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A first look at the Yeosu Expo

The countdown to Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea has begun, and less than 90 days remain until the May opening date. Twenty some exhibitions have already been prepared, and much of the attention thus far has centered on the Theme Pavilion. Constructed atop piers planted in the ocean waters, the Theme Pavilion is the world’s first “floating” exhibition facility.

With “Coexistence of the Ocean and Humanity” as its theme, the pavilion features displays and exhibits that look at the close relationship between the ocean as a vital life force, and humans who have thrived on marine resources since the earliest civilizations. The second floor of the Theme Pavilion houses the Ocean and Coast Best Practice Area (OCBPA), which showcases the most innovative technologies, methodologies, and policies relating to enhancement and preservation of the oceans.

Various exhibition facilities will be open for the Expo, including Aqua Valley, the largest aquarium in the country
Various exhibition facilities will be open for the Expo, including Aqua Valley, the largest aquarium in the country (photo: Weekly Gonggam).

Designed with a taegeuk motif, the nearby Korea Pavilion offers an in-depth look at the role of the ocean in shaping the history and culture of Korea. Visitors can watch video footage documenting the development of Korea’s marine industry and the future of maritime research in a Circle-Vision 360° theater.

The five sub-theme pavilions each give more detailed views of the current state of the world’s oceans as well as possibilities for the future. In the Climate and Environment Pavilion, visitors can experience the extreme climates of the Northern and Southern Polar Regions to better understand the ocean’s role in mediating other environmental factors.

The Marine Civilization Pavilion, which includes a replica of an ancient sea vessel, presents the history of humankind’s challenges and achievements in exploring the ocean and benefiting from its resources. The Marine City Pavilion invites visitors to imagine the future of urban life as they walk through an underwater tunnel that leads to exhibits of cities below and above the ocean, which rely on ocean-friendly alternative energies for power. The Marine Life Pavilion Aquarium has been designed so that visitors feel like they are traveling through the ocean in a submarine.

The Expo Digital Gallery is the world’s first marine culture and arts gallery, with interactive digital media shows displayed on its LED screens
The Expo Digital Gallery is the world’s first marine culture and arts gallery, with interactive digital media shows displayed on its LED screens (photo: Weekly Gonggam). 

Of all that the Expo has to offer, three sites in particular stand out as must-visit, offering experiences that cannot be found anywhere else, according to Kim Keun-soo, secretary-general of the expo’s organizing committee. These include the Big-O, Sky Tower, and the Expo Digital Gallery.

Big-O, a multi-purpose entertainment and event zone, brings together water jets, flames, laser shows, and lighting for multimedia shows against the backdrop of the open sea. Sky Tower is a fully functioning giant pipe organ, built from a pair of abandoned cement silos. Visitors will be able to play the organ using their smartphones at designated periods. Inside the silos are exhibits featuring desalination and water purification systems, while the observation deck on the roof of Sky Tower provides a panoramic view of the Expo site and downtown Yeosu.

The Expo Digital Gallery (EGD) incorporates light technology and various 3D images and acoustic effects to recreate the underwater ocean experience and tell the fabled story of mermaids on Geomun Island. Based on the designs of film director Charles de Meaux, the 218-meter-long hallway lined with LED panels is the longest of its kind in the world. Expo visitors and content providers can upload videos and messages to the screen that, after accumulating past a certain amount, will “call” forth a digital projection of a whale. Crowds can also call the whale with loud cheers.

The Marine Life Pavilion will teach visitors about marine ecosystems and marine species diversity
The Marine Life Pavilion will teach visitors about marine ecosystems and marine species diversity (photo: Weekly Gonggam).

Over 400 different arts and culture programs will also run throughout the 93 days of the expo, amounting to approximately 90 performances a day. From new media shows and water shows at the Big-O to acts by street performers and shows by K-pop stars and other special international guests, visitors will get to take their pick from a variety of musical and cultural offerings.

Official participating countries, as well as international organizations and municipal governments, will also be holding performances and events to introduce cultures from across the world.

More information on the Yeosu Expo exhibition facilities and presale tickets can be found at the official website: www.expo2012.or.kr (English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese French).

Adapted from Weekly Gonggam Magazine
Translated by Kwon Jungyun
Korea.net Staff Writer

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