Korean GP fixes a few of last year’s many potholes

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Korean GP fixes a few of last year’s many potholes

In the county of Yeongam, 380 kilometers (236 miles) south of Seoul, the thundering noise of race cars filled the ears of 160,236 spectators from Friday to Sunday during the 2011 Korean Grand Prix.

Marking its sophomore year, Korea’s Formula One event was anxiously anticipated. The inaugural run last year turned out to be a nightmare for both fans and organizers because of poor preparation and management.

But Park Joon-yung, South Jeolla governor and the head of the organizing committee, said that this year’s Korean GP turned out better, at least compared to the first year.

“Many things have been improved,” Park said yesterday. “This year, people have seen that F1 has begun to take roots in Korea.”

Last year’s event was heavily criticized for bad traffic, poor serviced accommodation and unfinished construction under the management of Korean Auto Valley Operation (KAVO).

But this year, with support from the South Jeolla government, alternate routes were opened to reduce traffic. Visitors told the Korea JoongAng Daily this saved them more than 30 minutes getting to the race grounds.

As for accommodation, volunteers helped foreign visitors and there was information designed to help visitors as well. The organizers claimed that this year’s accommodation was better than last year, since they provided enough rooms and upgraded service to welcome foreign visitors.

Of the visitors who also experienced the inaugural event, many said they saw big improvements in the facilities.

Lee Sang-ho, a 31-year-old from Seoul, was one of the 80,000 visitors who were at the Sunday’s final race. Lee, who also visited last year’s event with friends, said that he was impressed by the convenient facilities.

“It is really a big improvement from last year,” Lee said. “There are more bathrooms, food booths and other convenient facilities.”

However, there was one thing that visitors like Lee still felt need to be improved: the shuttle service around the circuit.

“I wish there were more shuttle buses or a shorter interval of bus times because there are so many people trying to get into the circuit,” Lee said. “It’s still better than last year, but that could be improved.”

To lessen the traffic and help visitors to reach the stand conveniently, the organizers have set up some 600 shuttles to transport them. However, with long lines and packed buses, many visitors were seen just walking to the parking lot for more than 20 minutes.

The organizers said it will try to fix other minor problems in the future.

With some major improvements profits increased, thanks to large ticket sales and corporate sponsors.

The organizers announced yesterday that its revenue turned out to be some 27 billion won ($23 million) which was 11 billion won higher than last year.

However, the organizers still need to clear 60 billion won debt from this event. Park said they will first work on reducing the 48-billion-won hosting fee that goes to Formula One Management (FOM).

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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