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In order to be chosen as the host city of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit Meeting slated to be held in Korea in 2005, three cities ― Seoul, Busan and Jeju ― are engaged in a hot competition.
There are, of course, more immediate national issues that need to be addressed, such as the North Korean nuclear issue and the improvement of North-South relations. However, it is obvious that the policy of making the Korean Peninsula the hub of the Northeast Asian economy should not be handled lightly.
In this regard, Busan is a more appropriate venue than Seoul or Jeju.
First, Busan has a symbolic meaning because it can present futuristic conditions for logistics services that cover the whole world beyond Northeast Asia.
At a time when it is common to strike a free trade agreement between countries whose interests are the same, Busan’s image certainly fits in with the first step for economic integration of Northeast Asia that will be visualized when a free trade agreement between South Korea and Japan is settled.
Second, Busan, which has successfully held international events like the draw in for the World Cup competition seed, the Busan Asian Games, the 2002 Busan International Choir Competition and the Pusan International Film Festival, is equipped with external and internal conditions needed for successfully carrying out an international event like the APEC meeting.
Now, Busan has the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center which is equipped with international-standard convention facilities as good as those in Seoul, and the city has up-scale lodging and flight facilities as well as a cultural and natural environment that can guarantee safety and convenience for international events.
Third, APEC summit meetings have been mostly held in outlying cities rather than in the capital of the host country. Moreover, world-class shipyards like Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo are located within one hour’s drive from Busan. And Korea’s representative industrial centers like Ulsan and Changwon are also situated near to Busan. Most noteworthy, however, is that Gyeongju, the ancient capital of Korea for one thousand years, is within two hours’ drive of Busan.
So, if these conditions in Busan could be utilized, the effects would be greater than those of other places in Korea. Even in the perspective of balanced development of the nation, which President’s Roh’s government has consistently pursued and emphasized as a national task, Busan is a more appropriate venue compared to Seoul or other areas.
South Korea’s central government which says it is aiming for the future, should certainly take advantage of the facilities and natural advantages of its leading port city.

by Ahn Jung-tae

The writer is president of the Korean Overseas Development Institute in Busan.
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