By Bridget Tunnicliffe
Korea will host its first ever Formula One race this weekend, and as international drivers like Lewis Hamilton converge on the southern part of the country, so too will hundreds of expats looking to bask in the glamour event.
The third to last round of the F1 motor sport season is being held at the Korean International Circuit (KIC) in Yeongam, under the name Korean Grand Prix.
The Korean Formula One agreement is a seven-year race deal, set up by Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone and the Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) and the local Cholla-Namdo regional government.
Derrick Smith, a South African, who has been living in Gumi, Korea, for around 10 years, is running packaged tours to the F1.
¡°Although we have had some international bookings, our tour aims mostly at providing affordable tours to ex-pats in Korea in an effort to promote Formula One here and to make information available in English to the international F1 public,¡± he said.
He said it¡¯s not easy to navigate the event as an individual, given the language barriers and the logistics involved in a circuit that can accommodate up to 130,000 spectators. ¡°Of course it will be nice sharing in the excitement of so many others on the trip,¡± he added.
From a personal point of view Derrick said it¡¯s a dream come true. ¡°I am so excited I can't wait. We have been working really hard to promote this event and we are sure F1 will become popular in Korea. I think it¡¯s great that F1 will also help to boost the economy in one of the less affluent areas of Korea.¡±
For the first time in Formula One¡¯s history, a circuit has been built in advance and then a city developed around it. Located in Sampo district inSouth Jeolla Province, the KIC has been purposely built to meet the requirements of the F1 race as well as establishing itself as the center of motorsport in Korea.
¡°There are other events like concerts and air-shows that will add to the excitement and glamour of this event. And with Korea being the third to last race of the season and the championship wide open drivers will give it their all and I think we can look forward to an awesome weekend.¡±
For Liz Poustie, a teacher in Seoul, it will be her first time attending any kind of motorsport event. ¡°Motorsport¡¯s not usually my thing but I think it¡¯s going to be a great experience, and actually being there as the cars race by will be pretty exciting. And I¡¯ll get to see Lewis Hamilton, my fellow countryman,¡± she said.
The circuit was finally given the green light by FIA inspectors last week and promoter, the Korea Auto Valley Operation¡¯s Chairman Chung Yung-cho, said they were delighted with the result. ¡°We join the whole of Korea in welcoming the Formula One fraternity to the Korea International Circuit for the first time. We believe the 2010 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix will be the catalyst to ignite enormous interest in the sport across the nation,¡± he enthused. For more information on tours to the Formula One visit www.f1.waegookcook.com