YEOSU, South Korea - After four years of work and US$10 billion(S$12.5 billion) in investment, an international expo will openSaturday at a glittering hi-tech venue on the site of a formerdusty cement terminal in South Korea. A total of 104 nations and 10 international organisations willstage exhibitions over the next three months in the city of Yeosuunder the theme of "The Living Ocean and Coast". Organisers hope for about 10 million visitors, including up to500,000 foreigners mainly from China and Japan, to the small southcoast city. They predict the event will create some 80,000 jobs and bringeconomic benefits worth 19 trillion won ($17 billion) - outweighingmore than 11 trillion won spent on the site and new hotels andupgrading roads and railways. Yeosu, with a scenic coastline and hundreds of nearby islands, isshowcasing marine conservation and green technology with its expo. |
"Have you ever thought that the roar of the waves may be the soundof the sea groaning?" it asks visitors, citing overfishing,pollution and reckless development. "We want to join with you to find the solutions," reads a messageat the US pavilion. A screen with video images of the US coastline stresses that oceansare the Earth's life support systems. At its entrance an image projected on a water screen showsPresident Barack Obama expressing commitment to protecting marineecosystems and resources. France focuses on the importance of fresh water resources,displaying the transformation of its mascot "Sogeumi" from a saltwater drop into fresh water to suggest that desalination is one ofthe solutions.
Australia, the world's largest island continent, emphasises harmonybetween humankind and oceans through a huge multimedia sculpturedepicting the swell of the ocean and a variety of other images. Monaco, one of the world's smallest nations, has a digital image ofan endangered Mediterranean monk seal. During a press tour Wednesday, work was continuing frantically tocomplete some exhibition halls. Chief organiser Kang Dong-Suk saidat least three countries could not open their pavilions untilSaturday. The "Big-O", a 48-metre-tall (158-foot-tall) round steel structure,greets visitors to the 25-hectare (60 acre) site.
"This is our symbolic structure where various cultural performanceswill be held," said Kang Hyun-Joo, the organising committeespokeswoman. It features cannon shooting jets of water and flame generators. Colourful hologram images and light shows will be projected on agiant water curtain and dancers will perform on a stage floating infront of the Big-O. Abandoned cement silos have been converted into a 67-metre-highobservation tower including a giant pipe organ.
The Aqua Planet aquarium has a massive tank displaying 280 speciesof fish and other marine life including beluga whales and SouthAmerican sea lions as well as an Amazon eco-terrarium. Pavilions built by the Korean government and its big firms presenta vision of the country as a dominant player in marine developmentand showcase digital and robot technology. Small robots play soccer and dance at the pavilion of DaewooShipbuilding and Marine Engineering. A humanoid robot greetsvisitors with smiles, and robots shaped like crabs, snakes andstarfish are on display. The ceiling of the international pavilion features a 218-metre-longLED screen displaying marine life and giving visitors the sensationof walking under the sea.
Expo 2012 Yeosu is being held between the headline World Expos,which are staged every five years. The last was in Shanghai in 2010. To solve the shortage of hotel rooms, a chartered cruise ship willbe anchored in the port by the end of this month to accommodateforeign visitors, said chairman Kang. A ferry terminal capable of handling six cruise ships has beenbuilt next to the site to accommodate tourists from China andJapan.
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