A Korea Times article dated May 9th, 2012, begins with the headline Still Under Construction, and has a sub-heading “With 2 days to go before opening, Yeosu Expo unprepared.”

I’ve given some nice reviews of the Expo site, but, to be fair, I’d better report some of the downside, too. The article goes on to state:

With the grand opening of the Yeosu Expo slated for Saturday, exhibition halls and other facilities are unfinished, littered with tools, electric cords and others, casting doubt on whether the international event’s long-awaited opening will take place on time.

“The expo will have its opening with the construction of some booths being incomplete,” said an official of the organizing committee. “We keep encouraging hosts of these to get everything done as quickly as possible.”

Even the main building of the three-month event, the Theme Pavilion, designed to visualize the expo’s “The Living Ocean and Coast” theme was not an exception.

Dozens of engineers were laboriously giving final touches to the building’s exterior and interior. The front yard of the building was littered with trash and sawdust from a giant saw that trimmed plywood to be used to decorate the building’s exterior.

The biggest headache for the expo’s organizing committee in this regard is the International Pavilion, which will present exhibition materials from 104 participating countries.

Of them, 47 countries have promised to build their own independent halls with their own budget, while the remaining 57 have contracted to run their exhibitions in a spacious pavilion built by the expo.

However, only 10 out of the 47 self-financing states — the United States, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, the Netherland, Pakistan, Israel, Russia, Oman and Thailand — are set to greet visitors, while the others still have a long way to go.

The article goes on to be very critical of one country in particular–Saudi Arabia. I just read an article in the Saudi Gazette, dated May 10th. It’s headline is “Kingdom participates in Yeosu Korea Expo 2012.” It goes on to state that:

The Kingdom, through the Saudi Ports Authority, will have six booths during the entire expo, that will highlight its knowledge on the proper use of the ocean and coast and underscore the need for cooperation in the marine sector.

Hold on, there. The Korea Times article also says that

The organizing committee has openly vented its frustration to Saudi Arabia since the oil-rich Middle East has done nothing yet reportedly due to a budget shortfall. Its pavilion is set to be built on 350 square meters, which is one of the largest exhibition halls. But the site is currently empty, and surrounded by painted steel panels.

A construction worker familiar with the Saudi Arabian pavilion was quoted as saying in a news report that, “Saudi Arabia planned to invest more than $3.5 million in the project. But its ruler didn’t approve the plan so all related work has been put on hold.”

The organizing committee has repeatedly asked the country to take proper action to deal with this, but it has remained silent.

“We have delivered our messages (to Saudi Arabia) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. But there has been no response yet,” an organizing committee official said. “If the country withdraws its participation, we will use the space for a restaurant or restroom.”

I left a comment on the Saudi Gazette about their article and quoted some of the Korea Times story, but I doubt that my comment will see the light of day.

So, are the Saudis reneging on their commitment? And how about all those other countries who are lagging behind. Are their pavilions and exhibitions going to be finished on time? I hardly think it’s the fault of the Expo Committee that some countries, especially S.A., have failed to live up to their obligations. We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess, but I think the Expo could use another restaurant or two.

The Korea article also bemoans the lack of accommodations in Yeosu for foreign visitors, but I’ve mentioned that before, and the committee says they’re working on the problem. Wait and see, eh? Good luck finding a decent room here, though. More later.