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Koreans Rally in Paris in Support of Yeosu World Expo

Posted November. 27, 2007 07:07,   


On Monday at 3 p.m. in France (11 p.m. on the same day, Korean time), and with only four hours to go before the vote to pick the city to hold the 2012 World Exposition, the neighborhoods surrounding the Palais des Congres in Paris where the 142nd general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) was held were filled with tense people.

Some 330 Koreans who flew from Yeosu gathered in front of the building where the general assembly was being held and supported Yeosu’s bid, waving placards and picket signs that read “2012 Yeosu Expo” when delegates of member countries entered the building.

At exactly the same time, two busloads of Moroccan supporters numbering almost 700 were also stationed near the front gate of the building. Morocco mobilized double the number of Korean supporters because the country is closer to France.

Officials in the bidding committee for the 2012 Yeosu World Expo had to set the jitters until Monday, which was the last day of the BIE general assembly, because some member countries were unable to make up their minds.

In particular, Morocco made a strong bid for the expo by using “monarch diplomacy,” where Morocco’s king himself appealed to countries still undecided.

Undaunted by Morocco’s move, however, Korean bidding officials continued to rally support for Yeosu until Monday morning by visiting the lodging places of BIE members.

At a presentation session held before the balloting to choose the venue, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo called for support in fluent French.

Morocco emphasized that “Tanger Expo 2012 is Africa’s dream,” and Poland, another candidate for the 2012 World Expo, stressed that, “Wroclaw is a bridge between Western Europe and Eastern Europe.”

Fierce competition for the 2012 World Expo continued until the very end. As a secret ballot by representatives of 140 group members started at 7 p.m. Monday, local time (3 a.m. Tuesday, Korean time), there was a mingled feeling of joy and sorrow between the winner and losers.