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'The Big O' helps transform Yeosu into tourist destination

[1 year countdown: EXPO 2012 YEOSU KOREA]

May 12,2011
Funds worth 125 billion won (115.75 million dollars) are being poured into construction of the Big-O.

One of the major highlights at the Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea will be “the Big-O.”

“It is the world’s first exhibit of its kind on the ocean’s surface,” said Kim Kwang-doo, an official for the expo’s organizing committee. Excitement is building for the Big-O, seen as a symbolic representation of the convention.

The Big-O covers a coastal area of 88,000 square meters, with a giant O-shaped, 45-meter (148-foot) high and three-dimensional artwork floating on the sea’s surface and a giant stage connected to the coast by two bridges.

A 440-meter long levee will be constructed to keep waters calm during special exhibitions and performances during the expo.

According to the organizing committee, large-scale events will be held on the Big-O’s stage, including night shows complete with lasers and fireworks.

Funds worth 125 billion won ($115.75 million) are being poured into the construction of the massive display. An official related to the expo has even gone as far as saying that the success of the expo is directly linked to the success of the Big-O.

Around the Big-O, there will be three parks with different themes. Observation decks on the bridges are also expected to be flooded with visitors wanting a view of the ocean.

Expo visitors will not want to miss the nighttime shows that will be taking place near the Big-O. A 48-meter wide and 30-meter long stage will feature shows on the water’s surface.

The stage area will seat 3,000 people and accommodate 10,000 more in the standing-only section. However, with the immense scale of the performances the expo committee is planning, nearly 30,000 to 50,000 people will be able to get a glimpse of the shows from anywhere on the grounds of the expo.

The organizing committee is accepting proposals for water performances and festivals. With a budget of around 6.5 billion won, the performances will have an emphasis on multimedia, according to officials, such as “Impression of West Lake,” a modern-day opera in Hangzhou, China.

The Big-O’s stage will feature six to seven large shows every other week, including world-recognized shows and local performances. During weekends, waterfront shows will not be held, but performances by international artists instead.

For those at the expo during the day, “Total Ocean Shows” will also be featured, which will consist of midair performances.

An additional 15 billion won has been invested into daytime shows, as well as other exhibits that officials say “visitors will never forget.”

Parades are being planned, as well as sailboat and military vessel exhibits.

“The Big-O will be used after the expo as a tourist spot,” said Kim of the organizing committee. Although the exhibition’s pavilions will be torn down after the expo ends in August of next year, the regional government aims to turn the Yeosu expo site into a tourist destination aimed at international visitors.

The expo committee expects roughly 8 million people to visit the expo next year, and even more in the future to visit the coastal city.

Yeosu, whose economy has long centered on its port, hopes to turn itself into a coastal vacation destination that offers a variety of maritime activities.

Yeosu expects more business from neighboring countries Japan and China as a result of the expo, said Kang Dong-seok, the chairman of the organizing committee.

“If the 1993 Daejeon World Expo built the foundation on which Korea was to grow into an IT nation, the Yeosu Expo will give a new vision to the world of the ocean’s environment by showing its specialness,” said Kang. “And we will transform into a strong nation known for its coasts.”


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]



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