Busan mayor places confidence in city’s preparations for APEC

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Busan mayor places confidence in city’s preparations for APEC


With the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting rapidly approaching, Busan’s mayor Hur Nam-sik, has his schedule focused on perfecting all the arrangements necessary for the leaders’ conference in the country’s second-largest city on Nov. 18 and 19. He took a break to answer some questions.

Q. The APEC conference will happen soon. Are the preparations going well?
A. The construction of the Nurimaru APEC House on Dongbaek Island, where the conference will take place, was completed in September, and improvements in accommodation facilities are on the way. The maintenance work at three memorial parks ― Dongbaek, APEC theme, and U.N. peace parks ― was recently finished. We’ve had budget problems, but everything is being arranged.

Nurimaru APEC House is becoming the talk of the town.
Foreign officials who recently came in advance to Busan were very pleased with it. They said the building seemed to harmoniously combine Korea’s traditional beauty with its high technology. They were also impressed with the scenery provided by Gwangan Bridge and Oryuk Island seen from the building’s wooden terrace. Nurimaru will be a new attraction in Busan, along with the three parks.
Last month a terrorist attack occurred in Bali, Indonesia. What precautions have been taken?
That was the biggest concern in getting ready for the APEC forum. In September, the head of security at the Blue House was put in charge in Busan and commands the army, police and firefighters. Busan formed a security team of volunteers. They will wear uniforms and keep watch in public places like the subway.

What kinds of practical gains can Busan get from hosting APEC?
It will become a stepping stone to upgrade the reputation of Busan as an international city. The publicity effects will be invaluable. It will also help Busan become a logistics hub in the Pacific and promote the city’s convention and tourism industries. It is also an opportunity to reorganize the region’s industrial structure.

What’s on the conference agenda?
The main agenda includes free trade, nuclear developments in North Korea, the spread of bird flu, improving transparency in the Asia-Pacific region and economic and technological cooperation. There will be a joint declaration after the summit.

What is special about the conference?
The conference will be a showcase for information technology. Advanced information technologies will be fully utilized during the conference, which will be held without the use of paper. There are high-tech objects installed in places where the heads of each country will be staying as well as a folding digital screen which will display Korea’s traditional culture.

What is the role of Busan in the conference?
The city will send people to receive visitors at the airport. In the process, we will promote the city. We also plan to hold a reception for 600 chief executive officers who will participate in the CEO summit.
Here, we will try to attract investments by pointing out that Busan has a harbor and cargo spaces and shipbuilding, automotive component and mechanical material industries. Corporate officials will be given tours of Busan harbor and Renault Samsung Motors’ factories.

Will there be demonstrations against the APEC conference?
This APEC conference aims to overcome economic, social and cultural differences and create an economic union in the Asia-Pacific area. There might be groups of people who are against this goal. We will allow them to have peaceful demonstrations, but intend to block any demonstrations near the conference facilities and the hotels where participants will be staying.
During the conference, some schools will be closed and construction near the conference facilities will be stopped, and mountain hiking will also be banned. Some people are saying that these policies will be too inconvenient for Busan’s citizens.
Even tiny incidents can ruin the image of Busan and the country. We placed security first, and it has resulted in extensive restrictions. I am very sorry for the inconvenience. We are grateful that Lotte Department Store, Home Plus discount store, and Busan Aquarium decided to close during the conference.

* Born in Uiryeong county, South Gyeongsang province in 1949
* Studied at Masan High School, Korea University, received a master’s degree in public adminstration at Seoul National University; PhD. at Kyungsung University
* Passed government exam for public servants (19th)
* Head of Yeongdo district office, head of Busan Asian Game preparation
* Deputy mayor in 2003
* Elected as mayor in June, 2004

by Kang Jin-kwon
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