Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Countdown to Yeosu Expo begins

Less than a month remains until the Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea opens on May 12. The largest-scale marine-themed international event in history, it is expected to attract an estimated 8 million people during its three-month run.

The final stage of on-site construction has begun, with several exhibitions now open for demonstrations. Sky Tower, the Expo’s highest structure and also the loudest pipe organ in the world, has already begun to capture the attention of startled visitors with the rumble of the boat horn that comes daily from its chambers. Also open for previews is the Marine Civilization Pavilion, one of four sub-theme pavilions, where visitors can walk through an underwater world and learn about the history and future of marine-based civilizations.

The Marine Civilization Pavilion invites visitors to walk through a life-size recreation of a shipwreck (photo: Weekly Gonggam).

“The hardware of the pavilion is complete, so we are now working to perfect the content inside,” said Kim Jong-gwan of Dyne Construction, the company that has overseen the construction of the Marine Civilization Pavilion. “We have recreated the scene of a shipwreck using holograms, floor-to-ceiling projection screens, video displays, and various replicas that offer visitors both enjoyment and experiential learning.”

Nearby, at the Big-O performance and entertainment zone, the finishing touches are being added to the Big-O, one of the most prominent landmarks on the Expo grounds. Standing over the water, the O-shaped structure with a 35-meter diameter will be the site for laser shows, fountain shows, pyrotechnical shows, and various other multimedia shows incorporating the latest IT innovations.

Over 150 performers will participate in the Expo's main marine-themed parade (photo: Weekly Gonggam).

Once the Expo opens, a wide variety of performances will be taking place on land as well. The streets of the Expo grounds will be crowded with over 100 performances per day, prepared for the entertainment of visitors waiting in lines. Over 150 performers, including members from performance groups such as France’s Water Opera and the American team’s Ocean Blast Fever, will also take place in the Expo’s main marine-themed parade.

The International Pavilion, which covers the largest area of the Expo grounds, will also see completion soon. The three-story venue, three times bigger than Seoul’s COEX Convention Center and twelve times bigger than the Expo’s theme pavilions, will feature exhibitions by over 100 participating countries. Designed to look like islands floating in a misty sea, the building includes a multicultural space where visitors can taste and purchase foods from different countries, as well as an observation deck offering views of the Expo and a panoramic stretch of Korean coast.

The International Pavilion will feature exhibitions by over 100 participating countries (photo: Weekly Gonggam).

As the final preparations for the Expo get underway, anticipation and curiosity about the event has continued to grow. Registration for a May 5 preview event received 60,000 responses within three days and downed the Expo server for a short period of time. Although the Expo committee planned to keep registration for the 110,000 preview spots open until May 4, an early sell-out is likely. The tickets are 3,000 won, and all proceeds go to UNICEF.

The flurry of activity at Yeosu has also received growing attention overseas. In local waters, Japan’s two largest tourism associations have begun official promotion of travel packages to Yeosu.

“Most travelers to Korea have focused on places like Seoul and Gyeongju, so not many people are familiar with Yeosu,” said Kim Jeong-su, the Expo’s overseas marketing chief. “We hope that the Expo will be an occasion to vitalize international tourism in the entire southern coastal region.”

A multimedia show complete with a water screen and pyrotechnics will be one of the highlights of the Big-O entertinament zone (photo: Weekly Gonggam).

Another key component of preparations is transportation. To prepare for the influx of visitors, the Expo area has been newly equipped with a traffic control center and the entire metropolitan area has seen the extension of existing transportation routes and expansion of roads and tunnels connecting the Expo site to local terminals. An onsite parking lot features six separate lots with a total capacity of 33,000 cars, and free shuttle bus services will be provided from the lots to the Expo site.

More information on Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea can be found at (English, Korean, French, Chinese, Japanese).

Adapted from Weekly Gonggam
Translated by Kwon Jungyun, Staff Writer

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