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South Korea's Lotte World closes over safety concerns

2007-01-10

By Robert Niles: Lotte World, Seoul, South Korea's largest theme park, announced this week that it has closed for the next four months in order to inspect and repair its facilities.

The park, which drew an estimated 6.2 million visitors in 2005, has suffered several highly publicized accidents in recent months. The incidents, coupled with poor maintenance, earned the park the nickname "Death World" among local scolds.

The Korea Herald provides more detail:

Last week, Dongyang Structural Engineers Group and the Korea Disasters Research Institute disclosed the results of their two-month examination of the amusement park, raising serious safety concerns.

According to the examination, severe problems were found in four of Lotte World's facilities including the roller coaster ride, the movie theater, the swimming pool and the bumper car arena.

More problems had been found in the aging ceilings of the indoor playground and the park's poorly managed electric equipment, which left exposed power lines near pedestrian areas.

Warning of the possible collapse of ceilings and electric shocks or fires, the report had advised Lotte World to immediately renew its aging facilities.

After the report was disclosed, the Songpa District Office ordered the amusement park to shut down six rides immediately.

Just for perspective, Lotte World's attendance in 2005 (last year for which numbers are available) put it ahead of Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld Orlando and Disney's California Adventure. So, for folks outside South Korea, it's not like we're talking about some small, obscure county-fair-type park here.

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