A new report has suggested the the project to open a Universal Studios theme park in Korea is in danger of collapsing, with the developers struggling to secure land to house the park.
The Korea Times reports that the Lotte Group is having problems procuring the land in Hwaseong, south of Seoul. This puts the timescales for the project in serious doubt, with construction work on Universal Studios Korea having originally been scheduled to start in 2011, with a planned opening date in early 2014.
Despite the problems, Universal Parks & Resorts President Thomas Williams visited Korea earlier this week to meet with Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin and Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo. The company has partnered with Lotte Group and steelmaker POSCO on the $2.7 billion project.
The current owner, the state-owned Korea Water Resources Corp. (K-Water), has so far refused to sell the land to Lotte Group. K-Water claims that the developers have failed to release finalized blueprints for the project, and have not yet been designated as a foreign-invested entity. Both are conditions for the sale of the land.
According to the Korea Times Report, at least 10 percent of the consortium must be funded from outside Korea in order to qualify as a foreign-invested entity. This implies that Universal Parks & Resorts is yet to commit its own funds to the Universal Studios Korea project.
As well as a new Universal Studios theme park, the resort is set to include a water park, a CityWalk shopping and dining district, hotels, apartments and a golf course. The South Korean government has agreed to extend road and rail infrastructure to support the resort, with government officials claiming the overall construction effort could create over 40,000 jobs.
If built, Universal Studios Korea will be Universal's third park in Asia (after Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore). The company has aggressively pursued expansion outside of its core U.S. market over the last few years, although a project to open a park in Dubai by 2012 has also stalled during the last two years.