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Former ambassador to UK says Busan is best pick for 2030 World Expo

Park Eun-ha, Busan’s ambassador for international relations and former ambassador to the UK, pose for a photo before an interview with The Korea Herald, Friday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)
Park Eun-ha, Busan’s ambassador for international relations and former ambassador to the UK, pose for a photo before an interview with The Korea Herald, Friday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

Park Eun-ha (Enna Park), Busan’s ambassador for international relations and former ambassador to the UK, is certain that Busan is capable of hosting the World Expo 2030.

Park, who is helping Busan‘s bid, emphasizes that an all-out effort involving not only Busan but the whole country should be made so that the city can be selected as the venue for the upcoming Expo, during an interview with The Korea Herald on Friday.

Having served the country as a diplomat for some 40 years, Park repeatedly stressed the significance of hosting the international event.

“The Expo is more than an event,” Park said. “South Korea currently ranks as the world‘s 10th biggest economy, and now is the time to show the country’s cultural power, Park added.

According to Park, the Expo is no longer an event that simply aggregates new technologies and products. She said that the Expo is a “platform,” in which the host country can proclaim its vision and leadership in the world. The Busan ambassador added that the Expo can also provide momentum to a host country to step up its position in the world.

Park recalled her visit to 2010 Expo in Shanghai as a member of the UN, as well as the significance the event had for China, which at the time was emerging as a global power. “The Expo was an event where China proclaimed itself as a global power. Through the event, China tried to promote visions for the future, and the expo made people rethink the country and its emergence as a global power,” Park said.

The 1970 Osaka World Expo also provided a great deal of momentum to Japan -- then a defeated nation of World War II -- so that the country could step up as a great economic power, Park said. She noted that Japan then showed its economic and cultural developments off at the Expo, and successfully made its debut as the world’s leading country in technology.

Park Eun-ha, Busan’s ambassador for international relations and former ambassador to the UK, speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald, Friday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)
Park Eun-ha, Busan’s ambassador for international relations and former ambassador to the UK, speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald, Friday. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

Park argued that Busan is well suited to host the Expo. “The World currently needs transformation, and Busan is a city that can show what type of transformation the world needs in the future,” Park said.

Park highlighted Busan’s plan to build the world’s first floating city prototype, which will consist of 15.5-acre-wide interconnected platforms that can initially accommodate 12,000 residents and more in the future.

In April this year, Busan announced -- along with UN Habitat and US-based tech firm Oceanix -- that it will build the world‘s first prototype floating city near a local port.

When Busan unveiled the design of the prototype, named Oceanix Busan, at the UN headquarters in New York, Park also gave a presentation. Park explained the prototype’s potential to mitigate sea-level risks for coastal areas.

According to Park, Busan’s futuristically designed floating city will present a model of a sustainable coastal habitat, consisting of clusters of connected and floating platforms that can generate their own energy and food. The platforms would also be able to recycle their own waste and help in the regeneration of marine life, such as coral.

Busan, which went through major changes after the Korean War to become one of the world’s busiest ports and the country’s shipbuilding hub, now has to prepare for another leap forward, according to Park. She added that the ongoing efforts to transform Busan into a sustainable city are what make the city stand out among its competitors.

Busan is currently competing with Rome, Italy, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to host the Expo. Russia and Ukraine had also submitted applications, but Russia withdrew its bid, and it remains uncertain whether Ukraine will be able to continue its bid due to Russia’s invasion.

Park said it could be a tough competition, but Busan still has a great chance of winning.

When asked if members of the Bureau International des Expositions would consider rotating the Expo between continents, Park said it is relatively free of the custom, accepted by other mega-events like the Olympics and the World Cup. South Korea can surely host the Expo after Japan hosts it in Osaka in 2025, she said.

Busan’s goal is to take first place in the vote, scheduled for November next year, when all 170 BIE member countries will gather to cast their final votes.

If South Korea can host the World Expo, the country will become the seventh country to host the Olympic Games, the World Cup and the World Expo.

Previously, South Korea has held medium-scale expos in Daejeon in 1993 and Yeosu in 2012, but not the World Expo.

If the bid is successful, Busan expects 34.8 million visitors from 200 countries to visit over a six-month period starting in May 2030.

The event will feature pavilions from BIE member countries, as well as other international events that take place during the six-month period, including the Busan International Film Festival.

Park asked for the country‘s all-out efforts to support the bid for Busan to host the 2030 World Expo. “As President Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to support the bid for Busan to host the 2030 World Expo, Busan is expected to gain more traction down the road,” Park said.

Park, whose term as Busan‘s ambassador for international relations will finish at the end of this month, said she hopes to see the Expo come to Busan and the country to take itself forward to the next phase.

Park, who left her home city of Busan at 18 and worked as a diplomat throughout her life, said she would continue to help the city to host the Expo, even after her retirement.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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