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March 31, 2010

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Neighboring countries share common goals

BEING geographically close, South Korea and China have a lot of things in common. The history, culture and some language pronunciations share lots of similarities between the two countries.

Among the 152 countries that have built national pavilions on the World Expo site, South Korea's pavilion is one of the biggest, covering 6,000 square meters. It has the theme "Friendly City, Colorful Life."

"South Korea is one of the only two countries that has also built a corporate pavilion in the Expo site," says Kim Jeong Kee, consul general of South Korea in Shanghai, when he comments on the importance Korean people attached to Expo 2010.

South Korea has long been paying great attention to cultural and business exchanges with China. Apart from the numerous cultural activities that will take place alongside the main event, South Korea will hold on to its annual culture festival and daily culture exchange program in the Korean Culture Service, a department supporting the Korean consulate in culture activities.

"We constantly hold art exhibitions, Korean cuisine seminars, tae kwon do and Korean language classes in the Korean Culture Service," says Kim. "We expect more mutual understanding between the two countries by the activities we initiate."

The South Korean consulate general also works closely with the Chinese government, schools and universities to enhance exchanges between educational programs.

For example, Fudan University, South Korea University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have already launched cooperative programs in the two countries.

As South Korea and China are both important economies in East Asia, the economic environment and business relations of the two countries are significant.

South Korea holds the G20 Summit in November and, with the Expo, both will enhance economic exchanges between the two countries.

"The South Korean government believes that 2010 is the year that business exchanges between the two countries will increasingly mature after last year's economic crisis," says Kim.

"We expect more cooperation with China, establishing strategic partnerships in every field, such as politics, economy, society and culture, especially in the environmentally friendly industry that will lead to a 'green economy' and a new development model."

Along with the exhibitions in the national pavilion of South Korea, the country will hold business and trade expositions outside the Expo site to showcase its advanced technology.

High-technology products imported from South Korea are popular in the Chinese market.

Semiconductors are South Korea's most important exports to China. Samsung and LG, which produce home appliances, have become household names in China.

"Though the enterprises had a difficult time during the financial crisis last year, they survived thanks to the policies in China that stimulated domestic demand, such as the consumer electronics subsidy program," says Kim. "China kept its economic growth, and this has also played a significant role in the international economic environment that helps South Korea overcome its difficulties."

More enterprises in South Korea are looking forward to operating in Chinese market.

"There is a strong willingness on the part of some relatively small enterprises that want to enter China, but they are not strong enough and do not thoroughly understand the country," says Kim. "It's one of my responsibilities to provide useful information for their business expansion. So we constantly hold seminars to answer their questions and help them solve problems when they are in need."

Kim was appointed consul general in Shanghai in 2008, and "realized the significance of the World Expo immediately."

Last year, he went back to South Korea, promoting the Expo on a speaking tour for government officials, media workers and university students.

"I hope Korean people, especially the high officials and the educated, understand Shanghai and experience China during the Expo," says Kim. "I feel very happy that they showed great interest, and all the high officials I met promised they would visit Expo Shanghai."

South Korea is going to hold the Yeosu Expo in 2012. A special exhibition area will be set in the South Korea Pavilion to promote it. "Visitors to Expo Shanghai will get an advance look at the Yeosu Expo," Kim says.

Yeosu Expo is a specialized World Expo, smaller than Expo Shanghai. "We have a lot to learn from Expo Shanghai organizers. Delegations will go to Shanghai to learn from them, and we will also invite professionals in China to South Korea to help with the Yeosu Expo," says Kim.

The consul general says South Korea was thinking about sending turtle ships to Shanghai. The 16th-century warships were invented by Korean national hero Yi Sun-sin, the first general to defeat foreign invaders at sea.

"These ships are expected to transport visitors from Puxi side to Pudong side of the Huangpu River," says Kim. "Though it is only an initial plan, we hope to attract more Korean visitors to the Expo as the ships are also rarely seen in South Korea."

The consul general is positive about future relations between the countries.

"South Korea and China have a lot of common topics to discuss - climate changes, nuclear issues, and green energy. We are striving for the same benefits, and I believe we will keep the same pace in the long run."

Yang Jian

CONSTRUCTION of the Republic of Korea Pavilion is in its final stages with the pavilion expected to be finished today.

It will explore urban living with the theme of "Friendly City, Colorful Life."

The white, three-story pavilion will be easily recognizable. The exterior of the 6,000-square-meter structure is composed of hundreds of thousands of Korean letters in relief.

On entering, visitors will find a model of the capital city, Seoul, with its iconic buildings and surrounding mountains in miniature.

Visitors can view the scenery of the Seoul's Mt Bukhan, rising 836.5 meters above sea level.

The pavilion will feature a performance stage, cinema and a waterfall. Visitors can watch traditional folk performances and a short-film by South Korean director Kim Seong Soo.

The main exhibition area on the second floor will feature sections on culture, technology, humanity and nature.

Highlights will include four hologram guides - a fashion model, a foreign chef, a woman and an IT engineer - all showing visitors where they should go.

A restaurant will serve popular Korean food, including authentic stone rice, which is popular in China.

The next Expo host country will unveil plans for the Yeosu Expo 2012 in a pavilion section titled "I Ocean." Visitors will enter an area lapped artistically by ocean waves, echoing the theme of the South Korea Expo, "The Living Ocean and the Coast."

South Korea is setting its visitor target at 7 million, 10 percent of the Expo Shanghai total.

South Korea has taken part in 17 World Expos and specialized expositions since the 1962 World Expo in Seattle. It has always been among the most popular Expo pavilions and was voted best pavilion at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan, and most popular pavilion at the specialized Expo in 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain. Q:

What's your motto for life?

A: My motto was "Challenge to the 1 percent possibility" before 2003 when I was in academic circles. I stepped into politics in 2003 and my motto for life is "Do one's level best and leave the rest to God's will."

Q: When you are away from work, how do you like to spend your weekends?

A: I love strolling along Hengshan Road. I also like the natural beauty of Taihu Lake in Jiangsu Province where I can be exhilarated by natural spirits.

Q: What's your favorite Shanghai spot?

A: Sometimes I go to the Park Hyatt Hotel in the Shanghai World Financial Center where I can have a bird's view over the Jin Mao Tower and imagine the future of China. On the 32nd floor of the Hyatt on the Bund, I can appreciate the night view of both the Bund and the Pudong New Area. The Bund reminds me of the modern history of Shanghai which underwent a forced opening?up and foreign concessions. On the other side, the Pudong New Area represents a miraculous success story achieved by the voluntary opening-up and reform policy during the 1990s.


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