Send to

Yoon visits Busan after failed World Expo bid

Dec. 6, 2023 - 15:15 By Son Ji-hyoung
President Yoon Suk Yeol (third from right) shakes hand with a citizen during his visit to Busan on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Yoon's office)

President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday reiterated his push for Busan's infrastructure development in his visit to South Korea's second-most-populous city, in an apparent attempt to appease Busan residents' sentiment after the port city's failed bid to host the 2030 World Expo.

Yoon told some 100 Busan residents that he would work to open a new international airport on the small islet of Gadeok-do near Busan's ports, relocate the state-run Korea Development Bank's headquarters from Seoul to Busan and redevelop the current North Port site -- all as promised during the city's failed campaign to host the World Expo.

"All the infrastructure projects are designed to foster the economic growth of the southern region of South Korea, with Busan being the growth pole," Yoon told the audience.

"Since the presidential election campaign, I have stressed the need for South Korea to have two growth poles, in Seoul and Busan, respectively. In order to achieve exponential economic growth, we need to make use of the entirety of the Korean Peninsula," Yoon added.

Accompanying Yoon on his visit were Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, LG Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Hyun-joon, Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan, HD Hyundai Chief Chung Ki-sun and SK Group Executive Vice Chairman Chey Jae-won.

"At the time of the Korean War, Busan served as a city inclusive of Korean War refugees," said Yoon in a meeting with residents. "Rising from the ashes of the Korean War, Busan has played the role of a core city dedicated to an industrial breakthrough."

According to the Yoon administration, the Greater Seoul region takes up about 11 percent of the land, while the region is inhabited by about half of the total population of over 50 million.


President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks to Busan citizens during a forum held in Busan on Wednesday. (Joint Press Corps)

Meanwhile, Yoon expressed his gratitude for the people of Busan's enthusiasm to host the lucrative event, in which the city anticipated 61 trillion won ($46.5 billion) in potential revenue through the six-month run of the event. Wednesday's visit to Busan marked the first since the last one in May.

Yoon also hinted at the National Assembly's effort to introduce a special bill to facilitate Busan's transformation into a global hub.

"Turning Busan into a new growth pole is the most important task for the nation's rebalancing of national growth," Yoon said.

The event was also attended by outgoing Cabinet members as they prepare for potential candidacy ahead of the general election in April next year, such as Land Minister Won Hee-ryong, Oceans Minister Cho Seung-hwan, Startups and SMEs Minister Lee Young, alongside Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon.

Won told the audience that the new airport on Gadeok-do will shoulder Incheon Airport's burden of the nation's traffic of air passengers and logistics. Won also pledged to open the doors of the North Port to the public. Oceans Minister Cho, on the other hand, vowed to turn the western part of Busan's new seaport into a global logistics cluster.