Yes, at long last, the Expo site has reopened for the general public. I was just down there today, along with a few thousand other folks, and I was very happy to walk around the grounds. It brought back a lot of fond memories of the Expo’s three-month run last summer.
I’d guess that only about half the area is open, and there are no facilities, like restaurants or coffee shops, open yet. I hope, and expect, that will change. The area around the Big-O was closed off to the public, and about a dozen or so workers were laboring over the fountains in front of the Big-O. One of the large banners at the main entrance seems to indicate that the area will be free from April 20th to May 10th. On May 11th, the Big-O will also open again, and there will, maybe, be an admission fee. I don’t know how much that’ll be or whether there will even be an admission charge (my Korean is quite awful).
Today, though, the Expo Digital Gallery was up and running, the various fountains were entertaining kids of all ages, and the Sky Tower was operating (2,000 won — about two bucks — for a trip up the elevator to the observation deck).
It was a beautiful day made even better by the limited opening. I’m really looking forward to what the summer will bring to the area. More later.
What to do with the Expo site? An article from the JoongAng Daily entitled “Yeosu businesses fight to stay afloat months after the Expo” explores the issue. The article notes that the Yeosu city government wants to open the site by April 20th, but it doesn’t indicate what the area will be used for.
The worrying thing, as the article points out, is that the Yeosu Expo site will become an albatross around Yeosu’s neck, much as the Daejeon Expo site of 1993 has become for that city. To forestall the economic liability that the Expo site could become, the city government is trying to get private investors to buy the area, while local folks want the government to run the facility. However, the local government seems to refuse that idea:
The government’s firm stance on the plan comes from its bitter experience in dealing with the Daejeon Expo complex. What was once used as an amusement park and science-related tour facility after hosting the 1993 World Expo could not avoid mounting debts. It was eventually ordered by the Ministry of Safety and Public Administration to go into liquidation in 2008.
Daejeon, home to the 1993 World Expo, still suffers financial strain due to its failure to effectively manage the facilities that were built for the event.
Let’s hope that all parties involved can get this worked out; it’s a beautiful site on the harbor which has a lot of potential. But, of course, it seems that none of the entities that planned for the Expo looked this far into the post-Expo future.
In an article on the Huffington Post, “The Future of Yesterday: Photographs of Architectural Remains at World’s Fairs,” artist Ives Maes is quoted: “Everyone works in a frenzy to complete structures for a fair, and then they walk away when it’s over. We need to remember these buildings and these moments in time.” Hopefully, this doesn’t mean the demise of the Yeosu Expo site, a sad fate that the area doesn’t deserve.
I took a walk around the Expo site last Sunday, and, basically, nothing has changed since the last time I was down there. No more demolition has occurred, and it looks like everything that’s remaining will stay there. The only noticeable difference is that all the rubbish, debris, steel beams and whatnot has been removed and the site looks nice and neat and tidy, as if it were ready to open.
The only rumor I’ve heard lately is that the Big O is going to be revamped, due to some damage that it took from one of the typhoons that swept through here last August and September. Also, due to its disuse, the salt water has clogged up the plumbing system, so that’s going to be repaired also. Evidently, then, the Big O is going to be used, but to what extent I haven’t heard.
As I stated before, the Aquarium is open and seems to be attracting a good number of visitors. Hopefully, the rest of the site will open by this summer. I’ll try to round up some more “rumors” and keep you posted. More later.
One of the more colorful pavilions at the Expo was the Romania Pavilion, and it was colorful in more ways than one, changing shades every few minutes. It seemed to occupy a smaller space than other major pavilions, but it was quite beautiful. However, it was larger than at first glance, taking up two floors. It also harbored a small restaurant, which, unfortunately, I never tried. In the early days of the Expo, this was quite a nice area in which to relax at the half dozen or so white, plastic tables with their chairs outside the restaurant. No one from the restaurant or pavilion hassled you if you didn’t order anything, and just sitting there and people watching was quite pleasant. Later, of course, with the huge numbers of people, hanging out there, if you could get a seat at all, was more an exercise in crowd watching; you couldn’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak.
So, here are a few shots of the Romanian Pavilion, chameleon-like, but nice.
Romania Pavilion in Pink and Blue
Romania Pavilion in Green
Romania Pavilion in Purple
Romania Pavilion in Violet
Romania Pavilion in Blue
Romania Pavilion in Brown
Upstairs at the Romania Pavilion
We had some nice weather the last few days, pale reminders of this past summer, but it’s turning cold and windy again, so I thought I’d start posting some photos of the Expo that I’ve got laying around on my computer. Hopefully, these shots will help recapture the fun that was the Expo and help me to feel the summer heat again, if only in my mind. Yeah, I know that it’s quite a while after the fact, but perhaps you’ll enjoy them anyway.
First up are some shots of a few of the exteriors of various country pavilions. I won’t comment on these, since the countries are evident. These were all taken early on in the Expo, so there aren’t any huge lines of people waiting to enter the pavilions. Later on I’ll post some interior shots and some cultural performances. I was going to go to the Expo site today to take some new photos of the area, but the weather started becoming more winter-like sooner that the forecast predicted. I might still go down there, but then again I might just stay in my warm cave. More later.
United Arab Emirates
I took a trip to the Expo site on Sunday to see what had been dismantled since my last visit 3-4 weeks ago. There really hasn’t been too much taken down since then. All of the corporate pavilions have disappeared, with no sign that they had ever been there. However, none of the remaining buildings have been touched. The only other structure being removed is the Organizing Committee Office building, across the street from the Expo, near the Expo Town Gate.
So, the only major structures remaining at the site are the very large International Pavilion, the Korea Pavilion, the Theme Pavilion, the Sky Tower and the Big O. I’d make a good guess that the Sky Tower and the Big-O won’t be taken down. The Sky Tower will be a good observation platform for whatever becomes of the site, but I’ve heard from a reliable source that the Big-O’s special water effects won’t be available. It was underestimated how high the costs would be to keep the effects functioning, because they have to be run every day, due to the salt water clogging the system if it’s not used. I suppose the lighting effects would be easy and cheap enough to use, but without the water, it just won’t be the same.
Those lighting effects are located on the Theme Pavilion, which I also have heard won’t be taken down. Most of it wasn’t designed as a temporary structure, since a large mass of it is concrete. If the lighting is used for the Big-O, the system will probably have to stay where it’s at right now.
Here’s a shot of the Big O with the Theme Pavilion behind it. Do you see those 6 small blue spots on the Theme Pavilion? (You might have to click on the photo to enlarge it.) Those are the projectors used to light up the Big O.
The Big O and the Theme Pavilion
The International Pavilion contains the Expo Digital Gallery (EDG), which probably won’t be dismantled. The vast main concourse area, where the EDG is located, has been used successfully as a concert area since the close of the Expo, so I’m gonna guess the Pavilion, at least most of it, will remain.
Main Hall at the International Pavilion
I’ve also read in one of the English-written Korean newspapers that the Organizing Committee stated that the Korean Pavilion won’t be taken down. Here’s a night view of part of that structure.
Here are a few more shots from last Sunday. First, a couple of views of the corporate pavilions area. The first one looks down the Ocean Plaza walkway and the other was taken from the far end of the Expo site, near the MVL Hotel. If you look at my previous post, you can see what the view down the Ocean Plaza looked like several weeks ago.
Looking Down the Ocean Plaza
Sky Tower and Corporate Sponsor Area 2
If you enlarge the next photo and look to the far right of it, you can see what the corporate pavilion area looked like back in August.
Expo Site on August 28, 2012
And another shot of the corporate area. The white building on the right is the Cruise Ship Terminal. I assume that cruise ship visits are probably part of the discussion about what to do with the area.
Sky Tower and Corporate Sponsor Area
And here’s the area from above the railway station now, and when it was under construction.
Corporate Sponsor Area From Above the Train Station
Corporate Pavilion and Energy Park Construction, Yeosu 2012 Expo, Jan 28, 2012
Here’s the skeleton of the Organizing Committee Building now, and the building with the “Spyglass Lady” right after it was constructed.
Skeleton of Organizing Committee Building
Steel beams from the Local Governments Pavilion are stacked up near the aquarium. The aquarium was again busy this past Sunday, which is hopefully a good sign that the area has a bright future.
Steel Beams Near Aquarium
One of my former English students, a professor at the university, who is on the advisory committee that is deciding what to do with the site, told me that no decision has been made yet on the future use of the area. Shopping area? Tourist destination? Ocean theme park? High-end resort? No one seems to know, yet, but I’ll keep my eyes and ears open, and as soon as a decision is made, I’ll post about it here. More later.
(The MVL Hotel, self-described as a “seven-star” resort, would be a good option for high-end tourists staying in the area.)
Boats and MVL Hotel
Well, not the post-modern kind of deconstruction. Unconstruction? Demolish might be too harsh, since the pavilions and other buildings are being taken apart brick by brick and beam by beam. It’s a bit sad to see the area going down, but at least it appears that many of the resources put into the construction are, hopefully, going to be recycled. I last visited the area several weeks ago and here are a few photos of the site.
Hauling away the debris. There’s rubble scattered everywhere.
Hauling Away the Debris
Looking through the fence toward the aquarium at some of the debris.
Looking Through the Fence
Near the same area, but past the aquarium, are the remains of the Local Governments Pavilion. There are lots of beams being stacked up, so I assume they’re going to be recycled for other uses.
The Remains of the Local Governments Pavilion
Here’s a shot looking down the Ocean Plaza Walkway toward the far end of the site at the corporate pavilions area. Most of them have been torn down by now.
Corporate Pavilions Area
Here’s a closer look at the Samsung Pavilion going down.
And the International Organizations and NGO Pavilion skeleton.
International Organizations Pavilion
Down comes the Kids’ Fun Lab, near the railway terminal entrance.
Kids' Fun Lab
Finally, for now, the Climate and Environment Pavilion, mostly gone.
The Climate and Environmental Pavilion
I plan on going down to the area this coming weekend, so I’m sure there will be more drastic changes to shoot. I’ll put the photos up here, of course.
No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I’m still here, but just not posting, obviously. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Maybe I’m just getting bored with blogging, maybe I’m just generally bored. Call it the post-Expo letdown.
Speaking of which (the Expo), workers are tearing down many of the buildings. The traditional stage, the Local Governments Pavilion, and the Marine Life and Technology Pavilion are no more, and most of the corporate pavilions have come down. There’s rubble, steel beams and bricks everywhere–kind of depressing, really. Still, lots of people visit the area, especially the Aquarium, which is open to the public and always seems to attract a fair amount of people, at least on those weekend days that I’ve been down to the area. Since I documented the construction of the Expo and the days of the Expo itself, I may as well document its deconstruction. I’ll get some photos up, I hesitate to say, soon.
Despite last Saturday being rainy, we’re still getting some superb fall weather, with bright, sunny days and moderate temperatures. Chilly at night, but not bad. The leaves are starting to change colors and fall to the ground, and it’s really one of the best times of the year in Yeosu. Unfortunately, my least favorite season, winter, is not far away.
As most people know, the Yankees got swept out of the playoffs and World Series by Detroit, and now Detroit is on the verge of getting swept away by the Giants. My mother and one of my brothers are Tiger fans, but I’ll resist any Detroit put-downs (at least, on this blog).
Maybe it’s a good thing the Yanks didn’t go into the Series, in light of the huge storm, Sandy, threatening a shut down of NYC. Good luck to all the folks on the East Coast in the next few days.
Happy Halloween, everyone. I hope to get some more timely posting done soon, so bear with me, please. More later.
There were any number of great cultural performances during the Yeosu Expo 2012, including the high-energy African and traditional Korean percussion groups. Probably the most beautiful and sublime performance I watched, however, was the Turkish Dance performance, the famous “Whirling Dervishes” of the Mevlevi Order of the Sufi sect of Islam.
From the Whirling Dervishes website is this description of the dance:
In the symbolism of the Sema ritual, the semazen’s camel’s hair hat (sikke) represents the tombstone of the ego; his wide, white skirt represents the ego’s shroud. By removing his black cloak, he is spiritually reborn to the truth. At the beginning of the Sema, by holding his arms crosswise, the semazen appears to represent the number one, thus testifying to God’s unity. While whirling, his arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God’s beneficence; his left hand, upon which his eyes are fastened, is turned toward the earth. The semazen conveys God’s spiritual gift to those who are witnessing the Sema. Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love. The human being has been created with love in order to love. Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi says, “All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!”
There’s a lot more information on that site about the dance and on Wikipedia about the Mevlevi Order. As you can see in the first photo, this particular group is the Konya Turkish Tasawwuf Music Ensemble, whose website is here. Of course, if you do a search, you’ll find much more information about this beautiful dance.
Following are a caravan’s worth of photos; I loved this performance so much that I just have to post all of these (18) shots. After the photos is a short (about one minute) video that I took of the dance. Enjoy!
At the Start of the Dance
The Start of the Dance
The Start of the Dance
Dancer and Musicians
The Dancers and the Sheikh
There’s been a lot of talk about what will happen to the Expo site, now that the Expo itself has finished. I’ve heard that it will be transformed into an ocean-oriented tourist site, that shopping malls will be installed and that international restaurants will pop up (as I wrote in a previous post). Before and during the Expo, I was told by various “people in the know” that most of the buildings at the site would be torn down, except for the aquarium and a few other “permanent” structures. So far, nothing has been destroyed, as you can see from the picture below that I took when I was at the site on August 28th. The insides of the pavilions, especially the individual international pavilions, are being gutted, but everything else is mainly untouched.
Expo Site on August 28, 2012
While I was bicycling past the area a few weekends ago, I noticed that the fountain in front of the Big O was being set off, probably, I thought, to keep the salt water from encrusting and plugging up the underwater mechanisms that enable the fountain to work. One of my colleagues told me that she ran into one of the American technicians who work on the fountain, and he said that the Big O and the fountain would reopen to the public in October. That’s great news! It would be a shame to let the whole area go to waste and ruin, especially in light of the fact that one of the themes of the Expo was sustainability. Hopefully, the site will see a lot of use in the future. I’ll take another ride down there this coming weekend to see if any recent major changes have occurred, and I’ll try to stay on top of any rumors and official news about the ultimate fate of the site.
By the way, the aftermath of Typhoon Tembin was pretty much a no-show here in Yeosu. We had a bit more than in inch of rain (26 mm) and some fairly brisk winds, but no damage that I heard of. Some parts of Korea to the south (Jeju Island) and the west of us got quite a bit of rain, up to 12 inches on Jeju. Hopefully, that’s the end of typhoon season in Korea. More later.