Gangwon Province’s Legoland theme park plan beset by flaws and complications

Posted on : 2017-03-29 17:03 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Government has invested millions in plan to build “East Asia’s first Legoland;” governor says he’ll be impeached if it doesn’t work out
The construction of a bridge leading into the Legoland theme park on Chuncheon’s Jung Island is scheduled to finish around October of this year
The construction of a bridge leading into the Legoland theme park on Chuncheon’s Jung Island is scheduled to finish around October of this year

A Gangwon Province project to build a Legoland theme park on Chuncheon’s Jung Island is facing multiple threats.

“LL Development and the Doosan Consortium, which are carrying out the Legoland project, are currently in final negotiations on the contract,” the province reported on Mar. 28. While the original plan was to finish the contract by February and start construction this month, now both the contract and the construction are looking uncertain.

Gangwon Province has repeatedly revised its projected Legoland completion date, amending it from late 2015 to late 2017 and a partial opening in the first half of 2018. The project’s failure to gain momentum is calling into question the boast of building “East Asia‘s first Legoland,” made at the time the project was first courted in Sep. 2011. Legoland Japan, which was launched later than the Chuncheon project, is scheduled to open on Apr. 1 in Nagoya. China plans to build its own Legoland in Shanghai by around 2022.

Gangwon Province is now finding itself under heavy fire. Having invested in kind in a 9.76 billion won (US$8.8 million) project site, the province is participating in the project with LL Development as its majority shareholder, with a 44% share. Replying at a Q&A session during an ad hoc meeting on Mar. 16, Gangwon Provincial Council deputy chairman Kim Seong-geun voiced fears about the project, saying the “chances of success with the Legoland construction project, which has dragged on for six years now, are just 1%.”

Council member Choi Seong-hyeon noted that “losses to Gangwon Province are already more than 100 billion won (US$89.8 million), while the cost burden from contract annulment is expected to be over 200 billion won (US$179.6 million).”

“Shouldn’t the governor be impeached if this doesn’t happen?” Choi asked.

In response, Gangwon Province Gov. Choi Moon-soon said he would “stake my position on resolving this.”

“You can impeach me if it doesn’t work out,” he added.

But the project‘s delay has been causing side effects all around. The building of a bridge leading into the Legoland finishes around October of this year, with 85.8 billion won (US$77.1 million) in government and other investment. The project’s completion was timed to meet the earlier promised opening date in late 2017. The result will be a Legoland bridge without the Legoland.

Another project to build a Hello Kitty Island in the area around Lake Uiam near Legoland - for which the province signed a business agreement in Nov. 2015 with the city of Chuncheon and Jacob C&E - has already been scrapped.

“Gangwon Province is not giving up on the Legoland project, and Britain‘s Merlin Entertainments, which is Legoland’s overseas investment company, is firmly committed to the Chuncheon Legoland,” said a source in the Gangwon Provincial Office’s Legoland support division.

“Whatever happens, construction will begin,” the source added. “People just need to wait a bit longer and see.”

By Park Soo-hyuk, Gangwon correspondent

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