South Korea counting on PH’s support for Busan’s World Expo 2030 bid

The South Korean government is counting on the support of the Philippines, one of its closest allies, for the port city of Busan’s bid to host the World Expo in 2030. 

Busan is competing with Rome, Italy and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to host the World Expo 2030. 





Park Enna, Korea’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom and the executive committee chairperson of the Citizens Committee Bid for the 2030 Busan World Expo, at the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) in the Philippines (Jonathan Hicap, Busan Expo 2030 Facebook page) 

According to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which regulates “all international exhibitions that last more than three weeks, member states including the Philippines will vote for the host country of the World Expo 2030 during the 173rd General Assembly that will be held in November “on the principle of one country, one vote.”

South Korea is bidding to host the event in Busan between May 1 to Oct. 31 2030 under the theme “Transforming Our World, Navigating Toward a Better Future.” 

World Expos, according to the BIE, “are a global gathering of nations dedicated to finding solutions to pressing challenges of our time by offering a journey inside a universal theme through engaging and immersive activities.” 

In an interview with Manila Bulletin at the Korean Cultural Center (KCC), Park Enna, Korea’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom and the executive committee chairperson of the Citizens Committee Bid for the 2030 Busan World Expo, emphasized the strong partnership of the Philippines and South Korea. 

Park visited the Philippines to get the support of the government for Busan’s bid. 

“The Philippines and Korea, as members of the Pacific, we have the responsibility to make the Pacific area as something which can contribute to the whole world. How we make the Pacific area, how we can contribute to the world, it’s up to us,” she said. 

Park added, “As a genuine partner for the future, the Philippines and Korea, we hope to walk together and we act together.” 

South Korea and the Philippines have strong bilateral relations. The two countries will celebrate the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations next year. 

Thousands of Filipinos work in South Korea under the Employment Permit System (EPS), a government-to-government employment program. South Korea has helped the Philippines especially during times of disaster. 

“Korea and the Philippines, we will celebrate next year the 75th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. It means that we will have a significant milestone to upgrade and deepen our collaboration as genuine brother-sister countries,” added Enna. 

She highlighted that “working together for the [Busan World] Expo, it will contribute to our strong bond.” 

Busan: A symbol of transformation 

Enna underscored Busan’s strong capabilities and qualities to host the World Expo 2030. 

“Busan is a symbol of transformation. Busan itself made a big transformation from a small fishing town to become the sixth largest container port in the world. We have a very successful story of transformation,” she said. 

Based on information South Korea submitted to the BIE, the Busan World Expo 2030 is estimated to attract 34.8 million visitors. 

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South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol speaking at the reception in Busan for the visiting mission from the BIE in April (Busan World Expo 2030 website)

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Busan, South Korea  (Busan World Expo 2030 website)

The Busan World Expo 2030 will be held in the Busan North Port, which was Korea’s first trading port.  

“We believe that Busan can inspire the world with our transformation and also our vision for the transformation. The transformation we want to achieve is world transformation. That is the biggest strength of Busan because Busan has the vision for the world,” said Park. 

Busan’s second strength, she said, is that it is a maritime city. 

“Among candidates, Busan is the only city which connects the land and ocean. Our human civilization should utilize both land and ocean. Busan is the best location to implement that vision,” according to her. 

She added, “Busan can also inspire the world with its values. Values of openness, democracy, rule-based order, tolerance and innovation–those values on which future civilization should be built.” 

“Busan is ready to implement the vision of the Expo. Expo is no longer a simple exhibition of new technologies and inventions. Expo is a platform to present solutions to the problems or challenges of humanity like climate change, digital divide or new technology, unprecedented technology like AI [artificial intelligence] and robotics, and inequality issues,” she emphasized. 

According to Park, “Expo should present a blueprint for the future. Busan is the best, the most suitable one, the most desirable one to implement the mission of the Expo.”

Busan North Port: Proposed site of World Expo 2030 

“It is part of our redevelopment, the generation project of all the town. Our original port should make its own transformation from a port city to a green, innovative, smart city. Busan is ready in terms of logistics, transportation, accommodation and providing all the facilities required for the Expo,” she said. 

Last April, an enquiry team from BEI visited Busan to check on the aspects of the proposal submitted by South Korea for the World Expo 2030. 

The visiting mission, led by Patrick Specht, the president of the administration and budget committee, was met by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. 

“Their conclusion was all  candidate cities are qualified but among all others, Busan is the most ready to host the Expo,” added Park. 

Members of Grammy-nominated K-pop group BTS are the honorary ambassadors for the World Expo 2030 Busan. They were officially appointed in a ceremony last year. 

Enna said Busan is confident in winning the bid to host the World Expo 2030. 

“The Expo should serve to the humanity. Busan is a symbol of transformation and has a strong vision for the future, especially Busan citizens are very enthusiastic to have the Expo. This Expo is actually a citizen-driven initiative. It’s a participatory process,” said Park.