[Outlook]Looking past 2012

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[Outlook]Looking past 2012

Yeosu won its bid to host the 2012 World Expo, as residents in Yeosu and all of Korea hoped for. The Korean port city lost a previous bid so people felt even more nervous waiting this time for the announcement, which was delayed for nearly three hours. Thus they felt even happier when the good news finally arrived.
The bid’s success was the result of cooperation among the private sector, companies and the government. The citizens in Yeosu were enthusiastic, civil workers from the president to local governments worked hard and conglomerates did their best.
The expo theme, “Living Ocean, Breathing Shore,” is in line with the theme that the Bureau of International Expositions requires ― achievement for the future and the enlightenment of mankind. From advanced countries to the world’s poorest, all can relate to the theme of the Yeosu expo.
Yeosu’s theme was more appropriate than the others. Because environmental issues are some of the most urgent in the world, it was timely to address them. It was uncertain how new member countries would vote. Many were suspected of having joined the organization thanks to Morocco’s influence, but Korea’s diplomatic team successfully overcame that obstacle.
Now we have been chosen as the host of the World Expo. We need to hold the event successfully, as we did for the 1988 Olympic Games and the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Only four years are left before the World Expo. We need to focus our energies on preparing for it.
The World Expo is an event at which attending countries offer exhibitions that showcase their goods, knowledge, technology, culture and history. They also make exchanges with other countries and pursue global cooperation. The job of the host country is to prepare a space for this festival.
In fact, Yeosu lacks infrastructure. The top priority is to build exposition venues, roads and accommodation facilities, which will take a long time. These jobs require huge amounts of manpower, a huge budget and administrative skills so it will be hard to complete them in time if they are carried out in the usual fashion.
The special law to support the Yeosu World Expo must be established as soon as possible, as was done for the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. The presidential election and the general election will be held before April next year. The special law for the expo must not be set aside because of political agendas.
Korea is one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of information technology. The reputation and status of our country will be elevated if the expo runs smoothly using our advanced technology.
It is expected that around 8 million people will take part in or visit the expo. If such large numbers flock to a place during a period of three months, there will likely be some problems.
The expo is different from sporting events at which spectators are seated in stands and watch matches or races. At an expo, people take part in a variety of activities so problems will be more complicated than at other international events.
This is where the help of the people of Yeosu is needed. The expo will be a success if the citizens take inconveniences in stride, as if they were entertaining their own guests. During the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Koreans showed a good sense of order. It should be the same for the 2012 Yeosu World Expo.
Preparation and successful management are important for the expo’s success. But what’s more important is how the facilities will be used after the event is over.
Yeosu has a beautiful seascape and a pristine ocean. After the expo, Yeosu will have better facilities and it will be better known outside the country. These are good conditions for becoming a famous tourist attraction.
But facilities and a seascape are not enough to make the city a truly attractive spot. There must be some activities that draw people in.
Cultural content is also important. The Honam region, namely the North and South Jeolla provinces, is well known for its food and pansori, Korean traditional narrative singing. If these attractions are developed and meet international standards, Yeosu will be one of the famous tourist attractions of Northeast Asia, and the facilities for the expo will continue to to be put to use.
All Koreans have worked together to win the bid for the World Expo. We should make the same effort to prepare for the expo so the event will be a success.

*The writer is the head of the planning and coordination division at the Korea Maritime Institute. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Lim Chin-soo
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