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Yeosu, where the ocean comes to life

2012/05/03 | 151 views |  | Permalink | Source

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The 218-meter long Expo Digital Gallery, displaying LED images of marine life, is now open to the public (photo courtesy of the Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea Organizing Committee).

Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea is set to open in less than ten days' time. In the three and a half years since Korea won the bid to host the event, Yeosu has been transformed from a small coastal city best known for its maritime industry to the site of a 2,710,000-square-meter venue expected to attract more than 11 million visitors in the coming months.

As opening day draws near and participants and organizers from 105 countries flock to Korea's southern coast, the international interest surrounding Yeosu, previously one of the country's lesser-known cities, continues to grow. The merits of the Yeosu locale as a model for sustainable marine development as well as the timeliness of a marine-themed expo held on the oceanfront have not been lost on the foreign press.

The April 25 edition of Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun published a preview of Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea with a quote by Japanese actress Fukumi Kuroda, who described Yeosu as "a place of abundant natural beauty, worthy of being called the Napoli of Korea". The remarks by Kuroda, whose extensive travels through Korea have often been the topic of media coverage, had been made at an Expo press conference held the day before at the Korean Cultural Center in Tokyo.

The April 25 edition of Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun published a preview of Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea, including remarks by Japanese actress Fukumi Kuroda.

Earlier, on April 11, China Talk, a talk show produced by the China Internet Information Center, an official web portal authorized by the People's Republic of China, conducted a video interview with Kim Jin-gon, director of the Korean Cultural Center in Beijing, who introduced the upcoming Expo.

During the interview, which was made available online on August 23, Kim highlighted that the Chinese Pavilion will be the largest of the country pavilions constructed at Yeosu, with June 28 marking Chinese Pavilion Day. With tourists from China expected to make up the largest percentage of the 600,000 foreign visitors expected at the Expo, Kim assured viewers of the wide availability of housing and transportation options in the vicinity of the main grounds.

A team of foreign press correspondents from countries including Brunei, Paraguay, India, and Ukraine participated in a seven-day invitational program in mid-April that included a tour of Yeosu (photo courtesy of 2012 Expo Yeosu Korea Organizing Committee).

Also in April, a team of foreign press correspondents traveled to Korea as part of a seven-day invitational program that included a tour of the Yeosu Expo site as well as the neighboring areas. In a roundtable discussion held on April 19, the journalists from countries including Guatemala, Ukraine, India, and Colombia looked at key Expo issues such as the protection of marine life and the possibilities for innovations in marine-based energy and technology.

Koo Jin Shen, a reporter for The Brunei Times, expressed concern about the health of the world's marine ecosystems, saying that the ocean was something he had come to take for granted, but that coming to Yeosu had caused him to realize with renewed urgency that the world's oceans are dying.

(Center) Koo Jin Shen, a reporter for The Brunei Times, during his visit to Korea in April (photo courtesy of the Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea Organizing Committee).

For Dawood bin Sulaiman Al Balushi, a newspaper editor from Oman, the takeaway from his visit to Yeosu was a better understanding of the enormous potential for the oceans to provide a source of alternative energy.

"I had heard that Korea's IT sector was impressive, but I was really astonished at the level of sophistication that can be found in the technology for developing marine-based energy sources", explained the editor. "Preservation of the oceans is also a significant issue of interest for Oman. As the government plans to visit Korea in the near future, I hope to come again then too".

Foreign journalists tour Yeosu and neighboring Odong Island during a seven-day invitational program in April (photo courtesy of the Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea Organizing Committee).

The uniqueness of what the Expo seeks to accomplish and the ideal setting that Yeosu provides have been lauded in the foreign press since Korea began its bid to host the Expo in 2007. Jerome Clemont, president of broadcasting company Arte France, penned an editorial in French newspaper La Tribune in November 2007 suggesting that Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea would effectively communicate the importance of protecting the global marine environment to the entire world.

"The Expo at Yeosu will be an opportunity to highlight the shared relevance of the oceans for all of mankind", wrote Clemont. "Korea, with its dynamism and continued innovation in advanced technology, has assumed a leading role in shaping the paradigm for sustainable development".

Three beluga arrived at Yeosu on April 28 and are now residing in the 2,700-ton aquarium on Expo grounds (photo courtesy of the Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea Organizing Committee).

Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea will from May 12 to August 12 for a total of 93 days. More information can be found at the official website: http://eng.expo2012.kr/main.html (English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, French).

Watch the video below to get a look at some of the latest footage from Yeosu. The video features higlights from the invitational program for foreign journalists that was held in April.

*To viewed the video attached to this article, please visit its source here.

By Kwon Jungyun
Korea.net Staff Writer

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