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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Yeosu World Expo: The Ugly, the Bad and the Good

By Nicole Brewer (featured in the June issue of Busan Haps)

I attended the opening day of the Yeosu World Expo which is set to run through Aug. 12th.  Yeosu is a port city in the South Jeolla Province and its 317 islands. This year’s Expo theme is “The Living Ocean and Coast: Diversity of Resources and Sustainable Activities." The overall goal of the three month exhibition by countries from around the globe is to promote how humans can live in harmony with the ocean while also encouraging sustainable development and renewal energy.  

Nicole taking a photo opp. in the Oman pavilion. 

The Ugly- The expo was absolutely gorgeous with an astounding array of architectural designs, light exhibitions and dancers in vibrant, colorful costumes.  Nevertheless, I would be remiss to not mention that several of the pavilions were not finished on opening day.  I did not have time to investigate the corporate pavilions such as LG and Samsung but heard they too were incomplete. I did see a lot of wood planks and walled-off construction areas which was disappointing.  

The Bad- In order to be a successful international event with appeal to diverse backgrounds they need to have several languages available at the exhibitions.  There are 105 international pavilions to attract a varying crowd of participants.  However several pavilions, including the Korea’s, did not include English (the most widely used tourist language!) in the video displays.  

The Good- I was very impressed with the organization of the Expo.  We arrived around 8:30am with our tour group WinK (When in Korea). My suggestion to you is while you’re in Korea to not use this group, I was quite disappointed with their service, but I digress. After 9am you can reserve your 2 top pavilion choices.  

The "Big O" where fireworks and water displays are shown.

This helped smashingly in allowing us to detour long, never-ending lines unlike the Shanghai Expo of 2010.  When I attended the Shanghai Expo I was lucky to tour 4 pavilions in 6 hours.  Nevertheless, the crowds were much bigger in Shanghai but a reservation system could have indeed helped.

Even with some of the flaws I did have a lovely time and would recommend anyone living in Korea to check it out. I suggest visiting over the course of 2 days if you want to take a lot in.

Getting to and from Yeosu

The best route to Yeosu from Busan is by bus as there are no direct trains from here.  You can take either a bus from Sasang or Nopo terminals at a cost of 18,100 won. It takes 2 hours and 50 minutes. As reportedly widely in the media, poor planning by the Expo commission has, much like other international events in Korea, vastly under supplied the surrounding area with accommodations. Book in advance or consider staying at Gwangju, which is about 40 minutes away.

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