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Sustainable Business Oregon: Korean delegation turns to Portland for green city expertise
Author: Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Posted: May 18, 2012

Read the original story in Sustainable Business Oregon here

A high-ranking delegation from the South Korean government was in Portland Thursday to sign a memorandum of understanding with Portland Mayor Sam Adams formalizing a partnership to work together on sustainable city development.

The Korean delegation is from the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction Agency, charged with building a new capital city 75 miles south of Seoul. The new city, Sejong, is aiming to be the greenest, most high tech and most desirable city in the world.

Or at least second in the world. Su-chang Cho, director of the agency's urban strategy division, joked with Mayor Adams that he'd be willing to concede first place to Portland.

Sejong, named for the 15th century Korean king who invented the country's alphabet, is being constructed to relieve overcrowding in Seoul and to promote more development in the central and southern parts of the Korean peninsula.

Thirty-six government agencies will move to Sejong from Seoul by 2014. The city, which has a population today of about 110,000, will grow to 500,000 people by 2030. The planned city will encircle an ample green space, will aim to get 15 percent of its power from renewable sources and have 70 percent of its commuters get to work by public transit, walking or biking.

The Korean agency approached Portland, along with Freiburg, Germany, for help with sustainable development. Under the memorandum of understanding the two governments agreed to work together on issues including reduction of carbon emissions, increase of renewable energy use, ecological protection, public transportation planning, encouragement of civic engagement and the promotion of green building.

"This is a great opportunity to benefit from each other's expertise," Adams said during his remarks Thursday.

"I like Portland very much," said Chairman Kisup Song, the highest-ranking Korean government leader to visit Portland in recent years.

Song and his delegation took MAX in from the airport, admired Electric Avenue on Portland State University's campus and had dinner Wednesday night at Higgins with Portland developer Homer Williams. The group is particularly interested in learning about Portland's transportation infrastructure including bike planning and the transit mall.

"We want to have a city we can boast of to the world," Cho said.

In February, Portland signed a memorandum of understanding with a Brazilian group, agreeing to work together on cleantech industry expansion.