Universal Studios parks itself in Korea


USKOR & Associates has nabbed exclusive rights to develop a Universal Studios theme park in Korea.

A site-selection review has been launched, with plans targeting a resort-style theme park development comparable in size and scope to Uni's biggest domestic parks, officials said.

"It has been my longtime dream to establish a Universal Studios theme park resort in Korea," USKOR vice chairman Simon Hwang said. "And the (exclusive option agreement) is an important step toward the fulfillment of that dream."

Universal Parks & Resorts chairman and CEO Thomas Williams said the Korea market boasts several attractive demographics, including a well-heeled consumer public and high entertainment industry growth.

"Korea has ideal conditions for a global theme park like Universal Studios," Williams said.

USKOR will be responsible for arranging full financing for the project as well as obtain governmental and public support, officials said. POSCO E&C has inked a letter of intent to join a USKOR-led consortium as the rightsholder's first strategic partner.

USKOR president Frank Stanek is 4a 0-year veteran of entertainment and theme parks, including various roles in the development of such resorts as Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan.

"In Korea, all the global theme park development projects announced so far have revolved around selection of a specific site before creation of a consensus with citizens, often resulting in the derailment of such projects," Stanek said.

USKORs "open-dialogue-based development approach" will better serve the project by forming investor-group agreement on site selection and other issues, officials said.

NBC Universal wholly owns Universal Studios Hollywood and holds a "significant" interest in Universal Orlando. NBC Uni also maintains licensing agreements for Universal Studios Japan in Osaka and Universal Mediterranean near Barcelona.

License agreements also have been announced for Universal Studios Dubailand in Dubai and Universal Studios Singapore.