The Korea Herald

ssg
피터빈트

Busan's Expo bid about progress not money

SK chief, who leads Busan's expo bid committee, denies rumors about China's hindrance

By Park Han-na

Published : July 27, 2023 - 16:04

    • Link copied

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who doubles as chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks during a press conference on Busan's bid for hosting the World Expo 2030 in Bukchon, central Seoul, Wednesday. (KCCI) SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who doubles as chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks during a press conference on Busan's bid for hosting the World Expo 2030 in Bukchon, central Seoul, Wednesday. (KCCI)

South Korea’s eagerness to host the World Expo 2030 in Busan goes far beyond the pursuit of a multi-trillion-won injection into the economy, and is instead seeking to become an important international platform that will contribute to humanity, according to SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won on Wednesday.

“People often talk about the economic impact ... of hosting the expo. … More importantly, I think Korea should take a responsible course of action towards (having an impact on) the future direction of humanity,” Chey told a group of foreign reporters during a press conference on promoting Busan’s bid for the World Expo 2030.

Hosting the expo is estimated to generate some 61 trillion won ($48 billion) in economic effects for Korea through the creation of new jobs and tourism, according to the government.

Chey is co-chair of the World Expo 2030 Busan Bid Committee, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and chairman of the country’s second largest conglomerate SK Group.

He stressed that the World Expo should transform into a platform for discussing and finding solutions for global issues by departing from its conventional role of showcasing new technology and products, which can now be done easily online.

“We are facing a number of challenges ... and there are not many venues where we (can come together and) attempt to solve these problems collectively,” he said.

In March, Busan City and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry launched the online platform WAVE, which seeks to turn this approach into a reality.

WAVE enables people around the world to propose, develop and implement ideas through collective intelligence on issues such as food waste, technological innovation and health care.

Through the site, people can explore 61 country pavilions and discuss topical issues facing their country. They can exchange thoughts and ideas on how to tackle the problems by cooperating with other nations and companies.

Having gone from being one of the world's poorest war-torn nations only a few decades ago to a leading global economy, Korea is in a unique position to provide expertise and understanding to other countries, Chey said.

“There are (global) problems that cannot be solved if only 7 countries (the G7) or 20 countries (the G20) gather and discuss. Korea can act as a catalyst on coming up with resolutions for (pressing global) issues,” he said.

Addressing rumors that China opposes Korea's bid because it might lower the country's chances of hosting the expo in 2035 as both countries are in the same continent, Chey said he had "heard the rumors" but that there is "no evidence proving China to be a hindrance."

Chey added that he is making efforts to win China's vote for the 2030 bid.

"A few months ago, I met with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese Prime Minister Li Chang to ask for support for (Korea's bid for) the Busan Expo," he said, adding that he plans to visit China one more time to conduct more in-depth discussions.

Busan is competing against Saudi Arabia's Riyadh and Italy's Rome to host the World Expo 2030.

Member states of the Bureau International des Exposition, the inter-government organization that regulates and oversees world fairs, will gather to elect the host country of the World Expo 2030 in Paris in November.