(LEAD) Yeosu Expo gala heralds start of 3-month fairYEOSU, South Korea, May 11 (Yonhap) -- An extravagant gala was held in the southern port city of Yeosu on the eve of a world exposition Friday with dignitaries present, heralding the start of the three-month fair.
The pre-opening events of the 2012 Yeosu Expo, choreographed to reflect the exposition's "Living Ocean and Coast" theme, took place on the main stage of the 250,000 square-meter fair site in the port city, about 455 kilometers south of Seoul.
The four-stage ceremony began with a pipe organ that mimicked the fog horn on a ship setting sail, followed by an orchestra concert and traditional music and dancing performances.
The cultural performance took place against the backdrop as a clipper ship, yachts and traditional Korean wooden boats floated offshore near the exposition venue.
The opening was followed by more singing and dancing culminating in live performances by K-Pop groups such as 2NE1 and Big Bang, who sang and danced for the crowd.
Expo organizers, in addition, reflected holograms off a water screen as fireworks displays and laser beams lit up the night sky to entertain the 2,400 invited guests.
Those in attendance included South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Vicente Loscertales, secretary-general of the Paris-based Bureau of International Exhibitions (BIE) that overseas all international expositions. Lawmakers, CEOs of companies participating in the exposition and other organizers also attended the gala performance.
"The south coast's environment itself is beautiful and many places here are not well-known even (among South Koreans)," Lee said during an official dinner held before the show. "I expect the southern coastal region to become the most famous tourist attraction in the world through the Expo."
He also noted that unlike most Expos in the past, the fair is taking place in a relatively small city with a population of 300,000.
"It is the first time an Expo is being held (under the theme of) water, seas and coasts, which are in harmony with mankind," he added.
Expo organizers said the fair is expected to attract a large number of visitors from all over the world and help highlight the importance of the sea and coastal environment.
The fair, scheduled to run through Aug. 12, has attracted participation from 104 countries and 10 international organizations. It is the first BIE approved exposition hosted by South Korea since the 1993 Daejeon Expo.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (2nd from R, front) and first lady Kim Yoon-ok (3rd from R, front) clap while watching a show at the Yeosu Expo on May 11, 2012. (Yonhap)