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Curtain raised on model U.N. conference

Students from some 60 countries around the world discussed global warming, financial crisis, war and other pending issues at the U.N. model conference that opened in Incheon on Wednesday.

The annual conference, hosted by the international body and participated in by nearly 1,000 college and high school students, will be held through Sunday under the theme “Sustainable Development: Advancing Human Progress in Harmony with Nature.”

During the first day of the conference Wednesday, Incheon Mayor Song Young-ghil gave a speech about what it takes to be a global leader.

Song also introduced the longstanding relations between Incheon and the U.N. since the 1950-53 Korean War and the six main global challenges, they said.

“Please become global leaders with justice and courage to resolve the crisis the international community faces today,” Song said in an address.

Some 650 college students taking part in the conference will hold discussions in the accordance with U.N. protocol at the conference, role-playing as diplomats representing a nation or a non-governmental group in simulated U.N. sessions.

About 400 high school students from the Incheon area are also attending the model meetings as audiences.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to give a keynote speech on Thursday, after which he will offer a special lecture to teenagers and college students at the nearby University of Incheon.

A secretariat consisting of 29 students from about 20 countries will lead the global model U.N. general assembly and subcommittee meetings on disarmament and international security, economy and finance, society and culture, special politics and anti-colonization. Lee Dong-yeop, sophomore of the department of international studies at Kyung Hee University, has been selected as president of the GMUN general assembly.

The number of participants doubled in the Incheon conference from last year’s conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, due to an increase in the applications, organizers say.

A cultural event where students exhibit traditional costumes and musical instruments will also be held on the sidelines of the conference. A Korean b-boy team will perform in the closing ceremony on Sunday.

By Shin Hae-in (