The Korea Herald


Korea makes last-minute push for Busan Expo bid

President Yoon visits Paris, where final vote will take place next week

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Nov. 24, 2023 - 15:37

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President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee arrive at the Orly Airport, France on Thursday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee arrive at the Orly Airport, France on Thursday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol attended a Bureau of International Expositions banquet on Thursday as the first official event during his visit to Paris, in a bid to rally support for Busan in the vote taking place next week.

Diplomats and BIE delegations from around the world attended the dinner held at a hotel in Paris.

The chiefs from Korea's top conglomerates, including Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, attended the banquet, as well as officials from UNESCO and the Korean Embassy to France.

In his dinner speech, Yoon said Korea wants to host the expo to make a responsible contribution to the international community, stressing that the Busan Expo will be a "platform of solidarity" and a "cultural expo" where participants share culture and traditions.

"The Busan Expo will be a place to connect and inspire future generations and young people who seek for new dreams and opportunities," said Yoon, who arrived in France following a four-day state visit to the UK.

Yoon also said Korea would share its experience with the international community through the "Busan Initiative" -- a platform to solve various problems that individual cities are facing through technology, policies and international cooperation.

Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung gave a toast in English, touting Korea's achievements in science and technology, K-pop and K-food, adding, "Regardless of the results of the vote, Korea will keep its promises to each country."

Fleur Pellerin, the former French minister of culture and communication, gave two reasons why Busan should be the next expo host.

"One is to spread the value of liberal democracy further to the international community, and the other is to spread the positive influence of the soft power of the Korean Wave," Pellerin said.

The venue for the 2030 expo will be decided by anonymous voting by 182 member states at the BIE General Assembly on Nov. 28. Busan is competing with Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Rome, Italy.