A bird’s-eye-view of the Yeosu Expo site
The 2012 World Expo in Yeosu aims to illuminate oceans and their magnitude as a key to diverse climate and environmental challenges mankind is faced with in the 21st century.
Under the theme “Living Ocean and Coast,” 106 countries and nine international organizations will showcase their diverse marine development and advancement of oceanic technology on the southern shore of the Korean Peninsula from May 12 to Aug. 12.
The 93-day event, the first here since the 1993 Daejeon Expo, is expected to lure some 8 million visitors around the world, according to its steering committee.
The committee has been making extensive efforts to help turn the port city to Asia’s leading frontier in “blue economy” through the global fair.
Construction of facilities is about 92 percent complete. A bullet-train route enables access to the site within three hours from Seoul. New highway connections have curtailed travel times from all parts of the country. Airline and cruise services also are being launched to accommodate international visitors.
In recent years, Korea has been calling for a new, ocean-oriented growth strategy to bolster its competitiveness and cope with the new challenges of a borderless global community.
Albeit relatively unknown in the international arena, the southern coastal regions could provide a key gateway for Northeast Asia with ecological resources and priceless cultural assets, officials say.
The government wants to create what it calls the “south coast belt” there, which will provide a catalyst for the growth of Asia’s fourth-largest economy by enticing foreign investors, creating jobs and boosting the local economy.
It also believes the Yeosu Expo will speed up not only regional economic growth but also boost balanced domestic development.
The event is projected to generate about 12.2 trillion won ($10.8 billion) worth of production and create about 5.7 trillion won in added value, as well as 80,000 jobs.
The committee drew participation from Asian neighbors, leading economies in North America and Europe, and emerging markets across the Middle East and Africa. The list includes China, Japan, the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Libya, Nigeria and Israel. Also joining the program are nine international bodies including the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Embracing the theme of the Expo, Korea’s pavilion will demonstrate its green growth initiative and information technology advancement through a zero-carbon structure, the committee says. It also plans to operate separate venues with four subtopics ― marine life, climate and environment, marine industry and technology and marine civilization and marine cities.
“The latest information technology will be applied to the pavilions to show the visitors the vision for the future of the ocean and mankind in innovative ways,” an official with the organizing committee said.
Alongside the pavilions, the event will also showcase three landmarks ― the Big-O, Sky Tower and Expo Digital Gallery.
The Big-O is an o-shaped mobile structure established on the sea, which envisages the world in 2050, where mankind and oceans harmoniously coexist. At 11 p.m. everyday when the Expo closes, visitors will be able to view a show that entails laser and light effects, three dimensional images, fireworks and afountain.
The area is divided into three zones ― eco-zone, culture-zone and water-zone ― to allow visitors to experience different aspects of marine culture, organizers say.
The Sky Tower is a 55-meter high abandoned cement silo renovated for the Expo. It has an observation deck at the top and the exterior is designed as a functioning pipe organ that plays tunes including “Arirang,” a traditional Korean song. Visitors will also be able to play the instrument using their smartphones.
The Expo Digital Gallery will sit on the 415-meter long street that links the Expo site with a KTX train station in the city. It features light-emitting diode screens that portray images of the sea, and visitors can send messages to a whale that swims in the digital seascape using smartphones and computers.
With its focus on oceans, the expo will also operate other diverse facilities including a maritime museum and an aquarium.
A multitude of cultural and tourism programs will be offered to entertain visitors. On “national days,” participating nations will stage performances showcasing their cultures. More than 3,200 performances and other shows by domestic and international celebrities are set to take place throughout the three months of the event.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org