It's probably not one "comparable to Paris' Eiffel Tower," as that 2007 Korea Times article says the city is looking to build, but this design for a pavillion from MVRDV looks alright. Inhabitat talks about the building:
The Water Cube’s structure is composed of water filled basins, which act as both a temperature buffer as well as the main attraction. A bit like being inside an aquarium, the hollow inner sanctum will be lit with water-filtered light, and will be used as an exhibition center during the Expo.The post on Inhabitat has more pictures and details. The 2012 Expo's theme is "Living Water and Coast," hence the appropriateness of featuring water so prominently. ArchDaily has more information about the building's significance as well, in addition to some designs for various buildings (1, 2, 3) that didn't make the cut. Austrian designers SOMA learned in October they will be designing the thematic pavillion.
They explain the design:
Continuous transitions between contrasting experiences also form the outer appearance of the Pavilion. Towards the sea the conglomeration of solid vertical cones defines a new meandering coast line, a soft edge that is in constant negotiation between water and land. Opposite side the pavilion develops out of the ground into an artificial roof–landscape with gardens and scenic paths. The topographic lines of the roof turn into lamellas of the kinetic media façade that faces the Expo’s entrance and the “Digital Gallery”.
Yeah, the description continues like that for a while. Space magazine has the description and the specs, from SOMA; visit their site and run a search for Yeosu.
ArchDaily also brought news last week of the winning design for the "Big-O" facility, which the official Expo website says "will be the symbol of Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea."
The images and descriptions on the Expo site, however, are not up-to-date and do not feature the new designs.
Other things that have been or will be completed ahead of the Expo include making Odong-do---from whence the cringeworthy "Big O" name comes---"ubiquitous," running a 3.174-kilometer-long cable-car from Odong-do up Jasan Park to the other shore, a Yi Sun-sin Plaza, and an addition to the Yi Sun-sin Bridge. Gwangju's GFN Radio says:
The city says a dragon shaped overpass will be installed on Yi Sunshin (이순신) Square and the area will serve as a multipurpose space for festivals and concerts. Beach-side eco-friendly accommodations near the expo site will also open and the city says the lodgings will make the ideal resting space for people enjoying the local scenery.
From next year Yeosu will also be accessible via KTX, Korea's high speed rail, and in December a new Yeosu Station opened very near the Expo grounds. There are plans to put 40-story twin towers on the site of the old station, two buildings that would certainly be the tallest in the region. Construction will begin in June and finish before the Expo begins.
Nonetheless some are concerned about Yeosu's progress, according to a Korea Times article in January. The Times of course doesn't say who is concerned---"many"---though growing pains might be expected when trying to turn a scenic yet unremarkable coastal town into the host of an international convention expected to draw eight million tourists. The Times ran the headline "Yeosu Expo Underpromoted Overseas," and maybe that's because most of these articles don't say what, exactly, the Expo does. Nonetheless I'm happy for Yeosu, about forty minutes from my true love Suncheon, and will enjoy seeing it in the papers over here in 2012. It will also be interesting to see how things look in, say, 2015, when the area runs the risk of falling back into disuse.
Just for the hell of it, this is a look at the grounds, clearly before construction, when I visited last May for the Tall Ships Festival.
Odong-do is out of the picture to the right and if you look carefully you'll see trains sitting on the tracks some seven months before the new Yeosu Station was completed.