Shown above is the Legoland hotel in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province. It is scheduled to open on July 1. Photo courtesy of Legoland

Controversies still lingering over Legoland Korea Resort

When Britain’s Merlin Entertainments and Gangwon Province signed a contract to build Legoland Korea Resort in the province in 2011, the theme park was expected to open soon.

Unlike such hypes, the project has faced many troubles like a lack of interest from domestic investors. Worse, the construction was delayed as ancient artifacts were discovered on the site.

As soon as the theme park opened last month in time with the Children’s Day, however, the facilities appeared to fare well, drawing so many visitors. Plus, the Legoland Hotel is scheduled to open on July 1.

Legoland said on June 16 that the hotel would be located next to the entrance of the theme park on Jungdo Island, Merlin’s third Legoland in Asia after Japan and Malaysia.

The four-story hotel will accommodate visitors with 154 rooms. Legoland said that each room has a specific theme like pirates, Lego movies, and medieval kingdoms.

Children would love the facilities because each room will have a few questions to solve, which is necessary to obtain a passcode for a treasure chest with a welcome gift.

After its launch, Legoland attracted many visitors as some had to wait for an hour for admission.

“Legoland vows to target families with children aged two to 12, which are different from those of Everland or Lotte World,” Prof. Lee Eun-hee at Inha University said.

“Hence, it would be able to carve out a portion of the demand for theme-park experiences.”

Barriers ahead

But the future of Legoland resort is not the bed of rose as there still are some barriers.

Topping other things off, civic groups are still protesting against the opening, claiming Legoland failed to keep its promise of protecting ancient artifacts while developing the area.

They filed a complaint with the police last month, contending that the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) did not take proper measures.

The civic groups also argue that the local governments had violated the law in approving the Legoland project.

The CHA and local governments counter that such claims are groundless.

Kim Jin-tae, the Governor-elect of Gangwon Province, is ready to investigate all the controversies about the Legoland project. He will take office on July 1 when the Logoland hotel is set to open.

Kim is from the governing People Power Korea, while the Legoland project was endorsed and carried out during the previous regional governments headed by opposition party members.

“Basically, I think there were some problems in going ahead with the Legoland project. Hence, I had sided with the civic groups, which want to delve into the case,” Kim said in a recent radio interview.

“There were four groundbreaking ceremonies for Legoland. We should check if somebody should take administrative responsibility for that.”

Against this backdrop, it remains to be seen whether such opposition would cause setbacks for Legoland resort and the hotel, which will open early next month.

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.