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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beefing up Korea

Red carpet to Middle Eastern and other Arab nations : one month ahead of the KAS (The Korea-Arab Society), 22 Arab countries are attending a conference in Seoul today.

Cultural issues will be mentioned, and Seoulites are already invited to enjoy local delicacies at the Arab Cultural Festival*, but the menu clearly highlights energy and oil supplies as the main dish. I guess we'll also get a slice of real estate and finance : LEE Myung-bak never made a mystery of his intentions to see more petrodollars reaching the Korean shores.

Korea will definitely need some help in the months to come (inflation, weaker won, commodity and food prices, slower growth...). The real estate sector faces gloomy times : more constructors are going bankrupt, some banks may fall, and more than a few individuals as well (non-fixed rates are favored here as well / bad).

And the MBtious President needs to deliver some good news for his own good : he had to apologize last week for not warning the public about the resumption of US beef imports**.

In spite of LEE's affection, US is not exactly the most popular flavor around Gwanghwamun these days***, and building partnerships with new players should pay in the long term as well : France secured many important deals in times of trouble thanks to similar ties with Arab countries.

* this should go beyond the usual spots near Itaewon's Mosque. See Arab Cultural Festival website : (June 6 to 8, 2008)
** mad cow disease is a relevant issue, but Korea should also cope with other food related health hazards, not to mention asbestos in the subway, cancerous materials used in interiors... a specific agency seems long overdue.
*** unless Obama wins - Barack asked the Government to give up Korean - US FTA

update 20080527 - Al Ahli Group and Busan city teaming up to make a Marvel Entertainment theme park by H1 2013... this is not exactly the kind of cultural outcome one could have expected from this conference... nevermind. The best sashimis on Haeundae courtesy Wolverine ?

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