel and graphite.
By Moon Ji-woong, Chung Seung-hwan, Lee Sae-ha, and Choi Jieun
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