Government support signals green light for South Korean theme park plan
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Government support signals green light for South Korean theme park plan

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We will introduce high-tech technologies such as Smart City, self-driving, AI and VR all over the complex

The long-proposed US$3.8bn (€3.4bn, £2.9bn) theme park at Hwaseong, 45km (30mi) from South Korea's capital Seoul, looks set to definitely go ahead, after the country's finance minister pledged the government's support.

Construction on the 4.2sq km (1.6sq mi) site in Gyeonggi Province is due to begin in 2021, with an initial opening of 2026 and full opening in 2031. To be built by Shinsegae Property Consortium, the park will feature five hotels, an 18-hole golf course and three shopping malls.

Reports suggest that huge Korean pop music (K-pop) and natural history areas will act as the centrepieces of the theme park. K-pop has gained massive traction around the world in recent years.

The park – which will be slightly bigger than New York's Central Park – will be Asia's second-largest theme park after Disneyland in Shanghai.

Finance minister Hong Nam-ki said the project could directly employ 15,000 people and would potentially generate around W70.6tn (US$58bn, €52.4bn, £44.6bn) for South Korea's economy. It's also reported that the theme park could be connected to Yeouido – South Korea's financial hub – by rail before 2026, cutting travel times to about 40 minutes.

Speaking in the Korea IT Times last month, Shinsegae Group vice-chair, Chung Yong-jin, said the intention was to create a theme park unlike anything else in the world.

"We will not simply develop a theme park, but make it a project that can create synergy effects by combining world-class accommodation, resorts, commercial facilities, golf course and residential complexes," he said.

"We will introduce high-tech technologies such as Smart City, self-driving, AI and VR all over the complex to become a future multi-tourism cluster where fourth industrial technologies are practically implemented."

Previous attempts to kickstart the project going back to 2007, including one to create a Universal Studio park, have fallen by the wayside. Shinsegae Property was selected as preferred bidder in February 2019.

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The long-proposed US$3.8bn (€3.4bn, £2.9bn) theme park at Hwaseong, 45km (30mi) from South Korea's capital Seoul, looks set to definitely go ahead, after the country's finance minister pledged the government's support.
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