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Escape the summer heat at Yeosu Expo

With the return of Korea’s sizzling summer season, people across the country are finding ways to escape the summer heat. For those who are looking for something special during their short summer holiday, one recommended destination comes equipped with futuristic cutting-edge technology and opportunities to experience the diversity of marine life. With fun educational content for kids and plenty of places for parents to relax, one of this summer’s must-see destinations is definitely the Yeosu Expo.

With just two weeks left until the end of the Expo’s three-month run, record numbers of visitors are arriving in Yeosu to catch the excitement before it’s over. On July 29, the number reached 270,000 people, a figure that is comparable to Yeosu’s total population.

Yeosu Expo sees a continuous inflow of visitors looking for shelter from the summer heat Yeosu Expo sees a continuous inflow of visitors looking for shelter from the summer heat (photo: Gonggam Korea).

From August 1, which has been designated as Korean Day, to August 5, Yeosu Expo will be abuzz with celebrations for Korean Week. Events will include special traditional performances that are not easy to find elsewhere, including performances of Taepyeongga and Jongmyo Jeryeak by the National Gukak Center, the pansori piece “Sugunga” as performed by the National Changgeuk Company of Korea, “Korea Fantasy in Yeosu” performed by the National Dance Company of Korea, and a rare performance of the music of Intangible Cultural Heritage property no. 72 Jindossitgimgut, or Jindo Island ssitgimgut (shamanistic exorcism).

Jongmyo jeryeak, which was designated along with the court ritual Jongmyo jerye as the first of South Korea’s UNESCO Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001, is a performance of instrumental music, song, and dance that accompanied the Jongmyo jerye ritual. Solemn and majestic, the song carries with it over 500 years of history. Another historical treasure is “Sugungga,” one of the five stories of the Korean pansori tradition that have been handed down through the years. Based on the folktale of the rabbit and the turtle, Sugungga tells of how a turtle embarked on the task of bringing a rabbit’s liver to the Dragon King of the Easy Sea to cure the king’s sick daughter. As the story goes, the turtle finds a rabbit who outwits him en route to the undersea palace. The witty, humorous story is accompanied by lively beats, melodies, and gestures.

“In celebration of Korean Day and Korean Week, we will be holding a variety of cultural performances that will introduce visitors to the sounds and sights of traditional Korean culture,” said Nam Sang-hyun of the Expo Organizing Committee.

Jongmyo Jerye ritual, a music performance carried out during a ritual, was designated by UNESCO Jongmyo jeryeak, the name of the music performance that accompanied the Jongmyo jerye rites dedicated to kings of the Joseon kingdom, was designated together with Jongmyo jerye as Korea's first UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2001 (photo courtesy of the Cultural Heritage Administration).

Also during Korean Week, on August 1, the Korea Coast Guard will hold the first Northeast Asian Marina Forum on the topic of partnership between Korea, China, and Japan for the development of the Northeast Asian marine industry. That same afternoon, visitors will be treated to the excitement of the first Korea-China-Japan International Yacht Race, which will take place in front of the Expo’s Theme Pavilion.

A tapestry of tradition and technology

The Korea Pavilion, located at the heart of the Expo, has been designed around the theme of harmony. The mix of a traditional exterior and state-of-the-art technology creates a balance that brings to mind the unique blend of new and old that can be seen in modern Korea. While the exterior has been designed to resemble a window of a traditional house, the inside of the pavilion has been outfitted with the latest innovations, including a hydrogen fuel cell power system. The Korea Pavilion is also well-known as the world’s first zero-carbon-emission building.

The Korea Pavilion is separated into two halls: the Media Hall and Exhibition Hall. In the Media Hall, visitors lie down on the floor and look up at the world’s largest dome screen. On the towering screen, which has a diameter of 30 meters, a height of 15 meters, and a circumference of 95 meters, a short video plays that describes how Koreans live in harmony with the ocean.

world's largest and highest-quality dome-screen in Korea Pavilion Visitors to the Korea Pavilion at the Yeosu Expo explore ocean views on the world's largest domed screen (photo: Yonhap News).

The video begins with a glimpse of pungeoje, the ceremonial rite traditionally held in fishing villages to pray for a big catch of fish. Scenes of salt fields, sea pines, bamboo weirs, and the sun setting on Suncheon Bay show the beauty of Korea’s marine habitats.

In the exhibition hall, visitors can watch and take part in a live performance of Ganggangsullae, a traditional Korean dance performed to bring a good harvest. Also on display are artifacts and images that depict Korea’s maritime heritage and the ocean as understood by previous generations of Koreans, including works by prominent Korean scholar and philosopher Jeong Yak-yong as well as images of the Bangudae Petroglyphs in Ulsan and the sea maps used by the famous Silla Dynasty trader Jang Bogo.

More information on the Korea Pavilion and its attractions can be found at the official website of Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea.

By Lee Seung-ah Staff Writer

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