World's Biggest Floating Island Unveiled in South Korea

Thousands of onlookers turned out in Seoul, South Korea on Saturday for the unveiling of the world's largest artificial 'floating island'.

Situated on Seoul's Han River, the island houses a cultural center and is the latest addition to the city's multi-billion dollar makeover.

[Oh Se-hoon, Mayor of Seoul]:

"We're progressing [with] works to make an icon symbolising the city by adding cultural and arty functions to representative natural landscapes such as Han River or Namsan. This 'floating island' is precisely [such a] representative and symbolic place."

Only part of the nearly 220 thousand square-foot development was opened on Saturday. The rest is scheduled for completion in September. The project is privately funded at a cost of about 88 million US dollars.

A Seoul Metropolitan Government official in charge of the Han River project said about 59 million people visited the river last year. He expects the island will make it an even more attractive place for visitors.

[Liu Kyoung-gee, Assistant Mayor, Seoul Metropolitan Government]:

"People will visit this 'floating island' for sure when they come to Han River. They can enjoy Han River's beautiful scenery here and this island will provide a place to hold various meetings and great performances."

Liu said the three-part island can accommodate 6,200 people.

The biggest of the three islets is three stories high and includes a 700-seat convention hall.

The other two islets will be used for cultural and aquatic events, including yachting.

Many Seoul citizens welcome the new floating island.

[Ahn Hyo-jin, Seoul Resident]:

"I hadn't come to Han River often because there was nothing much to do. I'm glad that now it has a place where I can have some tea and talks with my friends near the river after school."

Twenty-eight mooring chains secure the island, kept afloat by a giant buoy. This ensures it stays in position and afloat in case of a flood or bad weather.

Over the past decade, Seoul has morphed from a drab, concrete jungle into a modern Asian super-city.