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Yeosu Expo kicks off its 93-day run offshore

Fireworks light up the night sky over the Big-O, a central landmark of the Yeosu Expo, during a ceremony signaling the grand opening on May 11, the eve of the the Expo 2012 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).Fireworks light up the night sky over the Big-O, a central landmark of the Yeosu Expo, during a ceremony signaling the grand opening on May 11, the eve of the the Expo 2012 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

Along with the fireworks filling the night sky over the Big-O, the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012 got underway, kicking off its three-month run against the backdrop of a blue stretch of ocean.

The opening ceremony was held under the theme of “the Dreaming Ocean,” on the offshore Big-O stage. The world’s first International Exposition to ever take place offshore in the event’s 150-year-plus history invited visitors from home and abroad to preview the Living Ocean and Coast at the maritime city of Yeosu in Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province).

The undoubted highlight of that evening was the spectacle at the Big-O.

The Big-O Show, a vibrant blockbuster show, embroidered the night sky with a dazzling blend of fountain, fireworks, and laser lights using a water screen named The O. The spectacular multi-media show delights the audiences over its 17-minute run with the story of a young girl exploring the sea, saving the ravaged sea, and opening up a brighter future for the sea and humankind.

A hologram laser show at the water screen of the Big-O is seen during the opening ceremony of the Yeosu Expo on May 11. The Big-O Show starts at 9:30 pm every night throughout the exposition (photo: Yonhap News).A hologram laser show at the water screen of the Big-O is seen during the opening ceremony of the Yeosu Expo on May 11. The Big-O Show starts at 9:30 pm every night throughout the exposition (photo: Yonhap News).

“If there's one thing you have to see at the Expo, it's the Big-O Show,” said Steve Miller, a featured contributor of the Korea Blog. “Some might call it just another fountain show, but it's so much more than that. It is amazing, and aptly named -- since that's the shape your mouth makes after the jaw-dropping performance.”

Nearly 2,000 people attended the opening ceremony to celebrate the eve of the global festival, including President Lee Myung-bak and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok as well as world dignitaries -- President Ollanta Humala of Peru, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and Secretary-General Vicente Loscertales of the Bureau International des Expositions, among others -- as well as representatives of international organizations and participating nations.

On the first day after its official opening to the general public, the Yeosu Expo welcomed more than 35,000 visitors. The most popular attraction of the day proved to be the Aquarium -- home to a plethora of rare marine biodiversity, including endangered species from around the world. Visitors may find themselves standing in the middle of the ocean and indulge in the breathtaking maritime scenery.

As a beam of light shoots through the pitch blackness on a large dome screen inside the Korea Pavilion, visitors are submerged deep under the sea (photo: Yonhap News).As a beam of light shoots through the pitch blackness on a large dome screen inside the Korea Pavilion, visitors are submerged deep under the sea (photo: Yonhap News).

The Korea Pavilion emerged as one of the most popular destinations at the Expo, alongside the Aquarium and the Theme Pavilion. The eco-friendly Korea Pavilion invites visitors on a virtual journey, an awe-inspiring moment that brings deep-sea creatures vividly to the dome screen. Some even said the experience was more intense than the 3D movie, Avatar.

“To some, Yeosu Expo 2012 may be a life-changing event,” said Magdalena Siemińska, one of the Worldwide Korea Bloggers of the Korea Blog, who made a visit to Yeosu Expo over the weekend.

“The entire complex looks amazing and futuristic, and all shows and attractions are good for people of all ages,” added Siemińska after visiting the site. “But what's most important -- it's not only entertainment, it's an eye-opening experience that outreaches to the world about oceanic issues and has a great impact on education. I'm glad I could attend the World Expo 2012 in Yeosu.”

The event aroused much attention from the foreign media as well. The AFP of France covered the opening of Yeosu Expo after four years of renovation work on a former cement terminal into a “glittering high-tech venue.” Quoting the Expo organizer, the media outlet predicted the event, which showcases marine conservation and green technology to bring economic benefits worth 19 trillion won ($17 billion), with an expected 10 million visitors.

An installation at the Australia Pavilion continues to attract visitors with its cutting-edge multimedia display (photo: Yonhap News).An installation at the Australia Pavilion continues to attract visitors with its cutting-edge multimedia display (photo: Yonhap News).

With the participation of 104 nations and ten international organizations, the 2012 World Expo in Yeosu highlights the balance between the preservation of maritime and coastal areas and achieving co-prosperity and sustainable economic development.

The cutting-edge technology and architectural grandeur will maximize exposition-goers’ coastal experience, culminated in a variety of exhibitions and open-air performances jazzing up the theme of the Expo.

Starting with Brunei Day on May 13, over 100 participating nations will host their own "national pavilion day," bringing the essence of cultural and traditional performances.

The Yeosu Expo showcases how the ocean and humans communicate and coexist, while presenting its future vision (photo: Yonhap News).

In line with it’s the expo theme, The Living Ocean and the Coast: Diversity of Resources and Sustainable Activities, a symposium which focuses on oceans as a central element in climate change takes place from May 13 to 20. Over 500 marine scientists from 40 nations will participate to share their current knowledge and technological advancements concerning the ocean and coast and seek to resolve challenges facing the ocean today.

Listed by CNN as the number one place to visit in 2012, and one of the "Top 10 things to do in 2012" by Lonely Planet, Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea runs until August 12, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Advance admission reservations can be made online or through a mobile application, with discount rates available.

For more information, go to the official website. You may also get the latest news through visiting the Korea.net Current Affairs menu.

By Hwang Dana
Korea.net Staff Writer

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