Yeosu prepares to unveil international expo

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Yeosu prepares to unveil international expo


Construction continues as scheduled for Korea’s second world expo in Yeosu, South Jeolla, yesterday as the 100-day countdown begins for its opening on May 12. According to the Yeosu Expo Organizing Committee, preparations are more than 93 percent complete. By Oh Jong-chan

Korea’s second world expo is more than ready to unveil its charm, the organizers of the event said yesterday.

The International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012, or Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea, enters a 100-day countdown today before its opening in May. According to the Yeosu Expo Organizing Committee, the preparation is more than 93 percent complete. Its initial target rate until yesterday was 91.5 percent.

“We are getting this prepared without delay as the national image is at stake in this large-scale international event,” said Kang Dong-seok, chairman of the committee. “The construction of the facilities will be all completed by late March.”

Around 800 citizens and regional government officials of the southwestern port city gathered yesterday at Korea Pavilion within the expo park, the committee said. President Lee Myung-bak and the heads of many other municipal governments also attended the event to show their support.

According to the organizers, a total of 2.71 million square meters (about 1 square mile) of land in the city has been almost fully renovated, completely changing the landscape of the previously placid seaside area over the course of the nearly four-year preparation period.

All of the exhibition facilities, including 21 pavilions, will enter their next phase of operation in March. Three dress rehearsals are scheduled to be arranged before the expo kicks off on May 12, the organizers said.

Major landmark buildings such as the Big-O and Sky Tower are also on the verge of completion, they said.

Covering a coastal area of 88,000 square meters, the Big-O is a multi-functional complex intended to accommodate various expo events. It’s named for a giant O-shaped, 45-meter (148-foot) tall structure floating on the sea’s surface.

The Yeosu Expo, following the Daejeon Expo in 1993, makes Korea the world’s 10th country to host the global event at least twice. The expo, overseen by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), or the International Exhibitions Bureau, is, along with the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, one of the world’s three largest festivals.

The Daejeon Expo, into which the Korean government injected around 1.6 trillion won ($1.4 billion), is thought to have paved the way for Korea’s ascent into an information and technology powerhouse. It was the biggest-ever expo until then with the participation of 108 countries and 33 international organizations

The Yeosu Expo will also present Korea with a huge benefit. Korea expects 12.2 trillion won worth of production benefit from the latest expo, apart from 5.7 trillion won worth of added value, and the creation of 79,000 jobs. The event is expected to bring together the representatives of 106 countries and nine international organizations. Around 10 million people, at home and abroad, are expected to participate.

The event, however, will be more than for Korea, the organizers said.

The Yeosu Expo is promoted as the world’s first environment expo. The organizers said the event will serve as a reminder of the importance of the sea by making use of many environment-friendly seaside events and facilities.

“Usually, expos are focused on the economy, but the event held in Yeosu this time is themed on the ocean and environment and thus is in line with the trend of the present time,” President Lee told reporters after the event in Yeosu yesterday. Lee said many other countries will agree on the significance of the theme of the event at a time when the world faces a huge environmental challenge including global warming.

An official of the Organizing Committee agreed. “It will become a place where we discuss the value and role of seas the world over, share a vision for a beautiful future, and find a way for human beings and nature to coexist.”

The city government of Yeosu is also sweating about making its biggest ever international event a success, according to the city officials. Transportation to get to the southwestern port city is the highest priority for the city.

Last year the KTX, Korea’s bullet train, started shuttling between Seoul’s Yongsan Station and Yeosu, cutting the travel time by more than two hours to less than three and a half hours. If work to improve the traffic signal system is completed, the travel time will be shortened even more to less than three hours, the organizers said.

Flights between Seoul’s Gimpo and Yeosu are also being augmented gradually, to make it more convenient for international visitors to attend the expo. Many tourists from China, the host of the previous expo in 2010, are expected to visit Yeosu and chartered flights between Yeosu and Chinese cities have also been augmented.

By Moon Gwang-lip []
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