Yeosu Expo kicks off in style
By Park Si-soo
The International Exposition 2012 got underway in spectacular fashion Friday night with a lavish gala at the Korea’s southwestern port city of Yeosu.
However, the glamour and extravagance weren’t enough to masquerade the unpleasant truth that the three-month event will be going live on Friday in a sloppy state, with organizers failing to put on the finishing touches in many of the venues and facilities.
The pre-opening event was attended by Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Vicente Loscertales, secretary-general of the Paris-based Bureau of International Exhibitions (BIE), among other high-profile figures.
The 2012 Yeosu Expo, with the theme of ``The Living Ocean and Coast: Diversity of Resources and Sustainable Activities,’’ will begin its official schedule this morning and will continue through Aug. 12.
Governments and companies from 104 countries will participate in the event, along with 10 international organizations. This is the first BIE-approved Expo held in Korea since the 1993 event in Daejeon.
Kang Dong-seok, chairman of the Expo’s organizing committee, said this year’s event will attract a huge number of people from around the world and help highlight the importance of sea and coastal environment.
But when Kang opens the event at 8:50 a.m. Saturday, visitors will be disappointed to see that many of the venues at the Expo’s International Pavilion will be inaccessible as they have yet to be built.
For the first day, organizers will attempt to cover for the lack of preparation with a slew of cultural and entertainment events featuring the country’s top music and television acts.
There will be more than 40 different shows and events throughout the day featuring the top names in Korean showbiz, including pop groups Wonder Girls, DJ DOC and Dynamic Duo and rock band Boohwal, organizers said. Performers from Indonesia and Cambodia will stage their countries’ traditional performing arts.
“A large portion of cultural and entertainment events will be held at waterfront stages, highlighting the Expo’ theme of the `Living Ocean and Coast,’’’ said Kim Kwang-yong, chief director of cultural events for the Expo.
Organizers expect to attract a total of 10 million visitors, including 550,000 from overseas. About 300,000 Chinese visitors are expected and 200,000 from Japan.
The 2.72 million square-meters venue features 23 exhibition halls and is highlighted by an International Pavilion that is three time bigger than the COEX convention center in southern Seoul.