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20th Century Fox may build theme park in Korea

May 16,2015
Hollywood film studio 20th Century Fox is reviewing plans to build a theme park on Yeongjong Island, Incheon.

Gregory Lombardo, Senior Vice President of Global Location Based Entertainment under 20th Century Fox, said he wanted to “build a global theme park on Yeongjong Island” when he visited Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok at Incheon City Hall on Thursday, according to a statement released by the local government on Friday.

Lombardo and his associates revealed their aim to build an entertainment complex on the island that may include a themed amusement park like those owned by Walt Disney and Universal Studios, as well as a movie theater, hotel and resort.

The corporation will not be directly investing in the project, which will instead be funded by other sources. Incheon Metropolitan Government will participate as a partner and contribute to the search for investors.

In addition to providing content from famous Hollywood films for the theme park, 20th Century Fox also plans to attract financing for the project.

The old site of the Milano Design City (MDC) in Unseo-dong, Jung District on Yeongjong Island, has been mentioned as a possible location for the complex.

The MDC was an exhibition space meant to display aspects of Milan’s design and culture.

A special corporation called Fiera Incheon Complex was even established for its construction, but the economic recession and financing failures caused the venture to founder.

Key officials from the current owner of the MDC site, Korea Land and Housing Corporation, and from the Incheon Development and Tourism Corporation were also present at the meeting about the possible theme park.

The potential location of Paramount Movie Park Korea is being considered, too. The park, which was planned for Songdo, Incheon, also fell victim to the ailing Korean economy.

There are several reasons for both the company and the Incheon city government to take caution. In 2011, the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Okada Holdings, the parent company of Universal Studios, to build a casino, resort and theme park in Incheon. The MOU stipulated that Okada would invest 4.5 trillion won ($4.1 billion) in the venture. But in the end, it was canceled.

Incheon is also not the first location 20th Century Fox has considered to build a theme park in Korea. Last July, the corporation signed an MOU with South Gyeongsang to build an amusement park centered on the studio’s movies there, investing $3.5 billion in the enterprise. It would have been part of a larger entertainment complex including a movie theater, premium outlets, a golf course, condominiums, a six-star hotel, a casino and a waterpark.

There are suggestions that 20th Century Fox has moved its focus to Incheon because of the investigation into South Gyeongsang Gov. Hong Joon-pyo.

Hong was one of eight politicians listed in a suicide note left on April 9 by Keangnam Enterprises’ former chairman, Sung Wan-jong, which documented illegal political funds Sung had allegedly given out.

“It seems like 20th Century Fox is considering the city of Incheon as a possible location for the construction of a theme park,” said an Incheon city government official.

“As of right now, they have only conveyed their intentions, so for anything concrete to be established, let alone the actual construction of a theme park, it is going to take some time.”

BY CHOI MO-RAN [enational@joongang.co.kr]


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