Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lotte World and Lotte Co., Ltd.

Lotte Co. is ubiquitous here in Korea. So much so that until I asked someone what it meant, I assumed it was another word for Seoul or Korea. On an average day, you will probably see a Lotte Mart, Lotte Castle, Lotte Card machine, and/or Lotte Department store. In a way, Lotte Co. is like Korea's own Tyrell Corporation. When I asked my interpreter what people think of Lotte, she looked at me, perplexed, and finally replied, "they don't!"

More about Lotte, from Wikipedia:
Lotte Co., Ltd. is a Japanese-South Korean Jaebeol (conglomerate) and one of the largest food and shopping groups in South Korea and Japan. Lotte was established in June 1948, in Tokyo, by Japanese-educated, Korean businessman Shin Kyuk-Ho (신격호) – also known as Takeo Shigemitsu (重光武雄 Shigemitsu Takeo?). After the normalization of Japan–Korea relations in 1965, Lotte expanded into Korea with the establishment of Lotte Confectionary Co., Ltd in Seoul on April 3, 1967. 
Lotte Group consists of over 60 business units employing 60,000 people engaged in such diverse industries as candy manufacturing, beverages, hotels, fast food, retail, financial services, heavy chemicals, electronics, IT, construction, publishing, and entertainment. Lotte's major operations are overseen by Shin Kyuk-Ho's family in South Korea and Japan, with additional businesses in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, USA, Russia, Philippines, Pakistan and Poland (Lotte bought Poland's largest candy company Wedel from Kraft Foods in June 2010). Today, Lotte is the largest candy / chewing gum manufacturer in both South Korea and Japan, and is one of South Korea's largest conglomerates.

One of the most exciting ventures of Lotte Co.--at least to me--is Lotte World, an American style amusement park located within Seoul, one half of which resides fully air conditioned under a glass Victorian-esque domed roof. Lotte World also features a "Folk Museum," which aims to create "a cultural space for natural enjoying and understanding of the history and traditional culture of Korea rather than learning," to quote the museum webpage. This museum is filled to the brim with miniatures, animatronic dioramas, and historical replicas.

A virtual tour of my day at Lotte World follows. Please click on images to see larger versions, and watch the videos for the full sound and movement experience!

At the subway stop, before the entry gates.

Also in the subway entrance.

Lotte World!

American style marching band and dancing girls! Watch video for the full experience.

Enigmatic signage.

From a painting in the trick art gallery. Also enigmatic.

What you experience as you wait in line for "The Pharaohs' Revenge"
 (which was one of the only rides I rode).

And now for the Folk Museum. Watch videos to experience the animatronics:

This one was animatronic as well. The Buddhist monks would prostrate themselves with a click.

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