Yoon proposes a body to develop digital rules while promoting Busan for Expo 2030
by Alessandra Tamponi

Speaking at the Sorbonne in Paris, the South Korean president calls for a global organisation under the UN, a proposal closely linked to South Korea’s bid for World Expo in a city, Busan, that is a leading centre of the digital transition. Technology for humanity would be one of its subthemes.


Paris (AsiaNews) - South Korea wants the establishment of an international organisation to establish rules for the digital order.

President Yoon Suk-yeol made the proposal yesterday in Paris, underlining the paradox that new digital technologies improve people's lives with convenience, but at the same time pose a threat to human freedom.

The South Korean leader was in the French capital for the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) to present Busan's bid for World Expo 2030, a crucial goal for his administration since he became president.

Busan has to contend with two other cities, Rome and Riyadh; the final choice will be made in November.

Over the past year, the South Korean president has used every opportunity to promote his country's bid, most recently at the Korea-Pacific Islands Forum.

The South Korean project is based on three subthemes: "Sustainable Living with Nature” centred  on climate change, "Technology for Humanity" linked to the side effects deriving from advanced technological development on the human species, and "Platform for Caring and Sharing" to curb disparities between social classes and countries.

All three will be guided by a general theme proposed by South Korea, namely, "Transforming our world, navigating toward a better future".

For South Korea, winning the right to organise Expo would be an important achievement.

First, hosting the event is expected to generate more than US$ 40 billion in economic benefits and create more than 500,000 jobs. Secondly, it would boost the country's prestige regionally and globally.

For this reason, South Korea is linking its bid to innovation and technological transition, sectors in which it wants to take the lead.

The choice of Busan as a venue is not causal. The port city, the country’s second largest, has already hosted international events, such as the Asian 2022 Games and many APEC meetings.

But above all, over the years it has played a key role in the transformation of South Korea and today it is one of the symbols of its technological development in sectors such as digital transition, artificial intelligence, and digital economy:

In 2022 the Global Smart Centres Index (SCI) placed Busan in 22nd place on its list of the best Smart Cities in the world.

At the Paris Digital Vision Forum held at Sorbonne University, Yoon proposed to set up an organisation under the United Nations to set the rules for digital order. Dubbed the Paris Initiative, his proposal would tackle many of the fears associated with the development of digital technologies.

In his address at the French university, Yoon stressed how new technologies – in particular those related to data and artificial intelligence – are generating a great deal of ambiguity linked to the lack of shared ethical norms that govern their development and use.

South Korea is one of the leading countries in this area and it is not surprising that Yoon would like to see it play a role in developing its rules.

In September, the president announced a national digital strategy for South Korea.

If Busan hosts World Expo 2030, South Korea will have the opportunity to further consolidate its leading role in a world that, as Yoon noted in his proposal, needs profound transformations.