Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yeosu 2012 Expo Update

Many friends know me as a World's Fair buff, or at least a fan of the idea that humans can overcome politics, wars and strife, and meet together for a time in a geographical as well as philosophical sense, on a neutral field of fun, food, science, architecture, art, and all the thngs that make us human.

Most with an opinion on the matter think the defining World's Exposition was New York 1939, with GM's World of Tomorrow, the Trylon and Perisphere, etc. But personally, I believe in the 1958 Brussels Expo, which was the first one to happen after the devastation of World War II and the long dark years of post-war recrimination and recovery.

While I spent an afternoon in Knoxville '82, I never really considered that a World's Fair experience; so I spent a fair amount of money to attend the one in Shanghai 2010 late last September. Alas, though Shanghai proved to be the "Paris of the East" for ths tourist, the Expo experience was all about long, long lines and really, really nice staffers who couldn't help you defeat the long, long lines.

Assuming I will still be in Korea through one more contract, I can take another shot by way of Yeosu 2012 (mentioned previously here). JoongAng Daily served up an interview with Yeosu boss Kang Dong-suk, whose last big project was Incheon Airport--a facility with few if any significant flaws, if you ask me. Money graf:
As of this month, 88 countries have agreed to participate in the expo, with 22 from Europe, 15 from the Americas, 25 from Asia, 19 from Africa and seven countries from the Middle East. The committee is expecting 8 million visitors from those countries and beyond for the three-month event.
This is pretty good for a "minor" fair, designated by the BIE to last three months, instead of the big un's six months; the more countries sign up, the greater chance of turning a profit. Zaragoza, Spain (2008), with 108 countries, lost money. The chairman said that the main goal for the expo was to place the ocean itself on display for visitors to see. The theme for the expo is “The Living Ocean and Coast.”

If Kang and the Yeosu designers are hoping that the ocean theme has an extra draw due to uniqueness, they failed to do their homework. Indeed, Zaragoza's theme was: "Water and Sustainable Development". Oknawa 1975 had the motto, "The sea we would like to see". For Montreal 1967, they built an island! So, what is their slant?
“There is so little we know about the ocean,” said Kang, explaining the efforts being made to place the ocean at the center of the expo. [...]
Yeosu’s shoreline has been polluted by its role as a port city used for commerce and industry.
“We have blocked the flow of pollutants into the ocean and we are recycling seawater,” Kang said. “By May next year, it will be an ocean of life.”
Kang said measures were also being undertaken to prevent the extensive Expo construction from adding to ocean pollution.
An enduring feature of World's Fairs is the legacy of amazing buildings, going right back to the Crystal Palace in 1851 and the Eiffel Tower of Paris 1889. From the Seattle Space Needle to the Brussels Atomium and the original Ferris Wheel, Expos have a tendency to leave behind interesting structures.

“All the display pavilions will be demolished - only the symbolic facilities will be kept and we will turn the city into the center of marine tourism,” said Kang in the interview. “We have 400 islands near Yeosu. It will become the mecca of seashore tourism, even beyond Japan or China.”

An island as legacy bulding--hmmm. It worked for Montreal ('67), once home of the Expos!


John from Daejeon said...

It's not even close, if it wasn't for Nikola Tesla back at the World's Columbian Exposition Chicago in 1893, we'd still be in the dark. You can see the what the underdogs, Tesla and G.W., did against the likes of the giants of the day, G.E. and Edison, at the 20 minute mark.

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