The wording on the plaque unveiled last Friday in Aix-en-Provence says it all: welcome to the "France/ITER Organization Representative Office" of KEPCO E&C, a subsidiary of Korea's giant electricity utility KEPCO.
''We're here to help in the success of ITER and it's always better to communicate face-to-face,'' said KEPCO E&C's President and CEO Koo-Woun Park who came especially from Korea to inaugurate the small office in Aix-en-Provence.
The many ITER procurement contracts awarded to KEPCO E&C (representing approximately EUR 36 million) explain the company's decision to open an office here, at the heart of a science and technology park forty-five minutes from the ITER site.
"We are here because of ITER," explains KEPCO E&C's President and CEO Koo-Woun Park. "But beyond our commitment to ITER, we will extend our ability to explore the promising markets of Europe, especially those of Eastern Europe..."
Being close to ITER will make communication much easier and efficient. "We're here to help in the success of ITER and it's always better to communicate face-to-face," adds Koo-Woun Park, who came especially from Korea to inaugurate the small office in Aix-en-Provence.
The two-person office—the first established by KEPCO E&C in Europe—will be managed by General Manager Jun Hyung Lee assisted by one secretary only. "It's a small beginning but, symbolically, an important one," he said. He sees the office as a communication channel not only with ITER, but "with the whole energy establishment in Europe".
ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima, who attended the inauguration ceremony along with ITER directors Carlos Alejaldre, Sergio Orlandi and Joo-Shik Bak, stressed the strong significance of the event for both ITER and for the surrounding region. "Your presence in Provence," he said, "is proof that ITER and its industrial partners now play an important role in the region's economic development—both directly and indirectly."
Unveiling the plaque: from left to right, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima; Pierre Castoldi, sous-préfet representing the French government; KEPCO E&C President and CEO Koo-Woun Park and Minister of Korea at the Paris embassy Woong Soon Lim.
The company's installation in Aix-en-Provence was facilitated by the Welcome Office for International Companies (WOIC), the agency that works in close collaboration with the ITER Organization to provide support to foreign firms wishing to establish themselves close to the project.
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