Shinsegae and CJ are starting to build theme parks. As the companies start investing in the "experience economy," theme parks are expected to take place throughout the country after 2020.
According to industry sources on Aug. 1, E-Mart subsidiary Shinsegae Property signed an MOU to invest in an international theme park in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on July 30. Shinsegae Property plans to attract customers through experience-type facilities as the growth of offline stores is dampened due to aging, low birth rates and online shopping.
Chung Yong-jin, vice chairman of Shinsegae Group, is known to have stressed, "The competition targets for department stores and shopping malls are baseball stadiums and theme parks."
Shinsegae Property will build rides, water parks, dinosaur expeditions and toy countries at the Hwaseong International Theme Park. It will also create a hotel with 1,000 rooms, a shopping mall, a K-pop concert hall and a golf course.
CJ Group also plans to build a content-oriented theme park called "Live City" on the Korean Wave World land in Ilsan, Goyang. Live City is expected to attract domestic and foreign tourists to its 20,000-seat concert hall and to continue popularity of its contents.
Previously, CJ ENM almost preserved the "Reply 1988" set built in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, as a theme park, but it was removed from the local government and left a sense of regret.
On the other hand, foreign contents have decided to build a new theme park based on their continued popularity through Universal Studio and Disney World. Harry Potter is a content enjoyed by 20 to 30 generations around the world, but it is also popular among teenagers thanks to the Universal Studios theme hall. The movie "Waterworld" has been a box office failure, but it is considered one of the most popular content at Universal Studios.
However, whether the theme park will be profitable remains a task to be solved. In fact, the profitability of Everland and Lotte World Adventure, the country's No. 1 and No. 2 theme parks, is also reportedly not high.
According to the Leisure Industry Research Institute, the annual number of visitors to Everland has steadily declined over the past three years from 8.39 million to 7.74 million and 6.14 million. During the same period, Lotte World also recorded a decline from 7.91 million to 6.48 million and 5.72 million.
Japan recently launched an expansion of Tokyo Disneyland, and will open Super Nintendo World in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In Beijing, China, Asia's largest Universal Studio is set to open in 2021.
Meanwhile, Seo Cheon-beom, head of the Leisure Industry Research Institute, said, "Since there are large-scale theme parks in China and Japan, there is a high possibility of sharing local tourists if they fail to recruit many foreign tourists."