The Ministry of Strategy & Finance approved the Geumsan World Ginseng Expo 2017 as an official international event in July last year. The Expo will take place with a theme of “Ginseng, Root of Life – Fly Around World with Science and Culture” at the Ginseng Expo Square in Geumsan County, South Chungcheong Province, from September 22 to October 23. Kim Si-hyung, secretary general of the 2017 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo Organizing Committee, said, “To differentiate this year’s event from the two expos in the past, we will expand the base of ginseng business, in particular, by improving the awareness of Korean ginseng, which can be seen in our success that the Geumsan ginseng agriculture was designated as the “important national agricultural heritage No.5” in March 2015.” Following are some excerpts from an interview with secretary general Kim of the committee.
Can you tell us about the history of the Geumsan World Ginseng Expo, which is to be held for the third time this year, and its achievements so far?
Based on a history of 1,500 years, Geumsan, which has a wonderful natural conditions to grow ginseng, is not only a production and trading center for fresh ginseng in Korea but also a processing and distribution center for ginseng.
With experience and expertise in hosting 36 ginseng festivals and ginseng expos in 2006 and 2011, Geumsan is planning to hold the 2017 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo once again.
The Geumsan World Ginseng Expo Organizing Committee, which was established in November 2015, received approval for the 2017 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo as an official international event from the international event review committee under the Ministry of Strategy & Finance in July last year. Accordingly, it met the “Ginseng Industry Development Measures” of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, which is designed to establish the international status of Korean ginseng and expand exports, and set a foundation to successfully host the global expo with regional economy activation such as the expansion of ginseng exports through a recovery in the status as the birthplace of Korean ginseng and the concentration of the abilities of the domestic ginseng industry.
What is the theme and vision of the 2017 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo? What are the features and merits compared to the past ones?
The 2017 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo will take place with a theme of “Ginseng, Root of Life – Fly around World with Science and Culture” at the Ginseng Expo Square in Geumsan County, South Chungcheong Province, from September 22 to October 23. To differentiate this year’s event from the two expos in the past, we will expand the base of ginseng market by improving the awareness of Korean ginseng as seen in the facts that we successfully led the Geumsan ginseng agriculture to be designated as the “important national agricultural heritage No.5” in March 2015 and we have retried to get the ginseng agriculture named as the “important global agricultural heritage” in the first half of 2017.
We will also pave the way to gather the abilities of ginseng production regions across the nation for cooperation and development, including the establishment of the “Korean Ginseng Primary Local Government Council” in June 2016 which is participated in by 16 cities and countries of local governments in the nation.
In addition, we are planning to form the World Ginseng City Federation with an aim of 26 cities at home and abroad – 16 cities in Korea and 10 cities in other countries – and globalize the ginseng industry. We will also attract global leading buyers and dealers by hosting global business and trade events through cooperation between industry, academy and government, expand ginseng exports and revive the local economy by attracting 3 million visitors at home and abroad – 2.9 million in Korea and 100,000 overseas.
Can you introduce the main programs and viewing points at this year’s event?
The 2017 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo will be consisted of four sectors – two sectors of display and performance and event in the perspective of visitors and two other sectors of official event and convention in the perspective of key figures.
In the exhibition and display sector, a total of seven exhibition halls – theme exhibition hall, Geumsan ginseng exhibition hall, theme video exhibition hall, living culture exhibition hall, plant exhibition hall, international trade exhibition hall and healthcare exhibition hall – will be set up that can stimulate the curiosity of visitors by using the newest technology. We are also considering regional culture performance, parade and ginseng digging events to provide differentiated and high quality of performance and events that allow visitors to enjoy.
Moreover, we are planning to give key figures a new perspective and meaning through the opening and closing ceremonies which are agreeable to the standard of an international event and the operation of convention.
There will also be an important academic event related to ginseng, including the international ginseng symposium which is to be attended by internationally eminent figures.
There will be a lot to prepare for the Expo as an international event. Is there any problem or hurdle now to solve?
Based on experience and expertise in hosting and operating two expos in 2006 and 2011, we are focusing our efforts on developing various and entertaining contents and creating exhibitions and displays that meet the standards of an international event.
Currently, the basic design to build seven exhibition halls – theme exhibition hall, Geumsan ginseng exhibition hall, theme video exhibition hall, living culture exhibition hall, plant exhibition hall, international trade exhibition hall and healthcare exhibition hall – in a total of five zones – theme zone, experience zone, industrial zone, recreational zone and additional facilities – is confirmed. We will continuously improve our plan on display and direction through discussions with a constructor later on.
In the theme exhibition hall and video exhibition hall in the theme zone, the imaged ginseng will be delivered by using the latest technology. In the living culture exhibition hall, experience exhibition hall and plant exhibition hall in the experience zone, we are preparing to offer programs that can give visitors a sense of cultural fulfillment and a feeling of psychological satisfaction through many different views and experiences of ginseng.
In addition, the international trade exhibition hall, which will play a pivotal role as the industrial expo, is expected to be a place to form a trading relationship between leading companies at home and abroad.
How many foreign visitors do you expect for the event? What is your specific plans and efforts to attract them?
We calculated the total number of visitors at 3 million – 2.9 million in Korea and 100,000 overseas – by analyzing the case in 2011 and demand forecasts.
For 100,000 foreign visitors, we will focus on attracting diplomatic offices overseas, exchange organizations, the U.S. Forces in the U.S. and foreign students in Korea separately by foreigners who live in Korea and foreigners who live in other countries.
In addition, we have been making every effort to carry out overseas promotional activities in Asian countries, including Japan and China, as well as the U.S. both last year and this year to attract foreign visitors.
For the main promotional campaigns overseas, we participated in the East Asia Trilateral Local Government Forum 2016 in the Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, in October last year to promote the ginseng expo to Japanese and foreign visitors, and introduced the excellence of Geumsan ginseng and promoted the ginseng expo at the Oscars to the press through honorary ambassador, designer Mok Eun-jung.
Recently, you had a launch ceremony of the World Ginseng City Federation. What is the founding purpose and plans in the future?
The World Ginseng City Federation was established to facilitate the mutual exchange between ginseng cities at home and abroad and build the cooperation basis to exchange information and develop products and technologies for the continuous advancement of the future ginseng industry.
With the goal of 26 cities around the world – 16 cities in Korea and 10 cities in other countries, 16 cities and counties in Korea gathered to establish the Korean Ginseng Primary Local Government Council in June 2016 and six cities abroad – five cities in China and one city in the U.S. – joined the federation up to now.
We are also planning to encourage other global ginseng cities in Canada, Japan and China to join the federation in the future and are preparing for the launch ceremony of the World Ginseng City Federation on September 21, the opening day of the expo.
What effects do you expect from the 2017 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo?
Through the 2017 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo, we will establish the status of the birthplace of Korean ginseng and actively respond to the crisis of the ginseng industry at home and abroad due to lower ginseng production and consumption.
Moreover, we want to push ahead with the ginseng export expansion and sixth industrialization strategy as well as answer the national policy.
The expo is expected to significantly revitalize the local economy, such as 200.4 billion won (US$177.19 million) worth of production inducement effect, 105.8 billion won (US$93.55 million) of value added inducement effect, 3,447 of new jobs and 20.1 billion won (US$17.77 million) of tax revenue inducement effect.