Yoon visits Busan following unsuccessful World Expo bid

SEOUL, President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Busan on Wednesday to encourage citizens and assure them of his commitment to developing the southeastern city despite its failure to host the 2030 World Expo.

Yoon's visit to Busan, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, came a week after the city lost to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in its bid to host the international fair touted for its potential to bring economic benefits.

Hours after Riyadh was announced as the winner, Yoon apologized to the nation in a rare televised address, saying he would take all the blame but continue to push for balanced development across regions and contribute to the international community.

President Yoon Suk Yeol (R) shares "bindaetteok," or a mung bean pancake, with Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Hyun-joon (L), during a visit to a traditional market with a group of business leaders in the southeastern port city of Busan on Dec. 6, 2023.

On Wednesday, he held a meeting with some 100 people in Busan, including citizen leaders, lawmakers, and business and government officials who helped the World Expo campaign.

After thanking them for their efforts, he noted it has been his focus since the presidential campaign to develop the nation as a whole, with Seoul and Busan as the two "axes."

"We must start building the systems and infrastructure needed for Busan to truly develop into a logistical, financial, digital and advanced industry hub," he said during the meeting at a convention center, citing various projects that are under way, including the construction of a new airport on Busan's Gadeok Island and the relocation of the Korea Development Bank to Busan. Both projects were among his campaign pledges.

"Such infrastructure construction is not solely for Busan. It is for the development of the Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces, as well as the southern region, with Busan as the axis, and for our economy to make a leap through the balanced development of the entire country," he said.

The Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces make up the southeastern and southwestern regions of the country, respectively.

To support the effort, Yoon said he will push for a special law that will help Busan's transformation into a global hub city.

Yoon later stopped at Gukje Market -- a well-known traditional market in the city -- where he talked with merchants and tried the various snacks on offer before heading to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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