‘Daejeon Shinsegae Department Store,’ which officially opened on August 27th, and it offers a variety of the usual stores buying and selling goods. Even though, there are other specialized facilities the most special being an aquarium. The place, which had been thoroughly promoted through SNS, was opened to people by pre-invitation, and the official opening was originally August 27th, the same day as the department store. However, it was postponed a couple of times in consideration of the COVID-19 situation. Therefore, the final official opening was on September 10th. A CBT reporter, who visited the facility located on the first basement floor of Shinsegae Art & Science in Daejeon, will introduce some of the prominent features as well as an interview with Oh Chae-eun, a member of the management team.
[ What’s the Solution of Open Up in the Midst of COVID-19? ]
The aquarium opened at a time when many facilities were closed. What is the Shinsegae Aquarium’s solutions for the current situation? According to Oh Chae-eun, an operation team manager, the first way is the distribution of personnel. There are guidelines for Daejeon depending on whether the second inoculation of the vaccine is completed, basically up to four people per team can be accompanied, and up to eight people can be accompanied on the premise that 14 days have passed since the second inoculation. Cameras are installed at the entrances and exits to manage the number of people entering and leaving the hall. Second, in order to implement distancing, patrons are each assigned a number tag to prevent them from forming a queue, and they are notified, via Kakao Talk, when they can purchase tickets. In addition, hand sanitizer and electronic thermometers are provided.
[ Collaborations Created Through Science and Media ]
Recently, there have been many art exhibitions using media, and one of the most special things about the Daejeon Expo Aquarium is that it is a space that combines a dynamic aquarium and futuristic media. It is not simply a painting or a variety of fish species, but a combination of media and various science and technologies. At the entrance, there was a short passage where jellyfish and whales were digitally depicted. This created a dreamy atmosphere on the walls. In addition, there was the sound of whales. It seemed to be an attempt to elicit fun by stimulating various senses. After passing through the passage, there were tiny fish in small and decorated tanks. One of the most fascinating things was that there were robot fish. If people just casually glanced in passing, they would perhaps not realize it, because the movements were so delicate and natural that it couldn’t be distinguished from ordinary fish. On the other side, digital hippos and turtles were moving on the wall, and it was perfect for use as a photo zone since the space right next to it was slightly empty. If you venture further inside, you will see digital plants pouring purple light into a large space, and over time, it turns into large swimming whales or fish of various colors. It was good for taking special photos because it was a space full of media technology. However, then suddenly the theme turned to thunder and lightning reminiscent of ‘garden of gods,’ which felt out of place in an aquarium.
[ The Specialness That Was Created Through ‘Greek and Roman Mythology’ ]
Poseidon, one of the three greatest gods in Greek and Roman mythology, along with Zeus and Hades. Medusa, who was loved by him, and Athens, who punished her for challenging him. Pegasus born from the blood of Medusa. As the ‘Daejeon Expo Aquarium’ was introduced under the name of ‘The Garden of the Gods,’ there were many things related to Greek and Roman mythology. Especially, the image of Poseidon, one of the most influential of the 12 gods in the legend mentioned above, was borrowed to show mystery and grandeur. Poseidon, located on the side of the space, was seen creating a wave with his trident, and there were statues such as Athena, Medusa and Pegasus. Each sculpture not only made a pleasant experience for people, but also allowed them to take special photos. The Poseidon Temple, a panoramic tank and long tunnel, had huge sharks and giant stingrays, and the carved statues of the faces of the gods located in the aquarium, gave the impression of a mythical temple in the sea. There were also stone statues of Psyche and Eros, one of the famous anecdotes in Greek and Roman mythology, and it was also a really good photo zone.
[ Gift of God, Cafe in the Aquarium ]
The cafe, operated under the name ‘Gift of God,’ can be found when passing through the tunnel in one of the temples of Poseidon described above. This was a place where people could enjoy beverages and cute macarons in various shapes such as whales and octopuses. This is definitely one of the must-see attractions on offer at the Aquarium.
[ Small scale, And Many Options for Children ]
This aquarium is quite small compared to other aquariums, but to be fair it is just one attraction of many in a very large department store. It only took about 30 minutes to finish the tour, but you won’t be disappointed upon completion. According to Miss Oh, the Expo Aquarium is more often visited by couples with children as it is located in the department store, and one of the things that distinguishes it from other aquariums is that the aquarium tanks are positioned quite low, allowing children to clearly see and fully enjoy a variety of fish species.
[ EXPO Aquarium’s Special Experiences ]
To begin with, there are some free experiences. The first is an underwater show performed every hour consisting of mythical stories that fit the Myth of Poseidon. According to Miss Oh, there is something special in the place. The Expo Aquarium has a strong goal of stressing the animals as little as possible, so rather than directly dealing with them, they conduct an underwater show focusing on the story as mentioned above. The second is so-called underwater time at 12:30 and 16:30 when the fish are fed, and the staff explain and take pictures of the fish. The third is a 5G attraction, which tells the story of escaping Medusa Temple while traveling on a marine probe. In addition, there is a small concert hall with a man who makes balloon animals on weekdays, and where magicians come on Fridays and Saturdays to show magic shows. At the time of the visit, the man who made balloon animals were there, and it was popular not only with children but also with adults, because he made pretty balloons with popular characters, including dogs.
[ Additional Options to Pay ]
There were also a few extra options which cost a little more. The first is the Aqua Transparent Boat. It costs ₩10,000 per person and is an experience of finding the correct answer through hints hidden in the tank. The second is “Sea Walker.” It costs ₩50,000 per person, and this is an activity that gives you the feeling of walking around the water by wearing a round tube on your head. Lastly, there is a diving experience. It costs ₩100,000 per person, and it is not just a diving experience, but a direct underwater performance which actually involves training time.
[ The Aquarium Continues to Develop ]
There were reviews that showed that the aquarium did not meet everyone’s expectations when it first opened. For example, there was a blog entry posted on September 19th which said that viewing the aquarium itself can be disappointing. It’s great for taking pictures with special concepts, but is it worth the price? According to Miss Oh the aquarium was also aware of this, re-emphasizing that it was a small part of a complex cultural space where you could see unusual performances in addition to the sea creatures. She cited some examples such as busking at the small concert hall, and underwater ballet performances. Other visitors complained that there are only a few fish species on display, but Miss Oh explained that they ordered many small fish species as well as a large variety of sea creatures from abroad, but these had been delayed due to COVID-19. Even so, there are now a large variety of fish species on display at the Aquarium. Therefore, she said, they were making special efforts to revisit the situation, and constantly improve it to ensure a satisfying visit.