BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 22:01 GMT
S Korea hopes for World Cup lift
Cleaner at football stadium, Pusan
South Korean cities are getting ready for a tourist influx
test hello test
By Caroline Gluck
BBC Seoul Correspondent
South Korea - which is co-hosting this year's World Cup football finals - is hoping the event will give a big boost to its economy.

Many believe it will give the country a unique opportunity to finally turn its back on the lingering impact of the Asian financial crisis and usher in a new period of prosperity.

Official World Cup mascots in Tokyo
This is major merchandising opportunity
Football fans are expected to spend around $600m in South Korea during the month-long tournament.

And as the country braces itself for the arrival of around 400,000 visitors, taxi drivers are getting basic foreign language training.

"I'm making more efforts to be friendlier to my customers and foreign guests," says one taxi driver Chang Kyu Sok. "I'm determined to give a good impression to visitors."

Official think-tanks, like the Korea Development Institute, predict the event could raise industrial output by nearly $9bn and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

'Feel-good factor'

But the wider economic impact is likely to be longer-term - and maybe less quantifiable. The event puts South Korea under the international spotlight - raising awareness of the country and its investment potential.

The World Cup is a great opportunity for me to promote my self-cooling can

Suh Wong-gil, businessman
The government has spent more than $2bn building 10 new football stadiums across the country. It says the World Cup will bring huge economic benefits.

Others are more sceptical, saying Seoul is simply experiencing a "feel-good factor".

"Compared to the Olympics in 1988, there hasn't been nearly as much infrastructure spending for the World Cup games," says financial consultant Hank Morris, who has worked in South Korea for 20 years.

"And the games after all are co-hosted with Japan, so Korea will just get 50% of revenues generated."

He also says officials could be exaggerating the financial benefits for political reasons, since a presidential election is due in December.

One venture company, Icetec, has high expectations from the World Cup. Its sees the event as a chance to promote its invention - a self-cooling can which chills drinks in just 15 seconds.

It plans to hand out thousands of samples during the football games.

"The World Cup is a great opportunity for me to promote my self-cooling can when the eyes of the world will be focussed on Korea," says company president Suh Wong-gil. "I truly believe my invention will revolutionise the drinks industry."

Even before the tourists arrive en masse, preparations for the World Cup are boosting public morale. Domestic consumption is also on the rise.

South Koreans feel confident about the future - and are proud to co-host the World Cup.

See also:

22 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
World Cup hosts stress teamwork
23 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea shops its way to recovery
27 Nov 01 | World Cup 2002
Korea's World Cup venues
27 Nov 01 | World Cup 2002
Japan's World Cup venues
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories