This year, 2009, is designated as Visit Incheon 2009 by the central government. Incheon's Mayor, Ahn Sang-soo, has been busy getting his city ready for this year and organizing events such as the Global Fair & Festival 2009 Incheon. He has also been working on developing two tourist destinations, Cheongra Leisure City andRobot City. The Korea IT Times spoke to the mayor in an exclusive interview to ask him details about these events, and what else he has on the agenda for Incheon.
Robot City. The Korea IT Times spoke to the mayor in an exclusive interview to ask him details about these events, and what else he has on the agenda for Incheon.
Q: What are the City's major plans for 2009 and the projects now underway
A: Everybody says that it's a very hard time, but if they keep saying it, things will only get harder. If what they say is intended to mean that they have to tighten their belts to prepare for the future, it may sound good. However, economic activities proceed with financial investment and consumption of goods hand in hand. Without consumption, there is no circulation and no factories running. Investment is usually made based on predictions at least two to three years in advance. If such a sense of insecurity is unnecessarily exaggerated and magnified, we are all losers.
Rather, now is the time to talk about hope; the subject of conversation in the New Year should be about positive and affirmative attitude and effort. For example, it may be a little more difficult for GM Daewoo to pull through its current difficulty because we cannot hope to settle it in isolation from the problems of global auto industries and markets. However, enterprises for domestic consumption such as construction can recover relatively faster.
For 2009, I am getting daily reports on the disbursement of the annual budget for rejuvenation projects of Incheon City and I am ready to expedite. It is expected for the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) situation to improve for Korean banks around April next year and therefore, Incheon City has requested a 500 billion won [US$361.5 million] loan and is ready to compile the supplementary
budget for 500 billion won in February.
For small-scale projects such as improvement of scenic beauty of the city, facilities for physical training, public libraries and theme parks, a 2 to 3 billion won [US$2.2 million] budget is secured to lure local construction companies to participate in those projects, and the results of such administrative measures can be brought home to Incheon citizens.
Of the 15 trillion won for public and civic projects for 2010, plans are ready to expend 10 trillion won in the first half of 2010 so that it's spreading and multiplying effects can reach the general public through improved domestic consumption that has direct bearing on citizens' daily lives.
Q: This year is Visit Incheon 2009. What are the major projects now underway and their expected effects
A: The Year to Visit Korea started originally in 2001 and from 2004 the central government annually designated a year for visiting local provinces. And this year is Visit Incheon 2009. Therefore, the City plans to develop various souvenir items for tourists taking advantage of the scenic beauty of Incheon Bay and has stressed building infrastructure for Incheon Bay sightseeing.
The Global City Fair is also scheduled for August to October in 2009 and we expect synergy effects from the Fair in the Year to Visit Incheon. Incheon City plans to develop one night and two day tour courses via KoRail as well as daily city tour routes for the the Global Fair & Festival and many souvenir items that are attractive to tourists.
Visit Incheon 2009 is very significant in that this Global Fair & Festival is also intended to attract Korean tourists to Incheon who were going abroad for sightseeing. The City has worked out basic publicity plans to utilize various media for public relations purposes and also other public information strategies are being developed to magnify the expected effect of the the Global Fair & Festival and the Year to Visit Incheon.
The task force to promote the Year to Visit Incheon has been conducting Road Shows since the end of last October, touring the major cities such as Chuncheon, Busan, Gwangju, Daejeon and Seoul to promote the 2009 Visit Incheon festival.
A wandering theatrical troupe composed of Incheon artists and those of the local touring areas is chiefly aimed at publicizing Visit Incheon 2009 nationwide. Those engaged in the tourism industry are also encouraged to take part in overseas gatherings of the tourism industry as well as exhibitions and big fairs to introduce Visit Incheon 2009.
Q: How are preparations for the Global Fair & Festival in Incheon proceeding
A: As can be well expected, there are no remarkable outdoor events this year. For this reason, the Global Fair & Festival is expected to steal the major limelight. As mentioned above, some Koreans planning overseas sightseeing tours will switch their destinations to Incheon, mainly for economic reasons. In other words, the visit to the Global Fair & Festival in Incheon is less expensive, equally enjoyable and pleasant.
To cite an example, the Butterfly Exhibition alone in Hampyeong, South Jeolla Province attracted 1.5 million visitors. The Global Fair & Festival is 10 times more grand in scale and varied in its enjoyable content.
At least to make both ends meet in the worst situation, the major focus is placed on attracting many sightseers with pleasant and colorful events. All this does not mean that the original function and the purpose of the Global Fair & Festival are relegated to entertainment events and eating enjoyment. International conferences are also being planned to let Incheon City be known across the world.
Incheon City plans to provide seemingly endless places of interest and events worthy of sightseeing and also used for educational purposes. In short, it will provide visitors with an opportunity to create a pleasant, interesting and above all touching story of their own. It may not be easy, but the City is determined to do its best.
The Global Fair & Festival is composed of a total of 65 programs. They break down to 31 exhibitions, 17 events and conferences and 17 miscellaneous activities. It's a pity that there are too many enjoyable programs to elaborate on individually.
To cite only a few, there are exhibitions showing how far ultramodern IT technology has developed. Exhibitions and events are also prepared to show the present and future of the robotics industry. All major cities of the world participate in the Global Fair & Festival to show particular and unique aspects of their cultures. With themes as varied as Economic Free Zones andPan-Yellow Sea Bay and Culture Tours, the Global Fair & Festival is eagerly awaiting a wide range of sight- seers.
Pan-Yellow Sea Bay and Culture Tours, the Global Fair & Festival is eagerly awaiting a wide range of sight- seers.
The Exhibition Hall for Environmental Energy shows the importance of environmental preservation. It stresses the dire need for the preservation of the environmental quality of the earth on which we are now living and which we have to bequeath to our posterity in good shape.
Global Culture Streets provide another unique aspect in the Global Fair & Festival. Wandering along the Global Culture Streets, visitors will create an unforgettable memory, no less enjoyable and exciting than a round-the-world tour.
A series of international conferences - big and small - are also scheduled for 80 days during the Fair period in the Songdo Convention Center. To cite only a few, there are the International Environmental Forum, the Asia Pacific Cities Summit where mayors and other dignitaries of the Asia-Pacific areas gather together to discuss issues of global interest, the Global Knowledge Forum and the Rejuvenation of City Forum.
Stories of the future will unfurl during the 80 day period and will provide good educational chapters for the growing young generation to contemplate their paths in the future. There are many programs through which youth can peek into the advance experience of cities they are going to live in the future.
In a nutshell, the Global Fair & Festival will be an educational experience for young generation with visits to Tomorrow City and academic seminars and conferences for scholars and specialists.
Q: We hear that Incheon City is preparing for a new growth-oriented project for the Cheongra District. Would you kindly explain about the vision of the Cheongra District and plans for Cheongra Robot Land
A: Incheon City plans to complete the Cheongra Leisure City by 2012 with the selection of the site and its infrastructure. It occupies a piece of land that covers 18 square kilometers. When completed, the leisure city will accommodate various entertainment and sports facilities, ultra modern floriculture, a hub of international finance and resting places for foreign tourists and Korean citizens.
Korea Land Development Corp. is in charge of the development of the site for the Cheongra Finance and Leisure City Project. It plans to create a place where we can enjoy sightseeing, leisure and sports by touring the waterways and sea. The Cheongra Finance and Leisure City plans to build a total of 31,000 apartment houses and combined housing complex of residence and commercial purposes, thus accommodating 90,000 people. It also plans to build a hub of the international finance market. By 2015, it plans to complete the construction of the international financial and trade hub in Northeast Asia on 792,000 square kilometers of land with the twin 77-story buildings of the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) and the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center Consortium plans to develop the Cheongra District as the center of international finance, trade and information networks in Northeast Asia with the WTCA playing a pivotal role as the civilian trade organization by attracting international investors.
The 77-storied World Trade Tower will accommodate such varied facilities as a convention center, hotel, business and culture centers as well as exclusive housing for foreigners. With a total budget of 5.7 trillion won [US$4.2 billion], the complex financial and residential center is expected to be dedicated in 2015.
The World Trade Center Consortium expects that when the whole project is completed as scheduled, it will result in production effects worth 320 billion won [US$233.6] by attracting many international and domestic conventions, conferences, and forums. It will also provide new jobs for 8,200 people.
TheIncheon Robot Land is built in the fifth bloc, 440-1 Wonchang-dong, on 767,286 square meters of land, with a total budget of 785.5 billion won [US$573.4 million]. This will accommodate an ultramodern robot research center, R&D centers of both universities and businesses, and a graduate school of robot studies. In short, it will be a complex linking robot research with the robot industry.
Incheon Robot Land is built in the fifth bloc, 440-1 Wonchang-dong, on 767,286 square meters of land, with a total budget of 785.5 billion won [US$573.4 million]. This will accommodate an ultramodern robot research center, R&D centers of both universities and businesses, and a graduate school of robot studies. In short, it will be a complex linking robot research with the robot industry.
In the Robot City where they live with robots, there will be an experimental theme park where visitors can share mutual experiences with robots through robot games and robot exhibits.
After the boom of the semiconductor and auto industries that provided the livelihood of the Korean people for the past 20 years, the robot industry is emerging as a next generation industry playing a pivotal role in Korea's economic performance.
Q: How would you evaluate your achievement as Mayor of Incheon City during the current four-year term and your strong points, if any
A: In 2007, with the whole-hearted support from 2.7 million Incheon citizens and the full-fledged administrative abilities of Incheon City government officials, Incheon City succeeded in attracting the 2014 Asian Games to Incheon in competition with India. My heart becomes full whenever I recall the exciting moment of winning over India with one billion people vying to host the 2014 Asian Games, thus giving a precious dream and a sense of pride to every citizen of Incheon.
When the groundbreaking was held for the construction of the 151-storied Incheon Tower with the attendance of President Lee Myung-bak on June 20 last year, Incheon City marked a significant moment to make its appearance in the ranks of major global cities. Incheon City has so far been regarded as a peripheral city in Asia.
I am firmly convinced that with a closer partnership among the 151-storied Incheon Tower, the Administrative Office for Incheon Free Economy Zone and the Songdo Landmark City Consortium, Incheon City will certainly realize its vision of becoming a business and trade hub in East Asia. Also through the elevated image of Incheon City, the attraction of foreign investment and strengthened national competitive power, Incheon City will eventually contribute to the rise of Korea's image in the world.
The Grand Incheon Bridge construction project worth 2.5 trillion won [US$1.8 billion], once completed, will connect Songdo International City to the Incheon International Airport and will take trucks only 20 minutes to cover the distance. The six-lane, 12.3 kilometer bridge is the largest in Korea and is placed 5th among the world's bridges. The Incheon Grand Bridge is expected to facilitate the flow of cargo into and out of the Incheon International Airport and expedite the development of open lands surrounding the Incheon International Airport. There are also hopes to make it a famous tourist site.The attraction of the 2014 Asian Games to Incheon City, the groundbreaking for Incheon Tower and the Grand Incheon Bridge construction - all this was made possible through the unending support and enthusiasm from both Incheon citizens and the public servants of the Incheon City government. Finally, taking advantage of this opportunity, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all Incheon citizens, and those who love Incheon City, for their unrestrained support.