Go to contents

Busy APEC Summit Preparations

Posted November. 04, 2005 07:13,   


“You must be very busy,” said this correspondent to Australian Deputy Ambassador to Seoul Jeff Tooth. “I don’t even have time to answer that,” he answered, smiling.

With the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on November 18 and 19 fast approaching, foreign embassies in Seoul are all tied up. While holding frequent meetings with the Korean APEC Preparation Committee, embassies of APEC members are sending out officials to Busan, the venue of the summit, to monitor security and accommodation preparations for their delegation.

“We have had meetings with one or two embassies a day since September, and we are having increasingly more,” said manager Lee Chan-bum of the preparation committee. “We discuss everything related to the summit, from schedules of the guests, transportation, meeting participant lists, and luncheon and dinner party guest lists to special requests such as menus for each meal.

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul will receive over 1,000 guests, including delegation and press members. It is the largest among the 21 member economies of APEC. What makes the embassy even busier is that it just greeted newly-accredited ambassador Alexander Vershbow.

“We are divided in two teams at the moment, one for the new ambassador and the other for APEC, but we will soon focus only on the APEC,” said an embassy official. “We are overly occupied with making plans for escorting and transporting guests, and sending out staff to the venue.”

The Japanese Embassy in Seoul is also being stretched out, and will receive more than 500 guests. “We are rather accustomed to this kind of work because the prime minister visits Korea once a year,” said Secretary Tomio Shimoji. “But it is a special occasion this time, as the prime minister, two ministers and 150 journalists are coming.”

The Australian Embassy said, “All of our embassy workers are busy preparing for the APEC,” and the councilor of the Chile Embassy said, “We have only three people, the ambassador and two councilors, to prepare for the APEC, and the Korean foreign ministry and volunteer workers are helping us a lot.”

Yi-Young Cho lycho@donga.com