KOREA has put itself in the world spotlight as the first developing nation to host a prestigious internationally approved science exhibition - Taejon Expo '93. Billed as ''The Challenge of a New Road to Development'', the Expo is an ideal opportunity for South Korean companies to gain access to new technologies in the spheres of information, materials, space, and nuclear energy. The Expo focuses on the application of modern science and technology for developing countries. It also features an environmental sub-theme, ''Toward an improved use of recycling of resources'', and, in another coup for Korea, it is the first international expo on the environment that has taken place since last year's Rio Earth Summit. A US$1.2 billion (HK$8.7 billion) budget is out to make the project the biggest and most successful science exhibition yet held. Organisers are confident that by the end of the exhibition - which started on August 7 and ends on November 7 - 10 million people will have visited the site, which is 160 kilometres south of Seoul and described by organisers as ''Korea's Silicon Valley''. More than 100 countries, over 20 international organisations, and more than 60 private corporations and government bodies are taking part. The Korean Consul-General in Hong Kong, Seo Kang-soo, said 100,000 people had already visited the expo, and that the event was proving a great success. ''It is a very meaningful event because it is the first time Korea has hosted an international project since the 1988 Seoul Olympics,'' he said. ''It is also important because it is a science and technology expo, and Korea is just taking off from a middle-developed country [into] a developed country.'' The expo has official approval of the Paris-based International Bureau of Exposition. This organisation is believed to have given its support to the event being held in Taejon as a tribute to Korea's economic development and as an example to other developing nations of how a country can go from being a virtual backwater into an industrialgiant in just 20 years. Making the expo a success was an idea embraced by the Korean people, who will benefit from their nation hosting the event. Statistics released by the Korea Institute for Economics and Technology show that it has created 217,000 jobs, resulting in US$1.6 billion of domestic-earned income for the country. Korea is ploughing some of this back into the expo. It is financing the construction of pavilions of lesser-developed countries to encourage them to take part. And infrastructure has been improved to accommodate the expo's visitors. The government widened the Seoul-Pusan highway and arranged extra trains to connect both cities to Taejon. The event is also an investment in the future for, once it is over, the site will be converted into a science park, aimed at encouraging future development of Korean technology. The ''green'' message at Taejon '93 is strongly enforced, and the expo addresses environmental issues as a global concern. Two exhibition pavilions by Korean participants are dedicated entirely to the environment, and the Korean Government agencies specialising in resources and energy created a ''Resources Conservation Pavilion''. This pavilion, topped by a giant solar cell as its rooftop, takes a comprehensive look at the problems of energy depletion and points to ecologically sound energy sources of the future.