May 11, saw the launch of something truly remarkable in Korea – the 2012 World Expo held in the seaport city of Yeosu. The event has been met with mixed reviews regarding its price, lack of hotel facilities, and insufficient transportation. But is the criticism valid?
Many like to point out that there are insufficient hotels to house guests. While in Yeosu there may be only a few highly rated hotels, in nearby Suncheon tourist hotels and several other accommodations are available to accommodate guests wishing to stay multiple days.
Some say commuting from Seoul or Busan is too much ask visitors, but considering it takes an hour to get from Incheon International Airport to Seoul Station, that criticism also falls flat, for I remember traveling two hours just to go to Disneyland when growing up in California. Commuting is definitely an option, since one can have a superb Expo experience in a single day.
But what about the Expo itself? Is it worth the trip?
Yeosu Expo 2012 Facilities
The facilities are amazing with fantastic digital displays igniting the imagination. While the theme, The Living Ocean and Coast, may not resonate with many, it does set the stage for a discussion regarding how everyone is interrelated and dependent on the waters fostering life. That is after all, the point of an Expo – to get people talking and thinning about the future.
But the Expo is more than just exhibits. Fundamentally, it’s about people and nothing demonstrates that more than the roaming cultural performances taking place throughout the day across the Expo grounds.
My biggest criticism about the Expo comes from insufficient foreign language support. The website, staff, and smaller venues all present information in multiple languages; however, in the major themed locations, which is where you want visitors to go, support is either lacking, or on a sub-par level. This was especially evident during the Theme Pavilion’s presentation. Visitors will have an easier time ordering a treat from a snack stand than comprehending the performance – and I think that’s a shame and short-sighted. It’s probably why, I had more fun talking to staff members at the individual country pavilions than at the themed ones – with one exception.
The Big O
The Big O is aptly named, because that’s the shape your mouth makes as your jaw drops from watching this massive fountain. While daytime performances of the Korean classic Arirang are stirring, it’s the nightly show where the defining feature of the Expo literally comes alive. To see this show in person is worth the trip alone.
The Expo runs through August 12th, but the question still remains, “Is it worth attending?” Aside from the Big O, the theme pavilions themselves aren’t enough of a draw. But if you enjoy being inspired and mingling with people from around the globe, then traveling to Yeosu is a worthy investment for your mind and soul. Those visiting from other countries can then easily explore the rest of the peninsula, making Korea the site of an awesome holiday.
A Negative Nancy will always find the flaws in a major event, but at its core, the Expo strives to show the world how we can do better and for the majority of those attending the event, that’s why they chose to go… and I agree.
DISCLAIMER: This trip to the Yeosu Expo 2012 was paid for by KOCIS and the 2012 Yeosu Expo Organizing Committee.