Challenges ahead for Gyeongju as it prepares to host 2025 APEC summit

Seen is the Hwabaek International Convention Center, which will serve as the main conference hall for the 2025 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province. Yonhap

The ancient city of Gyeongju, which was the capital of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – A.D. 935), has secured an opportunity to introduce its rich cultural assets to the world and enjoy immense economic effects approaching 2 trillion won ($1.45 billion), as it is set to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November next year.

But with just one year and four months to go before the annual economic forum, which will bring together more than 20,000 participants, including leaders, ministers and journalists from 21 Asia-Pacific economies, concerns are rising over a pile of tasks the city needs to address during the relatively short preparatory period.

Improving and repairing accommodations where heads of participating nations will stay is cited as the most urgent task, as the Hwabaek International Convention Center, which will serve as the main conference hall for the event, is located within the Bomun Tourist Complex, a tourist district that was developed in 1971.

The old tourist district has some 100 accommodations, including several five-star hotels. But there are many aging buildings, and most of their room conditions require renovation to be suitable for heads of states. The city also faces growing calls for improving the surrounding infrastructure there.

Constructing a landmark that can represent the 2025 APEC summit is another task faced by the city.

The last time the summit was held in Korea was 2005 when the event was hosted by Busan. The Nurimaru APEC House, constructed for that 합법 summit in Haeundae District, was highly praised at the time for its scenic views and still remains as a representative landmark of the southeastern port city.

Regarding these concerns, an official from the Gyeongju city government acknowledged Friday that renovating suites in the region is inevitable, and the city has already completed on-sight inspections and decided which rooms should be fixed up.

“We now have one year and four months, which will be enough. Once we secure a proper budget, we can begin the work right away,” the official said, noting that the city government will keenly cooperate with the foreign ministry.

The official highlighted that, once the accommodation issue is addressed, there will no further major issues as there are four airports available around the city.

With regard to the necessity of a symbolic building, the official said Woljeong Bridge or Hwang Ryong Won that show Korea’s traditional architectural style are being cited as the top candidates for a venue for the banquet or joint press conference.

Gyeongju Mayor Joo Nak-young said he will do his best to host “the safest and the most perfect event.”

“We will establish the optimal infrastructure such as the conference venue and accommodations, and offer the highest level of protocol, transportation and medical services,” Joo said during a press conference, Thursday.

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