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[Herald Interview] Mayor aims to promote Suncheon as global eco-city

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : Sept. 25, 2023 - 16:34

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Suncheon Mayor Roh Gwan-gyu (Suncheonnam International Garden Expo) Suncheon Mayor Roh Gwan-gyu (Suncheonnam International Garden Expo)

Roh Gwan-gyu was elected mayor of Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, in June 2022 -- just 10 months before the Suncheonman International Garden Expo.

While there was limited time, Roh made sure everything was being prepared smoothly by assuming the position as the Chairman of Suncheonman International Garden Expo’s organizing committee.

“Since I took office on July 1 (2022), I was always present on site to help the organizing committee make quick decisions and supplement them,” said Roh.

The Suncheonman International Garden Expo has been open to the public since April 1, and will end on Oct. 31. Roh says that due to the expo, Suncheon has attracted more than 6.5 million visitors, contributing to the local economy.

“It’s evident just from looking that local accommodation and restaurant businesses are doing well,” said Roh. “As Suncheon’s brand value goes up, business and governmental investments are also increasing. I believe the economic boost the expo has on Suncheon will increase further.”

This isn’t the first time Suncheon hosted this expo, as the Suncheonman International Garden Expo was also held in 2013.

“Back in 2013, we didn’t have any experience in hosting this global event, so we only focused on recreating other gardens that are famous worldwide,” said Roh. “But for this year’s expo, we designed and developed the expo on our own.”

Some of the new features added in this year’s garden expo include a 60,000-square-meter lawn that stays green all season long, the Garden Dream electric cruise ship and a floating garden also known as the “Garden on Water.” The expo also has an overnight stay program called “Shilange,” which means “long, lasting and still.”

While the Suncheonman Garden Expo is ending, Roh emphasized that it was not just a “one-time event,” and that Suncheon would focus on developing the city while also taking Suncheon Bay Nature Reserve, where a part of the expo was held, into consideration.

“By using this expo as a starting point, we want to establish ourselves as an eco-city that exists nowhere else in the world,” said Roh. “We will develop a city that is safe for both humans and animals of the surrounding nature to live in.”