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Yeosu’s 93-day voyage comes to an end

Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea, a global marine festival staged at the backdrop of the ocean, ended its 93-day journey on August 12. The closing ceremony was celebrated by Yeosu citizens and many public figures including Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, and Secretary-General Vincente Loscertales of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).

“The Yeosu Expo has successfully attracted the world’s attention to the core concept of the event: the Living Ocean and Coast,” said Ferdinand Nagy, president of BIE, at the closing ceremony.

the Big-O, the centerpiece of the Expo The closing ceremony of the Yeosu Expo was carried out at the Big-O, the centerpiece of the Expo (photo: Yonhap News).

Following his comments, Prime Minister Kim also gave a closing address. “It provided such an educational and inspirational lesson that the ocean is so important to human life that can bring sustainable prosperity for all,” he said.

In the midst of the ceremony, the Yeosu Declaration was adopted, a document consisting of 9 sections, each representing feasible plans, calling on the international community for cooperation in conservation efforts for marine resources and the environment. The Yeosu Declaration, the first draft having started at the end of 2010, was finally released following the roundtable discussion and the Yeosu Declaration Forum right before the closing ceremony. The declaration agreed by around 100 nations will provide a guideline for worldwide marine conservation activities.

Yeosu, the little port city with a population of only 300,000, was visited by more than 8.2 million outsiders over the past two months, providing a lively experience of the crisis humanity currently faces but has not been very conscious of such as climate change, depletion of resources, and environment pollution, and at the same time giving visitors a chance to think about how to solve the challenges.

Emeritus Professor Horigawa of Tokyo University was quoted as saying “The theme of an expo tends to be more on the educational side, but the Yeosu Expo succeeded in securing all of the information, fun, and inspirational qualities at the same time and received a great response from the audience.”

One of the benefits that Yeosu enjoyed by holding the global event is that the city became more connected to the rest of Korea. Prior to the completion of the KTX in October last year, the trip from Seoul to Yeosu took more than four hours, but now it is just three hours. The construction of an expressway connecting Jeonju in the central region of Jeollabuk-do (North Jeolla Province) and Gwangyang in the southeast of Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province), and Mokpo in southwestern Jeollanam-do to Gwangyang also made it a lot easier for visitors to travel to the southern port city. The completion of the Yi Sun-sin Bridge linking Gwangyang and Yeosu facilitated communication and reduced the travel distance from 60 to 10 kilometers, and time from 80 minutes to 10 minutes.

The Big-O Show was one of the most talked-about sights at the Yeosu ExpoThe Big-O Show was one of the most talked-about sights at the Yeosu Expo from the very beginning of the 93-day run (photo courtesy of the 2012 Expo Yeosu Korea Organizing Committee).

The cultural exhibition and performances under the theme of “The Living Ocean and Coast” received favorable comments from domestic and international media outlets as well. The Big-O Show staged above the water received a special spotlight, and due to its popularity the number of performances was increased midway through the Yeosu Expo.

The August 2 edition of China Economy also paid attention to the Big-O facility in an article titled ‘A new story of a little city,’ written on the Expo grounds. “The O-shaped facility standing above the water decorated with artistic effects interplayed by water, lights, and lasers must be the highlight of the Expo. The Big-O Show played through the water screen and the fountain show near the water always draw the largest number of tourists.”

The article also mentioned that one of the featured concepts of the Yeosu Expo is that it’s an environmentally friendly event, giving an explanation about Sky Tower, a reused cement silo, now equipped with water-purifying facilities to provide tourists with a sip of clean water.

The Aquarium, the most popular exhibition, drew over 2.25 million tourists, far higher than any other pavilions. Consisting of three separate sections with each different themes; Ecology, Animal, and Experience, the Aquarium was reviewed as a pavilion clearly presenting the theme of the Yeosu Expo which is worth waiting in the endless queues lined up during the whole period.

marine-themed festival that was the 2012 Expo Yeosu Korea came to a close on August 12The 93-day marine-themed festival that was the 2012 Expo Yeosu Korea came to a close on August 12 (photo courtesy of the 2012 Expo Yeosu Korea Organizing Committee).

The Expo grounds now will turn into a marine-themed tourism complex, with the Marine Science and Technology Center, Marine Data Center, and Research Center where every sort of information related to the marine environment from the latest technologies to relevant music, arts, and literature will be found. In addition, a water theme park and resort facility making use of the seawater will be built to keep revitalizing the little port city.

“The little city on the south coast of Korea has now become a global city,” said Kang Dong-suk, the chairman of the Yeosu Expo Organizing Committee. “The remained project will be successfully carried out to create desirable result.”

-Yeosu Declaration-

[Section 1] The importance of the ocean, coasts, and islands: Essential for the survival of human civilization
[Section 2] Maritime culture: Marine stewardship and sustainable use for both present and future generations
[Section 3] Interconnectedness: The ocean as a conduit for trade and exchange
[Section 4] Green economy: Foster innovative industries and environment-friendly technologies
[Section 5] Marine ecosystem: The health of the ocean threatened by human-induced influences
[Section 6] Mitigation and adaptation to climate change: Needs for improving and expanding scientific research
[Section 7] Efforts of governments and civil society: Enlighten people to use marine resources sustainably
[Section 8] Actions: Promote international development programs for developing nations (e.g. Yeosu Project)
[Section 9] As a legacy of EXPO 2012 Yeosu Korea: The declaration calls for societal and governmental support for the Expo’s vision for “green growth from the sea.”

More information is available at the official website of the Yeosu Expo

By Lee Seung-ah Staff Writer

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