By Kim Seung-yeon
SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- The World Expo is not just about creating a huge economic effect for the host country but also serving as a new platform to explore solutions to various common challenges faced by the world today, the chief of a major Korean business lobby has said.
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who doubles as the chair of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), stressed that South Korea is ready to take on that role with its bid to host the world fair in its southern port city of Busan in 2030.
"I am a bit negative about the idea that we hold the expo to make money," Chey said during a press conference with foreign correspondents in Seoul on Wednesday when he was asked about what it means to host an expo for Korea.
"I believe it's more important that we act responsibly for the direction of humanity rather than economic effects. Now it's time for us to contribute, and the time has come for us," he said.
South Korea is making all-out efforts to have its second-largest city become the next Expo host after Japan's Osaka in 2025.
Busan is competing with Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Rome, Italy, and the winner will be announced by the Bureau International des Expositions in November.
Hosting an Expo is estimated to create some 60 trillion won (US$47 billion) in economic effects for Korea.
Chey pointed to what he described as the "software" element in the Expo, as opposed to the conventional showcasing of national and technological advances, suggesting the event should touch on key global challenges, such as the lack of education, infrastructure and medical systems in certain countries.
That is why Korea has come up with "Wave," he said, referring to the digital solution platform developed to collect ideas for solutions to such problems.
Wave is designed to develop and execute the ideas proposed online by participants from all around the world. The KCCI, which launched the platform in May, plans to build the national pavilions for all countries outlining their issues or problems, and participants can come in to present solutions.
Currently, Wave has 61 countries on the national pavilions.
"The speed of solving the problem is much slower than the speed at which the problem confronts us. We need more people to solve the problems that are piling up, and we need more platforms to solve them," Chey said.
Such efforts, like the introduction of Wave, will help further tighten and create anew the relationships among countries, he noted.
"New relationships are created by understanding the countries and trying to find ways to contribute to resolving problems for them. In this vein, the Expo gives a much greater future value," Chey said.
Chey, who is also serving as a co-head of the government-private committee for the World Expo campaign, said he plans to visit China soon to ask for its support for the Expo bid. He will also reach out to as many people involved in the bidding process as possible for the remaining months in the final pitch for Busan.
"I think we might be spending more time in Paris than Seoul as November approaches," he said. "I expect you to see more of our businesspeople visiting other countries."
South Korea plans to host a seminar and a gala dinner in Paris on Oct. 9. It is organizing various events on the sidelines, such as K-pop performances, according to Chey.
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