▲ Governor Won Hee-ryong (center) poses with Genting and Landing representatives at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Myths and History Theme Park. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Feb 12 for the long-awaited Myths and History Theme Park, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo City.
The 2.5m m² project is expected to cost 1.8 billion US dollars and is being jointly developed by Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development and Genting Singapore PLC.
The park is a core project of Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) and will include a 20-ride theme park, a water park, retail and food complexes, over 2,000 premium hotel rooms, luxury villas, a spa, world-class conference facilities and approximately 1,500 luxury serviced apartments.
The initial remit of the park was to celebrate Jeju’s cultural heritage, and the expansion and distortion of this initial goal has been the source of controversy. In a bid to honor its original purpose, J District will be developed by JDC with inspiration from Jeju’s unique myths, history and culture in consultation with local communities.
Further public disquiet has centered on apparently secret plans by Genting to include an underground casino within the park, leading Jeju governor Won Hee-ryong to cancel the planned June groundbreaking ceremony last year.
▲ The blueprint for the joint Genting and Landing project which is to be completed by 2019. Image courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Project
"It is not that we changed our mind ... We wanted the teeth and transparency on its casino plans. Once it all became resolved, it was approved,” said Governor Won.
After a decade of delays over the project, JDC is bullish about its prospects for progressive opening from 2017 and completion by 2019, with construction to begin this summer if provincial support continues.
The park is billed as a major coup for Jeju tourism with the province’s target of 15 million tourists by 2018 dependent on its success.
Mostly catering to the Chinese, it will not only include a casino but theme parks and streets inspired by the myths and history of cultures including Persia, the Inca Empire and Egypt. Experts on each region’s myths, history and culture are giving input on the park’s plans.
From the outset the park has faced opposition from locals, many of whom are opposed to Jeju becoming a gambling hub and are concerned about how much of the park’s profits will be returned to the local community.
To assuage these fears Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, executive chairman of Genting Singapore, stressed the project will provide “employment opportunities for 6,500 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs."
In turn, Resort World Jeju CEO Jay Lee said the project will be “a game-changer for tourism development and employment in Jeju Island."
Established in 2006, Anhui Landing Holding Group Co.,Ltd, known as “Landing Group,” is a Hong Kong-based real estate developer with a market share value of HK$8.9 billion according to the South China Morning Post.
Its operations include mining, hotel, business and property services and it has led a number of core real estate developments under the “Better Home, Better Life” slogan in China.
Genting Singapore PLC is a Singapore-based casino and integrated resorts specialist with a market share value of HK$103.3 billion according to South China Morning Post. It has operations in Australia, the Bahamas, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom.
Its flagship is the 6 trillion won, 490,000 m2 “Resorts World Sentosa” in Singapore which attracts 16 million tourists annually after opening in 2010. It includes a Universal Studios theme park and the world’s largest oceanarium, and “Resorts World Jeju” is hoped to reflect it in more than just name.
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