In 1998, the Kyongju World Culture Expo Committee, with strong support from various Korean government and trade asssociations, set about to present a cultural fair that would showcase the achievements of the past millennium of the Silla Dynasty and look forward to the forthcoming millennium. The triple theme for the expo was"'Inheritance, Harmony, and Creation," and was expressed by Lee Eui-Geun (chairman/governor of the expo organizing committee) as follows: "The 98 Kyongju World Culture Expo will contribute enormously to the new renaissance of world culture through a new integration of cultural diversity. We expect that this expo will make Korean culture known to a global community; while providing an impetus to assimilate world culture into our own. Furthermore, we wish to see the emergence of a genuine cultural center, which will contribute to the enrichment and diversity of world culture in other places as well." He also stated, "This is not only a hopeful message for a new renaissance, but a flag signaling the heightened encounters of the many cultures and greater respect and understanding among the people of the world."
Kyongju is often referred to as the "Temple City of Korea" and also is the cultural center of the 1,000-year-old Silla Dynasty and the locale for fusion of many Eurasian continental influences. The expo included a number of venues where visitors could experience the assimilation of both Korean and other worldwide cultures. These included pavilions and theatres which presented various world cultural exhibits; customs, living and eating; worldwide displays of festivals and events; a look into the future through modern technology; and an academic conference for an exchange of ideas by renowned experts in the areas of anthropology, ethnology, and history. Unlike other one-time exhibits, the Kyongju event is slated to become a bi-annual exhibit, with frequent and timely updates.
A major construction on the site was the New Millennium Smile Hall. The space uses an integrated package of film, video projection, conventional and moving lighting, pyrotechnics, a laser light show, and other special effects and a multichannel sound system to display the variety of worldwide cultural influences. Producer Ki Churl Yoon of The Last Communication, based in Seoul, fused the events of the prior millennium with a look ahead to what might await us in the 21st Century.
Producer Ki Churl Yoon and Big Kim, show director and president of The Last Communication, turned to George Kindler, principal of Thoughtful Designs of Las Vegas (a PRG company) to design and fabricate the multifaceted entertainment package. In August of 1998, Thoughtful Designs was contracted to develop and build the show--a show that was slated to open on September 10. Kindler says, "It was a real time crunch, but with the dedicated work of the staff of PRG, we had it up and ready for opening day."
Kindler and his group, in turn, contacted Richmond Sound Design Ltd., of Vancouver, BC, with the idea that RSD's new Showman(TM) Model NY/8 central sequencer would be the "right ticket" for central show control in the Millennium Smile venue. In this fast-paced show, the cue list capability of the NY/8 was pushing the envelope. When Kindler was asked (in an interview at LDI98 in Phoenix) about the logistics of meeting such a tight schedule on a major production, he commented, "It [the production] would not have been possible without the dedicated support and cooperation of RSD, Alcorn McBride, and our other suppliers and vendors."
The Kindler-designed, PRG-provided, and Last Communications-installed system utilized the latest in MIDI technology and show control system expertise. The final production proved popular with the multitude of attendees.
Long lines of visitors queued up outside the Millennium Smile Theatre to view the ultramodern presentation. Once inside the auditorium, the audiences were greeted with a fast-paced, multimedia presentation. A carefully scripted presentation involving film, video projection, lighting effects, and set movements kept audience members enthralled as the past millennium passed before their eyes. A SMPTE-cued audio track kept the presentation on track.
The 98 Expo ran from September 10 through November 10 and reportedly drew large crowds from both Korea and the rest of the international community.