Korea makes play to host the MWC

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Korea makes play to host the MWC

Korea is making a push to host the Mobile World Congress, government and mobile industry sources told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The MWC, one of the world’s biggest tech fairs, wrapped up its 2014 event Thursday in Barcelona after casting a spotlight on the latest smart devices by a host of global tech companies, including Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.

“Korea is considered one of the IT powerhouses in the world, but it does not have any notable international IT fair it can claim as its own,” said an official of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

“We judged that it would have a positive effect on the economy and enhance the ‘IT Korea’ brand, so we are considering hosting.”

Spain owns the rights to host the MWC through 2018, but organizers of the event are reported to be considering a move, given Spain’s lack of IT infrastructure.

Some companies and media that attended the 2014 MWC also complained about high expenses and pickpockets.

Lee Woo-hyun of the ruling Saenuri Party and other lawmakers say they are willing to cooperate with the government to bring the MWC to Korea.

At the ministry’s presentation of its New Year plan to the National Assembly on Feb. 21, lawmakers asked if the government is willing to host the MWC, to which Yoon Jong-lok, the ministry’s vice minister, responded, “We need to try.”

The Future Planning Ministry official said the government has already contacted the GSMA, organizer of the MWC, about the possibility.

“The IT fad that swept the United States and Europe is now coming to the three Northeast Asian countries, and Korea is at the center of it,” the official said.

“There are hundreds of millions people within a radius of 1,000 kilometers [621 miles] of Korea, and we stressed that to the GSMA.”

The MWC is known to benefit the economy of the host country.

According to a study, Barcelona will enjoy 3.5 billion euros ($4.8 billion) worth of economic benefits from hosting the MWC for seven years through 2018.

“We have world-class companies like Samsung and LG, and a world-class IT-mobile infrastructure, so I think we are definitely well qualified for it,” said lawmaker Lee.

BY SOHN HAE-YONG [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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