U.K.-based Merlin Entertainments, the operator of Legoland theme parks, has agreed to resume a suspended project to build what would be the world`s largest Lego-themed amusement park in South Korea`s eastern lake city of Chuncheon, raising hopes that the project will finally get off the ground after seven years of delays and financial setbacks.
On Monday, Merlin signed an agreement with Gangwon Province, which governs Chuncheon, and LL Development, a special-purpose corporation for Legoland Korea, to inject more than 300 billion won ($280.3 million), including 150 billion won for the construction of the park and ancillary facilities on a lake island within Chuncheon, 75 kilometers east of Seoul.
The Korean site will be twice the size of the Legoland in Nagoya, Japan and include a hotel, water park, shopping malls and some 40 Lego attractions. The project is expected to be completed by 2020, a year and a half later than the original schedule.
The project, initiated in September 2011, has been floundering for years. Construction came to a halt after massive prehistoric ruins were discovered on the site. Merlin, faced with financing issues, eventually pulled back from its plan to fund the construction.
But the project appears to be back on track as Merlin has pledged its financial backing and STX Construction filed an official plan to start construction. Analysts say the recent thaw in tensions on the Korean Peninsula may also have given Merlin renewed confidence to open the park in South Korea.
Merlin opened the first Legoland in Billund, Denmark in 1968. It currently operates parks in seven countries, including Germany, Malaysia, and the United States.
By Lee Sang-heon and Kim Hyo-jin
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